After only winning one of his first five career starts, M and L of Delaware, LLC’s Simple Kinda Man ($16.50) sprung a 7-1 minor upset in the $200,200 Battle of Waterloo on Monday afternoon (August 7) at Grand River Raceway, using a steady first-over push to grind down 9-5 favourite Burning Midnight and evade 40-1 longshot Hudson Phil in 1:55.
The son of Sportswriter and Sorcha Bluestone drafted comfortably behind a contested pace, allowing Burning Midnight (Trevor Henry), Taste Of History (Louis-Philippe Roy), and Stock (Sylvain Fillion) to tussle on the first turn. Just after Burning Midnight used his inside position to stack the field up through a :27.4 first quarter, Corey Callahan angled Simple Kinda Man off the pegs from fourth to gain through the stretch on the first occasion. After attending a rated :57.3 half mile, Simple Kinda Man worked closer yet, duelling Burning Midnight down through a :28 third quarter and edging away on the far turn. Simple Kinda Man evaded a late-rallying Hudson Phil (James MacDonald) up the pegs by three-quarters of a length, while the engulfed Burning Midnight narrowly protected third from Taste of History.
“He drove really well today,” Callahan said about Simple Kinda Man, who has blossomed into a stakes contender after his lone prior win came in a $3,000 maiden event at Vernon Downs on June 24. “He was nice and calm, I could sit out there and rate as much as I wanted to go, and when I called on him, he just sprinted off for me.”
The Battle win was not only the first for Callahan, who made his Grand River debut, but also for trainer Scott McEneny.
“He was sent to me about six weeks ago to race in Ontario,” said McEneny. “He’s very fast, he’s a very aggressive horse, and we’ve had to get him quieted down a little bit. He got in a speed duel in his first start, and that kind of woke him up. He seems pretty good now; he’s got very quick speed.”
Play The Bell Dominates ‘Belles’ Field
Following her going-away elimination win last week, Play The Bell ($4.90) earned her third career win in five starts in the $139,250 Battle of the Belles for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing fillies, powering clear to a 1:54.4 victory.
When the other elimination winner Azure Seelster (Filion) broke at the start, the complexion of the race changed entirely for the daughter of Shadow Play and Bell Bottom Pans, who was able to settle in the third spot behind Sudden Passing (Doug McNair) and Ashlees Sport (Chris Christoforou). After patiently tracking a :27.4 first quarter, Bob McClure angled Play The Bell first-over, and the pair gained into a :57 half mile before engaging Sudden Passing in a backstretch duel. The two threw down in a :28.2 third quarter, and Play The Bell asserted herself on approach to the far turn, putting Sudden Passing away with ease.
“I probably could have cleared halfway up the backside, but I was taking it easy,” said McClure of the Casie Coleman trainee. “Then, I just kept her attention all the way home. She was flicking her ears and looking at stuff, so I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom of her.”
Play The Bell drew off steadily through the stretch, amassing 6-1/4 lengths of clearance over Rendezvous Hanover (Callahan), who circled three-wide around stalled cover to claim second over the fading Sudden Passing. Lady Bubbles (James MacDonald) emerged out of traffic on the final turn and lifted late to finish third.
The West Wins Stable, Mac Nichol, and Calhoun Racing, Ltd. share ownership of Play The Bell.
Kazimoto, Dream Of Luck, Southwind General Take Grassroots Splits
Kazimoto ($6.20) used a powerful first-over push through the third quarter to wear down odds-on favourite The Dark Shadow and edge away to a 1:56 victory in the afternoon’s $18,450 opener, the first of three Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots events for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.
Alfie Carroll and the Caseys Bonanza gelding stalked a three-way battle into the first turn, and the pair began their ascent nearing race’s midpoint just after The Dark Shadow (Jody Jamieson) yielded to Silverinyourpocket (Roy) and subsequently retook after a :26.4 first quarter. After The Dark Shadow pulled the half back to :57, Kazimoto advanced to apply steady pressure and work to the lead just past three-quarters in 1:26.2. Kazimoto would continue to expand his margin over the field on the final turn, edging away to prevail by 1-1/2 lengths in the end. Rebel Voyager (Filion) rallied mildly up the open stretch to take second from The Dark Shadow.
Victor Puddy trains five-time winner Kazimoto for Michael Kwietniowski.
In the second Grassroots division (race 5, purse $18,800), Dream Of Luck ($3.30) split Play For Gold (Tyler Moore) and Western Phil (Scott Young) at the dispatch and never looked back, posting a 1:55.1 victory with plenty in reserve.
Doug McNair sent the Camluck gelding to the fore between rivals and controlled early splits of :28.2 and :58.1 before facing mild first-over pressure from Oak Island (McClure) with five-sixteenths to go. Just upon taking second, Oak Island began to fade, enabling the pocket-sitting Play For Gold to regain second past three-quarters in 1:27.1. Despite Play For Gold’s best efforts to pursue, Dream Of Luck accelerated away decisively to a three-length win while well in hand. Play For Gold maintained the runner-up position, while Thrownoutofbetter (Phil Hudon) saved ground to take third as the outer flow stalled.
Dream Of Luck earned his fourth career win for trainer Jeff Gillis, who shares ownership with Mac Nichol and Gerald Stay.
The third and final Grassroots division of the afternoon (race 7, purse $18,800) saw Southwind General ($4.20) recover from first-turn interference, brush from the pocket, and parry a stout first-over charge from Ugottobinittowinit to record a 1:56.4 victory.
Jody Jamieson pushed the pace at the pegs with the Sportswriter gelding, but was forced to check midway on the first turn when Pickled Preacher (McNair) crossed over to clear the lead. After regaining his footing, Southwind General brushed to the fore at the completion of a :28.1 first quarter and rated a :57.4 half-mile split.
Up the far side, Ugottobinittowinit (McClure) offered intensifying first-over pressure and forced Jamieson to call on Southwind General for all he had in the final eighth. Southwind General responded in kind, holding off Ugottobinittowinit by half a length. Heza Big Dealer (Travis Cullen) escaped traffic an eighth from home to pass a fading Pickled Preacher and narrowly reach third from the second-over Brookdale Fletcher (Trevor Henry).
John Darling trains three-time winner Southwind General for the Jack Darling Stables, Ltd.
Phantom Seelster Circles To Waterloo Consolation Win
After biding his time in midfield as 24-1 outsider Sprocket blazed a blistering pace, Phantom Seelster ($2.30) circled three-wide up the far side and took over in the final eighth to capture the $20,000 Battle of Waterloo Consolation for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacers.
Twice a Grassroots winner at Mohawk, the gelded son of Mach Three and Pentecostal trailed two in the second flight as Sprocket (Wayne Henry) amassed a double-digit lead through early splits of :27.3 and :55.3. Trevor Henry angled Phantom Seelster second-over at the halfway stage behind Sports Band (Cullen), and ultimately the prohibitive favourite was forced three-wide around stalled cover nearing three-quarters in 1:25.1. Once around Sports Band, Phantom Seelster steadily gobbled up ground, reeling in the decelerating Sprocket just before turning for home and living up to his odds-on billing. Notabadgame (McNair), who broke stride at the start, recovered to catch the field, circled three-wide off the far turn, and closed under urging to only miss by 1-3/4 lengths. Atomic Seelster (Moore) likewise rallied from astern to take third.
For Phantom Seelster, the win was his third in five career starts. Trainer Marcel Barrieau shares ownership with Gestion Mastel, Inc. and Conrad Leber.