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OCTOBER 10, 2015 - Chris Christoforou missed almost two months of the Ontario Sires Stakes season with a broken collarbone, but standing in the Woodbine Racetrack winner's circle Saturday following the first of what would be three Super Final victories the harness racing driver wasted no time lamenting his lost opportunities. "I was thinking today I missed two months, pretty well the whole Sires Stakes season, the meat of it anyway, and ended up with seven drives in the Super Finals, so there's no complaints from me, that's for sure," reflected Christoforou. "And I had a bit of luck so far, so hopefully it continues." Christoforou's first victory came with two-year-old pacing colt Betting Line, who was sent off the favourite from Post 5 and controlled the pace from start to finish, reeling off fractions of :27.1, :56.1 and 1:25 on the way to a 1:52 victory. Division point leader Nvestment Bluechip overcame Post 10 to finish second by two and one-half lengths, while Voracity was six lengths back in third. "He's a top notch colt, that's for sure," said Christoforou. "He's not just a Sires Stakes colt; he's a top flight colt that can go with anybody on the right day." In addition to his Super Final victory, Betting Line captured two Gold divisions, his Metro Pace Elimination and a division of the Champlain Stakes for a freshman bank roll of $481,258. Trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge conditions the Bettor's Delight son for her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Christine Calhoun of Chatham and Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON. Betting Line For his second Super Final win Christoforou teamed up with Coleman trainee Reverend Hanover. Also sent off as the heavy favourites, the duo rolled through fractions of :26, :54.2 and 1:22.2 on their way to a 1:50.1 defense of the Super Final title they earned last season. Moonwriter and Physicallyinclined were two and one-quarter lengths back in second and third. "Tonight, that's the best he's been yet," said Coleman of three-year-old pacing colt Reverend Hanover. "Chris (Christoforou) just told me that." Coleman conditions Reverend Hanover for West Wins Stable, Steve Calhoun of Chatham and Anthony Beaton of Waterdown, ON. The winner of $496,976 is the son of Coleman and Calhoun's former racehorse Sportswriter and is expected to be among the Ontario Sires Stakes stars taking on North America's best in next weekend's Breeders Crown Eliminations at Woodbine. "I'm pretty sure as long as everything comes out of the race good we're going give him a shot at the Crown," said Coleman. "I didn't talk with Steve (Calhoun) and Ross (Warriner) yet, but I'm thinking that's going to be our game plan, as long as Reverend agrees." Reverend Hanover To cap off his evening, Christoforou guided three-year-old trotting colt Dont Rush to a defense of his 2014 Super Final title. Like Betting Line and Reverend Hanover, Dont Rush was sent off the favourite and took early command of the race, laying down fractions of :27.3, :57.2 and 1:26.1 before hitting the wire one and one-quarter lengths on top in 1:55.1.Rubber Duck and Platoon Seelster completed the top three. Christoforou engineered the win for trainer Dustin Jones of Waterdown and Greg Judson of Athens, ON, who share ownership of the Infinitif colt. "He's got a special spot in my heart this little horse, he tries so hard," admitted Christoforou. "He's not the biggest horse and he gives me everything every time, so it was nice for him, and for Dustin, who's been a supporter of mine for the last couple of years, and we've done really well together. "Like I said, missing most of the Sires Stakes season, it was a tough blow, but it ended up good," added the reinsman. "To win three Super Finals and miss most of the year is more than anybody could ever hope for." Dont Rush Driver Randy Waples of Milton, trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, ON also made multiple trips to the Super Final winner's circle. Waples captured the first two Super Final titles, guiding two-year-old pacing filly L A Delight to victory for McIntosh and his partners C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington. The Bettor's Delight daughter hit the wire in an Ontario Sires Stakes record equalling 1:51.2, besting Twin B Thong and Thisorthat Hanover by four lengths. L A Delight The driver was back in the winner's circle one race later with two-year-old trotting filly Caprice Hill, who romped to a two length win in 1:56.4 over Emoticon Hanover and Silky Flashy Nfast. Manalapan, NJ resident Tony Alagna conditions the daughter of Kadabra for Tom Hill of Hamilton, ON. Caprice Hill Hall of Fame horseman McIntosh scored his second Super Final victory with two-year-old trotting colt Tony Soprano, who delivered an impressive 1:55.1 effort in rein to John Campbell. The son of Kadabra cruised home two and three-quarter lengths ahead of Will Take Charge and Deweylovernleaver. McIntosh shares ownership of Tony Soprano with Mardon Stables of Loretto, Paradox Farm Inc. of Caledon East and Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON. Tony Soprano Trainer Gregg