Maryland makes Magic as Quarter Horse racing returns to Ajax Downs


Published May 12, 2022 at 8:54 am

MARYLAND MAGIC wins the 110-yard Gridiron Gallop on opening day at Ajax Downs PHOTO: Laurie Overton

They’re back!

Fans flocked to Ajax Downs to welcome back the Ontario Quarter Horses on a beautiful sunny day Wednesday, the first day of the 53rd season of racing at the Ajax track.

It was also the first time in two years that Ajax Downs was able to begin its racing season on its usual early May date May after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start and shortened the seasons in 2020 and 2021.

Fans and horse people alike were excited to be back for the first of 25 racing dates, which will include one special event Sunday each month through September in addition to its Wednesday race days.

Opening day also marked a successful return to the races for the 8-year-old stallion Maryland Magic who won a thrilling photo finish in the 110-yard Gridiron Gallop for his 14th win in a stellar career. Owned by Burlington’s Milena Kwiecien, Maryland Magic ended his 2021 campaign with a victory in the prestigious Alex Picov Memorial Championship at 440 yards. Double-duty star Maryland Magic, trained by Jason Pascoe and was ridden by Ismael Mosquiera, also started a successful stallion career in 2018 with his first crop of foals racing last season.

“He’s a horse of a lifetime, really,” said Pascoe, Ajax Downs’ leading trainer of 2021. “He’s a perfect gentleman and he loves what he does.”

Trainer Scott Reid and jockey Carly Furlonger combined to win two races on opening day taking the first race of the season with the grey filly Dawns Early Light, purchased last fall from a sale in Oklahoma by owner John Wilson, and race three with Ontario-bred Rapter, who won a $13,000 allowance race for owners Reid and Colleen McCracken.

Other winners on opening day included Princess Leia, an Ontario sired and bred 5-year-old mare ridden by Ramiro Castillo and Craig Spada’s Scarletts Cartel, who won a 3-year-old allowance race under jockey Helen Vane, the third woman rider to win on the afternoon.

Racing continues at Ajax Downs Wednesday, March 18, post time 1:30 p.m., and then on Sunday, May 22 (post time 12:55) which is Fan Appreciation Day.

With files from racing correspondent and author Jennifer Morrison

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