Day At The Track

Grassroots action from Kawartha Downs

12:18 PM 16 Aug 2020 NZST
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Lovedbythemasses, harness racing
Lovedbythemasses and driver Mike Saftic
Race Horse Photo

FRASERVILLE, ON - AUG. 15, 2020 - Reigning harness racing champion Lovedbythemasses returned to the Grassroots Series at Kawartha Downs on Saturday, Aug. 15 and trotted right back into the Ontario Sires Stakes winner's circle.

Starting from Post 3 in the fourth $23,150 Grassroots division for three-year-old trotting colts, Mike Saftic settled the fan favourite in fourth as Remember Titans took the field of nine to a :28.2 opening quarter. As Remember Titans trotted by the :57.4 half, Saftic tipped Lovedbythemasses into the outer lane and began a measured advance on the leader.

At the 1:25.4 three-quarters the reigning Grassroots champion was one length behind the pacesetter, but when Saftic asked for another gear Lovedbythemasses drew away effortlessly to a 1:55.1 victory. Awesomedabra, owned and trained by Gary Lance of Port Perry, ON, closed for second and Remember Titans settled for third.

"That was a tough division, they ended up going a pretty good mile, but he was good and strong, and that's what we were hoping for," said Saftic. "He got sick and he missed a couple of events, so he's just kind of getting himself back on track right now, but that was a good mile he trotted today and he trotted a good mile at Mohawk on Monday (Aug. 10). I think maybe if we get down to that 1:51, 1:52 mark we could make some money with the big boys.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure, but I think he's eligible for the Goodtimes (Aug. 28), so that would probably be next on his ballot," added the Campbellville, ON resident. "So that will be a good stop and then I guess he'll play it from there."

Saftic engineered the win for trainer Ed Peconi of Peterborough, Nicholas Peconi of Lakefield, ON and breeder Wade Peconi of Stanchel, PEI. The win was the Muscle Mass gelding's second of the season and his first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. The trotter finished seventh in the season opening Gold leg, on June 28 at Georgian Downs, but missed the second leg due to sickness. At two Lovedbythemasses was undefeated in five Grassroots starts, including the season ending championship.

Later in the program the two-year-old trotting fillies competed in a $7,200 Prospect Series division and Doug Hie piloted Lovedbythemasses' Angus Hall half-sister Incredible Two to a 2:00.4 victory. Somewhat Sacy and Got The Touch were second and third.

"He was a real pet and she's a pistol. They're night and day," said owner-breeder Wade Peconi. "But it looks like she'll be all right if the boys can get her to settle down a little bit."

Drive Mario Baillargeon piloted two colts to Grassroots wins, capturing the first and last divisions with Freedom Express and Ongoing Royalty.

Baillargeon and Freedom Express got away fifth from Post 7 and were soon advancing up the outer lane behind You Go. When You Go ran out of gas at the five-eighths marker, Freedom Express circled out three-wide and continued to advance on the pacesetting favourite Archies Star. Second turning for home, Freedom Express dug in down the stretch to secure a one-length victory in 1:57.1. Archies Star settled for second and Aussie Lover was third.

"I didn't like the post today, but he got fast fractions and he raced real good really," said Baillargeon, who was making his first appearance in the gelding's race bike. "He hasn't got too many starts so he's just getting better, that's what I think. And a 1:57.1 mile, that's a pretty good mile over here."

Baillargeon drove Freedom Express to the win for owner-trainer Charalambos Christoforou of Campbellville. It was the Wheeling N Dealin son's second Grassroots win and puts him in fifth spot in the division point standings.

Five races later Baillargeon opted to send Ongoing Royalty to the front from Post 3 and the duo rang up fractions of :28.2, :58 and 1:26.2 on their way to a 1:56.2 personal best. Favourite Crossfit Mouse finished one-half length back in second and True Brew was third.

"It was a good mile, a real good mile," said Acton, ON resident Baillargeon. "He's just a green horse too, he didn't race last year, and he's just that type of horse that he's just starting to get better right now. I think he'll be a real nice four-year-old too."

Guelph, ON resident Ben Baillargeon trains and Andre Desrochers of St-Hughes and Sylvio Ravary of Les Cedres, QC share ownership of Ongoing Royalty. Saturday's win was the Royalty For Life son's second in Grassroots action and, along with a third-place finish, puts him in a three-way tie for second in the division standings.

The other two divisions saw Field Gunner and Mikey Mass earn their first Grassroots victories, both starting from the outside Post 8.

Field Gunner advanced up the outer lane for driver Scott Young and then opened up a three length margin on his peers, trotting under the wire in a 1:56.4 personal best. Pacesetter Chocolate Pie was second and Dart Guy completed the top three.

"He raced very well today," said Young, who engineered the win for trainer Luc Blais and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. "The eight-hole isn't the easiest of starting points out here, so I was very happy with his performance."

Mikey Mass and driver Jason Ryan were able to follow the cover of No Time To Play up the outer lane before stepping out in the stretch and sprinting home to a three-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. No Time To Play was second and favourite Ripped And Ready was third.

"He's a very fast horse, he just tends to be a little bit erratic, so we've been very careful with how we drive him and everything worked out really well today," said trainer Nick Gallucci. "He seems like every time he goes to the track he quiets down a little bit, so hopefully moving forward he gets to a be a little bit more professional, but I was very happy with how he was behaving in the paddock there today and in the race Jason said he drove perfect, so very happy with him."

Stouffville resident Gallucci shares ownership of the Muscle Mass gelding with Vince Gallucci of Brantford, Frank Cirillo of Kleinburg and Bruno Didiomede of Hamilton, ON.

The next opportunity for the three-year-old trotting colts to pad their Grassroots point totals comes Sept. 10 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Complete results for Saturday's program are available at Kawartha Downs Results.

From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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