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Grassroots Galore At Western; Wall Of Famers Inducted

Published: May 26, 2010 10:33 pm ET

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Western Fair Raceway played host to the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Series with eight $24,000 divisions for sophomore trotting colts on Wednesday night. The track's Wall Of Fame induction ceremony was also held earlier in the evening with a $20,000 Wall Of Fame Invitation Trot featured amidst the OSS action.

Making just his second career start for trainer Norm Campbell, Santo Domingo with driver Doug McNair journeyed first over to wear down pacesetter and 6-5 favourite Julians Caesar (Gord Rayner), and hold off a furious rush from Mc Cloud (Roy Jeffries) to win the openning Grassroots division. The Amigo Hall-Victory Lady gelding won by a head in 2:01.1 for Jalade Investments Ltd. of Oakville, Deanmar Sons Stable of Mississauga, Peter Miskolczi and Dalmet Farms Holdings Inc. of Brampton, ON.

In the next split, Adamation (Scott Zeron) made a break behind the gate and bothered Fire Meets Ice (Stephen Byron) prompting a recall. Given a second chance, Adamation broke stride again in the early going handing the lead over to Windsong Georgio (Nick Steward). Rudy Rocks and teamster Simon Allard moved first up from fifth in his first start of the season and applied heavy pressure to the 53-1 pacesetter around the final turn before kicking away by four lengths to win his debut from the Rene Allard barn in 2:00.1. The son of Striking Sahbra-Loblolly has won three of his nine starts for Slaughter Racing Stable LLC of Prospect, Kentucky and Anne O’Keefe of Ferryland, NL. Last year’s divisional point leader Zorgwijk Knight (Don Rankin Jr.) was the runner-up with Windong Georgio settling for third.

Fresh off a win in his second leg City Of London Trotting Series division on May 21, 8-5 favourite Indigo Hall crossed over from Post 6 to an early five length lead and went wire-to-wire in 2:00.2. With Scott Zeron at the controls, the son Angus Hall-Purple Onion was 1-1/4 lengths better than Ranchester (Paul Walker) with Handy Andy (Stephen Byron) finishing third. Indigo Hall has won three of his eight career starts and will look for his fourth when he returns to Western Fair on Friday for the City Of London Series final. David Haney trains the bay gelding and shares ownership with Lawrence Smith of Elmira and Keith Palmateer of Waterloo.

Trained and driven by Mark Steacy, Mallon rolled up alongside leader Tymal Tyme (Wayne Henry) at the three-quarters mark and sprinted home in :29.2 for a maiden-breaking score in 2:01.4. Tymal Tyme was a close half-length back in second and Fuel Cell (Stephen Byron) came in third. Landmark Ii Racing Stable of Elginburg, David McDonald of Cornwall, ON and Hudson Standrdbrd Stable Inc. of Hudson, QC share ownership of the Ken Warkenton-Just Got A Winner gelding, who was sent postward as the 7-1 fourth choice.

Next up, the Suzy Kerwood-trained and Langcrest Farm-owned Merlincrest delivered on his pari-mutuel promise to record his first win of the season after finishing third in his two prior starts. In line to Bruce Richardson, the homebred son of Kadabra-Spilled Milk pulled the pocket after the first quarter and battled with Bare Knuckles (Trevor Henry) on the lead through the middle splits before taking control. Merlincrest found the wire just in time scoring by a nose over a quick-closing Commander K (Torgeir Hagmann) in 2:02.3. Icarus Kemp (Mark Steacy) finished third.

Owned, trained and driven by Keith Oliver, 1-4 favourite Boogie Woogie pulled the pocket and brushed to command at the opening station and could not be caught as he trotted to the wire in 2:01.1. The Ken Warkenton-Dixieland Jazz gelding picked up his first win in three tries this year with the three-quarter length score over first over challenger Watkins (Doug Brown) and early speedster Nautilus Seelster (Trevor Henry).

Heavy 7-5 favourite Pointe To Pointe, a Gold champion at two, was a no-doubt-about-it winner in the second fastest division of the night. Trainer Wayne Henry rolled the Mutineer-Garland Bonita gelding to the top before the first quarter and cruised to the wire om 1:59.1 with Riverhall (Robert Shepherd) following 3-3/4 lengths behind and Im (Gord Rayner) finishing third. The Henry Stable of Arthur and Jeff Thomson of Chesley, ON share ownership of the bay gelding, who recorded his first win in two starts this year.

Pio Power went the distance to capture the fastest and final division of the night for driver Luc Ouellette and trainer Chris Beaver. The 2-1 second choice stopped the clock in 1:59 flat, winning for the second time in three starts this season. The time of the mile equaled Gutsy Decision's track record for three-year-old trotting geldings set almost 10 years ago to the day. Longshot Lukes Raoule (Stephen Byron) finished 2-1/2 lengths behind and Los Cabos (Trevor Henry) was third. John Giumarra of White Plains, New York and Trish Foulk of Dover, Delaware own the winning son of Andover Hall-E L Lexi.

In the Invitation Trot, which was named in honour of this year’s Western Fair Raceway Wall of Fame inductees Ross Battin, Terry Kerr and Don McElroy, Son Of Paige and Anthony MacDonald led from start to finish to score in 1:56.4, missing Brawn Seelster’s track record by 4/5ths of a second. Connected Yankee (Paul MacKenzie) finished 3-3/4 lengths behind with Anahar Buster (Paul Walker) rounding out the top three.

Wayne Preszcator trains the six-year-old gelded son of Angus Hall-Paige Seelster, who has won four out of 15 starts this year and $51,015 for Harness Racing Canada 2 of Ajax, ON. Son Of Paige’s 18th lifetime win bumped his bankroll to $232,731.

Following the race, the Wall of Fame photos of inductees Battin, Kerr and McElroy, who will join 23 of the track’s top horseman in the Wall, were unveiled in a trackside presentation.

“Its definitely a special honour, there’s no doubt about that,” said Battin in an interview with Frank Salive. “[Western Fair] was basically a starting point for me to get racing. I had one of my first races here.”

“Damn I’m good,” laughed Kerr in reaction to the Wall of Fame photo unveiling ceremony. “When I started out, this was one of the big places back then in the early ‘70s. This was probably for a bunch of us our stomping grounds.”

“I’m a handsome devil,” laughed McElroy upon seeing his own photo. “I grew up in the business and I think I learned a lot from very good people here especially my dad and uncle Jack [Jack Kopas]. Dad used to say as they move out you move out, save all the ground you can.

“I admire them greatly,” he added, referring to his fellow inductees. “For a small racetrack we have some of the best talent here.”

To view Wednesday’s results, click here.

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