Ontario’s two-year-old trotting fillies journeyed to Rideau Carleton Raceway on Sunday evening for their fifth Grassroots test and Traviata picked the perfect time to earn her first lifetime victory, touring co-owner Mel Hartman’s local oval in 1:59.3.
In rein to Greely, Ont. resident Ted McDonald, Traviata lined up behind post one in the third Grassroots division and landed fourth on the rail, watching Shezastrikin Loral put up a :30.1 opening quarter. Heading for the 1:01.1 half, McDonald sent Traviata after the lead and the filly led the field by the 1:29.2 three-quarters. Bahama Mama AS mounted a late challenge, but Traviata dug in to post a three-quarter length win. Bahama Mama AS finished second and Dayliner was third.
“She’s a nice little filly,” said trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman. “She’s just nice and solid, doesn’t do anything special, but very solid and very reliable.”
Norman selected the filly out of the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, offering up $35,000 for the daughter of Kadabra and $181,741 winner Nirvana Blue Chip for his own Enzed Racing Stable Inc., and then sold a share to Ottawa resident Hartman.
“I just liked the look of her, and she wasn’t crazy expensive or anything,” recalled the New Zealand native, who currently resides in Allentown, New Jersey. “And Mel Hartman, one of my good owners, went partners with me on her.”
Traviata made her debut in the July 7 Grassroots opener at Georgian Downs and looked poised to collect a cheque when she made a late break in stride, finishing seventh. After missing the next two Grassroots events due to a bout of sickness that went through Norman’s barn, Traviata returned to action in the Aug. 8 event at Georgian Downs and logged a second-place result.
Anticipating another solid effort from the young trotter, Norman decided a local driver was his best option for Sunday’s test, and handed the lines over to McDonald.
“Teddy’s been one of the solid drivers there for a long time, and I’ve met him a few times. It’s always good to use a local guy I think,” said Norman of his selection. “Teddy always does a good job.”
Sunday’s win boosted Traviata’s Grassroots point tally to 77, which will give her a shot at a Semi-final berth if she can earn a few more points in the last regular season event at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 8.
Fan favourite Liseberg opened the evening with an impressive gate-to-wire score from post four, halting the Rideau Carleton Raceway teletimer at 1:58.2. The Johnny William daughter hit the wire six and one-half lengths ahead of Windsongmusclelady and Onatopp.
Owned, trained and driven by Peterborough, Ont. resident Dagfin Henriksen, Liseberg finished third in her July 30 Grassroots debut at Mohawk Racetrack and then posted her first lifetime victory in the Aug. 8 event at Georgian Downs. She currently sits in a tie for sixth in the standings with 112 points.
In the second $18,000 division, driver Alfie Carroll let favourite Cadillac Sally float away from post three and watched from the pocket as Females Rule rang up fractions of :29, :59.3 and 1:28.4. Tipping out of the pocket heading by the three-quarters, Cadillac Sally accelerated away to a one length victory over Mariana and T C Sno Massive, stopping the clock in a personal best 1:58.1.
Iona Station, Ont. resident Carroll engineered the Muscle Mass filly’s second Grassroots win for trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont. and owner Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, Michigan. With two wins, one second and one third in four Grassroots starts, Cadillac Sally has 137 points and sits fourth in the standings.
Like Traviata, Very Classy earned her first lifetime victory in the last Grassroots division. Starting from post three, the Manofmanymissions daughter got away third and driver Steve Byron tipped her into the outer lane heading for the halfway marker. When first-up The Muscle Touch made an error turning for home, Very Classy had a clear lane to the finish and trotted down the stretch to a one and three-quarter length victory over Myretirementticket and Tala Seelster in 2:01.
Byron, who makes his home in Thornton, Ont., drives Very Classy for trainer John Bax of Campbellville, Ont., breeders Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Happy Trails Stables of London, Ont., and Kenneth Andrews of Peterborough. With one second, one sixth and one eighth in her first three Grassroots outings, Very Classy has now accumulated 79 points.
The freshman trotting fillies were the final Ontario Sires Stakes division to visit Rideau Carleton Raceway this summer, and they will wrap up their own regular season at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 8.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)