Harness racing driver Trevor Ritchie made the trip to Hanover Raceway on Saturday evening to steer seven two-year-old trotting fillies in Grassroots action and the trotting specialist landed three of them in the winner's circle.
Lining up at Post 3 with Stormont Hotplate in the fourth $24,000 Grassroots division, Ritchie settled the filly on to the rail in mid-pack and waited until the top of the stretch to shift into over drive. Stormont Hotplate responded with a sizzling finishing kick that saw her hit the wire half a length in front of Swishnflick and one length ahead of favourite Cairo, stopping the teletimer at 2:04.2.
Ritchie engineered the win for trainer Kevin Benn and owner-breeder Stormont Meadows of Long Sault. The daughter ofand Grill Now is a half-sister to $246,710 winner Stormont Welldone and had made just one start prior to Saturday's Grassroots test, logging a fifth-place finish in an overnight event at Kawartha Downs on July 14.
Ritchie's second winning steer came just one race later, a commanding 2:01.3 gate-to-wire effort aboard Pegasus One. I Am Special, owned by trainer Roger Gebhardt of Hanover and Jesse Gebhardt of Port Elgin, finished two lengths behind the leader in second, with Juliet hot on her heels in third.
Saturday's test was the first lifetime start for Pegasus One, adaughter owned by trainer Chance Stewart and Audrey Dumont of Brinston. The filly was a $6,000 purchase from last fall's Canadian Yearling Sale.
Acton resident Ritchie completed the driving hat trick with a 2:02 score behind Tymal Textme in the tenth race. Starting from Post 5 the pair controlled the tempo through the entire race, hitting the wire two and three-quarter lengths ahead of favourite Ballade in 2:02. Tracy Drummond was eight and one-quarter lengths back in third.
Blackstock resident William James trains themiss for his partners Donald Smith and Donna Parker of Hampton. The filly was a $10,000 acquisition out of last fall's Forest City Yearling Sale and finished fourth in the July 14 contest at Kawartha Downs that Stormont Hotplate also used as her prep for Saturday's Grassroots event.
Paul Walker finished fourth in the tenth race with his trainee Run The World, well behind Tymal Textme, but the Owen Sound resident picked up a win in the last Grassroots division with John Bax trainee Random Majority.
Starting from Post 6 Walker settled Random Majority onto the rail behind early pacesetter Peeling Out and was content to watch that filly roll through fractions of :29.3, 1:00.3 and 1:31.1. Around the final turn Walker sent his mount after the leader and Random Majority sprinted through the final stage of the race to a three-quarter length victory in 2:01.2, the quickest mile of the eight Grassroots divisions.
Peeling Out settled for second and High Musclemass rounded out the top three.
Bax's Parkhill Stud Farm and his son Matthew Bax, both of Peterborough, share ownership of Random Majority. Thedaughter was the only winner from the July 5 Grassroots season opener at Kawartha Downs to pick up a second trophy and currently sits atop the division standings. The three-quarter sister to $710,353 winner Caesar was an $11,000 purchase from the Forest City Yearling Sale last October.
The other Grassroots trophies went home with Warrawee Olay in 2:06.3; Katla in 2:03.2; Kascara Rosain 2:05.1; and Twin B Alibi in 2:04.1.
The two-year-old trotting fillies return to Grassroots action on July 29 at Dresden Raceway,while Hanover hosts its third Grassroots event of the 2012 season on Thursday, Aug. 23 for the exciting two-year-old pacing fillies.