McNair got his Super Final victories with three-year-old trotting filly Second Sister and three-year-old pacing filly Solar Sister. Second Sister and driver Rick Zeron of Oakville, ON scored a 1:55.3 upset in the trotting filly title bout, reeling in Elegant Serenity at the wire. Amoureuse Hanover was three and one-half lengths back in third. McNair conditions Second Sister for Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, MI, who had never won a Gold Series trophy before the Deweycheatumnhowe daughter captured her division at Mohawk on Sept. 29. The filly's victory capped off a best-ever year in the Ontario Sires Stakes program for Hawks, whose Muscles For Life captured the two-year-old trotting colt Grassroots title at Mohawk on Sept. 26. In rein to Doug McNair of Guelph, Solar Sister also used a late burst of speed to capture the pacing filly title, edging out her stablemate Glamour Seelster and pacesetter Tessa Seelster for the 1:51.1 victory. McNair conditions Solar Sister for owner-breeders David Willmot of King City and Clay Harland Horner of Toronto, ON. The victory boosted the Mach Three daughter's earnings to $732,340. Solar Sister Saturday's $2 million Super Final battles wrapped up the 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes season, which saw two provincial speed records lowered, two repeat Super Final champions crowned, and Grassroots and Gold Series battles waged at 12 different racetracks across the province. Ontario Horse Racing

L A Delight’s caretaker has looked after 11 horses and three generations of a harness racing royal Ontario equine family going back to a Camluck-sired matriarch named Los Angeles. Three generations, 11 horses, more than $4.1 million in earnings and one common denominator — Nicole Pedden-MacQuarrie has groomed virtually every horse from a royal equine family produced by the Bob McIntosh Stables going back to an Ontario Sired matriarch named Los Angeles. The latest star from that talented clan is Los Angeles’ granddaughter L A Delight, a winner of 10 of 11 races and $579,335 that will start from post six Saturday (Oct. 10) in the $250,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final for two-year-old pacing fillies at Woodbine Racetrack. It is one of eight Super Finals on the card that serve as the de facto provincial championships (first race post time is 7:25 p.m.) “This is three generations and (Pedden-MacQuarrie) treats them like her own. She’s done a great job,” said Al McIntosh, L A Delight’s part-owner and part-breeder, the cousin of the filly’s trainer, co-owner and co-breeder Bob McIntosh of LaSalle, ON, who also shares her with the C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH. Eighteen years ago, Pedden-MacQuarrie graduated from high school and was supposed to return to a summer job working for trainer Jim Ainsworth before heading off to post-secondary school. She landed at the McIntosh Stables instead. “The first year I started there I got the horses nobody wanted and I had a little homebred that made over $100,000 named McGetty,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said. Before long she was vowing to stay just five years. Good thing she reconsidered. After looking after stars such as Woodrow Wilson winner Richess Hanover ($557,537), a Camluck filly named Los Angeles landed in her lap in year six. “I wasn’t the first person that had her in the stall. Actually, she was in a couple of other people’s hands before I got her. Her first start I remember her making a break. It was in Elmira. She had tied up and I thought, ‘What kind of a project do we have here?’ But Bob’s got a pretty good program with tie-up fillies and he just made some changes, worked on her and she came right around. “That mare was just the biggest sweetheart of all of them. She never gave you any kind of attitude in the barn,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said of Los Angeles, who earned $289,213 in 2003 and 2004 before being bred. So began a beautiful relationship. Along the way, Pedden-MacQuarrie also met her husband, Mark MacQuarrie at Windsor Raceway. MacQuarrie has worked as an assistant trainer for Bob McIntosh for some eight years. Today, all three horses Pedden-MacQuarrie looks after for McIntosh are members of Los Angeles’ prolific family, including L A Delight, a two-year-old grandson named New Talent ($64,826) and the family’s superstar, 2012 Pepsi North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud, who has earned just shy of $2 million. Thinking Out Loud, now six and still racing, is Los Angeles’ son. “He’s my boy,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said. “He was pretty exceptional right from day one. He had a lot of go. It’s just too bad he had a bone bruise as a two-year-old and we had to shut him down, but he did exceptionally well as a three-year-old… He’s pretty confident in himself, which is a good thing. He’s just always done everything right.” Pedden-MacQuarrie was five months pregnant with her son, Benjamin MacQuarrie, when Randy Waples drove Thinking Out Loud to victory in the NA Cup. “I was up on the track and I thought I was in the way of the cameras. I was screaming for him before he hit the wire. I remember jumping six feet off the ground. