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Grassroots Double For Baillargeon

Published: July 1, 2020 10:48 pm ET

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Trainer Ben Baillargeon made the most of the Canada Day (July 1) card at Grand River Raceway, sending both of his Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots starters on the card — No Time To Play ($4.10) and Ongoing Royalty ($8.80) — to victory.

After not racing as a two-year-old, No Time To Play only needed three starts to find the winner's enclosure, doing so in the first of five Grassroots divisions (race 2) for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

Sylvain Filion sent the Kadabra gelding after early pacesetter Hetalkstoangels (Chris Christoforou) to take charge after a :28.3 first quarter, and the pair then pulled the tempo back through middle splits of :58.2 and 1:29.1. No Time To Play shrugged off a mild first-over challenge from Kenogami Coco (Louis-Philippe Roy) on approach to the far turn before drawing away to a 3-1/4 length win over Hetalkstoangels. Mr Arch (Mike Saftic) lifted off stalled cover to take third.

“He’s still very green, very dumb, and you can quote me on that too. I told Sylvain, ‘Be careful when you come on the track I don’t know if he’ll go straight or turn’. The trot is there 100 per cent, the trot is there, he trots nice, but his mind wanders around,” said Baillargeon. “I didn’t know how to rig him tonight when I came here, and I changed the rigging after I warmed him up. I said, ‘Well, if we get through the first turn then we’re okay’. I think he’s got everything to be a very nice horse down the road you know, like a four-year-old. He’s got the speed, he trotted 1:55.4 his second lifetime start.”

No Time To Play's 1:59.1 mile established his lifetime mark for the partnership of Ecuries Daniel Plouffe Inc., Jean Dessureault and Claude Hamel.

Baillargeon and Filion teamed up in the final division (race 10) as well, giving Ongoing Royalty his second consecutive win in just three starts to date.

The son of Royalty For Life cleared from post 8 into a :29.2 first quarter and travelled uncontested through splits of 1:00 and 1:29.1. His biggest challenge came from a steadily advancing Massman (Scott Coulter) in the second circuit, but Ongoing Royalty was able to march clear to a three-length victory. Dart Guy (Phil Hudon) overcame breaking cover to secure second, and King Of Hearts (Stephen Byron) overcame an early break to narrowly collar Los Ballykeelamigo (Scott Young) for third.

“A friend of mine (Sylvio Ravary) owns him, we were raised together, and he said 'Ben, I have this colt and he might be okay' and this and that. They sent him to me about five, six weeks ago. They had him trained on the farm track in Quebec in 2:06,” said Baillargeon. “He raced real good tonight. He’s still a very green colt, but a good gaited colt and willing to do it, so that’s nice.”

It was the first stakes win for Ongoing Royalty, who campaigns for Andre Desrochers and Sylvio Ravary.

Two trotters posted 1:58 wins to take top speed honours in Grassroots competition: Ripped And Ready ($3.30) and Remember Titans ($3.20).

Ripped And Ready, a son of Muscle Mass, dug in to keep the first-over Fit Bitt at bay to win by a half length in line to Guy Gagnon for Dr. Ruth Irving and trainer Thierry Vandenplas.

Remember Titans used almost identical tactics through the early stages of his race before dismissing mild pressure from Crossfit Mouse and widening to a three-length maiden-breaking win. James MacDonald drove the son of E L Titan for trainer Shawn Steacy and the partnership of Landmark 12 Racing Stable, Dale Larson and the A K Malik Stable.

“Until tonight he was the best maiden in Canada I think,” said trainer Shawn Steacy with a chuckle. “He’s just a solid trotter. Until tonight he didn’t have a nose for winning, that’s all. But ultra-consistent, can get around any size track and kind of will do as much as what any horse around him will do. I’m hoping that he starts to like this winning thing, hopefully it becomes a habit.”

Awesomedabra ($7.80) rounded out the quintet of Grassroots winners, overcoming a mid-race break and storming past Pot Stock in the last strides of a 1:59 mile to record his fourth career win and his first as a sophomore. Chris Christoforou drove the Kadabra gelding for owner-trainer Gary Lance.

“Unfortunately he made a break going to the half on a loose part of the track, luckily he was strong enough to overcome it,” said Chris Christoforou, who drove the gelding to the win for owner-trainer Gary Lance of Port Perry, Ont. “He got back into contention at the head of the stretch — he got out wide in the lane where the footing was better — and had enough to get his head in front at the wire. He raced very good.”

In the evening's overnight feature, the Fillies and Mares Preferred 3 Pace, Top Royal ($3.90) sprinted away on the final turn to evade Filly Forty Seven by 4-3/4 lengths, winning in 1:54.2 under J Harris. Now a 31-time winner, the seven-year-old Royal Mattjesty mare campaigns for Brydown Farms Inc. and trainer Randy Henry.

Trainer Katelyn Graham recorded the first victory of her fledgling career on the Canada Day card, sending Kashe ($10.80) to a narrow victory in a conditioned trotting event. Colin Kelly drove Kashe, whom Graham also owns, to a neck victory over Radical Roy in 2:00.2.

To view Wednesday's harness racing results, click the following link: Wednesday Results – Grand River Raceway.

(with quotes from OSS)

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