Harness racing combio Mike Saftic and Bob McIntosh put two freshman pacing fillies in the Grassroots winner's circle at Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday evening (September 1).
Hall of fame horseman McIntosh handed Saftic the lines to Western Empress in the fourth race and the reinsman crafted an off the pace victory for the daughter ofand Northern Empress.
Starting from Post 6 the pair sat fifth through the early going as Foolish Mind stepped out to a :26.4 opening quarter. While Foolish Mind carried on to a :57 half, Saftic sent Western Empress up the outside behind Hippie Chic.
The fillies continued in that formation through the 1:25.2 three-quarters, and Foolish Mind was still on top turning for home, but when Saftic asked Western Empress for another gear the filly responded with a sharp finishing kick that propelled her to the half-length win in a personal best 1:55.2. Keep The Dream finished second and Regal Magic was two and three-quarter lengths back in third.
McIntosh bred and owns Western Empress in partnership with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington and Larry Pollard of Harrow. In six starts the filly has four wins and two seconds for earnings of $45,625.
McIntosh and Saftic reunited in the winner’s circle following the eighth race as Pan Luis Obispo also pulled off a come from behind victory after starting from Post 8. Thedaughter rocketed across the wire to a 1:55.1 triumph, two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Nikitas Halo and Whorly Jet.
Peter Pan Stables of Pepper Pike, OH bred and owns Pan Luis Obispo, who boasts an impressive record of four wins and one second in five lifetime starts for earnings of $35,100.
In a heated battle for top spot in the Ontario Sires Stakes driver’s standings, Saftic looked to leap frog over Trevor Henry with a third Grassroots victory at Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday evening. In addition to the McIntosh trainees, Saftic also guided Racey Miss to victory for trainer Marcel Barrieau and owner-breeders Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc. of Hudson, QC.
Racey Miss hit the wire one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Keystone Maddie and Sauble Liz in 1:56.4. The daughter ofand Racey Date has an impressive record of seven wins and one third in eight freshman starts for earnings of $52,030.
The quickest mile of the six Grassroots divisions was logged by Utica Bayama in the sixth race, who sprinted home to a 1:53.4 triumph. Thedaughter and driver Yves Filion bested fan favourite Snowbird and Embassy Seelster by two lengths.
Justin Filion conditions Utica Bayama for owner-breeders Bayama Farms Inc. of Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, QC.
The other two Grassroots trophies were taken home by Ride Em Cowgirl, who halted the teletimer at 1:56 and Miss Coco Luck, who was a 1:55.2 winner.
The two-year-old pacing fillies will make their last regular season Grassroots start at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Sept. 9.
Hiawatha Horse Park hosts its last event of the 2012 Ontario Sires Stakes season on Thursday, Sept. 6 when the three-year-old pacing colts bring their high speed show to Sarnia.
by Sandra SNYDER