Day At The Track

Pretty Handsome flawless in Grassroots

12:14 AM 09 Sep 2018 NZST
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Pretty Handsome, harness racing
Pretty Handsome and driver Jonathan Drury
New Image Media photo

There were few surprises as the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings wrapped up their Grassroots regular season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday evening, with either the favourite or the fans' second choice winning all three divisions.

In the first $19,150 division, second choice Casimir Richie P and driver Trevor Henry went directly to the lead from Post 5 and never relinquished control. The son of Astronomical rang up fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24.2 on his way to a personal best 1:51.2. Favourite Luka Shenko and Gold Rush finished in a dead heat for second, one and three-quarter lengths behind the winner.

"He's been a really nice colt for us. Only cost me $6,000 and he must be getting close to $100,000 life now," said trainer Dr. Ian Moore. "He's just not quite good enough for the Gold, he got third, fourth maybe, but he seems to relish the Grassroots side. He was in record form tonight, so that was good."

Cambridge resident Moore shares ownership of Casimir Richie P with his son Tyler Moore of Campbellville and Michael Goldberg of Toronto, Ontario. Through two seasons of racing the colt has earned $93,818 and will be looking to pad that in the Grassroots post season. With two wins and one third to his credit in three Grassroots starts, Casimir Richie P tallied 112 points and heads into the Sept. 21 Semi-Final ranked fourth in the division.

"I gave him a week off last week and trained him on Tuesday, and he trained wicked good over the farm track, so I might give him another week off," said Dr. Moore of the colt's schedule heading into the Semi-Finals. "I'm not sure yet, I'll see how he comes out of this one."

Second choice When You Dance had a much tougher trip to the winner's circle in the second $19,150 division. Starting from Post 9, the Mach Three gelding and driver Jody Jamieson were parked for much of the :26.1 first quarter and enjoyed just a brief hold of the lead before Wind Blast circled back around to the front.

Tucked in second at the :54.3 half, Jamieson sent When You Dance back into the outer lane heading by the 1:23.2 three-quarters and then waged a fierce battle in the stretch with Shadow Moon before prevailing by a nose in 1:53. Shadow Moon settled for second and fan favourite Bit Of Luck was third.

"It was a tough, gritty win. He was parked past the eighth in 12 seconds and cleared ,and then had to let a high odds horse go," said trainer Ben Wallace. "Then he was lucky to squeeze out in the top and take him to come again. So it was gutty win. I know they only went in 1:53, but it wasn't an easy 1:53, if you know what I mean."

The Puslinch, Ontario resident owns When You Dance in partnership with Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, Quebec and Birnam Wood Farms of Boca Raton, Florida. The gelding was also victorious in his only other Grassroots start, at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 22, and heads into the post-season in sixth spot with 100 points.

"He's a deserving winner, he's had a tough summer," said Wallace, adding that the gelding will not start again before the Sept. 21 Semi-Final. "He hasn't had the best luck with trips and situations and maybe showing up, when he did draw good, maybe not as healthy as he could have been, so it was a nice win."

With a flawless record of three wins in three Grassroots starts, reigning division champion Pretty Handsome heads back to the post-season tied for top spot in the standings with 150 points. The Mach Three son and driver Jonathan Drury cruised to victory in the third $19,500 division on Friday, sailing home five and one-quarter lengths the best in 1:50.2. JM Jack Of Hearts followed the favourite around the oval and into second and Gideon Seelster was third.

"He seems to be in top form right now, always good heading towards the Semi-Final," said Andrew McCabe, who trains Pretty Handsome for Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, Ontario. "We had a little bit of a hiccup with him there. He kind of earned the chance to try the Gold and he got sick on us up there in Ottawa (July 22).

"We're really trying to win a Gold in the worst way, never won one. Not ever. It's never, ever, ever worked out," McCabe added. "Every time we try and make that approach something backfires on us."

Pretty Handsome finished seventh in the July 22 Gold Leg at Rideau Carleton Raceway and eighth in a second attempt against the top colts at Woodbine Mohawk Park on August 4. After almost a month off, the gelding returned to action in a Sept. 1 overnight event at Woodbine Mohawk Park and regained his winning form, touring the Campbellville oval in 1:51. Friday's victory was his seventh of the season from 11 starts.

Pretty Handsome will begin defense of his division title on Sept. 21. The top 20 point earners will compete in the Semi-Final round, with the top five finishers in each Semi-Final advancing to the Sept. 29 Grassroots Championship, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

From the Ontario Sire Stakes

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