To the Saulsbrook Victor go the spoils.
Brett MacDonald can’t say with any degree of certainty that he saw it coming, but with each passing week and each trip to the winner’s circle, the horseman had faith that win or lose, the five-year-old pacer would be a tough beat.
Five straight wins, including four at the top class at Woodbine Mohawk Park, have certainly instilled a wealth of confidence in Saulsbrook Victor’s proud connections. He’ll go for his sixth consecutive score on Saturday night at Mohawk when he takes on five rivals in the ninth race on the 12-race card.
“I can’t say I honestly saw this [win streak] happening,” said MacDonald, who co-owns the bay pacer with Brent MacLennan. “He’s turned into something special. I always knew he had ability, but to do this is unbelievable.”
Bred by William Allan McNeil and Louis Willinger, Saulsbrook Victor was a modest $11,250 purchase at the Atlantic Classic Yearling Sale in 2019.
The son of Source Of Pride-Atlanta Girl debuted on Sept. 21, 2021, at Flamboro Downs, trouncing a field of eight rivals to the tune of a 3-3/4-length score in 1:56.2.
One week later, Saulsbrook Victor, trained by MacDonald’s father, Ron, was back in the Flamboro winner’s circle, courtesy of a 2-3/4-length triumph in 1:57.4.
“He’s always had the talent. It was always just a question of him being able to put it all together and then converting that into winning.”
Saulsbrook Victor has been a steady performer since that pair of victories to begin his career, gradually working his way from the $12,500 ranks to his current stay in $34,000 Preferred Pace company.
On Jan. 21, the pacer recorded his 13th win from 49 starts and now has $244,885 in career earnings. He’s hit the podium a total of 32 times, a testament to his consistent track record.
“In more recent times, he’s become better gaited, where you can do whatever you want with him. You can float off the gate with him now. That was the trouble with him the whole time, that he just wouldn’t relax. That’s why we raced him off the pace all the time, so you could get him relaxed early. I think that’s what has turned him into what he is now, being able to do whatever you want with him. You can sit with him, you can leave with him, he’s just become a versatile horse. He’s got grit to him and he loves his job.”
His current win streak, all with driver Austin Sorrie in the sulky, began on Dec. 17 when he powered to a 1-1/2-length score at the $28,000 level, stopping the clock in a career-best 1:49.2.
Saulsbrook Victor winning on Dec. 17, 2022 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
As for which win has been the most impressive, MacDonald points to a New Year’s Eve dash.
“I think the night he beat [$1 million earner, 2020 O’Brien Award winner and 2022 O’Brien finalist So Much More]. We all know how tough horses are at this level and we all know how amazing she is and how tough she is to get by down the lane, so that was a really impressive effort. That was special.”
Just like most athletes who find themselves on a winning kick, Saulsbrook Victor seems to be aware of his head-turning hot streak.
Morning jogs or race night, MacDonald has sensed an air of confidence in the pacer’s demeanor.
“You can tell with his attitude. You can tell he’s proud of himself, that he has done something good. You can see he’s pumped up and confident right now. He’s always happy. He’s been like that the whole time I’ve known him. He never has his ears pinned. He just likes life and now he’s got that confidence to go with it.”
While all good things, including win streaks, must come to an end, Saulsbrook Victor has given his connections plenty to cheer about during his unbeaten reign.
He’s not the only one to have experienced good fortune of late.
MacDonald reached the $10 million mark in career driver earnings after teaming with Richard Moreau trainee Got Charlie to win the first race at Flamboro Downs on Jan. 21.
The 26-year-old, who calls Freelton, Ont. home, drove his first pari-mutuel race in March of 2015, finishing third in a $3,300 race at Rideau Carleton Raceway. The 2017 Future Star Award winner hit 1,000 victories in 2021. He completed a career-best campaign in 2022 with 328 victories (fourth best in Canada) and $2.5 million in purses (10th best in the nation) and is closing in on 1,500 victories.
Not a bad way to keep pace with his pacer’s sterling performances.
“Everything happens at once. I knew I was close [to $10 million in earnings], but I kind of put that out of my mind because we are on cloud nine because of him. And now, I’m getting close to 1,500 wins. Life is pretty great right now.”
(With files from Woodbine)