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McNair On His Grassroots Quartet

Published: September 27, 2012 11:49 am ET

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Trainer Gregg McNair sent four horses into the Grassroots Semifinal fray at Grand River Raceway last week and all four delivered top-three finishes to secure a second trip to the Elora oval for this Saturday’s $800,000 Grassroots Championship.

On Wednesday, September 19, the three-year-olds arrived at Grand River Raceway for their Semifinal battles, and McNair went a perfect two-for-two with pacing filly Jet Speed and pacing colt Lucky Jet.

Jet Speed was an impressive three and one-half length winner in a track record 1:53.2 from Post 5 in her Semifinal, and the Jeremes Jet lass has landed the advantageous rail for this week’s test.

“She’s got pretty good gate speed, so it’s a good spot for her,” says McNair, who conditions Jet Speed for delighted owners Bryan Lawrence of Hanover and Mike Foerster of Elmira.

Lawrence and Foerster purchased Jet Speed for a sale-topping $48,000 at the August 26 Summer Sizzler Sale and have already recouped $27,000. In addition to her Semifinal victory, Jet Speed delivered a pair of runner-up finishes in the last two regular season Grassroots events. Prior to Tuesday’s post position draw, Post 5 had been the closest the filly had been to the rail for her new owners, so they are looking forward to seeing what she can do from Post 1.

“She got around the turns a little bit better the other night than she did her first few starts for us,” notes McNair. “She’s a fast mare.”

Pacing colt Lucky Jet showed off a late burst of speed to claim a one length victory in his Semifinal, stopping the teletimer at 1:53.3, and the colt will likely need to employ a similar strategy in this week’s $100,000 contest as he landed back on the outside half of the starting gate at Post 7.

“He’s had tough spots this year a lot of times,” points out McNair, who sent the colt out from Post 6 last Wednesday. “I think he’s good enough, if they mix it up on the front end he should be able to get some money.”

The Guelph resident conditions Lucky Jet for Thomas Harmer of Willowbrook, IL, Michelle Crawford of Cazenovia, NY and Edward Kollross of Dubai, UAE and says that the Jeremes Jet son might have earned a few more shots at the Gold Series if circumstances had been different. The colt was one of six McNair raced in the three-year-old pacing colt division this season and every time he ventured to Mohawk Racetrack Lucky Jet landed an outside post, capped off by a Post 10 in his only Gold Final start.

“I would say, if he was the only three-year-old pacing colt I had he’d have seen more action in the Gold,” says McNair, who campaigns Hard To Mach and last year’s freshman pacing colt Grassroots champion Secretsoftheknight at the Gold Series level. “I don’t know if it would have worked out for him or not.”

Focusing on the Grassroots program Lucky Jet delivered three wins and two seconds in five appearances, leading the division with 200 points, and he sits fourth on the overall money list, which encompasses both Gold and Grassroots competitors.

Two nights after Lucky Jet and Jet Speed emerged triumphant from their respective Semifinals, McNair shipped into Grand River with a pair of two-year-old trotting colts who delivered stellar performances to earn their own return trip to Elora.

Ranked fifth and sixteenth heading into the Semifinal round, Kennel Buddy and Buddy Hally finished third and second in their respective divisions. Kennel Buddy was able to avoid a number of traffic problems by leaving smartly from Post 7 and settling in behind pacesetter Oaklea Vulcan, who went on to a 2:00.4 victory, while Buddy Hally surprised his peers by controlling the tempo and battling heavy favourite Gotta Secret all the way to the wire, finishing just one-half length back in a track record 1:58.1 mile.

“He was pretty steady all year,” says McNair of Buddy Hally. “Then he made a mistake up in Hanover (September 1) and he did it again in Flamboro (September 14), so he needed a little work from the vet and that seemed to help him out quite a bit.

“I hope he’s the same this week,” adds the horseman, who shares ownership of the Angus Hall son with Howmac Farms Ltd. of North Wiltshire, PEI, breeder Reginald MacPherson of Stratford, PEI and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS.

While Buddy Hally got an assist from his veterinarian prior to the Semifinal, McNair says Kennel Buddy’s health will be under the microscope this week.

“He’s just not quite himself the last couple starts. He’s had a throat infection,” explains the trainer. “We’ve got eight days to kind of get him fixed up for the Final.”

McNair shares ownership of Kennel Buddy with his mother, Gwendolyn McNair, of Walkerton, who also bred and raised the son of Ken Warkentin.

Buddy Hally and Kennel Buddy will benefit from Posts 1 and 2 in Saturday’s $100,000 final, and McNair is hoping the duo are able to take full advantage of their good fortune.

“They’ve both got gate speed, hopefully they’ll be able to use it,” he says. “Hopefully everybody gets away good.”

The trainer’s son, Doug McNair, drove all four horses in their Semifinal appearances, and will be back in the race bike behind Jet Speed, Lucky Jet and Buddy Hally. Arthur resident Trevor Henry will pick up the steer aboard Kennel Buddy.

First-race post time for Grand River Raceway’s Saturday evening showcase of OSS racing is 7:05 p.m., with the $100,000 Grassroots Finals going postward in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Grand River, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Grand River Raceway.

(OSS)


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