A convoy of two- and three-year-old pacers and trotters shipped into Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday evening to contest eight OSS Grassroots Championships, with year-end bragging rights on the line.
Driver Doug McNair had a profitable evening despite missing some of his early assignments as a result of a longer than expected plane ride back from Lexington following an afternoon of driving at The Red Mile. He captured three Grassroots Championships, while trainer Blake MacIntosh sent out a pair of stakes winners on the rich night for Ontario-sired stars.
“Oh it was a great night, I mean it started off bad, I missed my first drive, and I thought she was one of my best shots, that pacing filly of Rob Fellows’ (Mach My Kiss),” said McNair. “I thought, ‘This is going to be the start of a bad night,’ but everything just clicked, everything worked out and it usually doesn’t work out like that.”
Here’s a complete recap the OSS Grassroots Championships:
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace
It didn’t figure to be an easy task for Fast N First to overcome Post 10, but he did for driver Doug McNair and trainer Blake MacIntosh.
McNair hustled the son of Bettors Delight-My Sisters A Champ to the lead from the outside, and after parking past the opening quarter in :26 the colt found the lead and rolled the field through middle panels of :54.4 and 1:23.4. Carsons Shadow kicked off cover in the lane and chased the favourite right to the finish, but Fast N First fended off that fierce pressure and won by a nose over Carsons Shadow in 1:51.1. Dreamfair Moxy was fourth-placed-third.
“I kind of really just wanted to float with him and see what happened, because I think he’s just as good off the pace as he is on the lead. And I mean once Bob (McClure, Dreamfair Moxy) made the front at the eighth-pole I figured he’d want to follow me, and he did the rest from there,” said McNair.
“He scared me for a second but that was kind of my fault, I kind of had him right to sleep you know, worried about Bob on my back, I wasn’t worried about anybody else. If I would’ve just kind of let him rattle I think he’d have won a lot easier. He impressed me tonight. That’s the best he’s raced for me. Nice little horse. That was a good night.”
Sent off as the 4-5 favourite, Fast N First improved this year’s box score to 10-4-2 from 20 starts for Blake MacIntosh, Steve Heimbecker and Ridgeway Racing. The 12-time winner lifted his lifetime earnings to $365,716 with the win.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Filly Trot
A costly miscue by even-money favourite Splurge On Me changed the landscape of this contest, but you won’t see Rebellious Lady or her connections complaining.
Driver Doug McNair got away third with the daughter of Angus Hall-Radical Missy while Petro Hall rolled along on the front end through wild fractions of :26.4, :55.2 and 1:24.3. McNair angled off the rail turning for home, and Rebellious Lady out-staggered the others to the line for the 1:55.1 victory. Lefkada was a bang-up second, with Warrawee Ultra taking home third prize.
“The last turn they were going a real good clip up front and she kind of felt half-relaxed, but she trotted real hard through the stretch and it was a good win,” said McNair. ‘It was good to win for Duane Marfisi the trainer, like I said on the TV there, I think it was my second-ever race and he put me down to drive one, so it was great to get a Final win for him.
“She surprised me,” he added. “I thought I had a shot at Louis (Roy, Petro Hall) when she went by because his horse was likely a little tired, but I didn’t think she’d fight off Scotty’s (Wray, Lefkada). But I’m pretty sure he was three-wide for a lot of the last turn, so that makes a big difference.”
Duane Marfisi trains the six-time winner for lessee Green And Gold Ltd of Guelph, Ont. The filly has assembled a 4-4-0 record from 13 starts this season, and she’s stashed away more than $88,000 in the process. To date, she’s banked over $120,000.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Filly Pace
The betting public was all over So Much More in her Grassroots Final, and the Don Beatson trainee didn’t disappoint.
Louis Philippe Roy got away sixth with the 1-5 favourite while Deb marched to the front and chopped out first-half fractions of :26.2 and :54.4. Crisp Mane, who was parked the route, covered up So Much More on the way to the final turn. Roy pulled the trigger was his charge at the mid-way point of the final turn, and he went into attack mode against Deb who tripped the teletimer at the three-quarter pole in 1:24.2.
Roy hustled So Much More alongside that filly and then proceeded to sail right on by en route to posting the 1:51.1 decision. Kylie Seelster rallied from far back to grab the runner-up award, with the show dough going to Sports Flix.
Don Beatson shares ownership on the daughter of Big Jim-Ladysai with Ken Beatson and Cole England. The partners watched the pacer improve her yearly record to 12-3-0 from 18 starts. The 16-time winner has banked over $170,000 this season and more than $190,000 to date.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Three-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot
It was bombs away for Gold Edition in his Grassroots Final when he lit up the toteboard to the tune of 25-1 for the tandem of driver Phil Hudon and trainer Blair Burgess.
