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More Records Fall In Semis

Published: September 22, 2012 2:25 am ET

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The second round of Grassroots Semifinals got off to a quick start at Grand River Raceway on Friday evening as two-year-old trotting filly Princess Lilly impressed fans with a track record effort in the first $30,000 contest.

Starting from Post 8, Princess Lilly was out in the middle of the track through the opening turn and had landed seventh on the rail by the time Abs Muscle Hall reached the :28.4 quarter. That filly continued to lead at the :59 half, but Katla was leading a charge up the outside, tailed by division point leader Orderingin and fan favourite Princess Lilly.

Heading for the 1:30 three-quarters, driver Mario Baillargeon sent Princess Lilly after the lead and the talented young trotter circled the field in impressive style, turning for home two lengths on top. Under no urging from Baillargeon, Princess Lilly extended her lead to three and one-quarters by the time she swept under the finish line, stopping the teletimer in a track record 1:59.4.

Orderingin finished second, Katla picked up third-place honours and Stormont Hotplate finished fourth, 14 and one-half lengths behind the record-setting winner.

Princess Lilly’s 1:59.4 clocking replaced the 2:00.1 record set by Standing My Ground in Grassroots action this summer.

Rockwood, Ont. resident Ben Baillargeon conditions Princess Lilly and was pleased with the way his former problem pupil comported herself in the Semifinal.

“She was a little bit of a handful,” said the horseman, who trains the Muscle Mass daughter for Les Ecuries Piramidan of Gatineau, Que. “But now she’s getting older a little bit, and a little more mature. The more races we get into her, the better she’s getting, like tonight she raced out of the hole.”

Through seven starts Princess Lilly now has five wins and one second to her credit for earnings of $68,000.

The other trotting filly Semifinal was captured by Armstead Kyra in comparatively pedestrian 2:02.2. Tymal Textme was one and three-quarter lengths back in second, Peeling Out was third and Twin B Alibi earned the last qualifying spot. Paul MacDonell piloted Muscle Mass daughter Armstead Kyra to the win for trainer Michael Keeling and owner-breeder Dr. Roland Armitage of Dunrobin, Ont.

Arthur, Ont. resident Trevor Henry picked up a catch-drive aboard freshman pacing filly Pan Luis Obispo and converted it into an impressive come from behind victory. After starting from Post 5, the pair sat sixth through the bulk of the race before shaking loose in the stretch and reeling in the leaders to record a half length victory in 1:56.2.

Cams Macharena also closed well from the backfield to be second, leaving pacesetter and fan favourite Racey Miss to settle for third. Shesbadtothebone completed the qualifiers for next week’s Grassroots Championship.

“She’s got all kinds of talent so you’ve just got to time it right,” said Henry of the Bob McIntosh trainee. “A lot of these young fillies are getting tired right now and this filly, if she can kick home like that she’ll be tough.”

Hall of Fame horseman McIntosh trains the No Pan Intended daughter for owner-breeder Peter Pan Stables Inc. of Pepper Pike, Ohio. Through six starts the speedy youngster has posted five wins and one second for earnings of $50,100.

In the second pacing filly split, Modern Art daughter Twilight Seelster and driver Mike Horner gunned to the front on the second turn and never looked back, sailing home to a three and one-quarter length win in 1:56.1 for trainer Keith McKellar and owner Brad Wilson of Lambton Shores. Nikitas Halo finished second, holding off Miss Coco Luck and Foolish Mind.

Freshman trotting colt division point leader Gotta Secret impressed fans with a game effort that saw him parked out beside pacesetter Buddy Hally through the final quarter, appearing to be bested at the head of the stretch, but battling back for a half-length victory in a track record 1:58.1.

Buddy Hally and Euro Man finished second and third in tight quarters, with Talking Story eight and one-quarter lengths back in fourth.

Sylvain Filion engineered the record setting mile — which replaced the 1:59 mark set by former OSS competitor Sin To Win in 2008 — for trainer Richard Moreau and owner Gestion Jean Yves Blais of Montreal, Que. Through eight starts the Muscle Mass son has posted four wins and four thirds for earnings of $91,800, with all of his wins coming in Grassroots action and all of his third-place results coming in the Gold Series.

“I drew the rail, had the perfect position and I was pretty confident, maybe over confident,” admitted Filion after the race. “But my horse raced real good, he raced tough. I came first up and around the last turn I wasn’t sure if I was gong to get there but he dug in hard and he raced real good.

“I felt a few horses in there stepped up real good tonight and maybe it’s a good thing,” added the leading driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. “I’ll probably be a little less confident next week and pay more attention.”

Oaklea Vulcan captured the other trotting colt Semifinal, besting favourite Time Passes D, Kennel Buddy and Dewer Kash in 2:00.4. Ron Henderson crafted the Pegasus Spur son’s third win for trainer Daniel Dupuis and his partner Herbert Swinhoe of Windsor.

Driver Robert Shepherd of Cambridge, Ont., trainer David Menary of Cheltenham, Ont. and owner-breeder Peter Pan Stables Inc. of Pepper Pike, Ohio teamed up to sweep both pacing colt Semifinals with sons of No Pan Intended.

Panpero Firpo kicked things off for the team, recording his fourth straight victory off a come from behind effort that saw him three-wide in the final quarter and battling all the way down the stretch to a half length victory in 1:55.4. President Sylberun was half a length back in second, Starlite Kid just three-quarters of a length back in third and pacesetter Duc Dorleans one and one-quarter lengths to the rear in third.

The win was the colt’s fifth in 10 outings and boosted his earnings to $70,450.

Shepherd opted for a front end strategy with the colt’s stablemate Panongahela, who held off challenger Sly Ruler to record a one length victory in a sharp 1:54.4, sprinting home in :27.4. Validus Deo was seven lengths behind the battling leaders in third, just ahead of fourth-place finishers Brocks Fortune.

The win was Panongahela’s third straight and boosted his record to four wins and one second in nine starts for earnings of $62,200.

“The first guy [Panpero Firpo], he’s kind of a big grinder, he’ll keep coming. He may never win by 10 lengths or something like that, but he gives you all he’s got,” said Shepherd during his second visit to the winner’s circle. “This guy here [Panongahela], he’s pretty handy, he has very quick speed — as he showed in that last quarter — and out of the gate he zipped over the front pretty quick. They’re two totally different animals.”

With the choice of two Semifinal winners in the Sept. 29 Championship, Shepherd will discuss his options with Menary and await the results of the post position draw before making his final selection.

The top four finishers from each Semifinal will join their sophomore counterparts back at Grand River Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 29 for what should be an extraordinary Grassroots Championship.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Grand River Raceway.


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