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Five Straight In Grassroots For 'Wild Card'

Published: September 21, 2020 12:05 am ET

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The Wild Card scored his fifth Grassroots win on Sunday (Sept. 20) to wrap up the regular season with a perfect record and the top spot in the three-year-old pacing colt standings.

Flamboro Downs bettors sent the colt as the heavy favourite from post 1 in the first $22,800 Grassroots split and driver Doug McNair let the colt settle into second early as Noneyabizzness powered out to a :26.3 quarter. The favourites were soon out and driving, and The Wild Card led the field through a :54.4 half and a 1:24.2 three-quarters before digging in down the stretch for a one-half length victory in 1:53.1. Captivate Hanover finished second and Bettor At Hightide was third.

“He’s just a nice little horse. He’s handy, he’s quick off the gate and he’s always happy, he’s got his ears up and he just keeps going,” said McNair. “He kind of got tortured a little bit tonight, I mean I had to go a big half with him, I was out a long way with him, and he just kept going. He’s just a nice little horse to drive.”

The Guelph resident piloted The Wild Card to all five of his Grassroots wins for trainer Dr. Ian Moore of Cambridge, ON and his co-owners R G McGroup Ltd of Bathurst, NB and Serge Savard of St-Bruno, QC. Three of those wins came at Woodbine Mohawk Park and one at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Sunday’s appearance was The Wild Card’s first start on a half-mile since an unsuccessful tour of Clinton Raceway last summer so Moore gave the Bettors Delight son a trial run over the Flamboro oval on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“There was a little question about the half-mile track, because he’s only a little guy but he has a really big swing behind, especially on his inside leg. When we raced him at Clinton last year he couldn’t get around the turns very good at all, he struggled with it, so I took him down Wednesday, me and the guy that looks after him, Joe Tulino, and I trained him in 2:03 down there in the bike, just went the one trip. Last quarter in :28, last half in :58, and he got around there no problem at all,” said Moore. “We were humming and hawing whether I should put him in Mohawk Saturday in non-winners of five or whatever, but I’m glad we went there, it worked out all right.”

With 250 points, The Wild Card will lead the sophomore pacing colts into the Oct. 2 Grassroots Semi-Finals. The top 20 point earners qualify for the Semi-Finals and the top five finishers from each Semi-Final advance to the $75,000 Grassroots Championship at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Oct. 10.

McNair may face a tough decision in the postseason. He also piloted Mayhem Hanover to a win on Sunday, qualifying the defending Grassroots champion for the Semi-Finals. Heading into the final leg Mayhem Hanover had made just one start in the Grassroots, finishing third, but Sunday’s win gave him the required two starts and vaulted him into the top 20 with 62 points.

“He’s been racing against tough horses so he finally got a little bit of a break,” said McNair of the colt’s recent starts in the North America Cup, Simcoe and Somebeachsomewhere. “He’s just kind of on the border. Just a little behind them other guys, not far though.”

Starting from post 9, Mayhem Hanover got away fourth as Sunshine List led the field to a :26.4 quarter. Coming off the second turn McNair tipped Mayhem Hanover to the outside and started to advance on favourite Bettorbuckleup, who hit the half in :55.3. By the 1:23 three-quarters Mayhem Hanover had edged Bettorbuckleup and from there the colt opened up a five and one-half length margin on his peers, hitting the wire in 1:51.4. Pocket-sitter Sunshine List got up for second and Bettorbuckleup settled for third.

“He went a good trip here tonight. His first time on a half too it was. He trains over a half all the time, but he hasn’t raced anywhere other than Mohawk,” said trainer Gregg McNair. “That was a real impressive mile he went there tonight.”

Scott and Clay Horner of Toronto, ON share ownership of Mayhem Hanover. The win was the Sportswriter son’s second in 11 sophomore starts.

The other $23,150 Grassroots division went to Day Delight and driver Louis-Philippe Roy, who sat in the pocket behind McNair and Poseidon Seelster as they clocked fractions of :26.1, :54.4 and 1:23.1. In the stretch Day Delight held off Sports Obsession for a head victory in 1:52.4. Poseidon Seelster finished third.

“He just seems to be getting better all the time. That was a big mile tonight,” said Rockwood resident Bill Manes, who shares ownership of the Bettors Delight son with Lloyd Stone of Portland, 10462217 Canada Inc. of Gloucester, ON and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS. “We were a little disappointed the last Grassroots (Sept. 7) when he was the big favourite and got beat, but he bounced back pretty good.”

Victor Puddy trains Day Delight, who finishes the regular season with 122 points from two wins, one third and two fifths, good enough for fourth spot in the standings.

(Ontario Sires Stakes)

To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Flamboro Downs.

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