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For the second straight year Dresden Raceway's annual Canada Day celebrations will feature some of Ontario's most talented three-year-old trotting fillies as the half-mile oval hosts five $18,000 Grassroots divisions. "People really look forward to the OSS," said Dresden Agricultural Society President Lucille Laprise. "And for them to come on Canada Day makes it that much more special." The trotting fillies will kick things off at 1:30 pm on Friday, July 1 and will also be featured in Races 2, 3, 5, and 7. In addition to the on-track excitement Dresden fans will enjoy a variety of give-aways, the Ontario Sires Stakes "Be A Winner" contest and the raceway's traditional eight foot long Canada Day cake. "We're encouraging people to wear their red of course, and we'll have our cake and our great give-aways - we've got red and white t-shirts that we're giving away," added Laprise. "And the drivers are going to be doing some tossing of the OSS t-shirts." Fans have an opportunity to win even more OSS apparel by entering the "Be A Winner" contest. Each finalist receives an Ontario Sires Stakes shirt, ball cap and lanyard badge, along with a $15 win-place-show wager on their selected horse, while the grand prize winner will take home a trophy, an official OSS jacket and golf shirt, a winner's circle photo with their chosen horse, and a $50 wagering voucher. Among the trotting fillies hoping to take home an OSS trophy is locally-owned True Muscle. The Muscle Mass daughter is owned by Randy Zhok of Dover Centre, ON and will benefit from Post 1 in the second Grassroots division. True Muscle scored her first lifetime win in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on June 14, circling the seven-eighths mile oval in 1:57.1. She heads into Friday's test off a third-place finish in the Alliance Series Final at Georgian Downs on June 19. Keith Jones of Barrie, ON conditions True Muscle and the winner of $19,040 will be driven by the Ontario Sires Stakes program's leading reinsman, Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON. "We're quite grateful for the community support, and for all the great horses that come to race here in Dresden, and the drivers and the trainers and everybody," said Laprise. Dresden Raceway's Canada Day program gets under way at 1:30 pm, with the three-year-old trotting fillies featured in Races 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. In addition to the Grassroots battles, contests, give-aways and cake, the final race of the afternoon will introduce fans to Racing Under Saddle (RUS), capping off another memorable Canada Day celebration at the Dresden oval. "We're hoping to have great weather and great horses and great fans and a great Canada Day," summed up Larprise. "You can't ask for any better." ched: True Muscle, pictured in her June 14 Grassroots win, will be hoping to earn a second trophy for owner Randy Zhok of Dover Centre when the Ontario Sires Stakes program stops at Dresden Raceway on Canada Day. (New Image Media photo) From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

JUNE 24, 2015 - Lets Be Honest battled in the Gold Series as a two-year-old, but Rockwood, ON resident Benoit Baillargeon decided to start the trotter in the Grassroots this season and the decision proved a wise one as the harness racing gelding captured his first Ontario Sires Stakes trophy at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday. Lets Be Honest and driver Mario Baillargeon of Milton, ON benefitted from Post 1 in the fifth Grassroots division and were able to sit behind pacesetter A Little More Love through fractions of :29.3, :59.4 and 1:29.4 before sneaking up the passing lane to a narrow victory. A Little More Love settled for second in the 2:00.2 mile, with Jayport All Muscle completing the top three. "He's coming along real nice," said trainer Baillargeon after the race. "He's got a little bit of talent, let's put it that way. I don't know if he'll be able to step back up to the Gold, we'll see as we go." The horseman conditions Lets Be Honest for Claude Gendreau Stb. Inc. of Buffalo Grove, IL. Through eight starts this year Lets Be Honest has tallied two wins, two seconds and two thirds for earnings of $20,318. Since finishing sixth in the Grassroots season opener on June 4, the Deweycheatumnhowe son has two wins and a third, all over Mohawk Racetrack. "So far he's done what we ask him to do," noted Baillargeon. "He's getting better every start." Baillargeon also picked up a runner-up cheque with Numbers Game in the fourth $18,000 division, while Century Behemoth made a break and finished sixth in the sixth heat. "I've got three or four (3-year-old trotting colts), they're mostly all Grassroots right now," added the trainer. "Hopefully one will step up to the Gold, but right now it's still too early." Unlike Lets Be Honest, Its Huw You Know was a regular on the Grassroots scene last year and the Holiday Road gelding picked up his second ever Grassroots trophy in the first division on Wednesday. Fan favourites Its Huw You Know and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON led from start to finish, sailing under the wire three and three-quarter lengths ahead of P L Intimidator and Mandeville. The 2:00.2 clocking shaved one-fifth of a second off the gelding's personal best. Conditioned