Eight $30,000 Grassroots Semifinals at Elora

03:07 AM 15 Sep 2012 NZST
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Ontario Sires Stakes

Post season harness racing action gets under way at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, Sept. 19 with eight $30,000 Grassroots Semifinals for the province's top three-year-old trotters and pacers.

After picking up a pair of seconds in the last two regular season events, Jet Speed moved into eighth spot in the sophomore pacing filly division standings and assured her new owners of a trip to Elora on Wednesday. Bryan Lawrence of Hanover and Mike Foerster of Elmira purchased Jet Speed out of the Aug. 26 Summer Sizzler Mixed Sale and so far they have been very pleased with their $48,000 investment.

“She’s a nice big filly. We like her,” says Lawrence. “We just hope she stays sound and healthy and we have a little luck.”

Through her six regular season outings Jet Speed tallied one win, two seconds and two thirds to finish with 124 points. The filly raced out of the Murray Brethour barn from April to August, and Lawrence says the veteran trainer was very forthcoming when he and Foerster expressed an interest in the daughter of Jeremes Jet and $247,549 winner Star Siren.

“Murray was really good. He told us everything he knew about her,” recalls Lawrence.

“We took a chance and bought her,” adds the owner. “Mike’s been partners with me for a few years and he said let’s try one more horse; he’s 86 years old.”

The new owners turned Jet Speed over to Guelph resident Gregg McNair, who will send the filly out from Post 5 in the sixth race on Wednesday. Driver Doug McNair piloted the filly in her Sept. 2 and 10 Grassroots outings at Flamboro Downs and Mohawk Racetrack, but faces a tough choice between Jet Speed and fourth-ranked Grins Little Flirt, who will start from Post 4 in the second pacing filly Semifinal.

“Gregg took her, he’s done a good job with her,” notes the filly’s new owner. “And Doug’s driven her and done a good job too. I hope he stays with her.”

Both partners cheered the filly home in her first two starts under their ownership, but the responsibility will rest solely with Foerster and his wife Marion on Wednesday as Lawrence heads to Ohio for the historic Little Brown Jug.

“I can’t go, but the Foersters are going,” says Lawrence. “He’s 86 and she’s 82, so I picked them up and took them to Flamboro and Mohawk, but they can get there this week.

“We’ll just cross our fingers and hope we can get to the Final.”

The other pacing filly Semifinal will go postward as Race 3 and features a showdown between the top two point earners Machleen, at Post 7, and Jeremes Sweetheart, at Post 2.

Rockwood resident Andrew McCabe will harness a pair of starters in the sophomore pacing colt division, with Life Signature making his bid for a top four finish from Post 8 in the eighth race and Red Carpet Dude hoping to match or better his stablemate from Post 2 in the eleventh race.

Life Signature heads to Grand River off a runner-up effort in the Slots Cup Consolation at Hiawatha Horse Park on Sept. 8 and a Grassroots win at the Hiawatha oval just two days earlier on Sept. 6. Off that effort McCabe sent the colt to the paddock for four days and says the Life Sign son bounced back nicely and is ready to fire off the starting gate on Wednesday.

“He was second in the consolation, he raced good. He paced in 1:54 and the Slots Cup Final only went three-fifths of a second faster (1:53.2), so he was right on track with that,” notes McCabe. “He came out of it good, and I gave him a few days off in the field to get him sharpened up.”

Owned by Bill Manes and Steven Papillon of Rockwood, Steven Brunelle of Grand Bend and Leonard Christopher of Acton, Life Signature netted three wins, one second and one third in his five regular season starts for a point total of 187 and second spot in the standings. McCabe knows the gelding will have his work cut out for him in Wednesday’s Semifinal starting from the outside Post 8 against a tough field that includes point leader Lucky Jet from Post 6 and the undefeated Better Get Ready from Post 2.

“He’s got the eight-hole in what looks to be the toughest division, but he’s got gate speed,” says the trainer. “Hopefully he can get a little bit of a trip and make the final and draw a better post.”

Red Carpet Dude will benefit from an inside post on Wednesday and McCabe says the Camluck son will also benefit from the driving services of Grand River Raceway’s leading reinsman Trevor Henry, who will steer both of the trainer’s entries.

“I think it will be advantageous to have Trevor driving on a half-mile track — and I think they are both very well suited on Grand River,” notes the trainer. “There is nobody else I’d rather have driving either of them.”

McCabe, who conditions Red Carpet Dude for Bill Manes and Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, adds that Henry was instrumental in helping Red Carpet Dude over an early season slump that saw the gelding go almost two months before finding his way into the top three and three months before he found the winner’s circle. The gelding finished the Grassroots season with two wins, one second, two thirds and one fourth for 157 points and fourth spot in the standings.

“We put Trevor on him and Trevor seemed to turn him around,” says McCabe.

Both Red Carpet Dude and Life Signature advanced to the Grassroots Championship last season and their connections would love to see them replicate that result on Wednesday.

Post time for Grand River Raceway’s talent laden Wednesday evening program is 7:05 pm, with the Grassroots Semifinals taking place in Races 2, 3, 5 through 9, and 11. The top four finishers from each Semifinal will earn a berth in their respective Grassroots Championships, which take place on Sept. 29 at the Elora oval.

To view Jet Speed, Life Signature and Red Carpet Dude’s previous Grassroots performances please go to:

Jet Speed — http://www.ontariosiresstakes.com/participants/display_horse.html?tattoo=8GM87

Life Signature — http://www.ontariosiresstakes.com/participants/display_horse.html?tattoo=3GP38

Red Carpet Dude — http://www.ontariosiresstakes.com/participants/display_horse.html?tattoo=1GL83

by Sandra SNYDER

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