Horse Trader impresses Grant with Grassroots win
“He just loves to be on the track. "
July 7, 2019
Twenty-eight freshman trotting colts invaded Georgian Downs on Sunday night as the Innisfil oval played host to the first Grassroots event of their season.
Coming into the event off a June 28 win in qualifying action, fans sent Horse Trader off as one of the favourites and the young trotter did not let them down. After starting from Post 6, Horse Trader sat second last through much of the mile as Enduring Strength rang up fractions of :29.2, :59.3 and 1:29.1. Coming off the final turn trainer-driver Paul Walker sent Horse Trader out three-wide, and when the colt squared up in the stretch he shifted into high gear and sprinted by the field to a one and one-quarter length victory in 2:00.1. Lifeisgood Hanover also closed well to be second, leaving pacesetter Enduring Strength to settle for third.
“We were wondering at the three-quarter pole if he was going to be able to do a lot, but he trotted home like a champion,” said Dr. David Grant, whose Oaklea Farm Inc. bred and owns the son of Wheeling N Dealin and Oaklea Wand.
“He was down in Georgia and Paul did tell me that he had a big motor right away, but I’ve learned not to get too excited,” said Grant. “And he’s a late May colt so I thought that if we could race him a bit at two that would be great.”
Horse Trader also used a late kick to win his qualifier at Woodbine Mohawk Park by three-quarters of a length in 2:01.4. With that effort and Sunday’s Grassroots win under his belt, the colt looks poised to exceed Grant’s modest expectations.
“He just loves to be on the track. I’ve never actually had a horse that was so much like that,” said the Simcoe, ON resident. “His barn manners aren’t maybe the best, he’s a bit of a twerp, but as soon as he gets on the track he’s perfect. We’re very lucky to have a colt like that.”
The second $23,150 division went to local colt Aussie Lover, who left smartly from Post 7, took command heading for the half and went on to a one length victory in 2:01.4. Remember Titan closed well to be second and pocket-sitter Lexus Markus completed the top three.
Thornton, ON resident Stephen Byron drove Aussie Lover to the win for owner-trainer Gino Cicero of Melancthon, ON. Byron also piloted the Angus Hall colt in his first lifetime start, a fifth-place finish in a June 30 two-year-old race at Georgian Downs, and said that outing helped Cicero prep Aussie Lover for his Grassroots debut.
“I thought last week there he raced good, but I didn’t think he was getting a hold of the track, so they changed a few things on him and it turned out to work, so that was good,” said Byron.
“He raced well. He’s going to be a steady horse, he might not be the fastest, but I think he’ll be a steady horse,” the driver added.
JCs Royal Tease rounded out the Grassroots winners with a 2:02.3 effort in the last $23,500 division. Like Aussie Lover, the Royalty For Life colt left sharply from Post 6 and led the field to a :30.1 quarter. Driver Trevor Henry and JCs Royal Tease then watched from the pocket as Fit Bit and Tuscan Titan battled for control through the 1:01.2 half and 1:32.1 three-quarters. In the stretch Henry sent JCs Royal Tease after the leaders and the colt powered home to a one and one-half length win in 2:02.3. Fit Bit and Tuscan Titan settled for second and third.
“He should make a nice horse,” said Arthur, ON resident Henry, who leases the colt in partnership with his wife, trainer Shannon Henry. “He has a few driving issues, but can go fast for a piece.”
JCs Royal Tease also qualified at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 28, finishing third, 12 lengths behind Horse Trader.
The pair may meet up again when the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings head to Kawartha Downs for the second Grassroots event of their season on July 20.
The Ontario Sires Stakes will be back at Georgian Downs next Sunday, July 14 with the first Grassroots event for the two-year-old trotting fillies. Post time for Sunday’s program is 6 pm.
Complete results from Sunday’s Grassroots event are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/results/data/r0707geodfn.dat.
(Photo of Horse Trader courtesy racehorsephoto)