quotes by James Platz / story by Chris Lomon
The trifecta of owner Determination Stable, trainer Luc Blais and driver Bob McClure had another crowning moment together, this time at Harrah’s Hoosier Park on Friday night.
While winning the 2019 Hambletonian with Forbidden Trade earned rave reviews as a blockbuster performance, what the trio did with On A Streak in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final for 2-year-old male trotters can be considered a worthy sequel.
It was an effort that undoubtedly deserved an emphatic two-thumbs up.
Although the tote board suggested it was a two-horse race between Venerate and Captain Corey, On A Streak and driver Bob McClure had plans of their own in the fall showcase for rookie trotters.
And in the end, the Determination charge, bred byFredericka V Caldwell,was a study in just that.
Sent on his way at 9-1, the son of Cantab Hall reeled in leader and second choice Captain Corey in deep stretch, and fended off In Range by three-quarters of a length to record the biggest win of his career to date. Venerate, the 4-5 favorite, was third.
It was the bay’s first victory since a 15-1 upset in the $535,000 William Wellwood final at Mohawk on Sept. 12.
After finishing third to Venerate in the inaugural Mohawk Million, the $155,000 purchase at the 2019 Lexington Select Yearling Sale qualified at Mohawk on Oct. 13 in 1:59.2. Last Saturday, On A Streak finished fourth in his Breeders Crown elimination, trotting the mile in 1:54.2.
On Friday, he was at the top of his game, crossing the wire in a career best and stakes record 1:52.4.The previous stakes record of 1:53 was set by Walner in 2016.
A sizzling opening quarter-mile in :26.4 and a half timed in :55.3 courtesy of Captain Corey provided McClure the opportunity to keep a patient hand in the early stages of the race.
“I knew we were moving along and my colt is so handy getting him off the gate, I wanted to leave and hopefully follow either Ake [Svanstedt, piloting Captain Corey] or Andy [Miller, driving Venerate] or even both. When I saw Ake look over and try to take off on Andy, I thought ‘This is looking really good.’”
McClure, in the midst of another strong season in the race bike, was bang-on in his assessment.
As the field turned for home, he felt even more optimistic about his chances.
“Andy’s horse still seemed like he was coming, so I just tried to get into the passing lane and get him re-motivated. You know, it’s not easy for 2-year-old trotters to dive into the passing lane and try to advance, that’s not really taught to them, but he’s such a professional. As soon as he saw open air he took off.”
McClure, who recorded his first Breeders Crown triumph, was thrilled to deliver the trophy to his teammates.
“It’s really nice. We’ve had some bad luck between me and Luc. He’s had plenty of luck without me, so I was starting to think it was me, so obviously we had a really nice trotting filly [Donna Soprano] and I thought we had the best chance to get [a Crown] with her and I couldn’t get her in, so it was really nice for the connections – owner Determination Stable and Luc Blais – that I worked out a trip with this guy and Luc had him awesome.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck in the Breeders Crown finals, so it’s nice to turn the table on that because that race, it required a whole lot of luck and I got it so it worked out.”
Blais, whose brother Coco is the groom of On A Streak, knew the odds might have been against a win against a pair of accomplished trotting talents, but he wasn’t about to throw in the towel.
“I think he raced good last week, come back :26.3 and today he was a closer in the stretch. I think he felt better. He needed a race before that race and he was stronger tonight. Winning a Breeders Crown is always special.”
As for what’s next for the Crown champion, it appears that decision will be made, in some part, by On A Streak.
Said Blais, “We’ll see tomorrow how he feels.”
For the moment, the trio of owner, trainer and driver, will soak up a picture-perfect evening. Well, almost.
Despite not having Determination frontman Serge Godin there to see the race live (due to COVID-19 restrictions), Blais and McClure were happy to hoist the hardware on his behalf.
“Winning the Breeders Crown with a 2-year-old is very special,” said Blais. “The season is long, it’s almost November and it’s far from home. It’s tough to race at that time for 2-year-olds. We love the game and we’re really happy, but I would like to see him in the picture.”
“It’s special for Determination and Luc Blais,” said McClure. “I couldn’t pick a better group to win it for. They’ve done so much for me.”
And on Friday night in the Hoosier State, On A Streak did just as much for the trio.