Harper Blue Chip might not be as speedy as his father, former trotting star Majestic Son, at this stage of his career, but trainer Mark Steacy thinks he could become one of his majestic sons. The 2-year-old Harper Blue Chip is among the 10 finalists in Saturday's C$365,000 William Wellwood Memorial at Mohawk Racetrack. The colt has won three of six races this season, including his most recent two. Last weekend, he won his Wellwood elimination in 1:56.1 and on Aug. 30 he won a division of the Champlain Stakes in 1:56. Saturday's card also includes the C$374,000 Peaceful Way Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters and the C$686,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old male trotters. Harper Blue Chip and driver Sylvain Filion will start the Wellwood from post three. Once-beaten favorite Father Patrick, who won his elim in 1:55.3 from post 10, starts from post four with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Jimmy Takter. "He's had a good week so far," said the Ontario-based Steacy, who owns Harper Blue Chip with Landmark 6 Racing Stable, David McDonald and David Reid. "One thing about him, he's always full of himself. He's a good-feeling horse and seems to enjoy life. "Father Patrick is one talented horse. Unless he makes some kind of mistake, he looks pretty much unbeatable. But it's a horserace and anything can happen. The way my horse has been getting better and better every week, I'm hoping we're not at the bottom of the well with ours. If we get a good trip anything can happen." Steacy trained Majestic Son, who was Canada's Horse of the Year in 2006. Harper Blue Chip's mother, Winning Jonlin, produced stakes-winners Medusa Blue Chip and Vibe Blue Chip and is a full-sister to stakes-winner Myolin. The family also includes two-time Horse of the Year honoree Mack Lobell and Hambletonian champion American Winner. Harper Blue Chip sold for $40,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. "He had fairly decent conformation," Steacy said. "He might have been just a little bit toe-out, but nothing drastic. I don't mind that on a trotter anyway. He had a nice rear end on him and a good shoulder and I really liked that. I could see similarities in a few respects to what his father had. "I thought this one was probably bred better than most Majestic Sons on the mother's side. That's what Majestic Son has always lacked; he's never bred these kinds of mares before. The ones I've had have all been decent horses with lesser pedigree. I figured this one has got a little more pedigree and a little more body to work with, so maybe he could be OK. After that you've just got to get lucky." Steacy saw other similarities between Harper Blue Chip and Majestic Son. "They're both very smart horses," Steacy said. "Majestic Son was just a little more than ordinary training to get to the races, but he always did it right. Just as Majestic Son did, this guy seems to be getting better with every start. I think Majestic Son showed just a little more raw speed than this one does at this point. "(Harper Blue Chip) was good gaited and didn't make very many mistakes at all. He didn't show any big speed training down, he was just kind of the same quarters all the time; nothing flashy. But after he got started to race, the speed started to come. And it's coming a little bit more with each start. You like to see a little go to them, but with a young trotter at that point I'm just as concerned about seeing a good gait." Steacy brought Harper Blue Chip along slowly and gave him his first three starts in the Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots Series. He didn't face open stakes company until the Champlain. "That's kind of my policy; I try to give them as many easy starts before I start getting in against tougher competition," Steacy said. "I always believe they're a better horse if you can get a couple easy starts into them, get them brave and make them think that they're good." Following is the field for the Wellwood Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Massive Talent, Scott Zeron, Nifty Norman; 2. Raise The Curtain, Tim Tetrick, Dustin Jones; 3. Harper Blue Chip, Sylvain Filion, Mark Steacy; 4. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 5. Il Sogno Dream, Paul Macdonell, Chris Beaver; 6. P L Hercules, Chris Christoforou, Matthew Dupuis; 7. Odds On Amethyst, Dan Daley, Daley; 8. Credit Fashion, Brian Sears, Jim Campbell; 9. Damfoolrmillionair, Randy Waples, Brad Maxwell; 10. Muscle Midas, John Campbell, Gates Brunet. SUNSHINE BEACH TO MISS LITTLE BROWN JUG Trainer Mark Steacy said Wednesday that Battle of the Brandywine winner Sunshine Beach would miss the Little Brown Jug because of a health issue. Sunshine Beach, ranked third in the current Road to the Little Brown Jug Top 10, has won five of 12 races and $494,885 for owners Hudson Standardbred Stable, Conrad Leber and Diane Bertrand. He handed Captaintreacherous his only loss this year with a world-record-equaling 1:47.4 mile in the Battle of the Brandywine on Aug. 17 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He was eighth against older horses on Aug. 31 at Mohawk and second to Vegas Vacation in a division of the Simcoe Stakes last weekend at Mohawk. The Little Brown Jug, the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown, is Sept. 19 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. "We made the call last night," Steacy said. "We thought hard about it because we really wanted to go. We just felt it was too much