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Master Grand Quickest In Grassroots

Published: July 12, 2020 12:09 am ET

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Georgian Downs hosted a trio of $22,450 Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts on Saturday night (July 11), and it was local youngster Master Grand who delivered the fastest mile of the Ontario Sires Stakes battles.

Master Grand and trainer-driver Aaron Byron left with confidence from post 5 and had established command by the :31 opening quarter. Byron allowed Randy Waples and Imasharpdealer to circle to the front heading for the 1:01.2 half, but were soon back out and pressing the pacesetter.

Imasharpdealer could not handle the pressure and skipped off stride as the colts reached three-quarters in 1:31.2. From there it was smooth sailing for favourite Master Grand, who hit the wire five-and-one-quarter lengths the best in 2:00.3. Diehard Seelster was second and Insanity was well back in third.

“He’s been training down great. We’re local to Georgian and I wanted to give him a start here, and he really handled this well,” said Byron, who trains Master Grand for owner Paul Kelly. “He’s a nice horse and he trots very well. He’s a nice, big Muscle Mass colt.”

Byron and Kelly traveled to Harrisburg, PA last November for the annual Black Book Yearling Sale and spent hours looking at a variety of yearlings before acquiring Master Grand for $28,000, time Byron says they could have spent elsewhere as it turned out.

“He was the first horse we looked at. We drove, what seven, eight hours from here, and the first horse we saw we could have just bought that one, but instead we looked at about 1,000 more,” Byron said with a chuckle. “He was the very first horse because I went into Winbak [Farms] to get a pen, because I like their pens, and some young lady goes, ‘Oh want to see my favourite horse?’ And that just happened to be him.

“He did everything right, like he’s really easy on himself, so the winter in Canada didn’t bother him too much. He’s just kind of a nice horse to be around, he’s a real gentleman.”

Byron has spent most of the last decade plying his trade south of the border, but with a growing family—he and wife Carylyn welcomed twins three weeks ago—he decided it was time to come home. The reinsman has been making regular appearances at Georgian Downs in addition to trips to Woodbine Mohawk Park and Grand River Raceway.

The other two divisions were clocked in an identical 2:00.4. Four Wheelin captured the first Grassroots win of the two-year-old trotting colt season, getting a neck in front of fan favourite Arch Hall and Tymal Chrome at the wire with a big late effort.

“I don’t drive that much so I was confident of him, but I didn’t drive him that confident. He helped me get the job done,” said trainer-driver Marcel Barrieau. “It was unbelievable what he did tonight. I really like him all that much more, because he showed a lot of grit, he trotted home real well.”

After leaving sharply from post 2 Barrieau and Four Wheelin led the field at the :30.4 opening quarter then yielded to Showme Some Muscle heading for the 1:00 half. As Arch Hall and Tymal Chrome powered up the outside lane on the way to the 1:31 three-quarters Four Wheelin was pinned on the rail in fourth, but when Showme Some Money skipped off stride in the stretch Barrieau was able to squeeze Four Wheelin up the inside for the narrow victory.

“He’s got a big burst. He showed that in Mohawk qualifying there (June 18), home in :27.4,” said Barrieau, who shares ownership of the Wheeling N Dealin colt with Gestion Mastel Inc. “He did tonight too, to come home like that, so we hope that he’s got a good heart so he can keep going.”

Four Wheelin was a $32,000 acquisition from last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale.

Top Hall captured the other Grassroots division with a commanding performance from post 6 that saw him hit the wire two lengths ahead of The Wheel and Moscow Moon.

“He said he qualified really good, Gerard did, and he said he trained good. He said he’s been pretty solid, so he said just be careful with him off the gate and if he seems good you can let him roll,” said Paul Mackenzie, who piloted the gelding to the win for trainer Gerard Demers. “I just let him float out of there and he did everything pretty good. He got a little green around the last turn, but when I asked him he still had some go to him. He’s nice and solid, a nice trotter. Gerard did a great job of training him down and bringing him to the races.”

Demers conditions the Angus Hall son for Les Ecuries GLD Inc., Jean Roch Marois and La Ferme Tag Inc. The partners acquired Top Hall from the London Selected Yearling Sale for $22,000.

The two-year-old trotting colts will make their second Grassroots start at Hiawatha Horse Park on July 25.

(Ontario Sires Stakes)

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

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