Family Ties Take Newton To Elora

Wednesday’s fourth race at Grand River Raceway is of particular interest to Wellesley, Ont. resident Bruce Newton, and not only because his two-year-old trotting colt The Golden Child will be making his Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots debut from Post 9


“Blossom Seelster’s got a colt in there too, Gregg McNair has it. That was my brother’s horse and Mark’s [Etsell] horse once upon a time too,” explains the longtime owner. “So we’ve got a bit of families and stuff involved in this one on Wednesday night.”

Blossom Seelster, who made $372,166 competing for Robert Newton of Walkerton, Ont. and Barrie, Ont. resident Mark Etsell, was sold to Tymal Farms at the conclusion of her racing career and the mare’s second foal, Tymal Warlock, will start directly in front of The Golden Child at Post 1 in Wednesday’s fourth race.

Unlike Blossom Seelster, the Newtons, Etsell and their partner Neil Spahr of Wellesley opted to keep Vision Of Gold once her racing career came to an end, and The Golden Child is the mare’s third foal. One of the reasons the quartet retained the winner of $359,834 was because she was one of only two mares produced by Fleur Collins, who earned $131,760 for the partners in a spectacular two-year-old campaign.

“We owned the grandmother, the mother, all the way down through the line,” explains Newton. “Fleur Collins was the first horse that I ever had bought.”

So far The Golden Child looks to have the skills that could enable him to follow in his ancestors footsteps. Through two starts the Striking Sahbra son has a 2:01 win in a July 18 overnight event at Hanover Raceway, and a fifth-place finish in a Gold elimination at Kawartha Downs on July 7. The colt was headed back to the Gold Series for a second try when last week’s scorching heat caused Mohawk Racetrack to cancel its July 21 program of racing, but rather than ship all the way to Ottawa for the third round of Gold Series action, Etsell opted for Wednesday’s Grassroots event instead.

“Because this Gold’s in Ottawa we didn’t really want to venture down that far away,” says Newton. “We’ll have to see how he does in the Grassroots and then go from there.

“We got kind of roughed up in that race up there in Peterborough. If we would have been in a different division we could have probably went on to the Gold final, but it just didn’t quite work out that way,” adds the owner. “He led for the whole race and he thought the race was over with because nobody was coming, nobody was coming, nobody was coming, then all at the last they scooped him and he was left back in fifth. The horse that came fourth ended up winning the Gold final the week afterwards, and he only beat us by a little bit at the wire.”

OSS Gold Elimination - Kawartha Downs - July 7

Etsell will steer The Golden Child from Post 9 in Wednesday’s Grassroots test, and while the trailing post is never ideal with a young trotter, Newton says it will allow the reinsman to use a different strategy than he employed at Kawartha Downs.

“We want to kind of race from behind this time anyway. Last time he raced out in front there and he just wasn’t used to being out in front by himself,” Newton explains. “He thought the race was over by the time they came by him. It didn’t discourage him, sometimes they get discouraged when they get beat like that, but he didn’t seem to have no problems whatsoever. I think in his mind he thought the race was over with and he’d already won it.”

Newton hopes that easy-going disposition will help The Golden Child navigate away from the trailing post on Wednesday and into the winner’s circle. The owner says, while Etsell was cautious in his early season praise of the young trotter, the partners have high expectations for the colt’s provincial prospects.

“He was quite high on him all the time, right from the word go. He never really wanted to say too much because he might jinx him, but things worked out pretty good,” says the owner. “Actually, Mark calls him a machine, he just does what he’s supposed to do, just goes out and does it.

“He’s really good that way so far, but he is a two-year-old trotter so...” Newton adds philosophically. “If somebody ends up breaking in front of you, you’re kind of left out in the bad spot, eh.”

Which gives the longtime owner yet another reason to root for Tymal Warlock -- not just because of his connection to the colt’s dam, but in hopes that the youngster will move off the Grand River starting gate cleanly, with The Golden Child hot on his heels.

Grand River Raceway’s first race gets under way at 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday, and the Elora oval will roll out the red carpet for the two-year-old trotting colts in Races 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10.

One of the Grassroots divisions will be designated as the ‘Win The Thrill’ contest race and Grand River Raceway fans will have an opportunity to enter a ballot in hopes of winning a betting voucher on Wednesday night, and qualifying for the Grand Prize draw of one share in the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s New Owner Mentoring Program.

The Grand Prize draw will be held at Mohawk Racetrack during the Oct. 1 Grassroots Championships, and finalists from Wednesday’s draw at Grand River will have a shot at winning a share in an Ontario-sired yearling, and being mentored by trainer Tony O’Sullivan and longtime owner Brian Webster alongside the eight other first-time owners who have purchased shares in this year’s program.

More information about the ‘Win The Thrill’ contest and the SBOA New Owners Mentoring program is available at and Ballots and details are available in the official Grand River Raceway program.

To view Wednesday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Wednesday Entries - Grand River Raceway.