Mike Saftic picked up an extra mount 45 minutes before the first three-year-old trotting colt Grassroots division went behind the gate at Georgian Downs on Tuesday and turned the unexpected opportunity into an Ontario Sires Stakes driving double.
Stepping into Parkhill Maximus’s race bike for the first time, Saftic eased the gelding away from Post 4 and then found cover behind Ulysses Bi as that colt powered up the outside. Turning for home Saftic asked Parkhill Maximus for another gear and the Federal Flex son sprinted away from the field to a 1:59 victory. KFB Amigo Cool was two and one-quarter lengths back in second and Red Monster was third.
“The trip set up good, he was second over and the other horse cleared. He got a nice little trip,” said Saftic, who piloted Parkhill Maximus to the win for trainer Bill Shaw and owner Patricia Gibb of London, ON.
The victory was the fifth trip to the winner’s circle in 20 sophomore starts for Parkhill Maximus, and the gelding’s first Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) victory.
One race later Saftic was back in the winner’s circle with one of his regular mounts, Bow Ties N Bourbon. The fan favourites led from start to finish, laying down fractions of :29.3, :59 and 1:29 before battling down the stretch to hold off UF Musclemass Star by a head in 1:59.3. Classical Son was three lengths back in third.
“He showed some heart down the lane and got the job done,” said Saftic. “He’s a little bit of a trappy-gaited guy, and he was a little rolly today, but he hung on.
“They were happy owners, put it that way,” the Campbellville, ON resident added. “That’s what it’s about.”
Saftic piloted Bow Ties N Bourbon to his second win of the season, and first OSS victory, for trainer Marcel Barrieau of Cambridge, ON and owner Dona McDonald of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Trainer John Bax of Campbellville, ON made a rare appearance in the race bike in the third division, guiding Manofmanyimages to a 1:57.4 score for owners Richard Gutnick of Blue Bell, PA, T L P Stable of Kearny, NJ and Joseph Lozito, Jr. of Wayne, NJ. The pair finished one length ahead of Chestnut Schofield and four lengths ahead of Wildwild Men. A Grassroots winner at Georgian Downs last season, the Manofmanymissions son had been winless in three sophomore starts before Tuesday’s triumph.
The fourth division saw Holiday Party and driver Paul Mackenzie control the tempo with fractions of :28, 58.3 and 1:28.1 on their way to a one length score in 1:58. The Land Shark and favourite Muscles For Life, last year’s Grassroots champion, finished second and third. Puslinch, ON resident Mackenzie engineered the win for trainer Dany Fontaine of Lachenaie, QC and owner Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. of Montreal, QC. The win was the second straight for the Holiday Road gelding.
Sylvain Filion, last year’s leading reinsman in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, piloted JLS Bad Moon Risin to a win in the fifth division, guiding the Muscle Mass son to a 1:57.1 personal best. Favourite Donicus and P L Jerico, piloted by Saftic, rounded out the top three. Filion, who makes his home in Milton, ON, drove JLS Bad Moon Risin to the second Grassroots win of his career for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON and owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. of Montreal, QC.
The final Grassroots trophy went to Georgies Pockets and trainer-driver Jack Moiseyev, who delivered a commanding four and one-half length victory over Asterix and Stormont Esquire. The 1:57.3 clocking was a personal best for Georgies Pockets, who was a four-time winner in the Grassroots as a two-year-old, including his Grassroots Semifinal. Moffat, ON resident Moiseyev conditions the son of Muscle Mass for owner-breeder M T Pockets Stables of Pompano Beach, FL.
The three-year-old trotting colts and geldings will make their second Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on July 12, while Georgian Downs gets set to host the Gold Series debuts of the two-year-old trotting fillies on July 5.