for him. I wouldn't say he's been sick, but his blood has been a little low the last week or two; I think he was just a little anemic for the last two races. "I just don't think I can get him healthy enough to race in the Jug and then Lexington and the Breeders Crown. I'd like to win the Little Brown Jug as much as anybody, but we have to put the horse before ourselves. Something had to give and I thought I'd take an extra week to make sure he's real healthy for Lexington." Vegas Vacation, who won his Simcoe division in a stakes-record 1:48.3, is the No. 1-ranked horse in the Road to the Little Brown Jug ratings. Sunshine Beach, who led the Simcoe from the start until yielding to Vegas Vacation in the stretch, has won six of 18 career races and earned $531,565. "After he came back from Pocono, I think it did take just a touch out of him," Steacy said. "That said, I thought he raced really good in the Simcoe. I think if we can get him back to 100 percent, like he was, he's going to race that much better. You've got to be at your peak for sure." by Ken Weingartner for USTA
INNISFIL, ON — Georgian Downs regular Daniel Clements will steer four homebred trotting colts in Grassroots action on Tuesday, July 30. The first freshman out of the barn for Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge is P L Hombre, who makes his first lifetime start from Post 1 in the fourth $10,000 Grassroots division. The son of Ken Warkentin and Avie Hanover qualified at Mohawk Racetrack on July 17 and 24 in preparation for Tuesday’s outing. Unlike his stablemate, P L Halfway already has two Grassroots starts under his belt. The son of Angus Hall and P L Blue Opal finished fifth in the June 29 season opener at Kawartha Downs and logged a third in the July 15 contest at Mohawk Racetrack. Clements will steer P L Halfway from Post 7 in the sixth race. P L Hercules will also be handicapped by an outside position Tuesday, landing Post 8 in the ninth race. Fortunately the Majestic Son gelding has some experience with the outside of the racetrack, recording a third-place result from Post 10 in the July 15 Grassroots event. P L Hercules is the first foal from P L Corina, whose mother is the $543,891 winner Corinas Mission. Uxbridge resident Clements will get his final ride around the Georgian Downs oval behind P L Houdini. The son of Kadabra and Broadway Gal also had Post 10 in the July 15 event and will be looking to improve on his seventh-place result from Post 5 in the tenth race. In addition to handling driving duties, Clements also trains P L Houdini and P L Halfway, while Matthew Dupuis conditions P L Hercules and P L Hombre. The first race gets under way at 7:25 pm on Tuesday, July 30, with the two-year-old trotting colts showing off their skills in Races 2 through 7 and 9 through 11. For complete entries Sandra Snyder
FRASERVILLE, ON — Veteran reinsman Steve Condren piloted three sophomore trotting fillies to Grassroots victory at Kawartha Downs on Saturday, July 20. After being absent from the Ontario Sires Stakes rankings while he battled cancer in 2011 and 2012, the Milton resident is back on familiar ground this season, currently hovering just below the top ten with six wins, four seconds and six thirds through 31 Ontario Sires Stakes starts. On Saturday Condren made his first appearance in the Kawartha Downs’ winner’s circle with fan favourite Magic Peach. The Kadabra daughter sailed home 10 lengths ahead of Ms Warkentin and Tymal Tessa, stopping the clock at 1:58 for trainer Matthew Dupuis and owners LLK Stable and Old Aultsville Stable of Mississauga, and Douglas Millard of Woodstock. The win was the filly’s first on the provincial circuit. One race later Condren was back in front of the Kawartha Downs fans with Dupuis trainee Neytiri, who was making just her second lifetime start. Condren employed a come from behind strategy with the Muscle Mass daughter, circling out three-wide at the three-quarter pole to catch the leaders, and then powering home to a three and one-half length win in 2:00. Favourite Oaklea Veronica settled for second and P C Momma Mia was third. Dupuis conditions Neytiri for Andrew Demetrious of Campbellville. Wrapping up the Grassroots show in the seventh $12,857 division Condren and Speedy Kim Mindale stalked pacesetter Random Margin before slipping by in the stretch and trotting home to a half-length victory in a personal best 1:57.3. Fan favourite Fathers Amiga finished third for owners Patricia Wall of Omemee and James Patrick Wall of Youngs Point. Condren piloted Speedy Kim Mindale to the victory for owner-trainer Susanne Kerwood of Rockwood. The win was the Striking Sahbra daughter’s first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. The other Grassroots divisions were captured by Hetties Honey (1:58.2);Twin B Alibi (2:00); Muscle Magic (1:58.4); and Tymal Viva (1:58.1). The three-year-old trotting fillies make their third Grassroots start at Sudbury Downs on Aug. 11. Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Kawartha Downs on Saturday, Aug. 24 with the third Grassroots event for the two-year-old pacing colts. For complete results. For up to date point standings, race replays, and more. by Sandra Snyder
When the two-year-old trotting colts line up behind the Georgian Downs starting gate on Tuesday, Sept. 25 the pressure will be on local colt Its Payday Friday. With just one Gold Series under his belt, Its Payday Friday is currently 30 points short of the top 10 and landing a berth in the season ending Super Final.