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Freshmen Clash In Semi-Finals

Published: September 19, 2014 11:25 pm ET

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Rookie pacers and trotters of both sexes competed in eight $20,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Semifinals on Friday night at Mohawk Racetrack.

The top five finishers from each Semifinal will return for the $50,000 Grassroots finals next Saturday night at Mohawk.

Pacing Males

The first Semifinal for this group saw Star Cover (Jody Jamieson) in front of a parked-out Thinkofagameplan (Randy Waples) by half a length at the :27-second opening quarter. Thinkofagameplan surged into the lead after that, and he would go on to click off the half in :57.1 and the three-quarters in 1:25.3.

Through the stretch, Thinkofagameplan, who led the Grassroots regular season point standings for the two-year-old colt and gelding pacers, remained in charge, and he would go on to defeat Star Cover by a length and a quarter in 1:53.4. Single White Sock (James MacDonald) was third, followed by Mybestolxfriendray (Billy Davis Jr.) and Pair Of Deuces (Paul MacDonell).

Thinkofagameplan, a Ponder colt who scored his fifth win (all in Grassroots competition) from nine attempts and pushed his earnings to $86,440, is a homebred for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor, Ont. and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont. The winner is the second foal out of the Camluck mare Noshameinmygame. She was a Grassroots winner at both two and three. Thinkofagameplan has also raced against Grand Circuit two-year-old male pacers this year, finishing second in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk.

In the other Semifinal, post nine starter Supersonic Jet (Trevor Henry) blasted out for command and he got around favourite Moonwards Hanover (Paul MacDonell) at the :26.2 opening quarter. Moonwards Hanover then moved to the top, and he got to the half in :55.2 and to the three-quarters in 1:26.1.

MacDonell asked the public choice to pick it up at the top of the stretch, but he didn’t have it on this night, and that set up a wild scramble to the finish line that resulted in Rightinthekisser (Doug McNair), who had drawn into the race following the scratch of Bridge Of Stone, rallying from off–the-pace and splitting horses inside the final sixteenth to beat far outside challenger Big Moment (Randy Waples) by a head in 1:56. Twin B Scandal (Joe Hudon Jr.) nabbed third, The Fire Within (Jody Jamieson) got fourth and Half A Billion (Mike Saftic) snagged fifth.

Rightinthekisser, a colt by Major In Art, is trained by Mark Steacy for owners Annmari Daley of Lake Worth, Florida, James Crawford of Manilus, New York, and Michael White of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. Rightinthekisser, who was bred by Martinez Equine and was purchased for $12,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, broke his maiden in his eighth start and he has put away $24,160. Rightinthekisser is the 10th foal out of the Pacific Fella mare Pacific Kiss, which makes him a half-brother to the likes of Pacific Mariner (Astreos, $375,166), a one-time Grassroots winner in his racing career.

Trotting Males

El Diablo Hall (Keith Oliver) went all the way on the lead in the first Semifinal, hitting the opening quarter in :27.1, the half in :57, and the three-quarters in 1:26.4 on his way to a two length win over Call Me Richard (Paul MacDonell). The final time was 1:57.4. Numbers Game (Mario Baillargeon) got third ahead of Olympic Son (Trevor Henry) and Grandprix Seelster (Sylvain Filion).

Tony Montini trains the winner, a Windsong Espoir gelding, for owners Albina Montini of Acton, Ont., Paul Giammichele of Burlington, Ont., and Rick Podolinsky of Alvinston, Ont. Dale Hunter of London, Ont., who played for several years in the National Hockey League and was also head coach of the Washington Capitals, also co-owns El Diablo Hall, who has now won seven times (including a Grassroots success on August 16 at Georgian Downs) from nine tries and banked $40,500. He’s the third foal out of the Andover Image mare EL Mistress Chesea, meaning he’s a half-brother to multiple-time Grassroots winner Erin Hall.

Snapshot Springs (Trevor Henry) showed the way through stations of :28, :59, and 1:29.1 in the other Semifinal, but first-over challenger and favourite Freddie (Randy Waples) wore him down in the stretch to score by half a length in 1:58. Mandeville (Steve Condren) finished in third while Pilgrims Joy (James MacDonald) got fourth and Ontheroad De Vie (Rick Zeron) took fifth.

Corey Johnson trains Freddie, a gelding by Majestic Son, for owners Debbie Element of Rockwood, Ont. and Fred Brayford of Alliston, Ont. Freddie, who was bred by Rossridge Stables, is three-for-seven in the win column with earnings of $36,000. Freddie, a Grassroots winner on July 30 at Grand River Raceway and on August 8 at Mohawk, is the second foal out of the Muscles Yankee mare Circe Hanover. She’s a half-sister to the likes of Capriccio Hanover ($254,073).

