Freshman fillies continue to sizzle in Grassroots opener
"I was shocked every teletimer that came up, because she was doing it so easy."
July 10, 2018
(Photograph of Powerful Chris and driver Bob McClure and Hard Eight and her owners courtesy of New Image Media)
On Tuesday evening the Grassroots fillies picked right up where their Gold Series counterparts had left off on Monday, roaring around Woodbine Mohawk Park in impressive style.
Delivering the quickest mile was second division winner Powerful Chris, who romped to a 1:53.1 victory. Lady Maya finished second, eight and three-quarter lengths behind Powerful Chris, and Sugar Shadow finished four more lengths back in third.
“I was shocked every teletimer that came up, because she was doing it so easy. I didn’t even think I was going that fast,” said driver Bob McClure, who sat motionless down the stretch as the Betterthancheddar daughter opened up on the field.
Elora resident McClure drives Powerful Chris for owner-trainer John Pentland of Dorchester, Ontario and while he had piloted the filly in her June 22 and 29 qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he had no idea she was going to lay down a 1:53.1 mile in her Ontario Sires Stakes debut.
“She was a little bit aggressive the first time she went to the gate (June 22), so I took her back and made sure she sat in a hole the whole way, never let her out,” explained McClure. “And then the second week there (June 29) she went a little bit faster, but she was well in hand, so I didn’t know once she got stressed, you never know how deep they are.”
McClure expects Pentland will boost Powerful Chris up to the Gold Series level for the second leg, which takes place July 20 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Pentland acquired the filly for $12,000 from last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale and has already recouped $9,925 of his initial investment.
Driver Anthony MacDonald and trainer Kevin McMaster, both of Guelph, Ontario, teamed up for a pair of Grassroots victories, taking the last two $19,850 divisions with Hard Eight and Buckingham, who both hit the wire in 1:56.
Hard Eight led from start to finish and battled down the stretch to keep a head in front of fan favourite Machlikeanegyptian. Justjennysliberty was two lengths back in third. Bettors Delight daughter Hard Eight, a $35,000 acquisition from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, is owned by fractional ownership group Thestable Hard Eight Group of Guelph.
“She’s a big filly with a big frame and she’s only going to get better, I think,” said MacDonald. “She’s always had a beautiful gait and it’s almost like she’s a small horse put into a big horse’s body. She gets around a half or a big track the same, and she’s really a big, big chunk of a filly.
“It was great, we had a gentleman and his two, well kids, but they’re like 45 or so, come by the barn there about two weeks ago. He hadn’t owned a horse in 50 years and he bought the last 15 shares in Hard Eight, and she won tonight and he was in the winner’s circle,” continued the horseman, who operates The Stable in partnership with his wife Amy MacDonald. “He was pretty pumped.”
The group’s enthusiasm continued into the last division as Buckingham popped out of the pocket in the stretch and dug hard to the wire, finishing three-quarters of a length ahead of fan favourite Karans Choice and Saint Albray for Thestable Buckingham Group of Guelph.
“I wasn’t surprised that she won, I was happy the way she did it,” said MacDonald of the Sportswriter daughter. “She was a little bossy training down, a little grabby, and she sat in the two-hole very good. I moved her over and I didn’t really know if she had enough steam left in her to chug through there, but as soon as she got daylight I called on her and she just shot through, she raced awesome.”
Blossom Onthebeach opened the Grassroots program with a 1:54.3 victory, pacing under the wire two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Whitehaven Beach and Windsong Parisian. Moffat resident Jody Jamieson engineered the Sunshine Beach daughter’s first victory for trainer Dave Menary, Menary Racing Inc. of Rockton, Ontario and Billy Joe and Anthony Timmins of Birmingham, Great Britain.
Soft Wind Hanover closed well in the third division to claim a one-half length victory over Lady Driver in 1:54.1. Persistant Xample finished two lengths back in third. Guelph resident Doug McNair piloted the Sportswriter miss to the win for trainer Casie Coleman and West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham and Brad Grant of Milton, Ontario.
The fifth division was captured by Sporty Song and driver Paul MacDonell of Guelph, who reached the wire one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Jessicas Legacy and Ideation Hanover in 1:55.3. Bruce McGean of Stewiacke, Nova Scotia trains the Sportswriter daughter for his partner Scott Davidson of Waterloo, Ontario.
The Grassroots fillies will make their second Ontario Sires Stakes start at Grand River Raceway on July 18.
Woodbine Mohawk Park continues to showcase Ontario Sired two-year-olds this week, with the two-year-old pacing colts taking centre stage on Thursday, July 12 in three Gold Series divisions. The colts will aim to follow the fillies’ impressive example in Races 3, 5 and 7. Thursday’s first race goes to post at 7:30 pm.