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Online Buy Wins Grassroots Trophy

Published: July 18, 2010 8:54 pm ET

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Three weeks ago Bruce Gilkinson’s girlfriend thought he had gone slightly crazy, purchasing a horse he had never seen off the internet, but on Sunday afternoon when two-year-old pacing colt Just Asign To Me captured a $24,000 Grassroots division at Clinton Raceway, crazy started to look an awful lot like smart.

“In the last five minutes of the auction, me and some other guy go at it, and I end up getting him for $21,500 US,” recounted Gilkinson before Sunday’s race. “My girlfriend looks at me and says, ‘What have you done?’ I said, ‘I just bought a horse.’ She said, ‘Do you even have that kind of money?’ And I said, ‘No, but I’ll get it.’”

Three days later Gilkinson drove overnight through the state of New York to pick up Just Asign To Me, and a two-year-old pacing filly he acquired after a casual bid of $2,800 stood through to the end of the same online auction.

“It’s Saturday night at midnight and I own two horses that I have never met,” recalled the Listowel, ON resident with a laugh.

After the eight hour trip back home, Gilkinson unloaded the pair at David and Marjorie Conrad’s Listowel farm, gave them a thorough inspection, took them for a jog and was frankly delighted with his sight unseen purchases.

“They were very well taken care of, well fed, well trained down,” noted the owner-trainer. “It was a pleasant surprise, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Just Asign To Me had qualified on June 25 at Pocono Downs, touring the Pennsylvania oval in 1:58.3, so Gilkinson dropped him into a July 11 two-year-old race at Clinton to see whether or not he had Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) potential. The son of Geartogear-Justasign Hanover emerged victorious in 2:01.3, so Gilkinson entered him for Sunday’s Grassroots contest.

Trevor Henry engineered the July 11 victory, and was back in the race bike on Sunday afternoon. Starting from Post 2 in the second race, the Arthur, ON resident sent Just Asign To Me straight to the front and the pair rolled easily through fractions of :28.4, :58.2 and 1:28.4 before accelerating home to a two length victory over favourite Facebook and Superbowl Party. The 1:58.1 clocking was the fastest of the seven Grassroots divisions, and recouped more than half of the colt’s purchase price.

Just Asign To Me was part of a liquidation of OSS eligible horses bred by Perfect World Enterprises, whose provincial racing privileges were revoked by the Ontario Racing Commission in January due to criminal proceedings in the US involving the stable’s principals and family members. Also part of the liquidation were Oil Tumbles, who finished second in the third Grassroots division, and Stay Afloat, who was sixth in the fourth split.

“Their loss is my gain,” said Gilkinson. “But now I’m addicted to that freaking website.”

Just Asign To Me will attempt to recoup the rest of his purchase price in the second Grassroots event of the freshman pacing colt season, Aug. 21 at Sudbury Downs, facing off against the other winner’s from Sunday’s season opener.

Phil Hudon had a magnetic attraction to the Clinton Raceway winner’s circle on Sunday, steering two Grassroots colts and two conditioned event contestants to victory. The Acton, ON resident kicked his successful afternoon off in the very first race, using a come from behind strategy to guide P L Earl to a 2:00.1 Grassroots victory over Grande Seelster and favourite Snugasabuginamug.

Marty Fine trains P L Earl for Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, ON and 590900 Ontario Ltd. of Brampton, ON, who also bred the son of Million Dollar Cam and Lukes Monica.

Hudon’s second Grassroots win came in the fourth race aboard Sandys Candy, who stole a neck victory away from pacesetter Mach Of Ballykeel. The dueling colts hit the wire in 2:00.1, four lengths ahead of fan favourite Rez Rockstar and Putnam Cheeta, owned by Stanley Francis of Woodham.

Putnam, ON resident Scott McNiven trains Sandys Candy for his wife Kimberley McNiven of Putnam. The son of Life Sign and $501,205 winner Come Out Running was an $11,000 purchase out of last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale.

The other Grassroots trophies were earned by the following pacers:

Ghostly Grin (Grinfromeartoear–Ghost Of Sweepall) - 2:03


 

Kyron (Million Dollar Cam–Ingrid Bergrin) - 2:00


 

Rileys Luck (Camluck–Out Of School) - 2:01


 

Clinton Raceway hosts one more Ontario Sires Stakes event this summer, welcoming the two-year-old pacing fillies to town on Sunday, Sept. 5 for their fourth Grassroots battle.

(O.S.S.)

To view Sunday’s results, click here.


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