A steamy September afternoon led to a rewrite of Dresden Raceway's harness racing record books when two-year-old pacing colt Panongahela sprinted around the half-mile oval to a 1:56 victory in the second of seven $24,000 Grassroots divisions.
With Robert Shepherd at the controls, Panongahela got away second from Post 3 and watched Ydreos roll through a :28.3 opening quarter and a :58 half. Heading down the backstretch for the second time Shepherd sent Panongahela after the lead and theson had taken control of the front end by the 1:27 three-quarters.
Two lengths ahead of the field when they turned for home, Shepherd and Panongahela sailed down the stretch to a four and one-quarter length triumph in a track record 1:56. The mile eclipsed the former 1:57 freshman pacing colt track record set by Daylon Alert one decade ago on Sept. 2, 2002.
Fan favourite Urbana Bayama settled for second behind Panongahela and Sweet Colt Of Mine completed the top three.
Shepherd piloted the colt to his second victory for trainer David Menary and owner-breeder Peter Pan Stables Inc. of Pepper Pike, OH. After starting his career at the Gold Series level, Panongahela now has two Grassroots victories and a fifth-place result to his credit for a total of 105 points.
Menary and Shepherd combined for a second Grassroots photo op in the tenth race. Starting from the trailing Post 8 Shepherd and Panpero Firpo were well off the pace at the start, sitting 10 lengths back in fifth as Keystone Camaro fired out to a :28.4 opening quarter. Shepherd sent the colt up the outside behind fan favourite Brenin heading for the :58.3 half and then pushed out three-wide going by the 1:28.1 three-quarters.
A length behind Brenin as they straightened out in the stretch, Panpero Firpo battled to the wire, getting a neck in front to secure the 1:57.4 victory. Brenin had to settle for second place spoils, with Get Around Town seven lengths behind the dueling leaders in third.
Anotherson owned and bred by Peter Pan Stables Inc., Panpero Firpo boasts two wins and one second since joining the Grassroots circuit for a point tally of 125.
Southwind Amazon retained his flawless Grassroots record with a 1:58 score in the ninth race. Thecolt bested Brocks Fortune, owned and bred by Robert Chapple of Chatham, by one and one-half lengths and State Of Euphoria completed the top three.
Doug McNair piloted Southwind Amazon to his fourth Grassroots victory for his father, trainer Gregg McNair, and owner Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, MI. The colt has sole ownership of top spot in the two-year-old pacing colt standings with 200 points.
The younger McNair also landed Sly Ruler in the winner’s circle for trainer Tony O’Sullivan and owner Frank Bellino of Bronxville, NY. The duo reeled in pacesetters and fan favourites Randy Waples and Windsong Joker in the stretch, hitting the wire in 1:56.2. Windsong Joker battled hard to earn second-place honours, holding off a charging Mystic Deuce.
The win was the second straight in Grassroots action forson Sly Ruler, who also has a pair of seconds for a total of 150 points.
Duc Dorleans overcame the outside Post 7 to score his third straight Grassroots victory in the sixth race, cruising along on the front end to a 1:57.4 clocking. The son ofand driver Stephane Brosseau bested Mckinney and President Sylberun by one length.
Jacques Dupont trains Duc Dorleans for owner-breeders Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, QC and Gestion C. Levesque 2005 Inc. of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, QC. In seven starts the talented gelding has amassed six wins and one second for earnings of $46,450.
The other two Grassroots divisions were captured by Deuce Is Loose in 1:57.4 and Starlite Kid in 1:57.2.
Ontario’s talented two-year-old pacing colts wrap up their Grassroots regular season at Georgian Downs on Sept. 11 and the top 16 point earners will then advance to Semifinal action at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 21.
Sunday’s speed show wrapped up Dresden Raceway’s 2012 Ontario Sires Stakes season, which also saw the half-mile oval host the freshman trotting fillies in July.
by Sandra SNYDER