Daughters of Muscle Mass captured all three $23,150 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots events for two-year-old trotting fillies on Wednesday night (July 29) at Grand River Raceway, with Imextraspecial’s ($2.60) 2:00 mile in the opening division leading the charge.
Following a 2:01.1 win from off the pace in her Grassroots debut on July 13 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Imextraspecial turned it up a notch and seized command in line to Trevor Henry from the outset of the night’s first division (race one), travelling under absolutely no pressure through a 1:01.2 first circuit while tracked by O Solo Mio (Eddie Green). With three-eighths to go, HP Mama B (Sylvain Filion) took her shot out of third, but was forced to duck in the pocket vacated by a weakening O Solo Mio as Imextraspecial accelerated to three-quarters in 1:31.1.
HP Mama B continued her pursuit through the far turn and in the stretch but broke stride a sixteenth from home, enabling Imextraspecial to sprint off by 4-1/2 lengths for her second career victory in as many starts. HP Mama B reset to protect second, and All Muscle N Sass (Bob McClure) finished third, another seven lengths detached.
“I’ve never been able to just put a handle on her,” said Paul Walker, who trains Imextraspecial, the second foal of I Am Special, for Keith Coulter. “Although she won at Mohawk (July 13), I wasn’t totally impressed with her. Tonight was a better race; she put in a better performance. She looked well in hand, actually. She’s got us thinking now whether we’ll move into the Gold for a race and see what she can do.”
In the second division (race four), Tipsy In Dixie ($3.50) made every call a winning one for a 2:01.3 maiden-breaking score.
James MacDonald was able to easily protect inside position with Tipsy In Dixie from post two after Yoga Mouse broke before the start, and the pair controlled a 1:01.3 first lap while tracked by Mag N Lady (Louis-Philippe Roy). On the clubhouse turn, Tipsy In Dixie’s lead was cut to a half length by the first-over Salome (Henry), but she dug in through a :30 third split to protect her advantage, shrugged off her outside rival, and drew clear late to handily defeat Mag N Lady by 2-3/4 lengths while Salome faded to third.
“She’s a nice little filly,” MacDonald quipped. “She qualified good and she’s just great gaited, so I knew coming here it would suit her. And she trained down on a [half-mile track], so I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. Harry (Poulton) had her good; she just coasted to the lead and I never really had to open her up much. It’s a good win for her.”
Harry Poulton trains Tipsy In Dixie, the second foal of Tipsy In Dixie, for Thestable Tipsy In Dixie.
After odds-on favourites wired their competition in the first two Grassroots divisions, Top Of The Bar ($21.80) sprang a 9-1 upset in the third split (race six) — but only prevailed by the slimmest of margins after gutting out an uncovered journey.
The race appeared to fall into 4-5 favourite Fortune Tellers K’s (Robert Shepherd) lap perfectly: she was able to rate the slowest fractions of any division and only faced a mild threat from Top Of The Bar — who worked steadily to advance out of fifth — at three-quarters in 1:32.4. Fortune Tellers K accelerated as soon as pressure emerged, but Top Of The Bar persisted and lunged in the final strides to collar Fortune Tellers K by a head in 2:03.2. Liminary Hanover (MacDonald) finished third, three lengths in arrears.
Trainer-driver Mark Etsell shares ownership in Top Of The Bar, the fourth foal of Balance Bar and a half-sister to OSS Grassroots winner Tymal Tempest, with Robert Newton, Graham Hopkins and Peter Porter. It was Top Of The Bar’s first win in two starts to date.
The sub-featured $8,500 Preferred 3 Pace saw Drachan Hanover ($4.50) and Robert Shepherd grind out a first-over attack and duel down Easton Beach for a narrow 1:55.1 win. Trainer Marcel Barrieau co-owns the eight-year-old Jeremes Jet gelding with Kenneth Rankin.
To view Wednesday’s complete results, click the following link: Wednesday Results – Grand River Raceway.
(with quotes from the Ontario Sires Stakes) (Standardbred Canada)