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Grassroots Pairs For Steacy, MacDonald

Published: September 11, 2018 12:52 am ET

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Rain and fog greeted the three-year-old trotting colts and two-year-old pacing fillies as they gathered at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday night for their last regular season Grassroots events.

Driver James MacDonald piloted one winner on each gait and said the rain-soaked track, which officials rated five seconds slower than normal, was tiring and difficult to navigate for both the trotters and pacers.

“They were all struggling,” said the Guelph resident. “It was deep and heavy.”

The trotting colts kicked things off in the first race and MacDonald had a few a stressful moments as Jammin Jack went off stride at the start. Fortunately the fan favourite recovered quickly and caught up with the field as they rolled into the first turn.

A total of three horses made breaks before Legend Within reached the :30.1 quarter and two more went off stride heading for the 1:02 half, which left Jammin Jack sitting fifth. Heading for the 1:33.1 three-quarters MacDonald sent the gelding up the outside behind Daylon Phantom and Mister Magic and at the top of the stretch Jammin Jack found another gear, digging in to score a neck victory in 2:02.3. Mister Magic was second and Legend Within held on for third.

“I was very worried, because he usually doesn’t re-set like that, that was the first time I’ve ever seen him re-set that quick,” said MacDonald of Jammin Jack’s early miscue. “I thought he was the best horse in the race if he didn’t get beat up too bad. After he run and he landed back, and I caught the field right away, I was confident he could still win.”

The win was Jammin Jack’s first-ever in Grassroots action and his fourth of the season. The Angus Hall son is conditioned by Mark Steacy for owner-breeder Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA.

With the victory, Jammin Jack boosted his point tally to 68 and moved up to fifth spot in the three-year-old trotting colt and gelding Grassroots standings, earning him a berth in the Sept. 21 Semi-Final. The only hiccup is that, because he also made a break at the start in the August 26 Grassroots event at Rideau Carleton Raceway, Jammin Jack will have to requalify before Steacy can enter him in the Semi-Final. The entry is due Tuesday, Sept. 18 by 10:30 am.

“There’s a chance he might not get to race in the Semi-Final,” noted MacDonald, pointing out that the trotter will need to lay down a flawless qualifier before Tuesday morning. “But if we can get him qualified I think he’d be one of the horses to beat for sure. And Majestic Fire, same thing, if I can get him qualified. I think they both have a real good shot to get real good money in the final.”

Jammin Jack’s stablemate Majestic Fire, who also went off as the fans’ top choice, made a break heading for the three-quarters in the second $19,150 sophomore trotting colt division, just before Barney Mac unleashed a finishing kick that propelled him to a two and three-quarter length victory in 2:03.1. Say You Do finished second and pacesetter T Barrr held on for third.

Campbellville resident Chris Christoforou piloted Barney Mac to the victory for trainer Per Henriksen and owners Tor Jan Larsen of Norwood, Ontario and Adv Racing Stable LLC of Pawling, NY. The win was the Cornaro Dasolo son’s second of the season and his first in Grassroots action.

Barney Mac made his first four starts of the Ontario Sires Stakes season at the Gold Series level, so he will not be eligible to compete in the Grassroots Championship in spite of Monday’s victory. Horses are required to start in at least two regular season events in order to compete in the post-season.

MacDonald and Steacy were back in the winner’s circle after the second $19,150 pacing filly division as Freya Seelster picked up her second Grassroots, and third straight, victory. The Sunshine Beach daughter delivered an impressive effort over the rain-soaked surface, sitting on the outside throughout the mile and refusing to yield in the stretch. The fan favourite hit the wire a neck ahead of Lyons Javelin in 1:58.4. Karans Choice completed the top three.

“She raced huge, huge,” said MacDonald. “I had put her on the lead her last two, so I was hoping I could find her a nice trip. I moved her first up, just grinding away slow, and when I called on her at the top of the track she really responded well.”

Freya Seelster is owned by Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, Shawn Steacy and Guy Haskell of Guelph, Ontario and Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, Alberta. In just five starts the filly has tallied three wins, one second and one third and heads into the Semi-Final in a three-way tie for third with 100 points.

The other two pacing filly divisions were captured by Shadow Sparks and Turncoat, who both made their first visit to the Woodbine Mohawk Park winner’s circle.

Louis Philippe Roy piloted Shadow Sparks to her first lifetime victory for trainer Paul Reid and owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. The Shadow Play daughter paced under the wire in 1:59, one length ahead of fan favourite Free Exchange. Lady Driver was third. Shadow Sparks will advance to the Semi-Final round with a total of 55 points.

Turncoat the stakes events in the tenth race, cruising home a two and one-half length winner in 1:59.4. Moffat resident Jody Jamieson piloted the daughter of Badlands Hanover to the win for owner-trainer Matthew Waltz of Clayton, MI. Buckingham and Twin B Friendly finished second and third behind the fan favourite. Monday marked Turncoat’s debut in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, so she will not be eligible to the post-season.

The top 20 point earners with two regular season starts from the two-year-old pacing filly division will return to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday, Sept. 20 for two $20,000 Semi-Finals. The trotting colt and gelding Semi-Finals go postward on Friday, Sept. 21. The top five finishers from each Semi-Final will advance to their respective $50,000 Grassroots Championship on Saturday, Sept. 29.

(OSS)

To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.


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