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Prospect Finals Wrap Up Grand River Meet

Published: September 26, 2020 12:51 am ET

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Grand River Raceway closed the book on its 2020 season on Friday, Sept. 25, celebrating a 25 per cent bump in handle.

All source wagering on Grand River Raceway’s live racing for the 2020 meet was $12,953,560 for a daily average of $269,866, an increase of 25 per cent over last season. The average nightly handle was the highest in the history of Grand River Raceway. In 2019, 48 race dates were conducted and $10,382,493 was wagered. A total of 489 races were conducted this year, one less than last year.

Total purses paid for all races at Grand River Raceway were $4,747,114 – down marginally from the 2019 season.

Scott Coulter won the title as the leading driver at Grand River Raceway. The Brantford, Ont. resident won 47 races in 271 starts. A long time participant at Grand River Raceway, Coulter has over 5,300 victories and an excess of $35 million in purse earnings throughout a career that began in 1995.

Trainer Richard Moreau recorded 17 wins and trained horses to purse earnings of $112,396 to win the dash title in 2020. During the summer, Moreau eclipsed 6,000 wins and $60 million in career purse earnings. He has been named Canada’s Trainer of the Year in each of the last seven years.

"In late Spring, with the COVID-19 lockdowns still in place, I did not expect to race a full season, let alone break an all source wagering record," said Jamie Martin, Director of Operations, Grand River Raceway. "The grooms, trainers, drivers and Grand River Raceway staff were excellent at maintaining pandemic protocols throughout the meet. I want to thank customers throughout North America for supporting our meet with their wagering dollars."

Dates for Grand River Raceway’s 2021 race season will be released in the new year. The facility is in the process of re-opening for simulcast wagering. For information on re-opening plans, refer to

A perfect fall night greeted the top Prospect Series horses as they gathered on the final card of the meet to compete in eight $15,000 finals.

Local reinsman Bruce Richardson piloted the first Prospect Series champion, guiding A La Mode Seelster to a front-end victory in the two-year-old pacing filly final for trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont. and owner Murray Cox of Rockwood, Ont.

“She made front kind of easy and got things her way, and when I asked her going into the last turn, she responded and won kind of handily,” said Fergus, Ont. resident Richardson, who was making his first appearance in A La Mode Seelster’s race bike. “He thought she’d be decent in there, thought she’d race good, so that’s what we were hoping for.”

The win was the first of the season for Sunshine Beach daughter A La Mode Seelster, who finished one length ahead of fan favourite Carnival Heart. Unfortunately, Carnival Heart caused interference to three of her peers heading for the halfway marker so she was set back to sixth and Lets Roar and Century Havana were promoted to second and third.

Arthur, Ont. residents Wayne and George Henry teamed up to win the two-year-old trotting colt final with Arch We Lucky, who also went gate-to-wire, cruising home 4-3/4 lengths ahead of Kiss My Mass and Willywin. Wayne Henry drives and George Henry trains the Archangel son for Arthur resident William Checkley.

Sauble Attack and Anthony Haughan emerged victorious from the two-year-old pacing colt final, stalking fan favourite Kodiak Seelster through fractions of :28.4, :59 and 1:28.3 before sprinting down the stretch to a three-quarter-length win in 1:57.2. Kodiak Seelster settled for second and Dubai Seelster was third.

“He has been growing a lot this summer and fall, and he has been progressing. His last few starts, he’s been getting stronger every week and I thought he looked pretty strong tonight,” said trainer Otis Hall. “Everybody is happy, my parents are happy, and my family is happy and the driver was happy with him, just everybody is happy, and the horse himself is happy.”

The Ayr, Ont. resident bred and owns Sauble Attack, through his Nasussito Racing Inc., in partnership with his parents Larry and Marilyn Hall’s Sauble Hill Farms of Tara, Ont. His children, Scott and Melanie Hall, are the Bettors Delight gelding’s primary caretakers.

