Clinton Raceway hosted its last Ontario Sires Stakes event of the season on Sunday afternoon (August 27) and reinsman Tyler Moore captured two freshman pacing colt Grassroots divisions and added a pair of overnight wins to his tally for the driving grand slam.
“I was kind of hoping I would win one or two races today — like I always want when I go to Clinton — and enjoy the afternoon. I love it, going there,” said Moore, who has been near the top of the Clinton driving standings all summer. “And sometimes you get these great moments where you have a big day like this. Like two Grassroots wins is one thing, but to win two more on the same day, that really made me happy and made for a great afternoon.”
Moore kicked off his successful afternoon with an overnight win behind Sporty Diva in the second race and captured the first of his two Grassroots wins one race later.
Starting from post six with Atomic Seelster, Moore opted to power off the gate and was matching strides with favourite Pokerface Bluechip at the :29.3 opening quarter. Clearing to the front, Atomic Seelster paced through fractions of :59 and 1:28.3 and then pulled away in the stretch to a two and one-half length victory in 1:58.3. Dam Lucky finished second and Pokerface Bluechip settled for third.
“Dad was pretty high on him as a baby when he was training him down. He was one of his best, and he just kind of started to stall coming to the end of it,” said Moore, who crafted the win for his father, trainer Dr. Ian Moore of Puslinch, Ont. “I drove him two weeks ago [on August 16] at Grand River, and he really needed that trip. I went nice, cheap and easy fractions and he kicked right home. He went home a winner that day and he would have felt a lot better for that, so today I just kind of aired him out, and you know Clinton’s a real small, tight half-mile track, especially for a two-year-old out of the six-hole, and he handled it really well. I thought he was great.”
Dr. Moore and his partners in the Shadow One Stable of Puslinch, Shawn Murphy of Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Darcy Murphy of Rothesay, N.B. share ownership of Atomic Seelster, who was a $100,000 purchase from the Forest City Yearling Sale. Sunday’s win was the Shadow Play son’s second straight in Grassroots action following two starts in the Gold Series, where he finished third and eighth, and the elimination and consolation of Grand River Raceway’s Battle of Waterloo, where he was fourth and third.
“He is a sweetheart to drive, he’s perfect gaited, he’s a very nice horse. He will make a really good racehorse one day,” added Moore. “Today he went a big mile, he was parked near to the quarter-pole and the heavy favourite sat on his back the whole mile and couldn’t even get to him.”
After a second overnight win with Thrift Shop in the eighth race, Moore was back in the bike for the last of the four $18,800 Grassroots divisions.
Opting for a similar approach, Moore sent Lucky Michael from post five to the front and the pair cruised through fractions of :30, 1:00 and 1:29.2 on their way to a one-length victory in 1:58. Fan favourite and division point leader Family Sports was second and On The Take was three more lengths back in third.
“I had some high hopes on him today, especially once he was leaving out of the gate, because he was getting out of there really well…He just made front real easy and he sat right back in my lap like he should, and when I asked on him he was there,” said the Campbellville, Ont. resident. “To be honest, I think he was just as impressive as the other horse.”
Moore says while his father’s early expectations of Atomic Seelster were lofty, they were significantly less so for Lucky Michael, who was always closer to the back of the pack than the front during the winter training sessions. However, since making his debut in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on July 10, the son of Camluck has posted one win, one second, one third and one fourth in Grassroots action and clocked a personal best 1:56 in an overnight event at Mohawk on July 27.
“He’s a big horse and with age and maturity, that should help, and he will get a lot better. Who knows how much better he will be, but I can see him getting to be a top horse one day, because he’s just a baby and they learn so much in such a quick time, and he’s so dopey and kind of just mellow-headed,” said Moore, who drives the colt for owner/breeder Jeffrey Snyder of New York City. “Like today, he was just wandering over the track, just doing his thing, and then when I wanted him to go, he just picked right up and was gone.”
The win was the first lifetime for Zen Da Ballykeel, who is trained by Richard Moreau of Puslinch for owner/breeder Ballykeel Racing Inc. of Tillsonburg, Ont. The son of Mach Three bested Blue Moose by a head, with Wild West a length behind the duelling the leaders in third.
Sunday was the first Grassroots appearance for St Lads Neptune, but the Mach Three son is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having won his first two starts for trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, Ont., and his partner Thomas Kyron of Toronto. The gelding hit the wire two and one-half lengths ahead of Sizzling Summer and Notabadgame. His 1:58 clocking equalled the two-year-old pacing gelding track record.
In addition to the Grassroots action, the Vanastra Curling Club was trackside on Sunday conducting a 50/50 draw, silent auction and barbecue. The club raised a total of $4,200 thanks to the generosity of Clinton Raceway fans.
The two-year-old pacing colts and gelding will make their fifth Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on September 4. Clinton Raceway wraps up its 2017 harness racing season next Sunday, Sept. 3 with the annual Charity Drivers Challenge where Tyler Moore and fellow Clinton regular Ryan Holliday will take on six of Canada’s top drivers in a benefit for the Clinton, Brussels and Seaforth branches of the Royal Canadian Legion. Post time for Sunday’s event is 1:30 p.m.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)