They had to battle over a “sloppy”, rain-soaked track, but the three-year-old pacing colts were still sizzling at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday (July 24) in a quartet of $22,500 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Grassroots divisions.
Saltwater Savage scored the fastest mile of the night, powering through the rain to a 1:50.4 victory in the last division. The State Treasurer son and driver Bob McClure sat on the helmet of pacesetter Bettor Sun and driver Doug McNair through fractions of :26.4, :54.3 and 1:22.2 before sprinting down the stretch to a 1-1/2 length win. Bettor Sun settled for second and Harpers Hat Trick completed the top three. Favourite Cantstoplying was fourth.
“He was a nice two-year-old last year in PEI and the owners wanted to send him up,” said trainer Dr. Ian Moore, a native of PEI. “The first day I jogged him, I liked him right from the get go. He just seemed like a really nice colt, good mannered and good gaited, and seemed to have a great attitude, very happy to be out there. And he’s just gotten better and better and better every time we’ve raced him. He’s not going to be a Gold, but he’s going to make a nice Grassroots colt and he showed it tonight, so we are all very happy.”
Cambridge, Ont. resident Moore trains Saltwater Savage for Michael Currie of Cardigan and Jerry MacKinnon of St. Peters Bay, PEI. The win was the gelding’s first in Ontario Sires Stakes action and his second of the sophomore campaign.
“It’s nice to see a horse come from home and do well for all my friends and guys down home,” said Moore. “It costs them a lot of money to send them up here and be with a trainer up here, no matter who it is, so it’s always good to have some results for them.”
Driver Jody Jamieson scored a Grassroots double on Saturday, winning the second and third divisions with Twin B Eagle and Armor Seelster.
Starting from post 1, Twin B Eagle landed sixth in the early going as favourite Cadillac Bayama led the field to a :27 quarter. After tipping into the outer lane, Twin B Eagle drafted behind Stonebridge Rex, and the two colts advanced toward the pacesetter through a :56.1 half and 1:23.4 three-quarters. Stonebridge Rex had Cadillac Bayama in his rear-view mirror by the top of the stretch. And when Jamieson showed Twin B Eagle open racetrack, the gelding hit another gear and pulled away to a 1:52.4 victory. Stonebridge Rex finished 1-3/4 lengths back in second and Jim Blue was third. Cadillac Bayama faded to fifth.
“I thought he was the best in the race if it set up good and he proved that. He’s a better horse than most of those horses,” said Jamieson, who was making his first appearance in the gelding’s race bike. “It worked out really good, he didn’t even have to do a lot of work. When he gets tired I guess sometimes he loses his focus or something and he’ll make a break, but tonight he wasn’t even tired, he just kind of paced through the line and won pretty easy.”
Anthony Beaton of Waterdown, Ont. trains Twin B Eagle for Wayne MacRae of Fall River, N.S. and Daniel Ross of Belfast, PEI. The win was the first of the sophomore campaign for the Sportswriter son, who started in the July 3 Gold Series opener but made a late break and was placed eleventh.
Jamieson also employed a come-from-behind strategy with Armor Seelster, who kicked home in :26.4 to best favourite Proline and Saratoga Blue Chip in a personal best 1:53. Gabriella Sasso of Cambridge trains the Bettors Delight gelding for Jeffrey Courchesne of Cambridge and Martwest Racing Stable of Mississauga, Ont.
“That horse, he’s a funny horse, he sees things that aren’t there. He got looking at the starter tonight because I was right behind the starter (post 6) and I couldn’t get him to within two lengths of the gate so I almost started where the 11 horse would start, that far behind,” said Guelph, Ont. resident Jamieson. “I thought I was kind of screwed because I got so far back, but as it turned out he had a huge turn of foot and swept by the field. He’s a real nice horse, just real green yet.”
The win was the second of 2021 and the first in OSS action for Armor Seelster, who improved his sophomore record to two wins and two seconds in four starts.
The other division saw favourite Jimmy Connor B and driver Doug McNair sweep around the leaders to a 1:52.3 victory over Premier Nacho and Mr Charisma.
“He’s getting better. He’s still not a ton of fun to drive until the stretch, when you can let him pace,” said McNair, who steers the colt for his father, owner-trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont. “He’s got a ton of talent, but it will just take more experience, I hope, for him to put it all together some day.”
Like his peers, Saturday’s win was Jimmy Connor B’s first in OSS action. The Big Jim son now has three wins to his credit in 11 sophomore starts.
The three-year-old pacing colts will make their third Grassroots start at Dresden Raceway on Monday, Aug. 2.
The Ontario Sires Stakes program returns to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday, July 29 with the second Gold Series Leg for the two-year-old trotting colts. Fans can download a program, watch the live stream, or make a reservation on the racetrack’s website.
(Ontario Sires Stakes)
To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.