With four divisions settled by a margin of one length or less, Ontario’s talented three-year-old pacing colts did their part to warm-up the big crowd gathered for the Dream Of Glory Trot.
The colts kicked things off in the first race and Kokanee Seelster found his way to the Grassroots winner’s circle for the first time this season with a head victory over Spirit Shadow in 1:56. Perseverant finished one length back in third.
Alfie Carroll engineered the narrow win for trainer Richard Moreau and owners Edmund Lui of Parkhill, Ont., and Ming Siu of Richmond, B.C.
“A big win thanks to Sir Alfred Carroll,” quipped Moreau. “The horse is honest and game; he had some issues at first, but he seems to be good now. I’m happy for the owners.”
A three-time Grassroots winner as a two-year-old, including his Semifinal, Kokanee Seelster’s best Ontario Sires Stakes finish prior to Saturday’s victory was a fourth-place effort at Mohawk Racetrack on July 1. Through 12 sophomore starts, the son of Camluck and Kiddie Cocktail now has four wins, two seconds and earnings of $59,590.
The second $18,000 Grassroots division went to Daylight Rush, who scored his first ever Ontario Sires Stakes win with a gate-to-wire effort that saw him hold off Mayfield Duke by a neck. The colts hit the wire in 1:55.4, with Chalk Player one and one-quarter lengths back in third.
“About a month ago, I wasn’t sure he was going to win any races, now he’s reeled off like three this year, so I can’t complain,” said trainer Blake MacIntosh, who shares ownership of the gelding with Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania. “He was sort of a bridesmaid for a long time, but he’s come around and started to learn how to win, so we’re pretty happy with him.”
Billy Davis Jr. piloted the fan favourite to the win, boosting his sophomore record to three wins, two seconds and five thirds in 13 starts. The son of Art Colony and Pass With Caution adds Saturday’s Grassroots win to one third and one fifth-place finish in the first two legs, giving him a total of 67 points in the race for a berth in the Sept. 16 Semifinal.
Blue Zombie set the tempo in the third division and held off a surging Derecho at the wire to earn his first Grassroots trophy of the season. The Bettors Delight-Queen Of Blues son and driver Brad Forward halted the teletimer at 1:55.1, a head in front of Derecho and one length up on Bad Gamer.
“He’s been racing just fair this year. I thought he would have done better, but sickness hit my barn the worst I ever had this year, and it really took its toll on him,” said trainer Casie Coleman. “Saying that, he seems to be coming around for the second half of the season, and he loves the half also, so that helps him.”
The Cambridge, Ont. resident shares ownership of Blue Zombie with her partners in the West Wins Stable and Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through nine sophomore starts, the gelding now has four wins, one second and earnings of $24,740.
St Lads Moonwalk and driver Mike Saftic clocked the quickest mile of the five Grassroots divisions, leading the field through fractions of :28.1, :58.1 and 1:26.3 before powering home to a 1:54.3 score. Day Trade Hanover finished one and one-quarter lengths behind the fan favourite and Sporty Mercedes was five more lengths back in third.
“If they were all like him, it would be a lot more fun,” said owner/trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ont. “He tries every time and he’s just a very honest horse, which is all you can ask out of a racehorse.”
The Grassroots champion last season, St Lads Moonwalk finished second in the first two legs, by one-half length on June 16 and a neck on July 1. The son of Mach Three and Warrawee Cammy currently sits second in the point race, just 12 points behind his stablemate Continual Hanover, who finished third in the last division.
OK Iceman upset the favoured Continual Hanover with a front end effort that saw him hit the wire one length the best in 1:56.3. Big Yellow was a gritty second and Continual Hanover closed hard to be third.
Billy Davis Jr. got his second Grassroots win of the evening with OK Iceman, piloting the Mach Three-Fanciful gelding to his first OSS victory for trainer Mark Steacy and owners Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que., and Conrad Leber of Montreal, Que.
“Iceman has been a very pleasant surprise this year,” noted Steacy. “He was very lazy at two, but has become handy this year.”
The three-year-old pacing colts will make their fourth Grassroots start at Kawartha Downs on August 13.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)