by Garnet Barnsdale
If you are looking for a hot driver right now at Mohawk Racetrack, look no further than the reigning two time ‘O Brien Driver of the Year Sylvain Filion.
Filion, who has been heating up of late after going through a lukewarm streak (for him), won six times in a 12 drive stretch from Friday through Saturday, punctuated by wins in three Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold events for three-year-old trotting colts with On A Sunny Day in 1:53.3, Magic Night in 1:56.1 and R First Class in 1:55.
Filion’s expertise was on full display in all three wins. In the first OSS Gold race, he bided his time in the pocket with 2-5 On A Sunny Day while Trevor Ritchie and Royal Witch were intent on carving out some solid splits. Taking no chances of getting pinned in, Filion guided his charge to the outside around the final turn and they gradually edged clear of Royal Witch in a clocking that beat On A Sunny Day’s previous lifetime best clocking by 1 and 2/5 seconds.
The next two winners were both sent right down the road by a confident Filion and it sure didn’t hurt Magic Night’s chances when Filion stole a :30.2 second quarter and :59.4 middle half. R First Class showed gameness keeping Try Try Again – who had only lost once in six starts – at bay at the end of the mile.
While it could be argued that two of these winners were odds-on and the third one only 5-2 on the board, Filion’s three winners on Friday weren’t chalks and all three were tripped out perfectly to win. Both Bedroom Confessions ($7.20) and Diamontoothgertie ($20.30) were put into perfect striking position on cover, while Shadow Play ($16.50) was provided with a golden pocket trip by Filion.
Filion has had an interesting year in that while he has lost some business from leading trainer Richard Moreau, he has picked up several live drives – such as R First Class – from trainer Ben Ballargeon while Ballargeon’s brother Mario is sidelined with a medical issue.
While Filion currently sits fourth in the overall WEG standings for the year behind Louis-Phillipe Roy, Doug McNair and Trevor Henry, batting what is for him a mediocre 11.5 per cent strike rate, stakes season is where he typically excels and if the past couple of cards are any indication, Filion is heating up and looking like his old dominant self with every drive recently.