Competing in their fifth regular season Grassroots event at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday evening, Ontario’s top two-year-old pacing fillies turned in a trio of impressive performances.
Kicking off the Friday evening program, which also featured two $93,880 Champlain divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings and one $166,872 Simcoe division for the three-year-old trotting fillies, were Neon Moon and driver Jody Jamieson, who earned their third Grassroots trophy with a 1:54.1 come-from-behind effort.
“Last start [on August 24] she was real aggressive, which she can have a tendency to get, and I was just getting her settled when a horse came at her hard. I choose to turn her on again and let her rattle. She paced well through the wire, but got picked up by two horses in the stretch,” said Moffat, Ont. resident Jamieson. “Tonight, I planned to switch things up a bit and show her a little cover. She really responded well tonight with a chance to chase horses down. She did just that, and did it quite easily.”
Starting from post two, Jamieson settled Neon Moon in fifth as Nurse Pie Q led the field to a :27.3 quarter. Just after Nurse Pie Q rang up a :56.3 half, Jamieson sent Neon Moon up the outside and the heavy favourite was making steady progress toward the pacesetter as she reached the 1:25 three-quarters. Neon Moon powered by Nurse Pie Q in the stretch and hit the wire two and three-quarter lengths on top. Lady Bubbles, who was three-for-three in Grassroots action heading into Friday’s test, closed hard to be second and Dry Silk Flowers made up almost 14 lengths in the final quarter to claim the third-place share of the $19,500 purse.
Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ont. bred, owns and trains Neon Moon, who has a record of three wins and one third in four Grassroots starts for 162 points and third spot in the division point standings. The daughter of Sportswriter and Beach Of A Time has banked $23,857 in her six-race career.
The second division saw Shower Play leapfrog over Lady Bubbles into top spot in the point standings with a commanding performance that may have given fans a glimpse into her future.
“They told me before the race maybe they were going to try her in the last Gold, so with that in mind, that’s why I let her out a notch turning for home, to see how she’d react,” said driver Sylvain Filion. “And as soon as I asked her at the top of the stretch, she just took off. She’s just a very nice filly, coming into her own; she’s getting better every week.”
Starting from post five, Filion had Shower Play in gear early and the pair landed in second spot behind Pretissimo, who took the field to a :27.3 quarter. Soon after the opening fraction, Filion put heavy favourite Shower Play on the lead and the Shadow Play daughter cruised through a :57 half and 1:25.3 three-quarters before Filion asked her for a bigger gear in the stretch. Shower Play responded with an impressive finishing kick that saw her hit the wire 10 lengths ahead of second and third-place finishers Sunday Afternoon and Askmysecretary in a personal best 1:53.
“Got to give credit to Rene Dion, he’s managed her pretty well,” added Milton, Ont. resident Filion, who crafted the win for trainer Dion of Rockwood, Ont., and his co-owners Susanne Kerwood of Rockwood, and Martin Leveillee of St-Blaise-Sur-Richelieu, Que. “He didn’t race her in the Gold yet. He knew there was a filly that he couldn’t beat so he kept her in the Grassroots. I thought that was well managed. He owns part of her with Susanne and I am so happy too for the other partner, Martin Leveillee, he’s such a nice guy.”
Racing exclusively in the Grassroots, Shower Play has tallied three wins and two seconds for a total of 200 points and $38,737 in earnings through five starts.
The final $19,850 division saw Azure Seelster return to the Grassroots after a foray up to the Gold level where she finished eighth, nine lengths behind the undefeated Percy Bluechip.
Another daughter of Shadow Play, Azure Seelster started from the trailing post 11 and never saw the pylons until she was heading into the final turn. Parked in the outer lane through the :27.2 quarter logged by Easy Three and the :55.3 half rung up by Love Kills, Azure Seelster took command heading for the 1:24.2 three-quarters and stayed game in the stretch, reaching the wire three and one-half lengths ahead of her peers in 1:54.4. Hammering Haley and favourite Duchess Dolly were second and third.
Louis-Philippe Roy crafted Azure Seelster’s second Grassroots win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Que., 9099 3833 Quebec Inc. and 2745 5815 Quebec Inc. of Sorel-Tracy, Que., and Paul Andre Lehoux of Sainte-Marie, Que.
In six starts, the filly now has three wins for a total of $31,287 in earnings and 100 Grassroots points, putting her among the top 10 point-earners with one regular season event remaining. The top 10 point-earners after the September 10 regular season finale at Rideau Carleton Raceway will compete in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk on September 30.
Ontario Sires Stakes performers will again be showcased on Mohawk Racetrack’s Saturday evening program as the three-year-old pacing colts compete in a pair of $98,000 Gold Series divisions. Also on Saturday’s program is one $169,381 Champlain division for the two-year-old pacing fillies, two divisions, $97,880 and $96,880, of the Champlain Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, one $165,838 Simcoe division for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, and the $615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby for aged pacers. Post time for the stakes laden card is 7:30 p.m.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)