Last year Mark MacDonald drove two year old Canadian champion Sportswriter to a near flawless record. Not only did he get the best of him in the big races, he also drove him to a victory when by all rights he should have been beaten in the BC prep. However, he has been taken off the colt in favour of driver Brian Sears for the upcoming season.
Brian Sears, the sport’s top driver, said he has made a commitment to drive the outstanding colt this year when he competes. That includes, of course, the million-dollar events like the Meadowlands Pace and the North America Cup.
I find things like this a little premature, that is: Changing a driver for races three months in advance, when you have no idea how a horse comes back, and when you had mucho success with the old one. Maybe I am just superstitious, but in a sport that only has one certainty - the uncertain - it makes me quake when I read things like that.
In other Matters, a maiden colt out of the Noel Daley barn won his debut Sunday at the M and his name is Ideal Matters. It is impossible to teach talent in racing, and this horse was born with a lot of it. In his qualifiers it was pretty obvious he was a beast, but his victory Sunday stamped it. He went on one line off the gate, looking around, then sat 6th through slow fractions. His cover stalled at the head of the lane, but that hardly mattered. He exploded home in 25.4 to win easily.
The thing I especially like is he is doing this while a bit growthy like an immature Western Ideal usually does, and I think he should get a ton better. As well, Noel is never one to crank one for his first start, which bodes well.
The last time I remember watching a 3YO maiden win like that happened three years ago in February, at Woodbine. A colt broke at the quarter, got back on and closed 17 lengths back, to win going away by six in 155.2. Everyone knew they were looking at a good one. That colt was Tell All, and we might be looking at a similar here. If he develops like he should, driver decisions may be the least of the worries for Sportswriter.