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Carr’s Troops Ready For Semifinals

Published: September 21, 2011 12:37 am ET

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Jim Carr is bullish on the Ontario Sires Stakes program, and the Hamilton resident demonstrated his enthusiasm at the Summer Sizzler Sale in August by purchasing two sophomore pacers who have advanced to Saturday’s Grassroots Semifinals at Mohawk Racetrack.

Carr’s first acquisition at the Aug. 28 sale was three-year-old pacing filly Pearl Handlepistol, who was hammered down to the longtime owner for $37,000. The Mach Three daughter had been owned and trained by his good friends Stew and Joanne Firlotte, so Carr knew the filly had been well cared for through her first 19 starts.

“I knew the filly had been babied all her life,” says Carr. “My filly Brush With Royalty had trained beside her as a two-year-old, they were in stalls side-by-side, so I knew the horse since the first day they started training her.”

Pearl Handlepistol had accumulated one win in Grassroots action earlier in the summer and added a second in her first start following the sale, touring the Clinton Raceway oval in 1:58.1 on Sept. 4. The filly added 12 more points to her tally with a third-place effort in the regular season finale at Hiawatha Horse Park on Sept. 15, finishing ninth in the division standings.

“She had a rough trip in her last start, she was parked the whole way,” notes Carr. “But she never quit, she went a tough trip and she still got third.”

Guelph resident Chad Milner trains Pearl Handlepistol, and Sylvain Filion will steer the filly from Post 1 in the fifth race on Saturday. Milton resident Filion will also steer Brush With Royalty in the ninth race, sending Carr’s second hopeful off the gate from Post 2.

“It would be nice to have two in the Final,” admits Carr. “Time will tell, I’ll be able to answer that question Sunday morning.”

Brush With Royalty heads into her $30,000 Semifinal off two seconds, one third, one fourth and two fifths in six Grassroots appearances. The Royal Mattjesty daughter squeaked into the post season in twentieth spot, but Carr has faith in her ability to grind out another top five effort on Saturday.

“As a two-year-old I think she only missed one cheque, and as a three-year-old I don’t think she’s missed in the Grassroots,” says the owner. “On the turns she’s a little bit rough, but she’s got a good heart, and she’s out of a very good family.”

Brush With Royalty’s breeding is just as important to Carr as her race results. The owner’s long term plans include reuniting old pals Brush With Royalty and Pearl Handlepistol in the broodmare barn and sending both fillies to the court of his recently retired world champion Big Jim.

“Both my fillies I intend to breed to Big Jim,” he explains. “The Ontario Sires Stakes program is a great program, and I’m standing Big Jim in Ontario because of the program.”

Campbellville resident James “Friday” Dean trained Big Jim to his $1.5 million in earnings and also conditions Brush With Royalty, who could go over $100,000 with a strong showing at Mohawk Saturday.

“She’s in tough. She’s in with Epoxy Queen and the horse that finished first in the standings in the division,” says Carr of the task facing Brush With Royalty. “But she’s a grinder. I don’t expect her to win, but definitely to get in the top five.”

Carr is also hoping for a top five result from the other horse he purchased out of the Summer Sizzler Sale. Three-year-old pacing colt Libertys Best Star drew one of two short straws available to the colts tied at the bottom of the standings with 62 points and will battle for a Grassroots Final berth from Post 8 in the seventh race on Saturday.

“I only bid on him once. My buddy went up to $20,000, and I went to $21,500 and got him,” recalls Carr. “He had raced 10 times and hadn’t finished out of the top three.”

Steve Mihalic of Burlington joined Carr in ownership on Libertys Best Star and the pair turned the Cammibest gelding over to trainer Patrick Fletcher. On Sept. 9 at Flamboro Downs the pacer added a third-place result to the Grassroots win he had scored in August at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and on Sept. 17 he missed the top three for the first time in his 14 race career, finishing sixth off a parked out mile at Georgian Downs.

“I said to Patrick (Fletcher), he doesn’t look like he’s good enough to win the Semifinal, but he might get into the Final,” says Carr, adding that the gelding will continue to race after his Grassroots career comes to an end.

“There are a lot of late closers for horses that are Ontario-sired. He’s already got a late closer he can go in, in December,” notes the owner.

Sylvain Filion will also get the call aboard Libertys Best Star, aiming to return the gelding to his habit of finishing in the top three.

Three-year-old pacing colt division leader Musselsfrmbrussels headlines the other Semifinal, taking aim on his fifth Grassroots win from Post 7.

The three-year-old trotting fillies will take centre stage at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday and compete in the first two races of the evening over the Mohawk Racetrack oval. The sophomore trotting colts take over in Races 4 and 8, the pacing fillies are featured in Races 5 and 9, and the high speed pacing colts star in Races 7 and 11. The top five finishers from each Semifinal will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Oct. 1 for the Grassroots Championship Night, featuring $100,000 finals for all eight Grassroots divisions.


To view entries for Saturday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Mohawk Racetrack.

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