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Royale Elite lands his fourth Grassroots win at Grand River

“The trip worked out great; no stress."

(Photo of driver James MacDonald and Royale Elite courtesy of NCJ Photography)

There were few surprises at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday night as the top two-year-old trotting colts and geldings padded their point totals in the last Grassroots event of the regular season.

After finishing second twice and third once, Cousin Peter finally found the winner’s circle in the first $18,450 Grassroots division. Starting from Post 1 driver Louis Philippe Roy settled Cousin Peter in the pocket behind Priceless Ruler and followed the pacesetter through fractions of :28.4, :59.3 and 1:29.4. In the stretch Roy slid Cousin Peter into an open lane and the colt reeled in Priceless Ruler and first-up challenger Magical Journey to score a neck victory in 1:59.2. Fan favourite Magical Journey was second and Priceless Ruler settled for third.

“He’s a horse that doesn’t really look fluid when you sit behind him, but he wants to try and has a big heart that makes him forget his little issues,” said Roy. “I might be wrong, but he’s a horse that I expect to improve a lot between two and three years old.”

Roy steers the Johnny William son for trainer Richard Moreau and owners Sergis Racing Stable LLC of Canton, NY and Saverino Spagnolo of Ottawa, Ontario. With a total of 122 points the consistent Cousin Peter finished the season in third spot and will be among the favourites in the Sept. 20 Grassroots Semi-Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

The second division saw point leader Royale Elite get a pocket trip behind Archway, who led the field to fractions of :29.4, 1:02.1 and 1:33.2. Coming off the final turn driver James MacDonald tipped Royale Elite out from behind the pacesetter and the colt powered home to a two length win in 2:02.4. Archway finished second and fan favourite Judge Ken recovered from an early break in stride to be third.

“The trip worked out great; no stress,” said trainer Mark Steacy. “We’ll keep to the same schedule for next week and hope to stay sound and healthy.”

Wednesday’s win was Royale Elite’s fourth in Grassroots action. He was also victorious at Georgian Downs, Hiawatha Horse Park and Woodbine Mohawk Park. His only loss came at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the July 31 event where he finished third behind two colts that are ranked among the top 10 Gold Series competitors. With his near perfect record, Royale Elite leads his peers into the post-season with 212 points.

Steacy trains Royale Elite for owner-breeders Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec and the conditioner’s concerns about keeping the Royalty For Life son healthy are more than just lip service. His stablemate Rap Royalty, ranked fifth in the standings, was scratched out of Wednesday’s first division due to sickness.

“We’re hoping Rap can rebound to race next week,” noted Steacy, who currently leads all trainers in the Ontario Sires Stakes standings in pursuit of his third straight Johnston Cup title.

The final division saw LA Magic record his first victory in just his second lifetime start. The Kadabra son and driver Jody Jamieson stormed away from Post 2 and never looked back, reeling off fractions of :29.2, 1:00.3 and 1:30.3 on their way to a one and one-half length win in 2:01.2. Lightly rated Fitzgibbons trotted into second, leaving fan favourite A Royal Line the third-place spoils.

“I’ve schooled him and qualified him and he is naturally gifted with a flawless gait,” said Jamieson. “I really thought he could ambush them off the gate tonight and win, and that’s exactly what he did.”

Jamieson crafted the win for trainer Duane Marfisi and owner Gary Morritt of London, Ontario. With a fifth-place result in his Sept. 3 debut, LA Magic finishes the season with a total of 55 points and heads into the Semi-Final tied for ninth spot, but Jamieson is expecting him to be a serious player.

“He’ll be the freshest horse in the Semis next week,” pointed out the driver. “Hopefully he’ll use the light schedule to his advantage.”

The top 20 points earners with at least two starts in the Grassroots program will advance to next week’s Semi-Final. The top five finishers from each $20,000 Semi-Final will earn a berth in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 29.

 

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