A third-over trip might not be the ideal spot turning for home at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but then again it looks like Pilot Discretion is no ordinary horse.
The post-time favourite in the 2019 edition of the $247,000 Goodtimes, Pilot Discretion and driver Andy McCarthy got away safely in fourth behind Swandre The Giant (Yannick Gingras), Forbidden Trade (Bob McClure) and Southwind Avenger (Trevor Henry). It would appear that Pilot Discretion would have all his main rivals ahead of him through a :27.3 opener until post ten starter Knight Angel (Sylvain Filion) engaged the temposetter. Gingras would not let that longshot go as the field reached the half in :56.2.
Henry right-lined Southwind Avenger and sat on Filion's helmet for a second-over tow, forcing McCarthy to tip into that outer flow and situate Pilot Discretion third over as the third station was reached in 1:24.3. Southwind Avenger pushed out into the three-wide path with Pilot Discretion following that move around the final turn.
Turning for home, Swandre The Giant valiantly held onto the lead and Knight Angel tried to stay with him but could not. Forbidden Trade loomed the danger in the pocket and managed to wriggle free in deep stretch but by that time Pilot Discretion was in full flight in the four path and picking off foes with each stride. Pilot Discretion's stretch rally was enough to hit the wire first and keep that unblemished record intact with the mile timed in 1:52.4.
Forbidden Trade was next best, just holding off a late-closing Super Schissel (Scott Zeron).
Tony Alagna trains Pilot Discretion (Muscle Hill - Self Indulgent) for Robert Leblanc of Austin, Tex., David Anderson of Aurora, Ont., and John Fodera of Staten Island, N.Y. With the win, Pilot Discretion lifts his career earnings to $164,500.
"It feels fantastic, " said co-owner Leblanc in the winner's circle. "Originally I'm from Canada so being able to come here with a horse like 'Pilot' and win this race means something special. I've watched the Goodtimes for years and years, and even being a part of it was great. Andrew and Tony and Irene & Robert, the grooms, have just done a fantastic job, and I'm along for the ride...and this is a lot of fun!"
To have a horse that's possibly able to compete in the Hambletonian is a "bucket-list item" for Leblanc, and according to the owner Pilot Discretion has "shown he can do it."
Be sure to check out the recaps and replays from the stakes-loaded card of harness racing action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on 2019 Pepsi North America Cup night in our North America Cup Night News Centre