Day At The Track

Steacy pads lead atop Johnston Cup standings

11:00 PM 17 Sep 2016 NZST
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Anneli Hanover
Trotting filly Anneli Hanover kicked off the three-year-old Grassroots Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday, Sept. 16 with a 1:55 personal best. Guelph resident James MacDonald crafted the win for trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, one of two Semi-fin
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SEPT. 16, 2016 - Harness racing trainer Mark Steacy went into Friday's Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots Semi-finals with a 22 point lead in the Ontario Sires Stakes trainer standings, and went home with a little bigger cushion between himself and eight-time Johnston Cup winner Bob McIntosh and three-time winner Gregg McNair.

"There's a lot of guys that can win a lot of races, so I don't get too focussed on that," said Steacy about the Johnston Cup point race. "But if that's where we are, it's nice to say you're in front of them guys, because they're pretty good."

Steacy sent out five starters in the eight sophomore Semi-finals on Friday and recorded two wins, one third, one fourth and one seventh. First off the starting gate for the Steacy stable was three-year-old trotting filly Anneli Hanover, who sat third for much of the mile before shaking loose in the stretch and grabbing a one-half length victory in a personal best 1:55.

Trumpets and Roadmapper closed hard to be second and third, Windsong Magic was fourth, and fan favourite Magical Valentine and pacesetter Could It Be Magic finished in a dead-heat for fifth, which will leave one of the fifth-place finishers in the Also Eligible slot for next Saturday's Championship.

"She's been a pleasant surprise," said Steacy of Anneli Hanover. "She was very ordinary last year at two, and started out that way this year, and then all of a sudden she just started to race good. She won four or something in a row, and then she got in a little slump for a couple of races, but she raced good at Flamboro (Sept. 4) and she was very good today. I hope the timing's good for next week."

Steacy trains Anneli Hanover for his wife Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, Landmark 8 Racing Stable of Kingston, David McDonald of Cornwall and Barry White of Ottawa, ON. In 15 sophomore starts the daughter of Majestic Son and Above All Hanover has posted seven wins, one second and one third for earnings of $52,560.

Anneli Hanover

Guelph resident James MacDonald engineered Anneli Hanover's victory, and also piloted the other four starters from the Steacy stable, whose second win came with pacing filly Forever Liza.

Starting from the outside Post 10, MacDonald settled fan favourite Forever Liza in sixth and watched as Trilife and Selling The Dream battled to a :26.1 quarter and :54.3 half. Heading for the 1:23.1 three-quarters MacDonald sent Forever Liza up the outside behind Killean Finale, and in the stretch the pair reeled in the leaders and hit the wire three-quarters of a length on top in a personal best 1:51.3. Killean Finale settled for second, ahead of Westsluckycam, Selling The Dream and Tonightimlovingyou.

"James did a great job. In the 10-hole you never know what can happen, it's tough, but he did a great job, he got her spotted well, and got her covered up, and she's always got that little kick coming for home," said Steacy. "She's tough that little mare.

"She's never been a real good gaited mare, but she's getting better and better all the time," the trainer continued. "She's got what you want in a racehorse, and that's heart."

Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, QC owns the Bettors Delight daughter Forever Liza, who now has six wins, four seconds and one third to her credit through 15 sophomore starts for earnings of $81,010.

Forever Liza

The other pacing filly Semi-final was captured by Free Show and driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON, who reeled in seven horses in the final quarter to secure the one length victory in 1:51.3. Fan favourite Windsun Glory was second, Top Royal finished third, MacDonald piloted Steacy entry Bernadette into fourth and division point leader Noone To Depend On was fifth.

Dave Menary of Cambridge, ON conditions Free Show for Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA. A Gold Series competitor and winner of $205,776 at two, the Badlands Hanover daughter has struggled to find her footing in the sophomore division, posting three wins, one second, three thirds and earnings of $58,770 through 14 starts.

"I had high expectations for her, you know she's such a nice mare, and after last year we were really looking forward to her," said Menary. "She hasn't been bad; she just hasn't had a lot of luck. I think she's a little bit better than a Grassroots filly, but not quite as good as the Gold fillies, and hopefully we can end the year on a good note."

Free Show

The other trotting filly Semi-final was captured by Henry and Magical Steph, who has also had a tumultuous sophomore season. Friday's 1:55.3 victory over division point leader Myretirementticket, favourite Sunrise Avenue, True Muscle and Traviata, was just Magical Steph's third in eight starts and trainer Gary Lance is hoping the Kadabra daughter has finally turned the corner on a year that started with surgery at The Ohio State University.

"She had a lot of trouble this year. I took her to Ohio State University to get some work done on her in January and she had some implications from the surgery and then she had to go back in and have more surgery," said Lance. "And she had an entrapped epiglottis about six weeks ago, so we had to get Dr. Llewellyn in to look at that. We hoped for a big year this year, but sometimes it just doesn't happen."

Lance and his partners in GL Racing Inc. of Port Perry, ON were hoping Magical Steph could match or improve on the five victories and $72,400 she tallied as a two-year-old, but they will settle for a strong finish to the season.

Magical Steph

Trotting colts Muscles For Life and Georgies Pockets set up a repeat of last season's division showdown, winning their respective Semi-finals for the second straight year.

Reigning division champion Muscles For Life posted a 1:55.2 score in the first split on Friday for driver Doug McNair and trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, ON and owner Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, MI. The Muscle Mass son controlled the tempo in spite of starting from Post 9 and hit the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of Windsun Missile. MacDonald and Steacy trainee French Bastille were another length back in third, with Bow Ties N Bourbon and Manofmanyimages rounding out the top five.

Muscles For Life

Georgies Pockets and trainer-driver Jack Moiseyev of Moffat, ON captured the second Semi-final with a late sprint that saw them get a neck in front of fan favourite P L Jerico and Mass Balance in 1:55.1. Holiday Party and Dynamic Edge finished fourth and fifth.

"Before the race somebody asked to buy him, and I said I'm not selling him. I named him after my father, my late father, so I won't sell him," said Ron Ruggles, who bred and owns the Muscle Mass colt through his M T Pockets Stables of Pompano Beach, FL. "He's going to be tough for the Final. I'm very excited."

Georgies Pockets

The evening wrapped up with the pacing colt Semi-finals, which went to Bettors Delight sons Arsenic and Continual Hanover.

Arsenic and driver Doug McNair held off division point leader and reigning champion St Lads Moonwalk for a neck victory in 1:51.1. Bettor Memories, Inspiration View and Perseverant also advanced to the Grassroots Championship. Scott McEneny conditions Arsenic for his wife Michelle McEneny of Waterdown, Brad Grant and Teresa Davidson of Milton, ON.

Arsenic

St Lads Moonwalk's stablemate Continual Hanover delivered a 1:51.2 effort in the other Semi-final. Moffat, ON resident Jody Jamieson drove the Jack Darling trainee to the one-half length victory over Imsporty, Sports Authority, Kokanee Seelster and Big Place. Cambridge, ON resident Darling owns and trains both St Lads Moonwalk and Continual Hanover.

Continual Hanover

The top five finishers from each Semi-final will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, Sept. 24 for the Grassroots Championships. Post time for the Grassroots Championship program, worth a total of $400,000, is 7:30 pm.

Ontario Racing

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