Pacing Fillies

Race favourite Ms Mac N Cheese won the first Semifinal by a pair of lengths in 1:53.2 after she led the way through splits of :26.3, :56, and 1:24.3. Ride Away Shark (Jody Jamieson), who was stuck on non-advancing cover around the far turn, rallied to get second and Shes A Pansation (Steve Condren) collected third. Amazing Control (Mike Saftic) and OK Heavenly (Doug McNair) also secured spots in the final by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Richard Moreau trains the victorious Badlands Hanover filly for owner L. David Ratchford of North Sydney, N.S. She has six wins from eight attempts this season and she has earned $43,467. The second foal out of the Artiscape mare Mr Delis Filly, Ms Mac N Cheese was sold for $10,000 at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale. This was Ms Mac N Cheese’s fourth consecutive victory in Grassroots competition.

In the second Semifinal 40-1 longshot Bella Santanna (Tyler Moore) gave the cold shoulder to 99-1 shot Machin Marley (Billy Davis Jr.) through panels of :26.3, :56.2, and 1:27. Even-money favourite Twin B Honour (Trevor Henry) was in behind Bella Santanna in the pocket but then she made a break when doubled up before three-quarters.

At the top of the stretch Stonebridge Quest (Jody Jamieson) swept around the battling longshot leaders after a third-over trip, but driver Doug McNair cut Little Miss Artist loose on the far outside and she would hit the wire first in 1:56.2. OK Hallelujah (Sylvain Filion) was second, beaten half a length by the winner, and Stonebridge Quest held third. Show Some Leg (Steve Condren) came in fourth and Lady Jen (Paul MacDonell) grabbed fifth.

Mike Weller trains Little Miss Artist, a daughter of Artistic Fella, for breeder/co-owner DM Stables LLC of Naples, Florida, and co-owners William Webb of Defiance, Ohio, and Denny Miller of Archbold, Ohio. Little Miss Artist posted her second victory from eight tries and she has now pocketed $28,420. She’s the fourth foal out of the Noble Ability mare Parapanalia ($130,319), making her a half-sister to horses such as Panongahela (No Pan Intended, $224,324). He won eight times and earned over $108,000 in his OSS career.

Trotting Fillies

In the first Semifinal, Wing Flash (Wayne Henry) popped out of the pocket past the :28.4 opening quarter and then she went on to hit the half in 1:00.4 and the three-quarters in 1:29.3. The fillies sprinted for home off those internal fractions and Wing Flash kicked out a :28.4 final panel to win by three-parts of a length in 1:58.2. The Murmuring Pan (Steve Condren), Tymal Illbthere (Chris Christoforou), Second Sister (Doug McNair) and Delcrest Flexyhall (Anthony MacDonald) also moved on to the final.

Henry Stable of Arthur, Ont. and Daylon Farms Ltd. of Komoka, Ont. own Wing Flash, a daughter of Kadabra who was bred by Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm, and Donald Robinson and sold for $30,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. Wing Flash, who is also trained by Wayne Henry, has a trio of victories from eight attempts and she has now put away $40,725. A winner in Grassroots action on September 9 at Mohawk and on August 17 at Clinton Raceway, Wing Flash is the fourth foal out of the Andover Hall mare Armbro Everlasting. The dam is a half-sister to the likes of millionaire Armbro Keepsake.

Summers Jewel (Mario Baillargeon) was in the lead at the :27.4 front quarter in the other Semifinal, but she would give way to public choice Bistrobistro Taj (Rick Zeron) prior to the :58.1 half. Bistrobistro Taj continued to have the lead at the 1:29 three-quarters, but Summers Jewel had already moved to the outside, leaving the pocket spot open to Railee Priti (Steve Byron).

In the stretch, Summers Jewel forged her way past Bistrobistro Taj, but inside the final sixteenth Railee Priti, who was sent off at odds of 26-1, came up on the outside of Summers Jewel, and Railee Priti would get up to prevail by a quarter of a length in 1:58.4. Summers Jewel had to settle for second and Bistrobistro Taj wound up third. Also moving on to the final for this group were Hope Rises (Steve Condren) and Pinky The Intern (Chris Christoforou), who overcame an early break in stride.

John Bax trains Railee Priti, a filly by Muscle Mass, for owner-breeder Ron Mersky of Paris, Kentucky. Railee Priti, who also won in Grassroots action back on July 22 at Georgian Downs, has two victories from eight trips behind the gate and she has pocketed $31,720. She’s the first foal out of the Broadway Hall mare Railee Beautiful, a half-sister to horses such as Railee Possible ($386,807).

Grassroots Semifinal action continues on Saturday night at Mohawk Racetrack when three-year-olds of both sexes and gaits go behind the starting gate in eight $20,000 events.

In regular overnight action on Friday, American In Paris tripled up in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Pace as she launched off cover and swept by the pacesetting Bullet Point in deep stretch for a 1:51.1 victory in rein to Chris Christoforou.

Leaving hard from post six, Bullet Point (Jody Jamieson) put up a :26.4 opening panel and was strong on the lead to the half in :55 and three-quarters in 1:22.3. Away fifth early on, 8-5 favourite American In Paris followed the cover of Skippin By (Randy Waples) before bursting onto the scene for the one-length victory. Bullet Point, Lights Go Out (Phil Hudon) and Skippin By finished close behind in second through fourth.

The four-year-old mare, who has won half of her 20 starts this year and $176,150 in purses, joined the Murray Brethour stable in June and is owned by Doug Millard of Woodstock, Ont.

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

(With files from OSS)


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