Hiawatha Horse Park celebrated the Ontario Sires Stakes program on Saturday (August 13), hosting three divisions of two-year-old trotting colts in their fifth Grassroots event.
After two seconds and one third in his first three Ontario Sires Stakes outings, Zorgwijk Rocket finally found his way to the winner’s circle with a 2:01.2 victory in the first $18,000 Grassroots division.
In rein to trainer Joe Hudon Jr., the gelding floated away from post seven and landed fourth on the rail as Critical Mass and Mr Marshmellow battled to a :29.1 opening quarter. Once the dust had settled, Hudon sent Zorgwijk Rocket to the front and the fan favourite cruised through a 1:01.3 half and 1:31.1 three-quarters on his way to a one and one-quarter length victory over Yo Yo Mass. Head Turning Jag was well back in third.
“He’s been pretty consistent,” said Hudon. “He wants to be a trotter, he doesn’t want to be a breaker or anything like that.
“If I can get them around, you know, they’re pretty good gaited,” added the horseman, wryly.
Zorgwijk Rocket made his debut in the July 20 event at Grand River Raceway, where he finished second, followed that up with a third-place result at Mohawk Racetrack on July 28, and then returned to the first runner-up spot in the August 4 event at Rideau Carleton Raceway. A $13,000 purchase from the 2015 Canadian Yearling Sale, the gelding has banked $20,160 in his first five starts.
“This horse has got a little bit of speed, but he’s not a Gold, he’s just a nice Grassroots horse,” said Hudon, who shares ownership of Zorgwijk Rocket with R A W Equine of Burlington, Ont.
“He’s got a big gait, his size — he’s medium for a trotter. He’ll grow, he’s grown like six inches since we bought him probably,” the Acton, Ont. resident continued. “He’s not very mature yet, he’s lean, so once the Sires Stakes are over we’ll give him a good rest so he’ll mature quite a bit.”
Saturday’s win bumped Zorgwijk Rocket’s point total to 112, putting him in fourth spot in the division standings with one regular season event remaining. The top 20 point earners will earn a spot in the September 15 Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack.
Also boosting his chances of landing a Semi-final berth was More Than Majestic, who posted a 2:03.3 victory in the second division.
Starting from post four with Clarke Steacy at the helm, More Than Majestic was third when fan favourite Kitarro reached the quarter in :29.2. Steacy tipped the gelding into the outer lane heading for the 1:03.2 half and continued to press the pace through the 1:33 three-quarters. Turning for home, Steacy shifted More Than Majestic into another gear and the gelding powered by Kitarro to a one and one-quarter length victory. Charmbo Chrome was four lengths back in third.
“He always showed some ability, but just needed some race luck,” said trainer Mark Steacy of More Than Majestic’s first lifetime victory. “I’m sure the Landmark 9 [Racing Stable] owners will be very happy.”
More Than Majestic is owned by the 42-member Landmark 9 Racing Stable, Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que., and Bridle Path Stables Ltd. of Ossining, New York. The Majestic Son gelding was a $40,000 purchase from the 2015 Harrisburg Yearling Sale.
The final Grassroots trophy of the evening was awarded to Santini, who grabbed control of the field just after the quarter pole and never looked back, sailing home to a four and one-half length victory in 2:02.1. Persuaded and LMC Mass Gem battled it out for second and third.
Richard Simard crafted the win, the colt’s second straight in Grassroots action, for trainer Stephen Oldford of Croswell, Michigan and his partner Gene Oldford Farms LLC of St. Clair, Michigan. A son of Kadabra, Santini was a $40,000 acquisition from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, and he currently sits fifth in the division standings with 100 points.
The two-year-old trotting colts will wrap up their regular season at Mohawk Racetrack on September 5. The top 20 point-earners after the six regular season events will advance to the September 15 Semi-finals, and the top five finishers from each Semi-final will compete in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship on September 24.
(Standardbred Canada with files from OSS)