Grassroots Fillies Shine Despite Rain


Rain caused a brief delay during Friday night’s program at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but it did nothing to dampen the efforts put forward by the two-year-old pacing fillies in their Grassroots debut.

Five $22,000 divisions went postward on Friday and Sportsfire delivered the quickest result in the first split. The daughter of Sportswriter and driver Bob McClure left smartly from post two and reached the quarter in :27.2 and the half in :56.

Fan favourite Ourlittlemiracle revved up at the half, looking to take command, but Sportsfire battled back and the fillies matched strides through the 1:24.1 three-quarters.

Down the stretch Sportsfire had a little more in the tank than her rival, hanging on for a three-quarter-length victory in 1:53.2. Ourlittlemiracle was second and pocket-sitter Turning The Table was third.

“She got stretched in the quarter and pushed in the third quarter,” said Guelph, Ont. resident McClure. “But she’s a quick little filly, very honest. She’ll give you a solid effort.”

Fred Brayford of Alliston, Ont. bred and owns Sportsfire and Daniel Lagace trains the filly, who now has a win and a fourth on her resume through two lifetime starts.

McClure also piloted the winner of the fourth division, Cyclone Sister. Starting from post four, the pair sat mid-pack through much of the race, tipping out past the half behind Siri Blue Chip and advancing to third by the top of the stretch. A big :26.4 final quarter saw the Shadow Play daughter sprint by the leaders and on to a one-length victory in 1:55.4. Fan favourite Celia Bayama snuck up the inside to be second and Siri Blue Chip was third.

“She’s very fast, but very flighty,” said McClure, who drives Cyclone Sister for trainer Nick Gallucci and owner/breeder Millar Farms of Stouffville, Ont. “She’s scared of her own shadow, and drivers’ colours and loud noises, but she has a lot of ability and should only improve.”

The rain started to fall as the second division got underway and fan favourite Drinks All Round led the field to a :28.1 quarter. Drinks All Round and A La Mode Seelster traded places twice on the way to the :56.1 half, leaving many of their peers well behind, including CL Sportsextreme, who was 11 lengths back in sixth.

The gap closed heading for the 1:26.2 three-quarters and, as the fillies turned for home, the leaders were tiring and CL Sportsextreme was rolling out three-wide and taking aim on the wire. The lightly regarded CL Sportsextreme powered home to a three and three-quarter-length victory in 1:56.2. A La Mode Hanover stayed game for second and Watching Cassie was third.

“She’s a very willing filly that qualified nicely,” said driver Chris Christoforou of CL Sportsextreme. “She got towed into a slowing pace after an unusually quick second quarter. She took full advantage of that and finished strong.”

Christoforou crafted the Sportswriter daughter’s come-from-behind victory for trainer Dany Fontaine and owner/breeder Ecuries C LeBlanc Inc. of Saint-Eustache, Que.

The Campbellville, Ont. resident also scored a second Grassroots victory, piloting Chiefs Dream Girl to a front-end score in 1:55.4. Annies Legacy finished two and one-quarter lengths behind the favourite and just a nose ahead of Wasaga to wrap up the Grassroots program.

“She’s a big, strong filly. She raced great her last start [on July 3]. Jack has been patient with her and it’s paid off,” said Christoforou. “She made a nice move in the second quarter and was very strong the rest of the mile.”

Jack Moiseyev trains the homebred daughter of Sunshine Beach for High Stakes Inc. of Moffat, Ont., and LSC Stables of North Brunswick, New Jersey.

The third division saw Jackieofalltrades sprint away from post five to a :28.2 quarter, then yield to Twin B Sunkissed heading for the :58.3 half. Twin B Sunkissed went unchallenged to the 1:27.1 three-quarters, but Jackieofalltrades and driver Sylvain Filion stepped out of the pocket in the stretch and out-duelled the fan favourite for a half-length win in 1:55.

“All winter she’s been a nice little filly. She was not really one of the stars or anything, but she just seemed to do everything right and every time we trained her, she’d show us a little more,” said trainer Tony Beaton. “She just seemed to keep going forward and improving every training, and she showed it tonight.”

Waterdown, Ont. resident Beaton shares ownership of Jackieofalltrades with David Lumsden of Ancaster, Ont., and David Mercer of Sydney, N.S. The partners offered up $20,000 for the Betterthancheddar daughter at last fall’s London Selected Yearling Sale.

Jackieofalltrades earned back half of her purchase price on Friday and will have an opportunity to add to her lifetime total when the fillies head to Grand River Raceway next Friday, July 17 for their second Grassroots leg.

Ontario Sires Stakes action resumes at the Milton, Ont. oval on Monday, July 13 with the Grassroots season opener for the two-year-old trotting fillies. The fillies will debut their skills in Races 2, 3, 6 and 8 on the 7 p.m. program.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Woodbine Mohawk Park.

(With files from OSS)