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Kopas Readying Youngsters For OSS Debut

Published: July 10, 2009 8:50 pm ET

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Every horse has an equal opportunity to be a star in Sunday’s freshman pacing colt Gold Series season opener at Mohawk Racetrack, and trainer John Kopas is preparing a pair of youngsters he hopes will rank among the province’s best in 2009.

The Milton resident will send out Sonic Seelster from Post 2 in the first $40,000 Gold elimination, and Grin For Money from Post 7 in the last division. Both colts head into Sunday’s test off solid third-place finishes in the Bud Light Stakes at Flamboro Downs on July 5, and Kopas says both colts have been impressive since the early days of their education.

“He’s been a nice colt all along,” says Kopas of Sonic Seelster. “He was a very, very nice horse right from the beginning — smart and good gaited.”

The Camluck colt is a half-brother to Style, a pacing filly Kopas trained to earnings of $574,140 in 2005 and 2006. That family connection is what caught the horseman’s attention first, but the colt’s classic conformation sealed the deal. Owners Old Aultsville Stable of Mississauga and the Estate of George F. Hempt Trust of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania offered $45,000 for the youngster at the Forest City Yearling Sale and have already seen a $5,590 return on their investment after one start.

Randy Waples will steer Sonic Seelster in the second race on Sunday, and Kopas says fans should expect a brighter effort from the youngster than he delivered in the Bud Light.

“Last week he scoped not very clean after his race, so we treated him,” explains the horseman. “We trained him yesterday and he seems pretty sharp.”

Sharp is a word that could easily define Sonic Seelster’s stablemate Grin For Money, a $20,000 purchase by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association New Owners group, Grin For Money Stable, mentored by London resident Tom Brodhurst.

“Obviously I liked his pedigree initially, I’ve always been a fan of Falcon Seelster mares, and his second dam produced one that made over $400,000,” recalls Kopas. “I thought he might be affordable, and fortunately he was. He was a really sharp looking colt.”

Like Sonic Seelster, Grin For Money was effortless to break and teach his early lessons, but the Grinfromeartoear son has always had an aggressive edge that his stablemate does not possess. As a result Kopas and driver Sylvain Filion have been very careful through the colt’s first few starts.

“He has a tendency to be a little aggressive so we trained him in behind all winter and so far it’s paid off. He is pretty well mannered right now,” explains Kopas.

“I don’t think he’s the type of colt you’d want to send out of there too many times early in his career, or you might just have a runaway,” adds the veteran horseman. “He has enough high speed that, even coming from off the pace, he can get around enough of them.”

To earn his third-place cheque in the Bud Light Stake, Grin For Money sprinted home from seventh at the top of the stretch, hitting the wire just one and a quarter lengths behind the winner.

With both colts making steady progress in the early stages of their career, Kopas is hopeful that they will be regular players at the Gold Series level.

“I am cautiously optimistic about how the year is going to go,” says the trainer.

The freshman pacing colts begin their Ontario Sires Stakes career in Races 2, 4 and 6 on Sunday. Mohawk Racetrack’s first race gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

To view Sunday's harness racing entries, click here.


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