Poseidon Seelster rules the stakes seas

The pacer stormed to victory in Woodbine Mohawk Park’s New Holland pacing series final for trainer Donald Lindsey.

by Melissa Keith

To the ancient Greeks, Poseidon was the god of horses, storms, earthquakes, and the sea. Saturday (March 30) night at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Poseidon Seelster (p, 5, 1:48.2s; $540,187) was a horse who lived up to that mythological billing, storming off the gate for driver Tyler Moore, parting the sea in deep stretch, and shaking up the tote board at a generous 10-1 in the $71,000 final of the New Holland pacing series.

The 7-year-old son of Sunshine Beach—Porsche Seelster led to the :26.1 opening quarter, then allowed 3-5 favorite Whichwaytothebeach to take charge. Poseidon Seelster and Moore enjoyed a pocket trip behind the new leader, staying just ahead of his Donald Lindsey stablemate Gias Surreal, who followed from single-file third to the :55.1 half before getting shuffled back. In the stretch drive, Poseidon Seelster appeared to lack racing room, but took the inside path to a narrow victory in a 1:51s blanket finish.

Driver Moore told post-race interviewer Randy Waples that luck played a strong role in the nose-margin win over quick-closing runner-up Century Heineken. All but the last two finishers in the 10-horse field were within two-and-quarter lengths of the winner at the wire.

“It was pretty tight for a minute,” Moore said. “There was enough room for the horse, but not for the rest of me, and it eventually just started to fan out just enough for me to get going, and that’s what made it so close. I didn’t actually get into full gear until it was, you know, getting late in the stretch.”

Donald Lindsey echoed those words a few days later, as the winning trainer and co-owner described the “very, very tight race with a ground-saving trip by Tyler.”

The Fergus, ON horseman told Harness Racing Update that Poseidon Seelster, “didn’t have a lot of racing room and didn’t have an ideal trip” in the previous leg of the WMP series for non-winners of $150,000 lifetime.

“The horse was flat [on March 23],” Lindsey said. “I would say in the first two legs of the [New Holland] Series, he wasn’t as sharp as he had been back in February. Hopefully he can regain that form he had back in February.”

Saturday’s victory was the 19th from 98 lifetime starts for the relatively lightly-raced gelding. Lindsey said Poseidon Seelster started his career at Mohawk for previous conditioner Matt Dupuis, but changed course during 2021 COVID shutdowns at racetracks, which “really messed things up in his 4-year-old year.” The pacer spent most of that season in the United States, which Lindsey said “wasn’t a bad thing, with the Graduate Series [at The Meadowlands]. There was no Confederation Cup; it was canceled due to COVID. There was no Prix d’Ete. Those were two events that would have made his 4-year-old year a lot better, I think.”

Lindsey and co-owners Paul Kleinpaste of Orangeville, ON; William Alempijevic of Lexington, KY; and Garth Bechtel of Meaford, ON bought Poseidon Seelster at the end of his sophomore season. Nik Drennan has trained the gelding during stateside trips, like the 2022 MGM Borgata Series at Yonkers Raceway, when he closed to collar Tattoo Artist in the 1:51 flat mile in leg 3 for catch driver George Brennan.

“We took him last year, and he’s a horse that doesn’t like the grind of the Borgata Series [which] really shows how tough a horse is…” Lindsey said. “We found that he’s not a horse that likes to campaign five or six weeks in a row. Last year, he was competitive in it, but we would have had to miss this [New Holland] series to go in it [this year].”

Poseidon Seelster’s Canadian trainer said travel was less of an issue than finding the right race.

“I’m not concerned about having him in Fergus or New Jersey or where he races,” Lindsey said. “It’s just where we think is the best place to have a good year. Not just one good start, but a good year overall.”

Current plans call for staying at Mohawk, “just racing him where we can see fit,” said Lindsey, who called Poseidon Seelster “a Saturday-night horse at Mohawk,” next slated to start in the April 6 WMP preferred. After taking on top older pacers in 2022 and 2023, Poseidon Seelster is, somewhat surprisingly, not staked to any major events in 2024.

“If he’s sharp, maybe we’ll give him some invitational events,” Lindsey said. “Other than that, we didn’t stake him at all. The only stake we might stake him to, from this point, is the Gold Cup and Saucer [Aug. 17 at Red Shores Charlottetown]… We didn’t pay him into the [Canadian] Pacing Derby or anything this year. He’s a nice horse, but I don’t think it’s in his best interest to race in that group of horses.”

The trainer said the May 31 Camluck Classic at The Raceway at Western Fair is another possibility: “If he’s sharp at the time, we might get an invitation, who knows? He’s a very handy horse. He can get around a small track well.”

The 2024 New Holland Series champ has tangled with some of the biggest names in the sport in recent years.

“I would say his biggest races weren’t wins,” said Lindsey. “When he was third in the [2022 Canadian] Pacing Derby behind Bulldog Hanover and Tattoo Artist, that was probably as good as he’s ever been.”

Lindsey is training a stable of 12 horses at the moment: three 2-year-olds, three 3-year-olds, and six older racehorses.

“Twelve to race this summer, some ‘B’ track horses, some Mohawk-caliber horses, and everything in between,” he said. “I generally don’t have a lot of horses, [but] there’s been some half-decent horses go through the barn over the years. I prefer being more hands-on, and always looking for quality. With a smaller stable, it’s harder to come by.”

Lindsey has campaigned the winners of 531 races and $5,328,216 from 3,696 starts as a trainer since 2002.

He said his all-time favorites undoubtedly include Alexie Mattosie (p, 5, 1:48.1m; $1,097,270), who “took us all around and traveled all around, so he’s up there,” and 2011-12 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold finals winner Keystone Orion (6, 1:55h; $536,351).

After his latest win, Poseidon Seelster may be gaining on them.

“I was more confident before the first leg than I was the rest of the [New Holland] Series,” Lindsey said. “When I saw the list of eligibles, I thought that he would be one of the better ones in the final, but you never know who shows up and how sharp the horse is going to be, and it showed. He was 6-5 in the first leg, so he definitely deserved to be in the group of horses.”

Whether he steps up to invitational level this season or not, expect to see plenty of Poseidon Seelster at Mohawk.

“He’s a very happy horse, very willing,” said Lindsey. “Nice to jog, nice to train. The drivers really like him. He can bounce off the car and get position, and then relax when he’s in a hole. He’s good that way. The thing is, he’s a little claustrophobic at times, in a small trailer or in the test stalls at Mohawk, with the roof on the stalls. Other than that, he’s a nice horse to be around. He’s definitely one that you wake up every morning and you’re happy to see in the barn.”