Current NewsCurrent News for July '19
Hes Watching colts sharp in freshman Grassroots opener
It was the two-year-old pacing colts’ turn to shine at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday evening and the novices impressed fans in five $23,000 Grassroots divisions.
The two quickest miles came in the first and last splits as Hes Watching sons Tattoo Artist and One For Julius delivered 1:54 and 1:52.4 victories for their connections.
With Milton resident Sylvain Filion in the race bike, Tattoo Artist left sharply from Post 2 and took command of the tempo before the :57.2 half. Without seeing a challenge, Tattoo Artist sailed by the three-quarters in 1:26 and down the stretch to a one and one-quarter length win in 1:54. Quick Tour closed well to be second, getting by pocket-sitter Day Delight, who settled for third.
“It’s always very gratifying and satisfying to take a baby from scratch and go out and win the first race. There’s no other feeling in harness racing I don’t think,” said trainer Dr. Ian Moore. “Especially this guy, because when we got him we couldn’t catch him in the stall, we couldn’t get a halter on him, he was half wild. And I didn’t see him until December the tenth, he was late, and he had a pretty dramatic injury there about mid-May.”
While training, Tattoo Artist spooked and stepped on his left front ankle, slicing it up enough to require several staples. Fortunately, the injury was largely superficial and the colt was soon back training. After a June 28 qualifier at Woodbine Mohawk Park, where Tattoo Artist was a two length winner in 1:56.3, Moore and owners Frank Cannon of Sanford, FL and Let It Ride Stables Inc. of Boca Raton, FL briefly considered starting the colt at the Gold Series level before deciding on Friday’s Grassroots event.
“We opted to start him in the Grassroots, no harm doing that, and we’ll just see how much they go tomorrow (in the Gold Series),” said Moore. “I think the track was off a little bit tonight. It rained hard about an hour or so before we got there and it certainly wasn’t fast, that’s for sure. So it was a pretty good mile.”
By the time One For Julius paraded onto the racetrack for the last division in Race 8, the track was a bit drier and the tempo of the race was faster from the start. Morneau led the field to a :27.2 opening quarter and then handed off to Journalistic before the :55.4 half.
Driver Chris Christoforou had watched the early lead changes from third, where he and One For Julius landed after getting off the gate well from Post 3, and heading toward the 1:25.1 three-quarters he sent the colt after the pacesetters. Once One For Julius got rolling he quickly pulled away from his peers, hitting the top of the stretch with a three and one-half length lead. After sailing down the lane he stopped the teletimer at 1:52.4, one and one-quarter lengths ahead of hard-closing favourite Mayhem Seelster. Dontblvmejustwatch was two more lengths back in third.
“Julius’ performance was not a big surprise to me, he baby-raced like a pro and moves a lot like his sire,” said Christoforou, who crafted the win for trainer Dustin Jones of Waterdown and owner-breeder Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc. of Lakefield Gore, QC. “The pace was hot and he sat off it comfortably and waited for me to ask him for speed.
“Dustin has liked him all along and gave me a lot of confidence in the colt’s abilities,” the Campbellville resident added.
Christoforou also guided Sirjamesthegreat to victory in the third Grassroots division. From Post 2, the Big Jim colt went straight to the front and never relinquished control, cruising home a one and three-quarter length winner in 1:56. Gentry Seelster and Century Gigalo rounded out the top three. Guelph resident Dagfin Henriksen trains Sirjamesthegreat for his co-owner Gary Volpe of St. Thomas.
“Sirjames was well prepared for his first start, he raced like a horse that’s raced many times,” said the driver. “He left the gate nicely and controlled the race throughout and finished good.”
Bettor Focus captured the second division in 1:56 for driver Bob McClure of Elora, trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge and her partners West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Brad Grant of Milton, McKinlay & Fielding of Toronto and Teresa Davidson of Milton. Twin B Frenchtoast and Usurper did their best to catch Bettor Focus, but the winner fought back in the stretch to secure a neck victory.
“I was very happy with him. He’s still green and learning,” said Coleman of the Bettors Delight son. “It’s not often one gets passed and comes back on to win. He showed some guts and grit tonight.”
The other division went to Captivate Hanover and driver James MacDonald who used a late sprint to secure the 1:56.2 victory, one-half length ahead of Social Theories. Giddy Up Max was another length back in third. All three colts are by sire Bettors Delight.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” said Guelph resident Shawn Steacy, who conditions Captivate Hanover for Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, QC, Stephen Klunowski of North York, ON and James Feeley of Pine Bush, NY. “We always knew he was quick, but didn’t know how moving up to the big track for the first time, and a race situation, would work out.”
The two-year-old pacing colts will make their second Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 16. Their Gold Series peers take centre stage on the Campbellville oval Saturday night, squaring off in a pair of $108,000 divisions, slated as Races 5 and 8 on the 7:10 pm program.
Complete results from Friday’s program can be found at Woodbine Mohawk Park Results — Friday, July 5, 2019.