Current NewsCurrent News for October '18
Pretty Handsome in position to repeat as Grassroots champ
Reigning Grassroots champion Pretty Handsome delivered an emphatic statement at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday night, laying down a :27.4 final quarter in his 1:51.3 Semi-Final victory on a night when the wind slammed into each field as they turned for home.
“It’s about a three second wind really,” said driver Jody Jamieson, who won two of the eight Semi-Finals, including the other three-year-old colt event. “So the trip (Jonathan) Drury’s horse went was monstrous.”
Drury and Pretty Handsome left smartly from Post 5 in the second $20,000 pacing colt Semi-Final and were comfortably in control by the :28 quarter. Unchallenged through a :56.3 half and 1:23.4 three-quarters, Pretty Handsome seemed completely unfazed by the wind that took the steam out of many of the evening’s pacesetters. Rather than slowing, the Mach Three gelding powered down the stretch to a nine and one-quarter length victory. Luka Shenko and Shadow Moon completed the top three, with Phantom Seelster and Gideon Seelster also advancing to next week’s championship.
“Actually, he didn’t surprise me tonight,” said Andrew McCabe, who trains Pretty Handsome for owner Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein. “A lot of horses that were leaving out into the wind and then finishing into the wind as well were getting tired, but he just seemed to accelerate in the stretch.”
The win was Pretty Handsome’s third straight and makes him a perfect four-for-four in Grassroots action this season. A two-time Grassroots winner at two, Pretty Handsome was not the favourite in last year’s final and was awarded the title when Phantom Seelster was placed from first to ninth for causing interference. Second across the line, Pretty Handsome was elevated to first. With the other two-year-old title holders failing to advance to this year’s finals, the gelding is the only horse with an opportunity to repeat as champion.
Hoping to prevent Pretty Handsome from repeating will be the other Semi-Final winner, When You Dance, who used a late sprint to score his 1:54.2 victory. Pocket-sitter Yacht Seelster was second while pacesetter and fan favourite Casimir Richie P settled for third. JM Jack Of Hearts and Stock also advanced.
Moffat resident Jody Jamieson piloted When You Dance to the win for trainer Ben Wallace of Puslinch and his partners Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, Quebec and Birnam Wood Farms of Boca Raton, Florida. Like Pretty Handsome When You Dance is undefeated in Grassroots action this season, winning two regular season events prior to his Semi-Final victory.
“He’s just been a nice horse all year for us,” said Wallace of the long-legged pacer. “He’s had a great summer and we’re looking forward to next week.”
Jamieson’s other victory came in the pacing filly division with favourite Neon Moon, who turned for home so far ahead of her peers she was able to ease up in the stretch and still hit the wire six and one-quarter lengths the best in 1:54.4. Sunday Afternoon finished second, Lady Bubbles was third, Mittany Nicole fourth and Enchanted Eva rounded out the finalists in fifth.
“She’s a beast,” said Jamieson, who drives the Sportswriter filly for owner-trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ontario. “She’s likely a Gold contender, but that division is so tough she’s taking the road less travelled. With no bad luck, she should win the Grassroots Final.”
Guelph resident Jonathan Drury earned his second Semi-Final win in the other pacing filly contest, guiding Machnhope to a 1:54.2 victory over Princess Abie W and Azure Seelster. Sharks Summrshandy and I Shadow U rounded out the top five. Bill Robinson trains the Mach Three daughter for CMR Farms of Hagersville, David Serwatuk of Hamilton and BC Reichheld Stables of Caledonia, Ontario.
In the sophomore trotting colt Semi-Finals, Say You Do was also untroubled by the wind, pulling away from the field in the stretch to record a 12 length victory in 1:58. T Barrr finished second in spite of broken equipment, Legend Within was third, Daylon Phantom fourth and Sicario fifth.
“He’s a big strong colt that wasn’t bothered by the windy conditions tonight,” said driver Paul MacDonell. “He’ll be a factor in the final next week.”
Guelph resident MacDonell crafted the Kadabra gelding’s third lifetime win for trainer Stephen Oldford, Oldford Racing LLC of Port Huron and Gene Oldford Farms LLC of St. Clair, Michigan.
The other trotting colt Semi-Final went to favourite Jammin Jack and driver James MacDonald in 1:59.2. Mister Magic was second, Delcrest Holiday third, Takter fourth and Northern Ruler finished fifth. Mark Steacy trains Angus Hall son Jammin Jack for Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania.
The trotting filly Semi-Finals went to Stormont Charlotte and Zorgwijk Sophia.
Stormont Charlotte trotted to a personal best 1:57.2, finishing four lengths ahead of favourite Hopes Solo and pacesetter Ezee Tiguan. Magics Lucky Charm and Gradabra also advanced to the final. Sylvain Filion piloted the Justice Hall daughter to the win for trainer John Gouveia and owner Alan Fair of Ancaster, Ontario.
Favourite Zorgwijk Sophia sailed to a 1:59 victory, five and one-half lengths ahead of Melanie G and Shotgun Sally. Stormont Chef and Gotta Pay To Play were well back in fourth and fifth. Doug McNair drove both Zorgwijk Sophia and Ezee Tiguan for trainer Lyle MacArthur and owners Linda Wellwood of St. George Brant and Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre and will have to choose between the two for the final.
“Sophia is a nice little filly to drive,” McNair said. “The other filly is different. Once you start her up she’s tricky to get relaxed.”
McNair has until Tuesday to make his decision, when the top five finishers from all of the two and three-year-old Semi-Finals will be entered in the post-position draw for the finals. The eight Grassroots champions will be crowned Saturday, Sept. 29 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
For complete results please visit Woodbine Mohawk Park Results — Friday, Sept. 21, 2018>