Eight championship finals were contested Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack, as the top point earners from the regular season flocked to the Campbellville, Ont. oval for the O.S.S. Grassroots Finals.
Here’s a complete recap of what took place:
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Filly Trot
Delcrest Magicstar didn’t have much luck in the post position draw, but she came overcame his Post 9 hurdle and cruised to a comfortable win for co-owner/driver James MacDonald.
He put the Mark Steacy trainee on the lead right from the outset, and the filly successfully led the group through intervals of :28, :57.2 and 1:27 before using a :29.1 kicker to win by 1-1/2 lengths over Bustingattheseams in 1:56.1. Steacy also sent out the third-place finisher, Ticket To Seattle.
MacDonald and partners Peter Porter and Johnny McKinnon watched the daughter of Majestic Son-Stars Balance improve this year’s record to 6-1-1 from 15 assignments with the win. She’s stashed away close to $140,000 in lifetime earnings.
“I really thought, as long as she got an okay trip, I thought she was the one to beat so I raced her like that and she didn’t let me down,” said MacDonald. “Front end’s not her cup of tea and then coming back in four days, but it just, it didn’t matter, she was the best tonight.”
Breeder Doug Delaney will sell an Archangel sister, Hip #171 Delcrest Starangel, to Delcrest Magicstar at next month’s London Selected Yearling Sale.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace
Wildriverbumblebee went to the front and didn’t look back en route to an impressive triumph in his Grassroots Final.
Sylvain Filion pointed the son of Sportswriter-Alcor Semalu to the lead from Post 3, and the homebred knifed his way through fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:24.4 before sprinting home in :27.2 to win by 3-3/4 lengths over The Dark Shadow in 1:52.1. Taking home the show dough was Dream Of Luck.
Francis Richard trains the colt for owner/breeder Dr. John Bradbury of Cookshire-Eaton, QC. The victory was the seventh of the season from nine attempts this season for Wildriverbumblebee, who lifted his lifetime earnings to $123,115 with the win.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace
He was the second horse to cross the finish line, but Pretty Handsome ended up coming away victorious in his rich affair after eventual winner Phantom Seelster was tossed out for interfering with another foe in the lane.
Race favourite Casimir Richie P blasted to the lead and carved out fractions of :26.4, :56.2 and 1:25.1, but he couldn’t seal the deal. Jonathan Drury worked out a covered-up trip for Pretty Handsome, and the kicked off cover in the lane and appeared to be well on their way to victory lane. Phantom Seelster, who was trapped on the rail around the final turn, shook loose in deep stretch and sprinted up alongside Pretty Handsome and then went by that foe in the closing strides en route to stopping the clock in 1:54.
The AGCO Judges promptly lit the inquiry sign, however, and they eventually determined Sylvain Filion and Phantom Seelster interfered with Family Sports in mid-stretch. Phantom Seelster was placed ninth for the infraction, and Pretty Handsome was second-placed-first. Letjimmytakeover was third-placed-second and Sprocket was fourth-placed-third.
Andrew McCabe trains Pretty Handsome, a son of Mach Three-Pretty Thing, for Glenview Livestock Ltd of Wallenstein, Ont. The win improves his rookie scorecard to 4-1-0 from seven trips to the track and his share of the purse boosted his bankroll to $56,200.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot
It was a wild finish for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings, and when the dust settled it was the Kyle Reibeling-trained Yo Yo Mass producing a pylon-skimming score.
Treated to a three-hole trip for most of the mile, Yo Yo Mass watched Charmbo Chrome sliced out splits of :28, :57.4 and 1:27. The leader tired late and when he did the rail opened up for Jody Jamieson and Yo Yo Mass. The son of Muscle Mass-Stonebridge Entice, who was debuting on Lasix, shot through late and posted the 5-1 upset over Charmbo Chrome in 1:56.3. Rounding out the top three finishers was Vesuvio Bi.
“All week I figured, this horse, he’s better off the front end, we’re better just to roll him and play catch me if you can,” said Reibeling. “But Jody (Jamieson) was patient, he gave him a great drive, everything worked out. I’m just tickled pink with the way things worked out.”
Reibeling shares ownership on the sophomore with co-owner/breeder Nancy Grimble of Newcastle, Ont. The victory was the fifth of the season for the consistent campaigner who wound up improving his seasonal record to 5-5-0 from 17 trips postward. The lion’s share of the loot lifted his overall earnings to $95,000.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Filly Pace
The betting public was all over Shewearsthepants in her Grassroots Final, and the filly didn’t disappoint that army of pari-mutuel backers.
Doug McNair tucked the photogenic filly into the pocket when the starting gate sped away, and that left the front end to Treasures Pearl. She zipped past the opening quarter in :27.3 before McNair popped out of the pocket and brushed to the top with Shewearsthepants. The favourite then sailed through middle panels of :55.3 and 1:24.2 before kicking home in :28.3 to win by 1-1/2 lengths over a hard-driving Manhattan Play in 1:53. Treasures Pearl tagged along to finish third.
