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Pacing colts ready for final Grassroots battle
INNISFIL, ON — Ontario’s top two-year-old pacing colts are elbow to elbow in the Grassroots point race heading into their last regular season event at Georgian Downs on Saturday evening. Less than 20 points separate the colts currently sitting in tenth spot in the division ranking and the trailing group that are still angling for a berth in the top 16.
But while the rest of the colts fight tooth and nail for a spot in the post season Authentic Seelster will be making a late season debut in the provincial program. The Camluck colt will make his second lifetime start from Post 1 in the first race on Saturday and trainer Bruce MacDonald is just hoping the novice pacer can mind his manners and further his education.
“He’s a very green horse, but in order for him to learn something he’s got to get out there,” says the Loretto resident. “I put him in the Grassroots because it was close to home, but if I would have had to put him on a trailer and ship three hours to Windsor it might have been a different story.”
In his racing debut at Georgian Downs on Oct. 8 Authentic Seelster finished a respectable second in a field of older horses, pacing his own mile in 2:01. Stephen Byron drove the gelding in his first start and will be back in the race bike on Saturday when the colt will face much stiffer competition.
“He was real good, Steve just sat him in the middle of the racetrack, and he acted kind of racy,” says MacDonald. “He got a little tired in the last turn and lost some ground down the stretch, but everybody was pretty happy with him.”
MacDonald and the colt’s owners, Marvin and Donna Chantler’s Mardon Stables of Loretto, were doubly pleased with Authentic Seelster’s effort given the fact that they did not expect him to be ready to race much before his three-year-old season. As a yearling the half-brother to Genuine Lady ($426,375) and Town Prophet ($234,482) was such a difficult pupil that MacDonald decided to geld him early in an effort to improve his disposition.
“I castrated him in December (‘01), his attitude was so bad,” says the trainer. “So I hoped he’d be racing by December (‘02). This is kind of earlier than I expected, but he just kind of broke out of his rut and went on.”
Acknowledging his inexperience, Georgian Downs handicappers have established Authentic Seelster as one of the long shots in the first of five two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots divisions, selecting a pair of colts dropping down from the Gold Series as the early favourites.
Tommys Luck won a division of the Grassroots season opener on July 1 before making the jump up to the Gold Series at Woodbine Racetrack on July 11 where he made a break. After missing a July 30 start because of sickness, the Camluck colt did not return to the races until Sept. 25 when he won a non-winners of two races contest at Windsor Raceway in a sharp 1:56. In the same class at Woodbine on Oct. 8 Tommys Luck logged a third-place finish and paced his own mile in an impressive 1:54.3. Trained by Bob McIntosh for Robert Waxman of Ancaster, the $72,000 yearling will make his bid for a second Grassroots win, and a berth in the Nov. 2 Semifinal, from Post 4 with Don McElroy in the race bike.
Pinstripe Poker also drops into the Grassroots after spending the summer chasing the best two-year-old pacing colts in North America. The Camluck son, trained by Linda Toscano for Ira Schwartz of Edison, NJ, Laura Delucia of Maywood, NJ and Alvin Mink of East Islip, NY, won a Gold Series Elimination at Flamboro Downs on Aug. 11 but finished a disappointing eleventh in the Sept. 27 event. Paul Mackenzie will steer Pinstripe Poker from Post 3 in the first race.
Authentic Seelster, Tommys Luck and Pinstripe Poker kick off Georgian Downs’ Saturday evening program at 7:30 pm with the other four Grassroots divisions following in Races 2, 6, 7, and 10. The top 16 point earners following Saturday’s contest will return to Georgian Downs on Nov. 2 for a pair of $30,000 Grassroots Semifinals and the top four from each Semifinal will receive an engraved invitation to the $100,000 Grassroots Championship at the Innisfil oval on Nov. 9.