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High priced colt Esa finds his way to Grassroots win in Elora
Three-year-old trotting colt Esa’s path to the Ontario Sires Stakes winner’s circle was a winding one, but the youngster finally made it with a 1:58.4 effort in the first $22,800 Grassroots division at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening.
Sold for $145,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, the regally bred youngster encountered his first trial soon after arriving at trainer Jimmy Takter’s New Jersey farm.
“The first day he got to Jimmy Takter’s farm he went through four or five fences and he ended up in the next village. They had to stich his face, all kinds of trouble,” said Guelph, ON resident Ben Baillargeon, who took over training duties on Esa last fall. “Then he got sick all year last year and by the time I got him last year — he was finally healthy — Jimmy said race him a few times and see what he’s made off.”
Esa would race a total of eight times at two, two for Takter in July and six more for Baillargeon in October and November, recording one win and five thirds. The son of E L Titan and Christiana Hanover made his sophomore debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 27, finishing seventh in a field chock full of Gold Series horses, so rather than joining those colts in the Goodtimes Stake eliminations this Friday Baillargeon opted to send Esa to Wednesday’s Grassroots test on the Elora half-mile.
The decision proved fruitful as Esa and driver Mario Baillargeon of Acton, ON left smartly from Post 6, traded places at the front with fan favourite LA Magic through the first half and then took command of the race, cruising home to a two and one-quarter length victory over the rain soaked oval. LA Magic settled for second and Warrawee Usain was three more lengths back in third.
“Last week I was pleased with his first race. He raced real good. I was expecting a good race today and that was a very good mile over there today, 1:58.4, and he did it handy with the plugs in,” said Baillargeon, who trains the colt for Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ, John Fielding of Toronto, ON, R A W Equine Inc. of Burlington, ON and Hatfield Stables of Columbus, OH. “I don’t know how good he’ll get, but there’s a lot more in him than he did today, because he did it handy.”
Driver Sylvain Filion piloted the winners of the last two Grassroots divisions, using a front-end strategy with both heavy favourites.
Starting from Post 2 in the third division with Encarnacion, Filion sent the Archangel son straight to the front and the pair never had to look over their shoulders, romping home to a six and one-quarter length victory in 2:01.1. The Great Farini trotted into second and Titan M Up completed the top three.
“He’s a real nice horse. He’s real handy and he can leave the gate like a rocket. I knew if I could get on the front without rushing him too much I had a really good chance of winning that race,” said Filion, who drives Encarnacion for trainer Rod Boyd of Cambridge and numbered company 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, ON. “And it’s funny, for a big horse, he gets around the turns like nothing. He’s really big and rugged, but he seems to like the half-mile.”
The Milton, ON resident picked up his second Grassroots win of the night, and third overall, with Raising Royalty. The pair took command before the halfway marker and cruised home to a two and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. King For Life, owned by trainer-driver Bruce Richardson of Fergus and his partners Peter Irwin of Ayton and Joseph Coffey of Orangeville, ON, finished two and one-half lengths back in second, just ahead of Super T.
“He’s been very nice so far this year. Last year he showed a lot of potential but he had a hard time keeping it together,” said Filion of Raising Royalty. “He’s matured a lot and he’s much better now. He still has his little things he needs to work on, but he’s got tons of speed and he’s way handier than last year.”
Wednesday’s win was the fourth in four sophomore starts for Raising Royalty, who also swept his elimination and the final of the City of London Trotting Series at The Raceway at Western Fair District. Stephen Bossence of London trains the Royalty For Life son for Stephen Palermo of Etobicoke, ON.
The other division went to E L Titan son Gold Edition, who was steered to a 1:58.3 score over Priceless Ruler and Herbs Journey by Alfie Carroll of Iona Station, ON. Carroll crafted the win for trainer Blair Burgess and his wife Karin Olsson Burgess of Campbellville, ON and their co-owner Stirling Fisher of Waterloo, ON.
The three-year-old trotting colts will make their second Grassroots start of the season at Clinton Raceway on June 23.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Grand River Raceway on July 3 with the second Gold Series event for the three-year-old trotting fillies.
Complete results from Wednesday night’s program are available at Grand River Raceway Results — Wednesday, June 5, 2019.