Ranchester To Bounce Back From Sickness?

Published: September 3, 2009 09:40 am EDT

Malcolm and Robert MacPhail have enjoyed the view from the Dresden Raceway winner’s circle in the past, but the Dover Centre residents are pitching their expectations significantly lower for Monday’s two-year-old trotting colt Grass

roots contest.

The MacPhails will be on hand to watch Ranchester make its second Grassroots start, but the Duke Of York colt heads into the race off a bout with sickness, so its owners are just hoping for a small share of the $24,000 purse.

"He’s been sick for seven weeks, he hasn’t raced," explains Malcolm MacPhail, who shares ownership on the colt with his brother Robert MacPhail, and trainers Paul and Julie Walker of Owen Sound, Ont. "He qualified Monday night (August 31) and we are just getting him back."

Ranchester made its debut in the Grassroots program at Georgian Downs on July 21 and appeared to be making a run at the leader when it made a break and faded back to sixth. Prior to that effort the colt had captured a pair of qualifiers, one at Georgian Downs and one at Grand River Raceway, so MacPhail is hoping the youngster can get back on course Monday.

"He looked good on television at Georgian," says MacPhail, who will watch the colt race live for the first time on Monday. "Hopefully we’ll do something this week, but you never know."

A $19,000 purchase from last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale, Ranchester will benefit from Post 1 in Monday’s sixth race. Walker will steer the colt, who will only earn a trip to the remaining Grassroots events with a solid Labour Day effort.

"He could have four more races within the next four weeks if he goes. If he doesn’t, he won’t," says MacPhail, pragmatically.

This weekend will also be a testing ground for a two-year-old trotting filly owned by Walker and the MacPhails. Zorgwijk Katrina makes her second Grassroots start at Hanover Raceway on Saturday, and MacPhail says if the two youngsters do not find success they will soon find themselves turned out in a grassy field.

"We sold four racehorses last fall and started over again with three two-year-old trotters," explains the horseman. "Two are racing this weekend.

"So this weekend will pretty well tell us how our year is going to go," he adds. "If we get a little money, we’ll be happy, if not, we won’t move too much farther."

Among the colts that Ranchester and Walker will face on Monday is former Gold Series competitor Hava Kadabra, which heads into the sixth race off a third-place finish in the final of the Balanced Image Trot at Hanover Raceway on August 29. Hava Kadabra and trainer-driver Mark Steacy will start from Post 2.

Balanced Image winner Zorgwijk Knight will attempt to score his fifth straight victory from Post 2 in the fourth race on Monday. The son of Armbro Ricochet currently leads the division standings with 100 points from a pair of Grassroots victories.

First-race post time at Dresden Raceway on Monday is 1:00 p.m., with the two-year-old trotting colts showing off their skills in Races 3 through 8.

To view Monday's harness racing entries at Hanover, click here.