by Keith Jones of Midland, ON for Douglas McCarthy of Holland Landing, ON, Its Huw You Know had been winless through eight starts prior to Wednesday's outing. The second Grassroots division also featured a tight finish as favourite Call Me Richard stuck a neck in front of pacesetter New Muscle AS at the wire. South Star finished third in the 1:58.2 mile. Guelph, ON resident Paul MacDonell engineered Call Me Richard's first sophomore victory for trainer Clare Bradshaw of Simcoe, ON and owner Andrea Arthur of Scotland, ON. At two the Muscle Mass colt was a three-time winner in the Grassroots program. Buzz scored his first ever victory in the third division, trotting home three and one-quarter lengths ahead of Easton Road and Innkeeper in 2:01.3. Sylvain Filion made his second appearance in the Grassroots winner's circle, guiding the Kadabra gelding home for trainer Luc Blais of Lochaber Ouest, QC and owner Determination of Montreal, QC. Top Dollar earned his second straight Grassroots victory with an impressive come-from-behind effort in the fourth split. Another son of Deweycheatumnhowe, Top Dollar sprinted from fifth at the top of the stretch to a three length victory over Baillargeon starter Numbers Game and Molon Lave, halting the teletimer at 2:00.1. Guelph, ON reinsman James MacDonald piloted Top Dollar to his third lifetime victory for trainer Ann Karin Larsen of Norwood, ON and her partners Steve Organ of Aurora, ON and Stig Westrum and Tor Jan Larsen of Norwood. Arthur, ON horseman Trevor Henry captured the sixth Grassroots trophy with lightly rated Delcrest Massy. The pair powered down the stretch to a 1:58.2 win over Tswalu and Irish Scotch. Henry was in the race bike on behalf of trainer Victor Puddy of Mountain, ON and owner Keith Cassell of Smiths Falls, ON. The evening's final trophy went home with Windsor, ON resident Bob McIntosh, who will add it to the hardware Kadabrasnewrecruit earned in the Grassroots season opener. Driver Randy Waples of Milton, ON fired the Kadabra gelding straight to the front and the heavy favourites led through all stations on their way to a 1:59 victory. Ontheroad De Vie and Rebel Rebel rounded out the top three. McIntosh owns and trains Kadabrasnewrecruit, who boasts a record of two wins and two seconds in four sophomore starts for earnings of $27,250. After their second Grassroots victories, Top Dollar and Kadabrasnewrecruit share top spot in the standings with 100 points and will have an opportunity to add to their tally at Mohawk Racetrack on July 3. Rather than head to Mohawk, some of the three-year-old trotting colts may choose to return to Grand River Raceway when the Elora oval hosts the third Gold Series leg for the division on Wednesday, July 15. Ontario Horse Racing

Three trotters from the sophomore class of 2010 have come online with their initial crops this year; Muscle Massive is standing at Hanover, Lucky Chucky at Winbak in New York and Holiday Road in Ontario. Pilgrim’s Taj is a fourth, but he only spent one year in Canada, after which he was relocated to Ohio and ultimately exported to Finland. That being the case, we’ll look at the first three. To this point restricted races have provided the only basis for judging them, but the open portion of the season commences this week with elimination rounds for the Peter Haughton and Merrie Annabelle at the Meadowlands as well as several splits of the Arden at The Meadows. Much of the focus has been on Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky, beneficiaries of generous state bred programs who finished one-two in the Hambletonion. The former was a $450,000 yearling who was lightly raced at two but managed to win the Hambletonion as well as the Dancer at three, while Chucky was a precocious freshman, showing wins in the Valley Victory, Matron, ISS and Bluegrass. He was the 3/2 favorite in the Hambletonion and appeared on his way to victory when 6/1 Muscle Massive, piloted by Ron Pierce, ruined his day. Regardless, Chucky did win the Canadian Trotting Classic and Colonial at three, and he earned more money than Muscle Massive both years. Both sold close to seventy yearlings last year, with Chucky’s brood averaging quite a bit more. Both have seen their stud fees fluctuate before their first crops hit the track. Muscle Massive started at $10,000, only to have his fee cut to $7,500 and $6,000 in successive years. Cantab Hall, Donato Hanover, Andover Hall and Explosive Matter all command higher fees than their younger stablemate at Hanover. Chucky, on the other hand, started at $7,500 in New York, was dropped to $5,000 during a year spent in Pennsylvania, and came back up to $7,500 when he returned to Winbak, where nineteen-year-old Muscles Yankee stands for $2,500 more. Muscle Massive has benefited from the success of his older brother, Muscle Mass, sire of O’Brien winner Riveting Rosie and the successful OSS colt Muscle Matters. Thus far Muscle Massive has given us some outstanding fillies. Gatka Hanover, a big rugged gal out of the Conway Hall mare Girlie Tough, from the Ron Burke barn, has left many wondering where her ceiling is. Gatka rolled through a couple of baby races and has now chalked up three wins in the PA Sire Stakes, one each at The Meadows, Pocono and Harrah’s. Matt Kakaley steered her to an effortless four length win in 1:57 in her latest. She leaves from