CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. - After rallying Boomboom Ballykeel to a stirring win in the $683,000 Metro Pace on Saturday night, Canadian driver Sylvain Filion had to wait a few anxious moments before celebrating.
Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., seemingly had 3/5 favourite Western Vintage comfortably ahead down the stretch before 10-1 longshot Boomboom Ballykeel exploded for the victory in 1:50.4 at Mohawk Racetrack. But the final result was delayed 12 minutes due to a judges' inquiry after Lets Drink On It and third-place finisher Some Major Beach hooked wheels in midstretch.
The incident occurred right behind and outside of Filion and Boomboom Ballykeel, who were third at the time. When it did, Lets Drink On It and Some Major Beach both drifted out, giving Filion and his horse the room to take off outside and get past Tellitlikeitis before chasing down Western Vintage for the 2 1/4-length win.
Filion and Boomboom Ballykeel's connections were in the winner's circle when Filion was paged to speak with the judges. After some tense moments, race officials ruled the interference had no bearing on the outcome, therefore giving Filion and Boomboom Ballykeel the upset victory in the richest event for two-year-old pacers in North America.
"There was tight quarters down the stretch," said Filion, Canada's top driver last year. "I was pretty confident I was in my own right.
"But anytime there's an inquiry like this going for that kind of money, it's pretty stressful."
Owner Cam McKnight, a former Mayor of the town of Tillsonburg, Ont., admitted he only began believing his horse had the potential to win the Metro Pace after he finished second by a neck to Lets Drink On It in their elimination race.
"We had a full brother to him and he was a very nice horse too so we kind of thought he (Boomboom Ballykeel) would be nice," he said. "But I have to be honest, until he showed me in that qualifying race, I didn't know he was that good."
The Ontario-sired Boomboom Ballykeel earned his third win in seven starts this season but first in three races.
Western Vintage held on for second ahead of Some Major Beach, a 45-1 longshot that was added to the field after Arthur Blue Chip, the 7-2 early second choice, was scratched Friday due to a lung infection.
Doug McNair, the driver for Some Major Beach, said the incident with Lets Drink On It, cost him the win.
"If we didn't get interfered with, I think I win it," he said. "I was thinking I'd be second but when Yannick's horse fought tough and we ended up third.
"I thought I'd be no worse than second but that's racing."
Gingras said Western Vintage wasn't in the same form Saturday at he was last weekend when he won his elimination race by an impressive two lengths.
"My horse raced good but he was a little hot," Gingras said. "Leaving the gate he was a little wound up and wasn't easy to rate on the front.
"I didn't want to grab into him too much and him make a break. His being hot definitely cost us the race in my opinion."
The remainder of the field in order of finish was: Tellitlikeitis; Beat The Drum; Winds of Change; Ideal Magic; Play It Again Sam; Lets Drink On It; and Luck Be Withyou.
Filion said he could sense Boomboom Ballykeel was primed and ready to race Saturday night.
"He was full of himself," he said. "When we drew the rail I thought we had a good shot.
"He's a real nice baby. He's got real good gate speed and he's real handy."
Earlier, Precocious Beauty came on late to overtake Gallie Bythe beach and claim the $451,000 Shes A Great Lady for two-year-old filly pacers by a neck.
McNair drove the 6/5 favourite to a third straight victory in a stakes record-tying time of 1:50.2. The win was the fourth in six starts to go with two second-place finishes this year.
Precocious Beauty likes to run on the lead but McNair had to keep the horse back Saturday night and come from behind.
"I didn't want to but that's the way it worked out," he said. "There's a lot of speed up front and I know she could go both ways.
"It worked out great."
American Tim Tetrick drove A Rocknroll Dance, the 2/1 favourite, to a thrilling victory in the $651,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for aged horses by a nose to compatriot Brett Miller and Clear Vision, a 4/1 pick. A Rocknroll Dance earned a third straight win in 1:47.2, which set a new stakes record and tied the Canadian and track marks.
Foiled Again, a 14/1 pick driven by American Ron Pierce, was third.
"He (Miller) had me by a head and my horse fought back and his horse never gave up," Tetrick said. "It was a nice race all the way to the wire.
"He (A Rocknroll Dance) is a big, strong, good-looking horse, he knows how to get the job done. He's just tough, he just keeps going faster and faster no matter how hard you push him."