Long before two-year-old trotting colt Kitarro made his Grand River Raceway debut in the second of four Grassroots divisions on Wednesday evening (July 20), trainer Kyle Reibeling thought the youngster might find success on the Elora oval.
“Once he got rolling and we got him working in our sets, I thought this is kind of a nice little half-mile type horse,” recalled Reibeling. “He’s handy, he’s a professional. I’m not going to say he’s a world champion, but he’s a handy little horse that’s going to produce and make some money.”
Kitarro proved Reibeling right on Wednesday, adding a Grassroots win to the third-place result he posted in the July 9 season opener.
In rein to Puslinch resident Paul Mackenzie, Kitarro left smartly from post four and settled into third as Northern Dazzle and fan favourite Critical Mass tussled through a :31.1 opening quarter. The pair continued to sit third as Critical Mass led the field of five to a 1:02.3 half, but joined driver Alfie Carroll and My Big Kadillac in the outer lane heading for the 1:33 three-quarters. As Mackenzie tipped Kitarro out three-wide for the stretch battle, My Big Kadillac’s race bike wheel snagged Critical Mass’s wheel, which took both colts out of the running. Clear of the confusion, Kitarro coasted home an eight-length winner in 2:03.2. Northern Dazzle was second and Critical Mass finished third.
“Paul did an excellent job, he had him in position, he was right up tight on Alfie’s [Carroll] back and he was swelling up around the last turn,” noted Reibeling, whose late father Norman served as the long-time paddock blacksmith at Elmira and Grand River Raceways. “It’s hard to say what would have happened had they not hooked up, but he was in full flight when he tipped him off Alfie’s back and he kind of looked like he was going to go on by anyway, and he was pretty well in command once he did.”
The win gives Kitarro a total of 62 points in the race toward a Grassroots post season berth and ups his earnings to $11,160, more than recouping the $8,500 BenBar Stables of Oakville offered up to bring the Southwind Lustre son home from the 2015 Canadian Yearling Sale.
“The BenBar Stables, they actually picked him out as a yearling, and they’re good guys,” said Reibeling, who acquired a share in the colt before his first start. “It’s really nice to produce results for such good people.”
Kitarro and his peers will make their next Grassroots start on July 28 at Mohawk Racetrack, and while Reibeling anticipates that the colt will deliver his best results over smaller ovals, he is confident the trotter will be ready for battle.
“I expect this colt will get a little better as he goes on. I’m not sure Mohawk — his next sires stakes — will be his forte because he’s a small colt that’s quite handy,” said the Campbellville resident. “But we’ll just have to race him accordingly over the big track.”
Two of Wednesday’s Grassroots divisions went to colts that had already acquired Ontario Sires Stakes trophies for their owner’s display cases.
Rosberg scored his second straight win in the first division, going gate-to-wire in 2:01.3 for driver Jack Moiseyev of Moffat, trainer Julie Walker of Carlisle and her partners Ronald Piers of Georgetown and Layhoon Chan Brunner of Etobicoke. Zorgwijk Rocket and Mr Marshmellow finished behind the fan favourite in second and third.
Manofmanymissions son Rosberg has also repaid his purchase price of $13,000 (U.S.) from the Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale, netting a total of $19,000 with his Grassroots victories.
In the third division, Themanofmydreams made his second appearance in the Grassroots winner’s circle with a front-end effort that saw him hit the wire in 2:03.3. Little Lion Man and Lexus Gilmore rounded out the top three.
Denis St. Pierre drives Themanofmydreams for trainer Tiffanee Staley of Guelph and her Quebec partners Alexandre and Christian Pilon of St-Eustache and Jesse Legault of Lorraine. The Muscle Mass son was a $22,000 acquisition from the Canadian Yearling Sale.
The final Grassroots division went to the colt that finished fourth behind Kitarro in the July 9 season opener at Georgian Downs. Starting from post one in Wednesday’s test, Tougher Than Ever sat third through the first half of the mile, following Dontcrampmystyle and favourite Warrawee Shipshape, then stepped into the outer lane and powered past the leaders to a two and one-quarter length victory in 2:02.2.
“He was very good,” said Guelph resident James MacDonald, who engineered the Kadabra colt’s first victory for New Jersey-based trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and owners Mel Hartman of Ottawa, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida and David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida. “He is very green, but he has a big motor. He didn’t seem to mind being first up and was strong right to the wire.”
Warrawee Shipshape settled for second and pacesetter Dontcrampmystyle was third.
In related news, the 2015 Grassroots pacing champion St Lads Moonwalk defeated older rivals in a $7,500 Preferred 3 with Doug McNair catch-driving for trainer/owner Jack Darling of Cambridge. The son of Mach Three out of Warrawee Cammy was a close runner-up in this year’s first two Grassroots Series legs for three-year-old pacing colts. In Wednesday’s Preferred, 3-5 favourite St Lads Moonwalk swept to the lead after a :27.3 first quarter and cruised through middle splits of :56.1 and 1:25.3 en route to the two and a half length victory in 1:53.4 over Newbie, with Rockabella coming on for third.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Grand River Raceway on Friday, July 29 with Grassroots action for the two-year-old trotting fillies.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)