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Rookies Win Grassroots Debuts

Published: July 8, 2017 11:43 pm ET

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Driver Stephen Byron and trainer John Bax teamed up for one win and one second in the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots opener for the two-year-old trotting colts at Georgian Downs on Saturday evening (July 8).

The pair captured the second $18,450 Grassroots division with Delcrest Holiday, who toured the Innisfil oval in 2:03.1. Starting from post four, Byron eased the novice trotter off the gate and settled in fourth as Smart Pick took the field to a :31 quarter. Heading for the 1:03.2 half, Delcrest Holiday was challenging for the lead and once he reached the front, Byron was able to set the cruise control, reaching the three-quarters in 1:33.3 and sailing home a three and one-half length winner. Smart Pick settled for second and Audacious closed to be third.

“It was his first start,” said Byron of Delcrest Holiday. “They really like the colt, he’d qualified real well, and he did everything right again tonight, so hopefully he keeps going.

“He’s got some natural speed, he should get better,” the Thornton, Ont. resident added.

Trainer Bax shares ownership of Delcrest Holiday with Gaelic Stable of Sharon and Ken Bax of Cavan Monaghan, Ont. The trio acquired the son of Holiday Road and Northern Kitti from the 2016 Canadian Yearling Sale for a modest $9,000 after the colt impressed Bax in the paddock at breeder Doug Delaney’s Acton, Ont. farm last summer.

“I went out to Doug Delaney’s farm and he turned him out — and Doug’s on a pretty hilly property — and he just trotted up and down the hill and I said, wow I’ve got to have him,” recalled Bax. “And actually, I raced the second dam (Northern Fuchsia). Anyway, I didn’t mind the family, I knew the family, and I don’t mind Holiday Road -- I’ve had a little success with them -- and I just liked the way he carried himself. I was shocked that I got him for $9,000.

“Doug was here tonight too,” Bax continued. “It was really good to see him, his wife (Betty) just passed away a few weeks ago, and so it was a nice thing for him.”

Both breeder and owners will be hoping Delcrest Holiday can replicate Saturday’s solid effort when the two-year-old trotting colts head to Mohawk Racetrack for their second Grassroots event on July 18.

Bax and Byron will also be hoping for another solid effort from Chief Justice, who stayed on task as two-thirds of the first division field self-destructed and trotted home to the runner-up’s share of the $18,100 purse. Jula Downton took the victor’s spoils, reaching the wire 10 lengths ahead of Chief Justice in 2:02.4. Spin the Vinyl recovered from a break near the mid-way point to finish third.

“He stayed trotting so he picked up a second. It was a good night,” said Campbellville, Ont. resident Bax about Chief Justice, who is owned by Midnight Sun Partners Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida.

Like Delcrest Holiday, Jula Downton was making his first lifetime start after a single qualifier and the son of Kadabra and $225,757 winner Abbey Craig was flawless for trainer/driver Per Henriksen of Norwood, Ont.. Henriksen conditions the colt for Jula Racing Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida, who offered up $30,000 for the trotter at last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale.

Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Georgian Downs on Sunday, July 9 as the Innisfil oval hosts the Gold Series debut for both the two-year-old trotting colts and the two-year-old pacing fillies. The trotting colts will test their skills in Races 5 and 9, while the fillies compete in Race 7. Post time for Sunday’s program is 6 p.m.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Georgian Downs.

(OSS)


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