Race favourite Judge Ken powered to the top from Post 6 and he had them chasing him past the opening quarter in :27. His parked out stablemate, A Royal Line, was later released to the lead, but Judge Ken promptly popped back to the front and hit the half in :56.1.
Hudon made a snap move out of the four-hole with Gold Edition on the way to the half, and he sprinted to the top shortly past the halfway point of the mile. Gold Edition accelerated to the three-quarter pole in 1:24.3 before using a :29.1 closing panel to win over a hard-charging Southwind Frost. Royale Elite took home third prize.
Stirling Fisher and Karin Olsson Burgess own the son of E L Titan-Ticket To Broadway who improved his 2019 record to 4-4-3 from 23 starts with the victory. The six-time winner, who was a $23,000 purchase from the 2017 London Selected Yearling Sale, now boasts a bankroll that stands at $119,941.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace
The trip was perfect and the end result was sweet for Mayhem Hanover, who turned a two-hole trip into a career-best score of 1:51.1 in his Grassroots Final for Team McNair.
Doug McNair got away second with the son of Sportswriter-Musicale Hanover, who tracked race favourite Quick Tour through fractions of :26.3, :56.3 and 1:24.1. It turned into a final quarter sprint, and it was sprint that Mayhem Hanover won. He stormed out of the pocket and nailed Quick Tour right on the finish line. Quick Tour held on for second, with third prize going to Bettorbuckleup.
“Off that trip, he might’ve surprised some people tonight, but he didn’t really surprise me,” said McNair. “He’s a real fast, high-speed colt, and he just got such a good trip tonight, it kind of worked a bit better for him.”
Gregg McNair trains the rookie for Scott and Clay Horner of Toronto, Ont. They shelled out $80,000 to purchase the youngster from last fall’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale. With the win, the pacer has manufactured a 4-2-0 record from nine assignments. The lion’s share of the purse bumped his bankroll to $79,405.
The victory also gives Shannon Henderson of Newmarket, Ont. a share of LandMark 13 racing stable courtesy the Win A Share of a Racehorse Contest, presented by the Ontario Sires Stakes in partnership with Standardbred Canada.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Filly Pace
Queso Relleno was a powerful winner at odds of 6-1 in her OSS Grassroots Semi-Final last weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park, and despite that solid victory fans let her go off at odds of 9-2 in Saturday’s final. Big mistake!
The daughter of Betterthancheddar-Hay Macarena was a witness to a massive speed battle in Saturday’s final. Siochan motored to the lead and blazed a path to the quarter pole in :26. Mach My Kiss pocket popped in the backstretch and proceeded to lead the field to the mid-way point in :55. Jamieson had Queso Relleno off the rail and driving on the way to the half, and they took over before the field made the bend into the final turn.
Queso Relleno charged past the three-quarter pole in 1:23.1 and then used a :29.1 final quarter to win by a big margin over So Delightful and race favourite Kat, who recovered from an early miscue to take home third prize.
Trainer Blake MacIntosh co-owns the youngster with Hutt Racing Stable, Sue Vernon Smith and The Flanagan Sisters. She improved her rookie record to 4-2-0 from nine tries with the victory. The $37,500 payday bumped her lifetime earnings to $84,629.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot
Lovedbythemasses was a perfect 4-for-4 in OSS assignments leading up to Saturday’s final, and he kept that perfect OSS record intact with a facile triumph for driver Mike Saftic and Team Peconi.
The homebred son of Muscle Mass-Incredibility got away fifth while Magic Bob hustled the field past the quarter pole in :27.3. Saftic had his charge on the move just past the quarter marker, and together they cleared to the front in the backstretch. Once on the lead, Lovedbythemasses cruised through middle panels of :57.3 and 1:28 before rocketing home in :27.4 en route to winning by a comfortable margin in a career-best clocking of 1:55.4. Magic Bob was next best, with the show dough going to Kenogami Coco.
Trainer Ed Peconi, Jr. co-owns the five-time winner with Wade Peconi and Nicholas Peconi, and collectively they watched the youngster rack up purse earnings of $88,125 from just seven starts.
$75,000 OSS Grassroots Final – Two-Year-Old Filly Trot
Scorched Romance finished the regular season ranked fourth in the points standings in her division, but she took her game to a new level with her 1:57.2 victory in the final for catch-driver Sylvain Filion.
He was driving the daughter of Kadabra-Tequila Slammer for the first time, and he opted to put her tactical speed to good use. She fired to the front from Post 5 and successfully carved out panels of :27.3, :58 and 1:27.4 before scooting home in :29.3 to win over the pocket-sitting Canadian Titan and late-driving Moana.
Richard ‘Nifty’ Norman trains the rookie for partners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman and David McDuffee. They shelled out $60,000 to purchase the filly from last year’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, and she’s managed to bank $68,625 so far this season. The victory improved her overall record to 3-0-2 from eight assignments.
To view results for Saturday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.