Sophomores Face Off In Semi-Finals

Published: September 16, 2016 06:53 pm EDT

The Ontario Sires Stakes Semi-Finals continued on Friday night (September 16) at Mohawk Racetrack as the three-year-olds faced off for a spot in their divisional Grassroots Championships.

The top five finishers from each of the $20,000 Semi-Finals will advance to the Grassroots Championships, which will be held on Saturday, September 24 at Mohawk.

Trot Insider had provided coverage of all the OSS action.

Three-Year-Old Trotting Fillies

Anneli Hanover ($8.20) came through along the pylons, passing pacesetter Could It Be Magic in the stretch, to win the opener in a career-best time of 1:55 flat for driver James MacDonald and trainer Mark Steacy.

After Could It Be Magic hustled to command from the outside post 10 and carved out fractions of :27.1, :57 and 1:26, Anneli Hanover closed inside down the stretch and held off the late-comers by half a length. Trumpets rallied off the cover of 3-2 favourite Magical Valentine to finish second while Roadmapper came on for third. Windsong Magic was fourth while Magical Valentine and Could It Be Magic finished in a dead-heat for fifth.

Anneli Hanover was the 3-1 second choice in the field with two prior Grassroots wins. Winless in eight starts as a freshman, the Majestic Son-Above All Hanover filly is now seven-for-15 this year, pushing her bankroll to nearly $60,000 for her Ontario connections. She is owned by Katherine Steacy, Landmark 8 Racing Stable, David McDonald, and Barry White.

Driven by Trevor Henry, Magical Steph ($9) prevailed off a pocket trip to win her Semi-Final in 1:55.3 for trainer Gary Lance and Sandy Moulton's GL Racing stable.

Magical Steph left from post nine and settled in behind Myretirementticket, the top Grassroots winner in the division, during the 27-second opening panel. The Kadabra-I Like Stephanie filly played 'follow the leader' through middle splits of :57.2 and 1:27.3 while slight 2-1 favourite Sunrise Avenue pursued first over. In the stretch, Henry maneuvered Magical Steph outside and collared Myretirementticket right at the wire. Sunrise Avenue was third between those two fillies while True Muscle and Traviata finished fourth and fifth.

An eight-time starter so far this year, Magical Steph has earned all three of her sophomore wins in the Grassroots program. The filly's career-best Semi-Final score pushed her bankroll over the $100,000 mark for her Port Perry, Ont. connections.

Three-Year-Old Trotting Colts

Entering the Semi-Finals off a Grand Circuit stakes victory in the Simcoe two weeks ago, Muscles For Life ($3.60) was the 4-5 favourite and didn't disappoint his backers with a 1:55.2 triumph for trainer Gregg McNair.

While division point-leader Golden Son broke stride at the start, Doug McNair left with Muscles For Life from post nine and secured the lead over Bow Ties N Bourbon after being parked past a :27.3 first quarter. They then led through middle splits of :57.4 and 1:27 en route to the one and three-quarter length victory. Windsun Missile fired home from the backfield for the runner-up honours while French Bastille, Bow Ties N Bourbon and Manofmanyimages completed the top-five finish order.

Muscles For Life has now won four of his 13 starts this year, including one prior Grassroots division. The Muscle Mass-Serenity Girl colt, who was last season's divisional Grassroots champion, will be looking to repeat for owner Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, Michigan.

Closing off the cover of Mass Balance, Georgies Pockets defeated that rival and the popular race leader P L Jericho in the final strides to win his Semi-Final in a career-best 1:55.1 for trainer/driver Jack Moiseyev.

Even-money favourite P L Jericho took the lead from the :27.1 first quarter leaver Dynamic Edge down the backstretch and clocked middle splits of :57 and 1:26.4 before a stretch duel ensued. Mass Balance was closing in on the outside with Georgies Pockets swinging off his cover to produce a three-way finish. Georgies Pockets ultimately persevered by a neck with P L Jericho edging out Mass Balance for the runner-up role. Holiday Party and Dynamic Edge rounded out the top five finishers.

Owned and bred by M T Pockets Stables of Pompano Beach, Florida, Georgies Pockets earned his third Grassroots win of the year from just five starts.

Three-Year-Old Pacing Fillies

James MacDonald and Mark Steacy struck again as even-money favourite Forever Liza ($4.10) overcame her outside starting spot with a second-over trip to take a new lifetime mark of 1:51.3.