“I actually did think we were in a little bit of trouble at the head of the stretch, because you can’t torture her that way. I know she’s got a lot of wins this year, but a lot of them have been off cover or like a first over or something. She hasn’t win too many off the front the whole way, but she dug in tough,” said McNair. “She knows how to win, that’s for sure. If she’d come in not winning as many she probably would have stopped in the stretch, but she’s brave so she was good.”
The Gregg McNair-trained daughter of Big Jim-Simply Liz improved her 2017 record to 10-2-1 from 17 assignments for owner/breeder Anatolia Farm LLC of New Holland, PA. The 12-time winner boosted her bankroll to $145,462 with the win.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Filly Pace
Acquired earlier this month, Love Kills enjoyed a major score thanks to her 32-1 upset in her O.S.S. Grassroots Final for trainer Carmen Auciello.
Driven by Jonathan Drury, the Badlands Hanover-Btwnyurheartnmine lass got away eighth while Azure Seelster sped to the engine and hammered out fractions of :27 and :57 before being overtaken by Duchess Dolly. It was a short stint on the lead for Duchess Dolly, however, as race favourite Neon Moon swiped away the lead from her at the three-quarter pole in 1:25.2. Drury, who got Love Kills into the outer flow going to the half, advanced with cover and then smoked by foes in the lane with a final quarter kick of :28.3. Love Kills won by 2-1/4 lengths over odds-on favourite Neon Moon. The show dough was earned by Ashlees Sport.
Denarben Stables of Thornhill, Ont. own Love Kills who now boasts a 2-2-3 record from 10 trips postward. The $25,000 payday lifted her overall cash stash to just shy of $50,000 to date.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot
Not even a first over trip could derail Stormont Ventnor in his quest to cap off a very consistent rookie season with Grassroots Championship score.
The homebred son of Justice Hall-Lady Grenville got away fourth for driver Phil Hudon while Nobodynosjustice rushed to the lead and whacked out early fractions of :28.2 and :59. Nobodynosjustice was confronted around the final turn by the first-over Stormont Ventnor, and not much separated them at the three-quarter pole in 1:29. Stormont Ventnor wrestled away the lead from Nobodynosjustice and drew clear to win by 1-3/4 lengths over Chief Justice. Barney Mac was third.
“He raced huge,” said Hudon. “I didn’t want to be locked in, but I wouldn’t have minded being second-over. It didn’t work out, but I was pretty confident in the colt.”
Sent off as the 7-5 favourite, the Kevin Benn trainee improved his rookie record to 2-4-0 from just six trips postward. Eric Baker of Long Sault, Ont. bred and owns the career winner of $52,937.
$50,000 O.S.S. Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Filly Trot
Dalliance Seelster was a maiden going into her assignment, but a sweet trip mapped out by James MacDonald helped the trotting lass find her way to victory lane for the first time.
The daughter of Holiday Road-Desi Sweet Sixteen rushed out to grab the early lead from Post 2 and she was on the hook for the opening quarter of :28.4. P L Layla powered to the lead in the backstretch, and she took the field to the half in :59.1. Warrawee Trip came first-over around the final turn, and she cleared to the top at the three-quarter marker in 1:28.2. MacDonald angled Dalliance Seelster back to the outside at the head of the lane, and the coasted home in :31 to win over stablemates Warrawee Trip and Gradabra.
Trainer John Bax’s Bax Stable co-owns the freshman with Glengate Farms. From 10 starts she’s managed to assemble a 1-2-3 record and a bankroll of $40,487.
“James gave that filly a great drive, I mean you couldn’t have mapped it out any better than that,” said Bax, also complimenting the efforts of drivers Steve Byron and Paul MacDonell. “She’s been half sick all summer so the stars all lined up tonight. I’m happy for all the owners, including Matt and I. It couldn’t be any better than that.”
$34,000 Preferred Pace
Sintra disappointed as the favourite in last week’s Preferred Pace, but he bounced back to score in Saturday’s edition in a sparkling clocking for the tandem of driver Jody Jamieson and trainer Dave Menary.
Jamieson ducked his charge into the four-hole while Nirvana Seelster shot to the lead and threw down fractions of :27.1, :55.2 and 1:22.4. Fool Me Once came first-over around the final turn and Sintra was perfectly poised to challenge while racing on that foe’s cover. Sintra kicked off his cover in the lane and sprinted to the 1:49.3 victory over American Virgin and Jins Shark.
It was the ninth win of the season for the 17-time winner, who is owned by Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and Menary Racing Inc. The lion’s share of the purse pushed his lifetime earnings past $900,000.
(Standardbred Canada with quotes from OSS)