Thursday evening was the last opportunity for the three-year-old trotting colts and the three-year-old pacing fillies to accumulate points toward a berth in the Grassroots Championship as both divisions wrapped up their regular season at Mohawk Racetrack.
The trotting colts kicked things off in the first race and division point leader Rose Run Speedster put an exclamation mark on his season, capturing his fourth straight Grassroots trophy in a 1:57.3 personal best. Starting from Post 9, driver Louis-Philippe Roy sat fourth with the fan favourite through the first half of the mile and then sent Rose Run Speedster into the outer lane heading for the three-quarters. Enchanted Mission mounted a furious challenge through the stretch, but Rose Run Speedster hung on for a neck victory. Upvote Hanover finished third.
Roy piloted Rose Run Speedster to the win for trainer Rene Allard of Matamoras, PA and his partner Rose Run Speedster Stable of Guelph, ON. The win gives the Windsong Espoir colt a perfect 200 points from four wins in four Grassroots starts.
In the second $19,500 trotting colt split, Charmbo Chrome stormed away from the field to a personal best 1:56 for driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville, ON. The Manofmanymissions son finished three and one-half lengths ahead of favourite Warrawee Shipshape, with Vesuvio Bi six more lengths back in third.
“He got pretty brave in that Dream Of Glory thing and when he got on the front there last week (Aug. 26), his last win, he was really brave. Right now he’s as smooth and sharp and raring to go as he’s ever been,” said trainer John Rier of Kitchener, who bred and owns the colt in partnership with his brother Randy Rier of Hanover, ON.
After two eighth-place finishes and one fifth in the first three Grassroots events, Rier added trotting hopples to Charmbo Chrome’s equipment list and altered the colt’s shoeing.
Since the mid-July changes Charmbo Chrome has posted a record of three wins, one third and two fifths, with back-to-back Grassroots victories giving the colt 107 points and a berth in the Sept. 30 championship.
“He’s pretty smooth and right now he’s pretty honest. I put hopples on him, I changed his shoes — I took the toe weights off — that’s about it,” said Rier. “And I’ve got to thank Ross Battin and Mike Saftic also for their persistent and consistent driving, because they never got him riled up, and they kept him within himself, and he responded to that very nicely.”
Over the next two weeks Rier plans to race Charmbo Chrome in an overnight at Mohawk, in preparation for the $50,000 Grassroots Championship on Sept. 30, and says the colt will continue to compete at the Campbellville oval after his Ontario Sires Stakes career comes to a close.
“I’ll keep on. He’ll be my winter horse,” said the trainer, who also campaigned the colt’s mother Hetties Charm, herself a Grassroots winner at both two and three.
In the last trotting colt division Radical Road came up with a big effort, reeling in the leaders through the final quarter for his first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes victory.
In rein to Travis Henry of Embro, ON, Radical Road hit the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of Yo Yo Mass and favourite Euro Gap in 1:56.2.
The win propelled Radical Road, who is trained by Martin Lachance for Royal Wire Products of North Royalton, OH, up the standings and into the Grassroots Championship.
In the two $19,150 sophomore pacing filly splits, first-time Grassroots starter Mach The Cut and division point leader Shewearsthepants captured their respective divisions.
Mach The Cut rocketed from sixth to first in the final quarter to earn her first Grassroots victory, hitting the wire two and one-half lengths ahead of pacesetter and favourite C Mary in a personal best 1:53.1. Fading Shadow was well back in third.
Milton, ON resident Sylvain Filion piloted Mach The Cut to the win for trainer Tony O’Sullivan of Puslinch, ON and his partner Let It Ride Stables Inc of Boca Raton, FL. With just 50 points, Mach The Cut will miss the cut off for the Grassroots Championship by 18 points.
Shewearsthepants added a fourth Grassroots trophy to her collection, holding off a charging Treasures Pearl for a one-half length win in a personal best 1:52.2. Gottalovemyshadow was three more lengths back in third.
Guelph resident Doug McNair piloted the filly to her ninth win of the season for his father, trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, and owner-breeders Anatolia Farm LLC of New Holland, PA.
“She’s the one to beat for sure,” said Doug McNair of the Big Jim daughter’s chances in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship. “I hope she stays healthy for the final; if she does she’ll have a real good shot.”
Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday evening with a single $125,800 Gold Series contest for the two-year-old pacing fillies. The fillies will compete in Race 5 on a program that also features eliminations for the Milton Stakes for aged pacing mares and the Maple Leaf Trot for aged trotters. Post time for Friday’s program is 7:30 p.m.