Current NewsCurrent News for August '18
McNair wins six of 10 at Clinton Raceway Sunday
Doug McNair delivered a dominant performance at Clinton Raceway on Sunday afternoon, capturing two of four Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts and four overnight events.
The reinsman captured Race 2 with aged pacing gelding Stronski, Race 5 with aged trotting mare Pocket Popper and then made his first appearance in the Grassroots winner’s circle with Pokerface Bluechip. Starting from Post 4 the pair landed fourth as Phantom Seelster led the field to a :29 opening quarter. Heading for the :58.4 half McNair sent Pokerface Bluechip into the outer lane behind Teen Idol, but was forced out three-wide when that horse started to stall going by the 1:27.2 three-quarters. Pokerface Bluechip dug hard through the stretch and got a nose in front of the pacesetter to claim the 1:56 victory. Fan favourite Casimir Richie P was a head back in third.
“He dug pretty tough to win. It’s tough to win on this track off the pace, especially when you’ve got to go around somebody down the backside,” said McNair. “He raced really good. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but he did everything right, good mile too.”
The Guelph, Ontario resident engineered the win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, Gestion Jam Audet Inc. of Portneuf, Paul Lehoux of Sainte-Marie and Gestion C Levesque 2005inc of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. The mile was a new personal best for Pokerface Bluechip and marked his first-ever Grassroots victory. The Shadow Play gelding finished second in both the June 29 and July 22 Grassroots events and now has 100 points in the race for a berth in the Sept. 21 Grassroots Semi-final.
McNair then captured the seventh race, the Ross Jewitt Memorial Pace, with aged pacing mare Queenofhearts and capped off his day with back-to-back victories in Race 9, with sophomore pacing colt Dashmira, and Race 10, with Grassroots competitor Montys Play.
Taking full advantage of Post 1, McNair fired heavy favourite Montys Play off the gate and led the field through fractions of :29.1, 58.4 and 1:27.4 on the way to a one-length victory in 1:57. Howmac Dancer finished second and Treasure Writer rounded out the top three.
“He kind of got lucky you know, he drew into the right division where they didn’t go 1:55,” admitted McNair. “But he’s a nice gaited little guy, he snapped off the gate good today. He won pretty handy, so I was happy with him.”
The driver’s father, Gregg McNair, trains Montys Play for Wayne MacRae of Fall River, Nova Scotia, Bloomingwood Farms Ltd. of Harriston, Ontario and Gilles Barrieau of Saint John, New Brunswick. In his only other Grassroots start, at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 1, the Shadow Play son had finished second, giving him a total of 75 points with one event remaining before the Semi-final.
In addition to his victories, McNair also finished second in the other two Grassroots divisions and second in one overnight event. In 10 drives his only off-the-board finish was a fourth.
“I figured I had a couple of nice ones when I got here, but things have got to go right to win that many races,” said the driver. “There was probably a lot of luck on my side today, especially, one caught a shoe at the three-quarter pole, I think it was my fifth win, and near went on his head and then come back pacing and won the race. You know you’re lucky when that’s happening.”
The driver also credited some of his success on the ‘Huron Perth Lakers Day at the Races’ program to the Clinton Raceway track maintenance staff.
“Everything was pretty smooth up here today,” said the 28-year-old. “They always get the track good up here, that’s one thing about the guys, the surface is great.”
The other two $18,450 Grassroots divisions were captured by Hudson Phil and Luka Shenko.
Hudson Phil stalked fan favourite Bo Mach from the pocket and swooped around the pacesetter in the stretch to score a 1:55.4 victory. McNair and Bo Mach settled for second and Gideon Seelster was third. James MacDonald piloted Shanghai Phil son Hudson Phil to his third Grassroots victory for trainer Mark Steacy and owner-breeders Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec. With 150 points Hudson Phil sits atop the division standings.
As McNair did with Montys Play, driver Louis Philippe Roy sent Luka Shenko straight from Post 1 to the lead and never looked back, sailing under the wire one-half length the best in 1:55. Fan favourites McNair and Gold Rush settled for second and Wind Blast was third. Roy crafted the win for trainer Richard Moreau and owners Litwin Racing Team of Westmount, Quebec. The win was the Sportswriter son’s first in Grassroots action and matched the Clinton Raceway track record for sophomore pacing colts. Gelding Modern Xhibit holds the overall three-year-old record, touring the half-mile oval in 1:53.4 in a 2012 Grassroots contest.
The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will make their last regular season Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on September 7.
Clinton Raceway will wrap up its 2018 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Sunday, September 2 with the fourth Grassroots test for the two-year-old pacing fillies, part of the 38th annual Charity Drivers’ Challenge.
For complete results please visit Clinton Raceway Results — Sunday, August 5, 2018>