With less than one month remaining in the regular season, the three-year-old pacing colts were on their toes in Monday’s Grassroots action at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
The talented sophomore kicked things off with a thrilling performance in the first race, which saw the top three finishers hit the wire together, separated by a short nose. The finish-line photo revealed Poseidon Seelster as the winner by a whisker, with Gonnahaveonemore second and Better Take It third. All three colts were clocked in 1:51.1, which was a personal best for Poseidon Seelster.
“We’re really excited about the win. Bob gave him a perfect drive, even if he didn’t win it was an awesome drive,” said Matt Dupuis, who trains the Sunshine Beach colt for Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, ON. “He needed the win to get more points for the Semi-Finals.”
Rockwood resident Bob McClure engineered the victory, which saw Poseidon Seelster get away mid-pack from Post 4 and hug the rail until he powered out in the stretch for the battle to the wire. The win was the gelding’s second straight and his first of the season in Grassroots action, launching him from thirty-first to tenth in the division standings with 61 points.
“I was really looking forward to him coming back at three, but he didn’t come back to be what I thought he would,” said McClure, who drove the pacer through his $25,500 freshman campaign, but was making just his third appearance in the gelding’s race bike Monday. “He’s amazing gaited, big, strong and very fast, but just never seemed to put all the tools together, but I’d say Matt has him peaking at a perfect time.”
The second $22,800 division saw fan favourite Bettorbuckleup get away fourth from Post 7, take command heading by the half and cruise home to a three and one-half length victory in a personal best 1:50.3. Bettor At Hightide finished second and Solid Man was third.
“I was a little surprised he was on the lead, just because he’s never really done that well on the lead on the big track, but he’s so brave right now it seems like that was probably the only spot he could be today,” said trainer Nick Gallucci of the trip worked out by driver James MacDonald. “I was really happy with how everything worked out.
“James said after the race, ‘He almost feels like a Gold horse now’,” Gallucci continued. “His last couple races he seems to have really turned the corner.”
The win was Bettorbuckleup’s second in Grassroots action and his third of the season. The Bettors Delight son tested his skills against the Gold Series colts in the Aug. 16 leg at Rideau Carleton Raceway, finishing third, but Gallucci and owner Millar Farms of Stouffville, ON felt he was better positioned for success in the Grassroots program where he now sits second in the standings with 125 points.
Fan favourite The Wild Card romped to his fourth straight Grassroots victory in the third division, cruising under the wire two lengths ahead of Menlo Park and Captivate Hanover in a personal best 1:51.2. Doug McNair engineered the front-stepping win for trainer Dr. Ian Moore of Cambridge and his co-owners R G McGroup Ltd of Bathurst, NB and Serge Savard of St-Bruno, QC.
“He’s one of the best feeling horses that I’ve ever had, every day he seems to be full of himself. I jogged him yesterday, because I trained him a little bit Saturday and if they’re racing Monday I do jog them on Sunday, and even after training Saturday he goes out on the track in a big hurry, like a fast walk all the time,” said Dr. Moore of the Bettors Delight son. “And then when he gets to the track he’s leaping up in the air like ‘Heigh-ho Silver, away!’ sort of thing and takes off 100 miles an hour. He does that every time he steps on the racetrack, and then after one lap around the sand track he slows down. He’s always feeling good like that. He does it every day, like it doesn’t seem to be wearing on him, the season, at all.”
With a flawless record of four wins in four Grassroots starts, The Wild Card leads the sophomore pacing colts into the Sept. 20 leg at Flamboro Downs with 200 points. The top 20 point earners from the five regular season events will advance to the Oct. 2 Semi-Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park and the top five finishers from each Semi-Final will move on to the $75,000 Grassroots Championship on Oct. 10.
Guelph resident Doug McNair was back in the winner’s circle after the last division, guiding National Sport to a 1:50.3 personal best off a front-end effort. The lightly regarded son of Sportswriter bested Delightful Terror by half a length after giving ground to the fan favourite at the top of the stretch. Sundown Kid was two lengths back in third.
“I thought he was going to be tenth, but he was tough,” said McNair of the second wind National Sport found late in the stretch. “He showed last year that he had some talent, and that’s the first time this year he’s shown a real good mile again.”
A Grassroots winner at two, National Sport posted a fourth and a seventh in his first two sophomore Grassroots starts had not found the winner’s circle before Monday’s effort. Jared Bako trains the gelding, who jumped from thirty-second to eleventh in the standings, for 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor, ON.
To view results for Monday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Monday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.