Day At The Track

Camluck miss now top of Grassroots class

05:02 AM 16 Sep 2011 NZST
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As the air temperature cooled around them, Ontario's talented harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies kept things sizzling on the Hiawatha Horse Park surface Thursday, roaring around the five-eighths oval in their last regular season Grassroots event.

Cameron Lucky vaulted to the top of the leader board with the quickest clocking of the five $24,000 Grassroots divisions. The Camluck miss and driver Bruce Richardson rolled up from the backfield and had to circle out three-wide at the three-quarters before sprinting home to a two and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:53.2. Pacesetter and fan favourite Three Charms had to settle for second and Pearl Handlepistol was five more lengths back in third.

Trained by Marie St. Charles and owned by Michael Hale of Livonia, MI, Cameron Lucky captured three Grassroots divisions in five provincial appearances this summer which, along with one second and one third-place result, give her a total of 187 points. The half-sister to $200,675 winner Cam Cool has earned $82,770 of her own in 19 starts this summer, posting five wins, six seconds and five thirds.

Off the pace tactics also worked for Shipps Xanadu in the first division, as the Mach Three daughter and driver Ross Battin used Dapple Apple as a windbreak on the outside before sweeping down the stretch to snatch a neck victory away from pacesetter Tilly Seelster. The fillies halted the Hiawatha teletimer at 1:55.3, two and one-half lengths ahead of Lyons Puddin Pie.

The win bumped Shipps Xanadu into a three-way tie for second in the standings with 150 points earned through three Grassroots victories in four starts. In total the Roger Kopas trainee also made 19 starts this summer and tallied six wins, two seconds and one third for earnings of $100,400. Harold G. Shipp Stable of Mississauga owns the talented young pacer, who has banked $238,242 in the last two seasons.

Driver Mike Saftic opted for a front end strategy with Carsons Maverick in the third division and it proved to be the right move as the filly sailed home to a five and one-quarter length victory over Back Yard Baby. Bunkhouse Babe crossed the wire third, but was placed back to seventh for causing interference while on a break and traveling inside the pylons, so Ovation Killean was elevated from fourth to third.

The 1:56.3 victory was Carsons Maverick’s first in Grassroots action this summer and boosted her from thirtieth to sixteenth in the standings, earning her one of 20 spots in the Sept. 24 Grassroots Semifinals at Mohawk Racetrack. The Western Maverick daughter is owned by David Carson of Listowel and trained by Guelph resident Gregg McNair.

The fourth race saw Mach Lady score an upset victory, pacing under the wire a head in front of Chappies Girl and two lengths up on Stonebridge Damsel. Fan favourite, and formerly undefeated division leader Epoxy Queen faltered badly in the latter half of the race and finished at the back of the nine filly field.

Hovering on the cusp of a post season berth heading into Thursday’s contest, Mach Lady’s victory bumped her up to twelfth spot in the rankings. The Mach Three daughter, driven to the 1:54.1 personal best by trainer Bill Davis, wrapped up the regular season with two wins and one fourth in Grassroots action. Davis trains the filly for Jeffrey and Debbie Elchuk of Surrey, BC.

The final Grassroots trophy was awarded to Modern Cinderella, who controlled the pace from start to finish, sailing home a three and one-quarter length winner in 1:55.1. Smartygirl delivered a gritty effort up the outside to secure second, and a berth in the Semifinal, and fan favourite Cheryls Surprise settled for third.

Ervin Abdulov of London bred, owns and trains Modern Cinderella, who was a two-time winner on the provincial circuit this summer. The daughter of Modern Art and Southwind Stellar added one second, one fourth and two fifths to her Grassroots resume for a total of 143 points and sole ownership of fifth spot in the standings.

The top 20 point earners will now prepare for the $30,000 Semifinal battles at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 24. The top five finishers from each Semifinal will return to Mohawk for the $100,000 Grassroots Championship on Oct. 1.

Thursday’s Grassroots season finale also brought the curtain down on Hiawatha Horse Park’s 2011 Ontario Sires Stakes season, which saw the Sarnia oval play host to four Grassroots battles.

Sandra SNYDER

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