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Kopas On Keystone Raptor, Grin For Money

Published: September 24, 2010 10:03 am ET

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Windsor Raceway will open its 2010 Ontario Sires Stakes season on Tuesday, September 28 with two $40,000 Gold eliminations for the high-speed three-year-old pacing colts.

Veteran conditioner John Kopas will start one colt in each division, and the resident of Milton, Ont. is hoping for good things from Keystone Raptor in the first split. The son of Astreos will start from Post 2 in the six-horse field and will be making his first start since September 3.

“We discovered he was bleeding down low after his last start,” said Kopas, who opted to treat the colt’s difficult to diagnose exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage with the diuretic lasix. “It seems to have definitely helped him.”

Kopas qualified the colt following the lasix regimen on September 21 and Keystone Raptor cruised around the Mohawk Racetrack oval on the front end in 1:52.2. Off that strong effort, the colt will get a light training mile on Saturday and be ready to rumble over the Windsor oval on Tuesday.

Through 14 starts this season, Keystone Raptor has only recorded one victory and two seconds for earnings of $90,525, a fraction of the $190,555 he banked last season for owners John Fielding of Toronto, Ont., LLK Stable of Mississauga, Ont., Clay Harland Horner of Toronto, Ont. and High Stakes Inc. of Moffat, Ont.

“He hasn’t come back the way we hoped,” admitted Kopas. “He’s had flashes of brilliance, like the night he won his Burlington division, and the night he was second in a Gold elimination to Big Bay Point, but ever since then he just hasn’t been right and, like I said, I think we’ve finally found the problem.”

Kopas is hoping Keystone Raptor and regular reinsman Jack Moiseyev of Campbellville, Ont. can deliver a top-four finish in Tuesday’s elim and earn a return ticket to Windsor for the October 5 Gold final. The colt currently sits ninth in the divisional point standings and needs to pad that total to guarantee a berth in the season ending Super Final.

“Other than Mach Dreamer, I think the rest he’s quite capable of handling,” noted Kopas in regard to the second-race field. “Mach Dreamer has just been racing like a creature here the last while. He’s a heck of a colt.

“This is probably the toughest group of sires stakes colts I have seen in some time,” the horseman added. “It is a very competitive group.”

Defending Gold final champion Mach Dreamer will make his bid for a fifth straight Gold Series victory from Post 4 in Tuesday’s second race. The Mach Three son saw a four-race win streak come to an end on September 18 when Canadian Breeders Championship victor Big Bay Point beat him to the Mohawk Racetrack wire by one and one-quarter lengths in a 1:51 clocking.

Big Bay Point will headline the second Gold elim at Windsor on Tuesday -- a contest that will also feature former Gold final winner Broadies Song from Post 6 and 1:49.4 pacer Dalhousie Dave from Post 3.

Kopas trainee Grin For Money will return to the Gold Series in Tuesday’s second elim after having spent two months at the Grassroots level. The trainer admitted the son of Grinfromeartoear has his work cut out for him.

“Considering what he’s in with, I’m hoping he can get a good trip and slip into the final,” Kopas said. “It is the toughest of the two divisions, horse for horse, no question.”

Kopas conditions Grin For Money for an ownership group put together through the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s New Owner’s Program. Nine people new to standardbred ownership are paired with an experienced mentor and trainer that guide them through the process of selecting, training and racing a yearling. The Grin For Money Stable members are mentored by London, Ont. resident Tom Brodhurst and Kopas said, while they have been disappointed with Grin For Money’s sophomore results, it has been a terrific experience.

“They are a great group, they really are,” he said. “I was very fortunate to get a group like them.”

Grin For Money started his OSS career off with a Gold final victory last season, and Kopas was expecting big things from the youngster, but plans went awry when Grin For Money came down with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized at the University of Guelph. Although Grin For Money did return to the races later in the fall, Kopas said he was not the same horse.

“He just wasn’t the horse he was early on in his two-year-old season, because I really thought he was extra-special,” Kopas said. “He had a tremendous turn of speed.”

Recently, Kopas has been seeing glimpses of Grin For Money’s early promise, which is what led him to give the pacer another shot at the Gold Series.

“In his last start (September 21) he went a heck of a trip. He was parked past the quarter and I was really, really pleased with the grit and determination he showed finishing,” said Kopas. “He had every right to get beat, because he got used pretty hard on the front end. He was on the hook for a :54.1 half.”

Grin For Money will be aiming to deliver another gritty trip from Post 4 in the second elim, which is slated as Race 4 on Windsor Raceway’s Tuesday evening program.

The top four finishers from each elimination, plus one fifth-place finisher selected by random draw, will return to Windsor for the October 5 Gold final. The three-year-old pacing colts will square off in Races 2 and 4 on Tuesday, and the first race will roll in behind the starting gate at 7:00 p.m.

To view Windsor's Tuesday entries, click here.

(OSS)


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