the five for Matt K in Friday’s first Merrie Annabelle elimination. Gatka takes on Lucky Chucky’s daughter, Lock Down Lindy, who drew plenty of attention with a very strong first over win in a Merrie Annabelle Prep at the Meadowlands Friday for Scott Zeron and Tony Alagna. Another Muscle Massive star in the making is Jimmy Takter’s Speak To Me, an $80,000 Harness Breeders purchase by Myron Bell. She is also three-for three in the PA Sire Stakes and has trotted in 1:55. Last time out, in a $57,000 sire stakes division at Harrah’s, Speak To Me gapped the field by ten on her way to an easy win at a stingy 1/5 price. Unfortunately this filly was not staked to the Merrie Annabelle and will be missing from the fray on Friday night. Blessings Counted is another talented filly by Muscle Massive. She was second to Speak To Me in a PASS race at The Meadows a couple of weeks ago and won a $57,000 race at Harrah’s in her latest start. She is not eligible to the Merrie Annabelle but is entered in a split of the Arden at The Meadows on Friday. Missive and Youth Gone Wild, both winners in the Stallion Series, will also race in the Arden. Jersey Strong, a talented filly with a win in the PA All Stars and a second in the PASS, isn’t entered at The Meadowlands or The Meadows on Friday. The top colt by Muscle Massive is Ake Svanstedt’s Lima Pride, who beat Jimmy Takter’s 1/9 favorite The Bank in a split of the Hickory Pride when The Bank went on a run at the three-quarters. Lima Pride, a $25,000 yearling purchase, was not nominated to the Peter Haughton. The priciest freshman trotter by any first crop stallion is Mr Lucky Luke, a $450,000 Lucky Chucky half- brother to Muscle Massive, Muscle Mass and 2010 Merrie Annabelle winner, Thatsnotmyname. The Cancelliere brothers, of Detour Hanover fame, purchased him at Lexington in the fall. He has yet to make a pari-mutuel start; let’s hope he generates a better ROI than Detour has. As for the Lucky Chucky colts and fillies that have raced, there is no eye popping Gatka Hanover out there, but there are plenty of good ones. I already mentioned Merrie Annabelle candidate Lock Down Lindy, who possesses the same rugged demeanor as Gatka. She is a half-sister to 2006 HOY in Canada, Majestic Son. He has sired Harper Blue Chip, Murmur Hanover and Charmed Life. Ray Schnittker has Gabe The Bear Dean, a $105,000 Harness Breeders buy, who has an impressive wire-to wire five length win in the NYSS at Buffalo. Jonas Czernyson has a few Lucky Chucky youngsters in his barn and he’s high on all of them. At the end of June Hot Start, a half-sister to Religulous, won a $27,000 NYSS split at Vernon Downs for Corey Callahan. Next time out, at Tioga, she cut most of the mile from the outside post only to lose to paternal sister My Twisted Sister, from the Paul Kelley barn. Hot Start is entered in the second Merrie Annabelle elimination on Friday. Nunkeri is another very promising Lucky Chucky filly from the Czernyson barn. She finished second to the Muscle Hill filly Josie’s Joy at the Meadowlands the other night, race timed in 1:57.2 as the second choice. Nunkeri won her start previous to that one, a $28,000 NYSS division at Tioga. George Ducharme’s sharp looking Conway Hall filly, Concentration, pressured her all the way home in a 1:59.3 mile. On the male side Mal and Janet Burroughs’ Mambo Blue Chip, a $40,000 Harness Breeders buy, won a $28,000 split of the NYSS in 1:57.2 at Tioga last time out. Holiday Road, a $115,000 yearling who is a full brother to Ken Warkentin, was lightly raced, making only ten lifetime stars. While staying on the track was an issue, speed wasn’t; he won the Peter Haughton at two and a split of the Dancer at three. He opened his stallion career for $4,500 at Seelster Farms and now stands for $3,500. This week the Holiday Roads started to turn heads and earn respect at Mohawk as they performed admirably on the various OSS platforms. John Bax’s Hemi Seelster was long and tough winning a Grassroots division in 1:58.4 at 2/1. It was noteworthy that the gelding engaged in a head to head battle the length of the stretch with Pilgrim’s Joy, a son of first crop stallion Pilgrim’s Taj. Tony Alagna’s filly Gee O’Keeffe logged a very strong second in a $53,000 OSS Gold leg at Mohawk for Jody Jamieson, losing a length to the highly regarded Kadabra filly Juanita’s Fury. And Keith Jones’ gelding, It’s Huw You Know, was an upset Grassroots winner in 2:00.3 on Monday at 75/1, paying $159.60. And Ontheroad De Vie made a very impressive brush on the back as he came from the 10 post to finish second for Rick Zeron in a Grassroots leg. The Holiday Roads are looking good. Rock N Roll Heaven and Sportswriter are lighting it up in the freshman pacing division, but it’s expected that the trotters will take a little longer to get their bearings and hit their stride. Muscle Massive, Lucky Chucky and Holiday Road will all be prospering when they do. by Joe FitzGerald, for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/

Harness racing trainer/driver Keith Jones has officially announced the retirement of 13-year-old trotter Abbey Road C, a career winner of $2,043,632. The son of Incredible Abe-Jayport Whimsy was purchased as a yearling for $11,000 by owner, Mary Charlton and was conditioned by Jones throughout his entire career.

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