Hiawatha Horse Park wraps up its 2012 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Thursday (September 6) with four $24,000 Grassroots harness racing divisions for the lightning fast three-year-old pacing colts.
Sarnia and area fans will get a post season preview in the first division, as six of the eight starters are currently ranked among the top 16 point earners, four of them among the top six.
"That looks like a Semifinal race there Thursday night," says Petrolia resident Larry Ainsworth, whose sixth-ranked gelding Modern Xhibit will start from Post 2 in the talent laden field.
Modern Xhibit heads into Thursday's test off an impressive effort at Mohawk Racetrack on Aug. 27 netted him his second Grassroots trophy of the season. The son ofand Armbro Teacher led for much of the mile, appeared to be beaten at the top of the stretch and then dug back in to claim a neck victory in a personal best 1:51.2.
"That was a tough race. He was beat at the head of the lane, but came back on. You don't see many that will do that," says Ainsworth, who bred and owns the gelding in partnership with William Boden of Vancouver,BC.
"He's honest. He gives you 100 per cent every time he steps on the track," continues the horseman. "That's all you can ask of any of them."
Ainsworth and his son Jim have reduced the number of horses in their barn in recent months, so Modern Xhibit was sent to trainer Anthony Montini in mid-August and has raced out of Montini's stable in his last two starts.
Since making his sophomore debut in late March, Modern Xhibit has amassed a record of six wins, two seconds and four thirds in 19 starts for earnings of $79,144.
"He's done nothing but make us money," says Ainsworth.
"He's the perfect racehorse," adds the owner-breeder. "Anybody can drive him, and there's no secrets to him. When I sent him down to Anthony I didn't even send a harness."
Nicholas Steward will steer Modern Xhibit on Thursday evening, his second appearance in the gelding's race bike, and the pair face a star studded field.
Machman currently sits 15th in the division point race and will be keen to pad his point tally with a strong showing from the advantageous Post 1. Ninth-ranked Franceschetti was the colt who finished second by a neck to Modern Xhibit at Mohawk last week and would love to reverse that order from Post 4 on Thursday.
Division co-leader Lucky Jet gets Post 5 and will be looking to replicate the impressive five length victory he scored in last week's test. The consistent Espen De Vie, who currently sits fourth, will be hunting for his third Grassroots trophy from Post 6, as will third-ranked Red Carpet Dude from Post 7.
Ainsworth says Modern Xhibit's early speed will stand him in good stead in the tough field, allowing Steward to gain an advantageous position in what promises to be a high speed battle.
"He has tactical speed off the gate, that's where it makes him his money," says the owner.
Ainsworth hopes that early speed will also stand the gelding in good stead in the post season, which takes place on the Grand River Raceway half-mile with Semifinals on Sept. 19 and the championship event on Sept. 29.
"He likes a half-mile for sure. He went in 1:53.1 over Clinton. I think that's the track record down there," explains Ainsworth. "He goes around a half-mile the same as he does a seven-eighths."
Modern Xhibit and his peers will kick off the Grassroots battles in Race 4 on Thursday, with the other three divisions going postward in Races 8, 9 and 10.Hiawatha HorsePark's first race parades onto the five-eighths mile oval at6:30 pm.
by Sandra SNYDER