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Class Relief Leads To Grassroots Glory

Published: September 7, 2021 12:07 am ET

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A move from the Gold Series to the Grassroots paid dividends for a trio of two-year-old trotting colts at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday, Sept. 6.

After a pair of fifth-place finishes at the Gold Series level, Fight Song made his Grassroots debut in the first $22,500 division on Monday. Driver Trevor Henry had the Kadabra son in high gear from the start and Fight Song powered away from post nine to a :28.4 opening quarter. Usurp Hanover enjoyed a brief moment on the lead heading down the backstretch, but Henry opted not to sit behind that lightly rated colt and had Fight Song back out front before the :58.3 half. The gelding cruised through a 1:28.2 three-quarters and then held off a charging Sea Can in the stretch to record his first lifetime victory in 1:58.2. Favourite Marvin Hagler finished third.

“He’s just kind of a late bloomer. He has the ability, and we expect he’s going to be a nice horse, he was just a few weeks behind the other ones,” said trainer Meg Crone of Cambridge, Ont., noting that the gelding did not qualify in New Jersey until July 10. “He’s one I expect will get a little better each time he races.”

Richard “Nifty” Norman taught Fight Song his early lessons and gave him one start at The Meadowlands on July 16 before sending him north to Crone for the Ontario Sires Stakes campaign. John Fielding of Toronto and David Anderson of Aurora, Ont. own the youngster, who was a $72,000 purchase out of the 2020 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.

Archery Seelster made his debut at the Grassroots level, winning his division of the July 31 leg at Hiawatha Horse Park, then moved up to the Gold for the August 19 event at Woodbine Mohawk Park where he finished fifth. The Wheeling N Dealin son then tried his hand against open company in the Champlain Stakes and finished seventh, prompting Monday’s return to the Grassroots level.

Starting from post six, driver Louis-Philippe Roy eased Archery Seelster away from the gate and did not find a spot on the rail. The favourite was hung out in fifth when Evil Guy reached the :29 quarter and off the tepid pace Roy opted to drive on. Second by the :59 half, Archery Seelster was in command by the 1:28.1 three-quarters and then dug in down the stretch to fend off Mask Of Zoro by a head in a personal best 1:57.4. Evil Guy rounded out the top three.

“He’s kind of a colt that is still learning,” said trainer Marcel Barrieau. “So I figured go with the Grassroots and build his confidence up and teach him to race, because he doesn’t know how to do that yet. He just goes and stops, and starts and goes, he’s not mature as far as racing is concerned, but he’s got lots of go so it’s something to work with. They can’t be all Cadillac’s I guess, it’s something you’ve got to teach him.”

The Cambridge resident shares ownership of Archery Seelster with Gestion Mastel Inc. of Longueil, Que. An $85,150 purchase at last fall’s London Virtual Yearling Sale, Archery Seelster currently sits atop the two-year-old trotting colt Grassroots standings with 100 points.

Like Archery Seelster, Lexus Ranger started his campaign at the Grassroots level, finishing fourth in both the July 15 season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the July 31 event at Hiawatha Horse Park. The Archangel son then tested his mettle against Gold Series foes on August 19 and finished third. The gelding got his first lifetime win in an August 26 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but trainer/driver Paul MacDonell opted for a return to the Grassroots level.

Starting from post six, fan favourites MacDonell and Lexus Ranger landed in fourth as Renegade Gypsy led the field to a :29.1 quarter, and then tipped into the outer lane just before the 1:00.2 half. After matching strides with Renegade Gypsy through the 1:29.4 three-quarters, Lexus Ranger shifted into a bigger gear in the stretch and pulled away to a one and three-quarter length win in a personal best 1:57.4. HP Maestro finished second and Armstead Cole closed for third.

“He took care of business tonight,” said MacDonell. “I think he’s raced good every time. He was out-positioned a few times and the race in Sarnia (July 31) he really didn’t like the track, but other than that he’s raced good pretty much every time we’ve raced him. He’s come along real nice for me.”

Guelph resident MacDonell trains Lexus Ranger for owner/breeder Norm Dunstan of Caledon Village, Ont. The gelding’s mother Lexus Helios was both a Grassroots and Gold Series winner in her $230,981 career and his three-year-old full-brother Lexus Kody has a Gold Series win to his credit this summer.

The two-year-old trotting colts will wrap up their Grassroots regular season at Grand River Raceway on September 13. The top 20 point earners will then compete in Semi-Final action on September 30, with the top five finishers earning a berth in the October 9 Grassroots Championship at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Ontario Sires Stakes action is back at the Campbellville, Ont. oval next Monday, Sept. 13 with the fourth Grassroots leg for the two-year-old trotting fillies.

To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.


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