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Grassroots champions deliver gritty efforts
November 7, 2004
By Sandra Snyder

SARNIA, ON — Hiawatha Horse Park fans got more than their money’s worth of excitement on Saturday night with four outstanding battles in the two-year-old Grassroots Championships.

“Mr. OSS” Dave Wall and trotting filly Soxy Kosmos set the tone for the evening when they powered three-wide around the final turn to reel in the leaders and then rolled down the stretch to a 2:00.4 victory over Draven and CS I Ama Star.

“I saw it set up the way I like it,” said trainer Christopher Beaver from the winner’s circle. “They had some front end speed there and she always comes off the back end.

“She’s funny that way, if she gets to the front too quick she loses interest and maybe she makes a break,” he added. “She’s got plenty of speed so we rate the mile and try to get her there at the end.”

Delaware, OH resident Beaver shares ownership on the Yankee Paco daughter with David Lang of Hilliard, OH, Barry Carter of Lancaster, OH and Four Starzzzz Stable LLC of Glenwood, NJ. Sent off as the fan favourite, the Semifinal winner boosted her earnings to $94,311 with her fourth victory.

Trotting colt Zorgwijk Fortunate was the only Grassroots Champion to score a victory off a front end effort, cruising to a 2:00.3 triumph for trainer Terry Allen of Carlisle and John Allen of Freelton.

Tony Kerwood drove the Wesgate Crown son to the victory over Kenny Boy and Claytons Valleylad, applying the knowledge he gained in last week’s Semifinal to engineer the win.

“This colt here, he leaves the gate fast, as fast as any colt I’ve ever sat behind, so you’re just a passenger with him to the quarter pole,” explained Kerwood. “And I think I shut him down a little too much last time and I think he got confused. I wasn’t having no part of that this time.”

A Gold Elimination winner before moving down to the Grassroots level, Zorgwijk Fortunate wrapped up his Ontario Sires Stakes season with four wins and one second in seven starts and earnings of $99,384. The gelding was sent off as the fifth choice behind favourite EL Leonard, who made an uncharacteristic break at the halfway point that knocked him out of contention.

Two races later fan favourite Borderlinegorgious had no such problems as she delivered an impressive 1:55.2 victory to earn the pacing filly title.

With Dave Wall at the helm, Borderlinegorgious landed in second through the early going and then powered up the outside at the three-quarter marker to take command of the race. Turning for home she had half a length on the field, which had increased to one length by the time she sailed under the wire in front of Fannies Fortune and the other Semifinal winner Natural Luck.

Komoka residents Wall and his wife Cheryl share ownership on Borderlinegorgious through their Wall Tyme Stables, while son Dean handles her training. After the race the young horseman was quick to give credit to his father for landing Borderlinegorgious in the winner’s circle.

“I was a little nervous when they were going around that last turn. There were a couple of horses that got good trips coming behind her. I didn’t know if she was going to hold on, but she’s very tough,” he said. “It ended up that he gave her a perfect drive. She couldn’t have got a better trip, really and truly.”

A winner of seven races in 15 starts and $133,130, Borderlinegorgious was the only point leader who captured a Grassroots crown.

The last Grassroots title went to Semifinal winner Armbro Cabot, who also toughed it out on the outside en route to a 1:54.2 victory.

Leaving from Post 3, driver Ray McLean, Jr. settled the colt in fourth as the other Semifinal winner Armbro Cougar took the field to a :27.2 first quarter. As the pace cooled heading for the :57.2 half, McLean sent Armbro Cabot up the outside and the colt had a neck in front when they reached the 1:25.1 three-quarters.

Turning for home Armbro Cabot was three lengths ahead of his rivals, but Little Sprout was able to narrow that to one and a half lengths by the wire. Favourite The Thief settled for third.

Tom Durand trains Armbro Cabot for Ronald MacArthur of Capital Heights, MI and Richard Smith of Falls Church, VA and the Puslinch resident was impressed with the Armbro Operative son’s effort.

“I was really shocked that he got away fourth. I’ve never seen him that close at the start. Then when I saw him clear that other horse so easy, that’s a move I’ve never seen him make,” said Durand. “I really liked my chances tonight. I made a little change in my training this week. I trained him a little harder than I normally do, just to sharpen him up a little bit. And it seemed to work.”

Some of the two-year-olds will now tackle the Gold Series horses in the Canadian Breeder Championship at Woodbine Racetrack, while other will enjoy a well deserved break before beginning preparations for their sophomore campaign.

The Grassroots Championships also wrapped up Hiawatha Horse Park’s Ontario Sires Stakes season, which featured 14 outstanding events. The provincial program will return to Sarnia in 2005 with a fresh crop of trotters and pacers eager to make an impact on the Ontario Sires Stakes scene.