Day At The Track

MacDonald and Steacy double in Grassroots

02:22 AM 19 Jul 2018 NZST
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JULY 17, 2018 - James MacDonald and Mark Steacy teamed up to win two-thirds of what was a very regal night of Grassroots action at Georgian Downs on Tuesday.

MacDonald opened the two-year-old trotting colt and gelding Grassroots season with a victory behind Rap Royalty in the first $18,450 division. Starting from Post 7 the pair moved strongly off the gate and sat briefly in third before circling around to second as Northern Tailwind logged fractions of :31, 1:01.3 and 1:32.

Coming off the final turn MacDonald turned Rap Royalty loose and the co-favourite held on for a neck victory over H A Houston, stopping the teletimer at 2:03.2. Zorgwijk Tim, the other fan favourite, finished third.

"Rapper was good. I got him off the gate good and then I had to move him first up a little bit, but I got to tuck in and draft for a little while and pop out just before they got to the stretch," noted Guelph, Ontario resident MacDonald. "He was a little green still, like he went by them and then he kind of let up when he cleared, but they're two-year-olds, everything's new to them still, so I was pleased."

Steacy conditions the son of Kadabra for Landmark 11 Racing Stable of Lansdowne, David Reid of Glenburnie, Ontario, Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec, and Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, Alberta. The gelding was a $60,000 purchase out of the 2017 Harrisburg Yearling Sale.

Six races after their first visit to the winner's circle MacDonald and Steacy were back in front of the Georgian Downs fans with Royal Elite.

Starting from Post 2 in the third division, MacDonald employed a similar strategy with the Royalty For Life son, sitting third early and then advancing up the outer lane heading by the three-quarter pole. Never Tell rolled along on the front end through fractions of :30.4, 1:01.3 and 1:32, but could not hold off Royal Elite when MacDonald asked for another gear. The colt trotted home a 2:02 winner, one and one-half lengths ahead of Never Tell and fan favourite Judge Ken.

"He's a homebred from a hard luck Muscles Yankee mare (Day Dream) we bought several years ago. This is her first live foal and he has been good from the time we broke him," said Lansdowne resident Steacy, who trains Royal Elite for owner-breeder Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. "We're hoping for a couple of Grassroots starts and then maybe, if he keeps improving, a Gold try would be nice. He raced very game tonight, moving first up to win."

The colt also impressed MacDonald, who had driven both Royal Elite and Rap Royalty in their pre-season qualifiers.

"He was a little better today. He's got high speed, he just needs to learn how to do it right, like sometimes he wants to go when he shouldn't and doesn't want to go when you want him to," explained the driver. "He's just green, and I was really pleased with him."

Rounding out the trio of regally-named winners was A Royal Line, who captured the second division in 2:02.4. Starting from Post 2 driver Robert Shepherd settled A Royal Line in fourth as MacDonald sent Steacy trainee In The Will out to a :30.3 quarter and 1:02.1 half.

When In The Will skipped off stride heading for the 1:32.2 three-quarters, A Royal Line was advancing up the outside to the lead, a lead he had extended to four and three-quarter lengths by the wire. Y A Titan finished second and Sweet Lou Wittaker was third.

Flamborough resident Shepherd crafted the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville and Mardon Stables of Loretto, Ontario. McIntosh also bred the son of Royalty For Life and Direct Dial.

The two-year-old trotting colts and geldings will make their second Grassroots start on July 31 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

Ontario Sires Stakes excitement continues at Georgian Downs this week as the Innisfil oval welcomes the three-year-old trotting fillies for their third Gold and Grassroots events this Saturday, July 21. Saturday's first race goes postward at 7:15 pm.

From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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