Like Sauble Attack, Radical J J scored her second straight win in the two-year-old trotting filly final. The Muscle Mass daughter and driver Scott Young led the field through fractions of :29.3, 1:00.2 and 1:30.4 and then opened up a five-length gap in the stretch, stopping the clock at 2:01.1. One Smart Cookie finished second and Somewhat Sacy was third.

“She raced her best race tonight,” said Young. “She’s been racing well all year, but I was happy for the filly that she got the final to end the year.”

The Guelph, Ont. resident piloted Radical J J to the win for trainer Shawn Steacy of Brantford, Ont., and owners David Reid of Sydenham, Ont., A K Malik Stable of Ottawa, Carmen Chrysdale of Mississauga, Ont., and Bruno Dipoce of Wasaga Beach, Ont.

Driver Travis Henry piloted two Prospect Series Final winners, with the first coming in the three-year-old pacing filly contest.

Starting from post three with Land Of Paradise, Henry was part of a six-filly stampede into the first turn as the finalists vied for early position. Land Of Paradise reached the front coming off the first turn, but was quickly overtaken by favourite Watch My Speed, who led the way to a :26.4 opening quarter, :56.3 half and 1:26.3 three-quarters. Land Of Paradise stepped out in the stretch and battled to one-half length win over Hallsglensmavis in 1:57.3. Southwind Bayou completed the top three.

“She’s been plugging away all year. She’s really green, she's just a slow learner I guess,” said Henry. “She has races where you can see that it kind of clicks in her brain, and then she’ll have races where she doesn’t even seem like she knows what she’s doing out there. Tonight, obviously it clicked and she was good.”

Putnam, Ont. resident Scott McNiven trains the Badlands Hanover daughter for his co-owners Thomas Brodhurst of London, Ont., Bradley McNiven of Embro, Ont., and Shirley Griffin of St. Thomas, Ont.

Henry’s second Prospect Series final victory came in the three-year-old trotting colt contest with Muscle Mass son Northern Flame, who got a head in front of pacesetter Hall Of Secrets at the 2:01 finish. Traveller finished third.

“Travis didn’t make it from Mohawk, so he asked if I would drive him,” said Henry, who was a last minute replacement for Travis Cullen. “He said, ‘Don’t look at the program, he should be good tonight.’ And he said, ‘He’s honest and he’s got a lot of go.’ There was a ton of early speed and they were battling out to the half pretty good, so I got a second-over trip and it just kind of worked out good.”

The Embro, Ont. resident engineered the win for trainer Jodie Cullen and owner Gestion J Y Blais Inc. of Montreal, Que.

Driver Ryan DesRoche got his first Ontario-based stakes final victory in the three-year-old trotting filly division, guiding Muscles Aplenty to a 2:00.1 personal best for trainer Bill Shaw and owners Patricia Gibb of London, Ont., and Jay Kressler of Kitchener, Ont. Favourite Wheely Twicky was 2-1/4 lengths back in second and Credit Celebrity was third.

“I knew if we could get away on the right foot that she was just as good as any of them in there,” said DesRoche, who had the Angus Hall daughter on the front before the quarter. “I kind of opened up a few lengths on the backside with her just because I knew she can get a little feeble late, so if I could open up enough on them, I knew that she’d finish trotting the mile strong enough that they couldn’t get to her. And it worked out well.”

In rein to Grand River Raceway’s leading driver Scott Coulter, Yannick Seelster clocked the fastest mile of the night in the three-year-old pacing colt final, ringing up fractions of :27, :56.4 and 1:26.3 on his way to a 1:56 personal best. Favourite Dreaming Out Loud was 1-1/2 lengths back in second and Modern Writer was third.

“He’s been racing well. Scott’s (Coulter) done a really good job with him, so I thought off the rail he’d have a pretty good shot, but there was a couple other decent ones in there, so I didn’t know,” said trainer Ted MacDonnell. “But he raced really well. He’s been kind of a slow learner and he still is just learning, but he’s putting the pieces together now.”

Allenford, Ont. resident MacDonnell shares ownership of the Big Jim gelding with Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke, Ont.

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

(With files from Grand River Raceway & OSS)

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