Driver Phil Hudon captured a pair of Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions at Clinton Raceway on Sunday afternoon (August 21), guiding three-year-old trotting geldings Tough Get Going and Magic Missions to victories on the half-mile oval’s 70th anniversary card.
Starting from post six in the third $18,000 Grassroots division with Tough Get Going, Hudon fired the trotter to the front, reaching the quarter in :29. The pair led the field of seven to a :59 half and a 1:30 three-quarters and then held on in the stretch to score a one-half length victory in 2:01.4. Willyorwonthe finished second and fan favourite Bow Ties N Bourbon recovered from an early break in stride to be third.
“He raced great,” said Hudon of his first trip behind Tough Get Going. “Just went to the front, trotted nice and was able to hold of Bill Megens’ trotter [Willyorwonthe]. He seems like a nice a trotter.”
James McEachern conditions Tough Get Going for Asa Farm of Norwood, Ont., and Gary Smith of Ennismore, Ont. Sunday’s win was the Kadabra gelding’s first in Grassroots action this season and boosted his sophomore record to two wins, one second and one third in 10 starts for earnings of $14,377.
In the fourth division, Hudon and Magic Missions left from post two and landed on the rail behind early pacesetter Holiday Party. As Holiday Party was pressed through fractions of :29, :58 and 1:29.4, Hudon and Magic Missions waited patiently for their opportunity, which came as the colts squared up in the stretch. Hudon eased Magic Missions into an open lane and the gelding powered by the leader to a three-quarter length victory in 2:00, the fastest mile of the five Grassroots divisions. Holiday Party settled for second and Wildwild Men overcame an early error to grab the third-place finisher’s share.
“Magic Missions seems to be getting better each start,” noted Hudon. “He’s still green and the trip worked out perfectly; they raced up front and I sat the two-hole and was able to get out and win by a little bit.”
Hudon drives Magic Missions for trainer Bill Budd of Waterdown, Ont., and his partners Macks Stable and Joe Carnovale of Stoney Creek, Ont. The Manofmanymissions gelding has made just six starts this season and Sunday’s effort marked his first lifetime win. Budd added trotting hopples to Magic Missions’ equipment bag after his first two sophomore starts, and the gelding has not missed a cheque since the addition.
“The hopples helped Magic,” said Hudon. “They just steady him a little bit, for sure.”
With their victories, both Tough Get Going and Magic Missions jumped up the point standings and have a shot at the Grassroots Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept 16. The three-year-old trotting colts have two more regular season starts remaining, Aug. 30 at Mohawk Racetrack and Sept. 7 at Grand River Raceway, where they can pad their point tallies.
Gonna Fly took the first division at Clinton on Sunday and moved into second spot in the division standings with 125 points earned through two wins and one second in the first three regular season events. Iona Station, Ont. resident Alfie Carroll piloted the Kadabra colt to the 2:01 victory that saw him reel in the leaders through the final quarter and roll home to a four and one-half length victory over favourite Midnight Toker and Ulysses Bi.
Windsor, Ont. resident Bob McIntosh conditions Gonna Fly for his partner Earl Hill Jr. of Ohsweken, Ont. In nine sophomore starts, the colt now has three wins and two seconds for earnings of $35,900.
The second division went to Dynamic Edge and driver Chris Christoforou, who led through fractions of :30.1, 1:02 and 1:32 and then battled down the stretch to a head victory in 2:02. Defi Normand and V For Victory finished second and third.
Campbellville, Ont. resident Christoforou crafted the win for trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont. and his partner, numbered company 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, Ont. The win was the first of the season for the Muscle Mass gelding, who was the runner-up in the Grassroots Championship at two.
The final Grassroots division went to Rose Run Rudi, who got a perfect pocket trip behind pacesetter Terrain Seelster, and then accelerated down the stretch to a two and one-quarter length victory in 2:03.4. Terrain Seelster had to settle for second and Galaxy completed the top three.
Thornton, Ont. resident Steve Byron engineered the win for trainer David Byron of Thornton and his partners James Cantelon of Thornton, David Cantelon of Bolton, Ont., and Craig Wallwin of Barrie, Ont. Through 10 starts, the Manofmanymissions gelding has two wins — one of them in Grassroots action — one second and one third for earnings of $25,744.
In addition to the five Grassroots divisions, Clinton Raceway marked its 70th anniversary with a cake and a commemorative race. Two original members of the Clinton Turf Club, Bruce Dupee and Harold (Hoot) Gibbings, were on hand to present an anniversary cooler to race six winner Toureg Seelster and his connections exactly 70 years to the day after harness racing first made its debut in Clinton. Lorne House of Ingersoll, Ont. guided Toureg Seelster to the 2:00 victory for trainer Peter Brickman and owner Erin Swainson Brickman of Sebringville, Ont.
Clinton also hosted the $6,000 Fred Sadler Memorial Pace, which was won by Win One Soon and driver Ryan Holliday in 2:01.3 for trainer Ken Fritsch and owner Ronald Ash of Desboro, Ont.
Also participating in the 70th anniversary celebrations were members of the Huron Heat Female Hockey Association. Through a 50/50 draw, bake sale and Pork Chop BBQ the organization was able to raise just over $4,600 for team jerseys for their first season.
Two Sundays remain on Clinton Raceway’s 2016 schedule and the Ontario Sires Stakes will help wrap things up at the half-mile oval on Sept. 4. The three-year-old pacing fillies will make their final Grassroots regular season stop as part of the racetrack’s 36th annual Driver’s Charity Challenge in support of the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.