Father and son team Gregg and Doug McNair sent a pair of two-year-old trotting colts out in the last regular season Grassroots event on Sunday evening and landed both colts in the Flamboro Downs winner’s circle, and the post-season.
Heading into the event, Dynamic Edge and Muscles For Life were sitting 25th and 37th, respectively, and in need of a victory to extend their season through the Sept. 17 Grassroots Semi-finals.
“I figured they had to be close, but he never said nothing, so no pressure, no added pressure,” said driver Doug McNair about his pre-race conversation with his father Gregg, who trains the colts.
First out of the barn for the McNair Stable was Dynamic Edge, who lined up at post five in the fourth $18,000 Grassroots division. The younger McNair sent the Muscle Mass son directly to the front and Dynamic Edge reached the opening quarter in :29.3 and the half in 1:02.2. Heading for the 1:32.3 three-quarters, Weve Had Enough mounted a challenge and it looked as though Dynamic Edge would have to settle for second, but the gelding found another gear late in the stretch and dug in for a neck victory in 2:02.4. Weve Had Enough was second and Northern Bruiser was one and one-quarter lengths back in third.
“He’s a little ‘green’ sometimes,” explained the driver. “He pulls up once in a while and he did again today a little bit, but then he battled back on in the stretch.
“He’s just a just a little funny. He trots perfect, he’s great gaited, but he just pulls up sometimes,” added the Guelph, Ont. resident. “It would be nice if he could get out of that, he maybe will as a three-year-old.”
Gregg McNair, also of Guelph, shares ownership of Dynamic Edge with numbered company 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Gloucester, Ont. A $28,000 acquisition at last fall’s Canadian Yearling Sale, the gelding wrapped up the regular season with one win, one second, two thirds, one sixth and 102 points in five Grassroots starts, jumping from 25th to 10th in the standings with Sunday’s win.
In the last Grassroots division, Doug McNair also opted for a front-end strategy with Muscles For Life. The pair went to the front from post four and controlled the tempo through fractions of :30.2, 1:02.3 and 1:33.2, hitting the wire three-quarters of a length in front of favourite Georgies Pockets in 2:02.1. Muscle Hustle was well behind the leaders in third.
With all of his starts coming in the Grassroots program, Muscles For Life now boasts a record of one win, one second, one fifth and one eighth. Sunday’s win boosted his point total to 81 and moved him from 37th to 17th.
“He trots real nice when he trots, sometimes he just gets out of gear, like if you don’t have him paying attention he won’t trot for you,” said Doug McNair of Muscles For Life, also a son of Muscle Mass. “But when he pays attention, he can trot; he’s one of the better Grassrooters.
“Last start [August 11], I just wanted to make sure I got him around without him running and he trotted home in 28 seconds — that’s a pretty good quarter for a ‘green’ trotter,” the reinsman added.
Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, Michigan owns Muscle For Life, who was a $35,000 purchase from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.
The other three division winners also secured their position among the top 20 point-earners.
Romeo and driver Skip Jay De Mull captured the first Grassroots trophy, tipping out of the pocket heading for the three-quarters and trotting by pacesetter Derivative and on to a three-quarter length victory in a personal-best 1:59, the quickest of the five divisions. Fan favourite Money Mission finished second and Magic Missions was third.
Kevin St. Charles of Whitmore Lake, Michigan trains Romeo for E C S Racing LLC of Rockford, Michigan. In six Grassroots starts, the Muscle Mass gelding tallied one win, two thirds, one fifth, one sixth and one eighth for 83 points.
Division two went to Cool Creek Victory and Iona Station, Ont. resident Alfie Carroll, who also popped out of the pocket to reel in the favourite. Cool Creek Victory stopped the Flamboro Downs teletimer at 2:01, one-half length ahead of United Bi and Classical Son.
The win was the second in Grassroots action this season for Cool Creek Victory, who also posted two thirds and one seventh, wrapping up with 126 points. The Windsong Espoir son is trained by Mountain, Ont. resident Victor Puddy for Bill Manes of Rockwood, Ont., Limco Inc. of Chateauguay, Que., and Otnevram Inc. of Saint Leonard, Que.
After four second-place finishes, JLs Bad Moon Risin finally found the winner’s circle, going gate-to-wire in 2:04 for driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, Ont. The Muscle Mass colt bested Clone The Tone by one-half length, with Eyeseenow well back in third.
Puslinch, Ont. resident Richard Moreau conditions JLs Bad Moon Risin for Gestion J Y Blais of Montreal, Que. Sunday’s win gave the colt 158 points and a share of second-place in the division standings.
The top 20 point-earners will now battle in a pair of Semi-final races at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 17, with the top five finishers from each Semi-final returning to the Campbellville oval on Sept. 26 for the $50,000 Grassroots Championship.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Flamboro Downs on Sunday, Sept. 27 when the two-year-old trotting fillies will wrap up their Gold Series regular season.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)