Plate Trial. When you ask trainer John Ross how he'd like Jam Jar Racing Stable's Shaws Creek to perform in Saturday's $164,700 Col. R.S. McLaughlin Handicap (gr. III) at Woodbine, that's the first answer that comes to mind.Shaws Creek is part of a field of eight entered for the McLaughlin. William Scott's Le Cinquieme Essai, at 5-2, and Gary and Mary West's Center, at 7-2, are the morning-line favorites. On June 1, Shaws Creek stamped himself as the early pre-Queen's Plate favourite with a 3/4-length win in the Plate Trial, the final key prep race leading up to the running of Canada's premier racing event. A little over three months later, Ross, with 16 wins on the season, would love to see a duplicate effort from the son of Tejano Run this weekend.After a fourth-place finish on July 2 in the Halton Stakes, the colt's first taste of the turf, Shaws Creek moves back to the main track for a run in the Col. R.S. McLaughlin."How about the turf to dirt angle?" offered Ross. "Maybe something will work out for us here."It's been an up-and-down campaign for the 3-year-old Ontario-bred. A solid third-place finish in the Achievement Stakes, his seasonal bow on March 31, was proceeded by back-to-back wins in the Queenston Stakes and Plate Trial.Recently, it's been a different story. After finishing sixth in the Queen's Plate, Shaws Creek hasn't had an in-the-money finish in his past two starts. But Ross believes the winner of over $388,000 lifetime will run a strong race on Saturday at the Toronto oval."I feel the rest did him a world of good," said the Mississauga resident. "He came back with a good effort on the grass and my expectations are for him to improve off that. Hopefully, he can do that."
Tails of the Crypt, another member of Jam Jar Racing Stable, will forego the McLaughlin and instead run in the B.C. Derby, on Sept. 21. "We didn't want to have Jam Jar run against themselves," said Ross. "That's why we're going to do that."