Two-year-old pacing colt Southwind General was an impressive winner in his career debut on Wednesday evening (August 17) as he posted the fastest time out of the three $18,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions held at Grand River Raceway.
Driver Jody Jamieson pointed Southwind General to the front after taking a brief tuck in third off the gate in the evening’s final eighth race division. The Sportswriter-Gamblers Passion colt took the lead at the :27.3 quarter mark and proceeded to the half in :57 and three-quarters in 1:27.1 before sprinting away from the rest of the field to win by more than eight lengths in 1:55.1 over the ‘good’ track. Early leader Stonebridge Bullet (Doug McNair) followed in second over One Source (Sylvain Filion).
Southwind General was purchased for $110,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale as a yearling by owner/trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ont. He was scratched sick from his originally-planned debut on July 21 at Mohawk Racetrack and entered Wednesday’s Grassroots leg off a 1:55.1 qualifying win last week over Mohawk.
“Things just really didn’t work out for his schedule. Everything was going fine and then he got sick there [mid-July] and we had to qualify him again [August 9], and then I couldn’t get him a race at Mohawk, so I put him in here,” explained Darling. “Luckily, he got around the track good and he was pretty impressive. I really liked the looks of him at the wire.
“Early, he was our best one training down, and then kind of towards the end he was just okay. He’s a very big colt and he kind of went through a bit of a growth stage where he got kind of flopping around, but just recently he’s really come into his own again. So I was hoping for a mile like he went tonight, but you never know until you see them do it.”
Darling said that if Southwind General comes out of the race in good shape, he could be headed to the Metro Pace.
Divisional point leader Silverinyourpocket earned his third Grassroots victory with a wire-to-wire effort in an earlier Grassroots division.
The Badlands Hanover-Fillys Victory colt worked to the lead from post seven and cruised through fractions of :29, :59.2 and 1:29.2 en route to a 1:57.2 triumph under wraps for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Richard Moreau. The Darling stable’s Trident Seelster (Jody Jamieson) tracked in the pocket throughout and finished two and three-quarter lengths behind in second while Monty Mono (Bob McClure) followed in third.
Silverinyourpocket was a $19,000 Forest City Yearling Sale purchase and has won half of his six starts and $43,720 in purses for owners David and Marguerite Ratchford of North Sydney, N.S.
“Our goal is to keep him together and healthy for this year,” said Moreau. “I want to make sure he stays brave, and the hope is to have an even better horse next year.”
The other division was won by Down On My Luck, who now boasts back-to-back Grassroots wins on his resume for trainer Ron Adams.
With the inside post advantage, the Camluck-False Alert gelding took the lead for driver Doug McNair over the leaving Master The View (Jody Jamieson), another Darling trainee, and carved out fractions of :29.2, 1:00.4 and 1:30.2 with Tigers Way (Bob Mcclure) challenging first over. However, Down On My Luck dug in down the stretch and prevailed by one and a half lengths in 1:58.4. Master The View edged out Tigers Way for second.
“He’s a nice gaited colt. Very, very lazy — a four-year-old kid could jog him — but when a horse comes to him, he keeps going,” said McNair. “He’s a tough horse not to like.”
Down On My Luck is now two-for-five in his career for owners 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor, Ont. and David Kryway of Amherstburg, Ont. He was purchased for $10,000 at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale and has banked $22,500 to date.
A pair of $7,500 Preferred 3 events for filly and mare pacers were won by Jabas Luck and Squeeze This on the Wednesday card. In her first start off the claim for the Gary Lance stable and owner Patrick Dillon of Port Hope, Ont., Jabas Luck shook off a challenge from the favoured Legal Process and went on to win by three lengths in 1:55.3 in rein to Scott Young. Owned by Garth Bechtel of Caledon East, Ont., the Don Lindsey-trained Squeeze This and driver Travis Henry just held off the pocket-pulling Hex in a photo finish for their 1:53.4 victory.
(Standardbred Canada with quotes from OSS)