Lets Be Honest battled in the Gold Series as a two-year-old, but Rockwood, Ontario resident Benoit Baillargeon decided to start the trotter in the Grassroots this season and the decision proved a wise one as the gelding captured his first Ontario Sires Stakes trophy at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday.
Lets Be Honest and driver Mario Baillargeon of Milton, Ontario benefitted from post one in the fifth Grassroots division and were able to sit behind pacesetter A Little More Love through fractions of :29.3, :59.4 and 1:29.4 before sneaking up the passing lane to a narrow victory. A Little More Love settled for second in the 2:00.2 mile, with Jayport All Muscle completing the top three.
“He’s coming along real nice,” said trainer Ben Baillargeon after the race. “He’s got a little bit of talent, let’s put it that way. I don’t know if he’ll be able to step back up to the Gold, we’ll see as we go.”
The horseman conditions Lets Be Honest for Claude Gendreau Stable Inc. of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Through eight starts this year, Lets Be Honest has tallied two wins, two seconds and two thirds for earnings of $20,318. Since finishing sixth in the Grassroots season opener on June 4, the Deweycheatumnhowe son has two wins and a third, all over Mohawk Racetrack.
“So far he’s done what we ask him to do,” noted Baillargeon. “He’s getting better every start.”
Baillargeon also picked up a runner-up cheque with Numbers Game in the fourth $18,000 division, while Century Behemoth made a break and finished sixth in the sixth heat.
“I’ve got three or four [three-year-old trotting colts], they’re mostly all Grassroots right now,” added the trainer. “Hopefully one will step up to the Gold, but right now it’s still too early.”
Unlike Lets Be Honest, Its Huw You Know was a regular on the Grassroots scene last year and the Holiday Road gelding picked up his second ever Grassroots trophy in the first division on Wednesday. Fan favourites Its Huw You Know and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, Ontario led from start to finish, sailing under the wire three and three-quarter lengths ahead of P L Intimidator and Mandeville. The 2:00.2 clocking shaved one-fifth of a second off the gelding’s personal best.
Conditioned by Keith Jones of Midland, Ontario for Douglas McCarthy of Holland Landing, Ontario, Its Huw You Know had been winless through eight starts prior to Wednesday’s outing.
The second Grassroots division also featured a tight finish as favourite Call Me Richard stuck a neck in front of pacesetter New Muscle AS at the wire. South Star finished third in the 1:58.2 mile.
Guelph, Ontario resident Paul MacDonell engineered Call Me Richard’s first sophomore victory for trainer Clare Bradshaw of Simcoe, Ontario and owner Andrea Arthur of Scotland, Ontario. At two, the Muscle Mass colt was a three-time winner in the Grassroots program.
Buzz scored his first ever victory in the third division, trotting home three and one-quarter lengths ahead of Easton Road and Innkeeper in 2:01.3. Sylvain Filion made his second appearance in the Grassroots winner’s circle, guiding the Kadabra gelding home for trainer Luc Blais of Lochaber Ouest, Quebec and owner Determination of Montreal, Quebec.
Top Dollar earned his second straight Grassroots victory with an impressive come-from-behind effort in the fourth split. Another son of Deweycheatumnhowe, Top Dollar sprinted from fifth at the top of the stretch to a three length victory over Baillargeon starter Numbers Game and Molon Lave, halting the teletimer at 2:00.1.
Guelph, Ontario reinsman James MacDonald piloted Top Dollar to his third lifetime victory for trainer Ann Karin Larsen of Norwood, Ontario and her partners Steve Organ of Aurora, Ontario and Stig Westrum and Tor Jan Larsen of Norwood.
Arthur, Ontario horseman Trevor Henry captured the sixth Grassroots trophy with lightly rated Delcrest Massy. The pair powered down the stretch to a 1:58.2 win over Tswalu and Irish Scotch. Henry was in the race bike on behalf of trainer Victor Puddy of Mountain, Ontario and owner Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, Ontario.
The evening’s final trophy went home with Windsor, Ontario resident Bob McIntosh, who will add it to the hardware Kadabrasnewrecruit earned in the Grassroots season opener. Driver Randy Waples of Milton, Ontario fired the Kadabra gelding straight to the front and the heavy favourites led through all stations on their way to a 1:59 victory. Ontheroad De Vie and Rebel Rebel rounded out the top three.
McIntosh owns and trains Kadabrasnewrecruit, who boasts a record of two wins and two seconds in four sophomore starts for earnings of $27,250.
After their second Grassroots victories, Top Dollar and Kadabrasnewrecruit share top spot in the standings with 100 points and will have an opportunity to add to their tally at Mohawk Racetrack on July 3.
Rather than head to Mohawk, some of the three-year-old trotting colts may choose to return to Grand River Raceway when the Elora oval hosts the third Gold Series leg for the division on Wednesday, July 15.