Day At The Track

Colts deliver in must-win Grassroots

03:28 PM 20 Aug 2019 NZST
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P L Matt,Harness racing
P L Matt made a leap up the point standings with his first Grassroots victory
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MILTON, AUG. 19, 2019 - Heading into Monday night's Grassroots event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, the pressure was on the three-year-old trotting colts. With just two regular season events left on the calendar, colts below the current cut off for the top 20 needed to accumulate points or face the possibility of not advancing to the post season.

Heading into the first $23,500 Grassroots division, P L Matt was sitting in forty-third spot with three points earned in the June 5 event at Grand River Raceway. To give him any shot at a post season berth the Kadabra gelding needed a win. Starting from Post 4, driver Bob McClure eased the trotter away from the gate, a stage in the race that had been problematic in the past, and settled him in seventh as Gold Edition led the field to a :28 opening quarter. McClure and P L Matt remained on the rail in sixth as Arcanum took over heading to the :56.2 half and then tipped into the outer lane before the 1:24.3 three-quarters rung up by Gold Edition.

As the colts straightened up in the stretch McClure gave P L Matt a clear look at the wire and the gelding shifted into a big gear, reeling in Gold Edition for a head victory in 1:54.3. Fan favourite CT Conabra settled for third, two and one-half lengths behind the leaders.

"I started driving him a couple months ago. He's a real handful and he was having a hard time getting him gaited and relaxed, and he'd run off the gate," said McClure of the Matt Dupuis trainee. "Matt's done a lot of equipment changes and now he's two fingers, he's behaving, and the more he behaves the better he gets."

Dupuis trains P L Matt for owner-breeders Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, ON and Monday's win gave the connections their first win with the young trotter, in his eleventh lifetime start. The win bumped the gelding's point total to 53, putting him above the cut off for a spot in the Grassroots Semi-Final heading into the Sept. 12 regular season finale at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

"He always had a lot of ability, he just didn't have a lot of manners, and now that Matt's done a good job getting him settled down, now he's getting to really be a nice horse," said McClure. "I think he's coming into a real good form for the end of the year."

In the second division Southwind Frost lined up behind Post 2 on the starting gate sitting just five points above the post season cut off line. Driver-trainer Michiel Vanderkemp settled the fan favourite in fifth and was content to let Priceless Ruler create some gaps in the field on the way to a :27.2 quarter. Those gaps had narrowed by the :56.3 half and by the 1:24.4 three-quarters Southwind Frost was rolling up the outer lane. The colt was just two lengths behind Priceless Ruler coming off the final turn and a big finishing gear saw him sail past the leaders and on to a two and one-half length win in 1:54.3. Priceless Ruler settled for second and pocket-sitter A Royal Line was another length back in third.

"He's been sharp most of his starts, I thought he'd be good," said Vanderkemp. "He can race both ways so when you've got a good post you can just go with the flow, with what happens in the race."

Vanderkemp conditions the E L Titan colt for Michael Andrew of Gorham, ME and Monday's win was his first in Grassroots action, but his second straight over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval and, like McClure, the driver-trainer thinks Southwind Frost is in top form for the end of the season.

"I didn't want to race him on the smaller tracks and thought we'd take a shot later, he's a decent-sized horse," explained Vanderkemp. "I was borderline about going Gold with him, but there's some nice colts in there so I just stuck with the Grassroots.

"He's a little weird," the horseman added. "He's scared of everything, like flags. Everything scares him, but once he's in a race he seems to throw it away. He's getting better and better every start."

A two-time Grassroots winner last season, Judge Ken had yet to find the winner's circle as a sophomore heading into the final division. With Trevor Henry in the race bike Judge Ken left smartly from Post 9 and led the field to a :27.3 opening quarter before yielding to fan favourite Scarlet Raider. Henry and Judge Ken sat behind Scarlet Raider through a :56.4 half and 1:26.1 three-quarters and then fired up in the stretch, nipping up the inside to a one-half length victory in 1:55.4. Lifetime Royalty closed like a freight train to take second, nudging Esa into third.

Henry piloted Judge Ken to the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and his partners C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH and Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON. The group also bred the son of Justice Hall and Barbie And Ken, who moved into the top 20 with the win.

Complete results for Monday's program are available at

Ontario Sires Stakes action will be back at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, Aug. 30 with the fourth Gold Series Leg for the two-year-old pacing fillies.


OSS Program Information

For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit:


OSS Program Administration

Ontario Racing

Woodbine Mohawk Park

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