Trainer Blake MacIntosh has taken some time to discuss his Sportswriter duo of Sports Expert and Sporty Mercedes in advance of the eight Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Semi-Finals that will be raced Thursday (September 17) at Mohawk Racetrack. The races for two-year-old trotters and pacers will officially kick off the 2015 OSS post season action.
Trainer Blake MacIntosh won the two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots Championship in 2014 with Star Cover, and the Cambridge, Ont. resident will send out two hopefuls on Thursday, including two-year-old pacing filly division leader Sports Expert.
“She’s feeling really good. She trained well this morning (Sept. 15) and we’re really happy with the way she’s going into the race,” said MacIntosh of Sports Expert. “She had an easy race Saturday night; she got away last in the Champlain and closed hard and just missed a cheque. I wasn’t happy we didn’t get a cheque, but I was happy with the way she raced.”
In her four regular season Grassroots starts, Sports Expert posted three wins and one second. She also clocked a personal best 1:54.2 in her September 1 race at Mohawk. The daughter of Sportswriter and Lyons Mandi has seven starts under her belt and has banked $34,000 for MacIntosh and his partners Touch Stone Farms of Guelph, Ont. and 30 Plus Stable of Trenton, Ont.
“They’re good people. They’re always supportive of whatever I decide to do with the filly and they follow her very closely,” said MacIntosh of the ownership group. “Joe Intine (of Touch Stone Farms) and his wife (Barbara) are always at every race, they come to the barn once or twice a week and follow her very closely and are very involved with the horse. The 30 Plus group (Andy, Stan and Tim Klemencic) has come up a couple times, but they live in Trenton so it’s harder for them to get up here.”
MacIntosh expects a solid group of supporters will be on hand when the filly lines up in Post 3 in the first $20,000 two-year-old pacing filly Semi-Final on Thursday. Guelph, Ont. resident Doug McNair will be in the race bike as the filly aims for a top-five finish and a berth in the September 26 Grassroots Championship.
McNair and Sports Expert will battle a field of nine challengers in Race 5, with the second two-year-old pacing filly Semi-Final slated for Race 8.
In addition to Sports Expert, MacIntosh will also harness a son of Sportswriter, Sporty Mercedes, in the first two-year-old pacing colt and gelding Semi-Final. Sporty Mercedes heads into the race off a fifth-place finish in the September 7 event at Grand River Raceway, but MacIntosh is cautiously hopeful that the gelding is poised to deliver a stronger effort on Thursday.
“Sporty Mercedes, he’s been a bit of a disappointment this year. After we gelded him he had two good races and we were pleased, we thought we had him on the right track, and then he got loose on the groom trying to load him just before Georgian (Aug. 23) and he banged himself up and he just hasn’t been the same since,” the trainer explained. “Now, saying that, he trained the best he’s trained in a while this morning (September 15).
“We were high on him during the winter time and he’s sort of been a bit of a disappointment, but hopefully we can get him to the final and things will come around for him,” MacIntosh continued. “He’s a colt we paid into the Metro, and paid into everything else. He’s not a Metro horse, but hopefully he can be a good Grassrooter.”
In four Grassroots starts, Sporty Mercedes recorded one win, one fourth, one fifth and one eighth to finish 18th in the point standings. The gelding recorded his personal best 1:55.1 in the August 13 Grassroots test at Rideau Carleton Raceway and has banked $15,740 for MacIntosh and his partners Dan and Kim Sergeant of Straffordville, Ont.
Sporty Mercedes will make his bid for a top-five finish from Post 3 in Race 6 with Iona Station, Ont. resident Alfie Carroll in the race bike. The second two-year-old pacing colt and gelding Semi-Final will go postward as Race 10 and will wrap up the evening’s Grassroots action.
The two-year-old trotting colts and geldings will kick off Mohawk Racetrack’s Thursday evening program at 7:25 p.m. in Race 1 and are also featured in Race 9, while the two-year-old trotting fillies wage their Semi-Final battles in Races 2 and 3.
Grassroots post season action continues at the Campbellville oval on Friday with eight Semi-Finals for the three-year-old trotters and pacers.