Leaving just inside of post 10 starter Forever Liza, Trilife forged three-wide into the first turn to establish the lead by the :26.1 first quarter mark over Heavenly Bet and Selling The Dream. However, second choice Selling The Dream swept up down the backstretch and took over past the :54.3 mid-way mark. Killean Finale then advanced first over approaching three-quarters in 1:23.1 and collared Selling The Dream in the stretch, but Forever Liza went by after tracking her cover to score by less than a length. Killean Finale finished second with Westsluckycam third, followed by Selling The Dream and Tonightimlovingyou.

Forever Liza earned three Grassroots victories during the regular season to rank second in the point standings. The Bettors Delight-Forever Cam filly now has six wins in 15 sophomore starts after failing to hit the board in three outings last year, and has banked over $82,000 for the Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que.

Free Show ($11.70) closed late from the outer flow to steal the glory in deep stretch with Trevor Henry in the sulky for trainer David Menary. The Badlands Hanover-Free Admission filly's winning time was also a personal-best in 1:51.3.

Outsiders Maxim Seelster and Bernadette traded turns on the lead through a :26.4 opening panel with Top Royal in pursuit and working to the top on the way to the half in :55. Top Royal continued to lead to three-quarters in 1:23.3 with pressure mounting in the form of Icthelight Hanover. While Top Royal fought off the first over filly in the stretch, the backfield was closing in. Windsun Glory, the 2-1 bettors' choice, rallied off cover with Free Show sweeping by on the far outside with a 27-second final kicker to defeat the favourite. Top Royal finished third with Bernadette and divisional point-leader Noone To Depend On rounding out the top five finishers.

Owned by the Pennsylvania-based Hutt Racing Stable, Free Show entered the Semi-Finals with just one Grassroots victory from the July 11 leg at Grand River Raceway, where she had previously won the 2015 Battle of the Belles. Tonight, Free Show rebounded from a break in stride in her last Grassroots outing early this month at Clinton Raceway and earned her third win of the year from 14 starts.

Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts

Doug McNair doubled up in Friday's Semi-Finals as he got the 6-5 favourite Arsenic ($4.70) home in time for a 1:51.1 career-best victory over divisional point-leader St Lads Moonwalk.

The parked out Flaherty made the lead over Daylight Rush and Bettor Memories at the :26.3 first quarter mark and proceeded to the half in :55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24. Meanwhile, McNair sent Arsenic after the pacesetter with the parked-from-the-start outsider St Lads Moonwalk picking up the live cover. Down the stretch, Flaherty had Daylight Rush looking for room along the pylons and Bettor Memories trying to slip out between horses. But Arsenic had clear sailing and held off the quick-closing St Lads Moonwalk on the far outside by a neck, with Bettor Memories coming through inside of those two for third. Inspiration View and Perseverant finished fourth and fifth.

Scott McEneny trains the winning Bettors Delight-Shes Poison gelding for his wife Michelle and their Milton, Ont. partners Brad Grant and Teresa Davidson. Arsenic, who has competed at both the Gold and Grassroots level, earned his third win of the season from 11 starts. Among his wins was a Grassroots event at Kawartha Downs last month.

Fresh off back-to-back Grassroots victories, the Jack Darling stable's Continual Hanover ($9) continued his winning momentum in the final event of the evening, scoring in 1:51.2 in rein to Jody Jamieson.

Sports Authority fired off a :26.2 first quarter before 2-5 favourite Piranha was launched from mid-pack and swept to the lead by the half in :54.2 while Blaise Mm Hanover abandoned a pocket-pulling move. Jamieson then tipped 7-2 second choice Continual Hanover first up from fourth, flushing out Sports Authority in front on the way to three-quarters in 1:22.2. Sports Authority put away Piranha as they raced into the stretch, but there was a wild scramble to the finish as rivals spread across the track looking for racing room. Continual Hanover emerged with the half-length victory over the late-rallying 109-1 longshot Imsporty. Sports Authority edged out Kokanee Seelster for third while Big Place earned the final Championship position.

Continual Hanover (Bettors Delight-Current Hanover) entered the Semi-Finals with the four Grassroots wins -- the most in his division -- and is now five-for-10 overall on the year.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click the following link: Friday Results – Mohawk Racetrack.

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