The Wild Card opened the program flooded with sophomore pacing colts on Saturday (June 27) at Woodbine Mohawk Park, with six Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions battling for a total of $139,950.
With a 1:52.2 score on the front end, The Wild Card held off Sundown Kid and Century Grizzly at the wire. Doug McNair piloted the favourite to the one-half length victory for trainer Dr. Ian Moore and his partners R G McGroup Ltd. and Serge Savard.
“He raced good. He’s a nice little guy to drive and has a big gait to him,” said McNair. “Ian has them ready to go.”
The win was the first of the season for The Wild Card and also marked the Bettors Delight son’s first appearance in the Ontario Sires Stakes winner’s circle.
McNair was back in the winner’s circle following the fourth division, when Day Delight was promoted from second to first due to a pylon violation by West Coast Beach. West Coast Beach was placed second after the violation and Captivate Hanover was third.
“He was good too, he just kind of waited on them once he cleared,” said the driver of Day Delight, who was caught in the stretch by West Coast Beach. “You don’t like to see anyone get placed, but we will take it.”
Victor Puddy trains Day Delight for Bill Manes of Rockwood, Lloyd Stone, 10462217 Canada Inc. and Wayne MacRae. The Bettors Delight son was a two-time Grassroots winner last season, including a victory in his Grassroots Semi-Final.
Bob McClure also piloted two Grassroots winners Saturday, guiding Lottery Winner to victory in the third $23,500 division and Bettorbuckleup to a win in the last split.
A recent arrival from New Jersey, Lottery Winner looked impressive in his Ontario debut, opening a two-length margin on Better Take It and St Lads Beat It by the 1:51.3 finish. Lottery Winner made one start at the Gold Series level before returning to New Jersey last season, but McClure hopes the Nancy Takter trainee will be a regular player in the provincial program this year.
“He made a nice first impression,” McClure said. “He’s not a big horse, but he has a slick gait. Hopefully he sticks around for the season.”
Takter shares ownership of the Bettors Delight son with R A W Equine Inc., Hatfield Stables and Joyce McClelland.
McClure wrapped up the Grassroots program with favourite Bettorbuckleup, who sprinted home in 1:51 to best pacesetter Bettor At Hightide and a closing Delightful Terror. All three colts are sired by Bettors Delight.
“As nice of a horse as you could drive. My [four-year-old] son could drive him,” said McClure, who engineered the win for trainer Nick Gallucci and owner Millar Farms of Stouffville, ON.
Of the six pacing colt divisions, Y S Mathis and driver Louis-Philippe Roy were sent as the biggest favourites and delivered the widest margin of victory, cruising home six lengths the best in 1:51. A two-time Gold Series winner as a two-year-old, the Sportswriter son never gave his fans cause for concern, taking control before the half and accelerating away from the field in the stretch. Heart On My Sleeve and Bee Two Bee rounded out the top three.
“He’s a very nice horse. He felt good, but he still wasn’t steering great,” said Roy, who steers Y S Mathis for trainer Richard Moreau and owner-breeder Yves Sarrazin. “I’m confident Richard will do some adjustments before his next few starts and hope that he’ll be able to compete at the Gold level.”
The other division went to Mission Bay, who caught pacesetting favourite Sunshine List in the stretch for his first Ontario Sires Stakes victory. My Bettors Del closed for third.
“He raced really good last week and I thought he would be okay, but I didn’t think that okay,” said driver Phil Hudon, who engineered the 1:51.1 clocking for trainer Matthew Dupuis and owner Keith Cassell. “He feels like he’s catching on. He’s a big, strong horse.”
Mission Bay and his peers will look to add to their point totals when they return to Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 24 for the second Grassroots Leg.
The Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series makes its debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday (June 29) with three divisions for the three-year-old pacing fillies. The fillies will be featured in Races 2, 6 and 9; with the first race going in behind the starting gate at 7 p.m. (EDT).
(Ontario Sires Stakes)
The Saturday card also featured a $32,000 Fillies and Mares Preferred Pace and a $36,000 Preferred Pace. The recap can be found by clicking this link.
To view Saturday’s harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results – Woodbine Mohawk Park.