In their second straight Grassroots event at Mohawk Racetrack, Ontario’s two-year-old pacing colts demonstrated their rapidly improving racing skills, with all six divisions clocked in 1:55.1 or quicker.
Wild Chance kicked off the evening with an impressive effort that saw him power around the final turn in the outer lane and then dig in through the stretch for a three and three-quarter length victory in 1:54.1. The fan favourite bested Vegas Dream and Archangel Three.
“He’s a nice colt,” said driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, Ont., who engineered the win for trainer Dr. Ian Moore of Guelph, Ont. and owners Wayne Eric Whebby of Dartmouth, N.S. and R G McGroup Ltd. of Bathurst, N.B. “He has a great attitude, loves to race.”
Henry piloted Wild Chance to a runner-up finish in last week’s Grassroots season opener and the Bettors Delight colt now boasts 75 points in the race for a post season berth, putting him in a three-way tie for top spot in the division standings. The $40,000 acquisition from the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale has already returned $13,500 to his owners in his first two starts.
Among the colts who also own a share of top spot is Derecho, who captured the second $18,000 division. Campbellville, Ont. resident Chris Christoforou gave the Big Jim colt a confident steer, going straight to the front from post six and cruising home a one and one-half length winner in 1:53.3. Continual Hanover and Gerries Sport closed hard to be second and third behind the favourite.
Trainer Dustin Jones of Waterdown, Ont. shares ownership of Derecho with Ecuries Daniel Plouffe Inc. of Bromont, Que. and Jean Dessureault of Candiac, Que. The partners offered up $60,000 for the first foal $122,923 winner Stonebridge Breeze at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.
“He’s a nice colt, was always willing,” said Jones, who piloted the colt to a runner-up finish in last week’s Grassroots test. “And he’s very intelligent.”
Derecho’s victory was the first of three Christoforou would engineer in the Grassroots program, and the reinsman also captured one overnight event. His second visit to the winner’s circle came in the third Grassroots split when favourite Blue Zombie was awarded the win after MC Squared went off stride at the wire and was placed from first back to second. The two colts hit the wire neck-and-neck in 1:55.1, three lengths ahead of St Lads Charger.
“I hate to win by default, but a win’s a win,” said Cambridge, Ont. resident Casie Coleman, who trains Blue Zombie. “I’m really happy with him tonight.
“He trained down just average. He’s very lazy, just does what he has to, but he seems to be getting better each week,” she added.
Coleman shares ownership of the Bettors Delight gelding with her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, and Adriano Sorella of Milton, Ont. The $30,000 purchase from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale was third in last week’s Grassroots opener and currently sits tied for second in the point race with 62.
Tango Star was victorious in his first-ever start, sprinting down the stretch to a one and one-half length win over A Bettors Risk and Macaroni N Cheese. Mario Baillargeon of Milton, Ont. engineered the 1:54.3 win for trainer Martin Lachance of Guelph, Ont. and owner Lachance Racing Stable of Millstone Twp, New Jersey. The Sportswriter colt was a $30,000 purchase out of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.
Christoforou completed his Grassroots hat trick in the fifth division, going gate-to-wire with Baddestnbestest. The duo repelled a challenge from fan favourite Print Media and sailed home two and one-quarter lengths on top in 1:53.4. Print Media settled for second with Southwind Billy two more lengths back in third.
Jacques Dupont of Repentigny, Que. conditions Baddestnbestest for Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Gestion Levesque 2005Inc. of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que. and 9099 3833 Quebec Inc. of Sorel-Tracy, Que. The partners acquired the son of Badlands Hanover and $255,464 winner Ultimate Best from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $36,000.
The last Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with California Sun, who stalked pacesetter The Big Beast through fractions of :27.3, :57 and 1:25.4 before swinging out in the stretch and sprinting away to a four length win in 1:54.4. The Big Beast settled for second, holding off Anarchy Hanover.
Guelph resident Doug McNair crafted the pocket trip for trainer Tony O’Sullivan of Cambridge. Dockside Stables LLC of Millstone, New Jersey and Shari Watchman of Farmingdale, New Jersey own California Sun, a Bettors Delight colt out of the great race mare Carolina Sunshine, who earned $1.3 million in her career. The colt was a $20,000 acquisition from the Harrisburg Sale and finished fourth in last week’s season opener.
“He seemed to get a bit lost on the lead last week,” noted O’Sullivan. “This week he appreciated having something to aim at.”
The two-year-old pacing colts will further their development in the third Grassroots event of the season at Rideau Carleton Raceway on August 13. In the meantime, their Gold Series peers return to Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening, featured in races five and nine on the 7:25 p.m. program.