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped that high. That was quite the thrill,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said. Bob has said L A Delight — a winner of all four of her OSS events, as well as the $227,500 final of the She’s A Great Lady at Mohawk — turned out to be a bit of a surprise. It explains why he didn’t keep her eligible to the Breeders Crown. Pedden-MacQuarrie said she knew L A Delight was special from the start. “He was really high on a couple of other fillies and she wasn’t really strong finishing when it came time to qualifying. Bob knew she was nice and he really liked her, but she just wasn’t the standout he was looking for.” Until she hit the track. “When she’s at the track, she knows what she’s there for. She’s all business when she’s there. As soon as you take her in the paddock, she is a different horse. She has the desire to win,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said. “As I said to Bob, ‘It’s been an exceptionally nice family, but her desire is like no other.’” L A Delight is a Bettor's Delight filly out of Los Angeles’ daughter West Of L A, who earned $257,150 before being bred. Pedden-MacQuarrie looked after West Of L A, as well, of course, as well as her sister You See L A ($249,339), the dam of New Talent. From that same family, the groom also has cared for L A Confidential ($6,400), See You L A ($3,160), West Coast Rocker ($34,478) and Somewhere in L A ($698,595). The only one she didn’t look after was LA Rockstar, who came along the year Pedden-MacQuarrie was on maternity leave. Is it a coincidence LA Rockstar is the only horse in the family not to earn a penny on the racetrack? “Everyone in the family I can say has been pretty smart and they’ve all been pretty easy on themselves. It’s a good family,” Pedden-MacQuarrie said. But L A Delight might one day rival Thinking Out Loud for superstar status. “She’s so smart, probably too smart for her own good,” said Pedden-MacQuarrie, who knows a thing or two about what makes this outstanding equine family tick. Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing

DATE, 2015 - Harness racing trainer Dave Menary will arrive at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday evening with eight Super Final contenders, including two division point leaders, but the Cambridge, ON resident says his starters have their work cut out for them in the Ontario Sires Stakes program's $2 million season finale. "When the sheet came out, you know Free Show drawing the 10-hole, and Nvestment drawing the 10-hole, it was just a heart-breaker," said Menary of the post position results for his top two-year-old pacing filly Free Show and two-year-old pacing colt division leader Nvestment Bluechip. "Nvestment he's just risen to the occasion. He's been my favourite colt since November and he's kind of lived up to it," said the trainer, whose Ontario Sires Stakes starters have earned a program leading $802,700 this season. "His last start -- to take a lifetime mark and beat Betting Line fair and square -- we raced the whole way, we were out there to race, and we're going to be out there to race again Saturday night. We're just going to have to overcome our post." In four regular season Gold Series starts Nvestment Bluechip posted three wins and one fourth to finish with 158 points. The son of Shadow Play and Hazes Zure Bet also won his Champlain Stakes division at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 12 and has earned $219,283 for owners Menary Racing Inc. of Rockton, Michael Guerriero of Brampton, Denis Breton of Welland and Thomas Kyron of Toronto, ON. The colt, a $40,000 purchase from the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, heads into Saturday's fifth race off a 1:51.1 personal best in the last Gold Leg of the season. His rivals in the two-year-old pacing colt division will line up in the order they finished in the point standings with Semi Automatic at Post 3, Voracity at Post 4, and Betting Line at Post 5. "I think the horse is as good right now as he's been all year, but I think it's the worst post he's ever had, so we'll see how those two factors together work out," said Menary, who will entrust the colt to regular reinsman Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON. "We're going out there to win, so he's going to have to work pretty hard from the 10-hole, and we'll see how that pans out." In addition to Free Show, Menary will harness two other hopefuls in the freshman pacing filly season finale, which will be the first $250,000 Super Final to go postward on Saturday. Heavenly Hill and New Jersey-based driver Tim Tetrick landed Post 4, Maniana and Guelph, ON resident James MacDonald will start from Post 9, while Free Show and Jamieson will be handicapped by the outside Post 10. Bred and owned by Tom Hill of Hamilton, ON, Heavenly Hill was a winner in the Aug. 15 Gold Leg at Georgian Downs and the Art Colony daughter heads into Saturday's test off a runner-up effort at Mohawk on Sept. 28. Unlike her stablemates, Maniana did not win a regular season Gold division, but Menary says the Sportswriter filly has been in the picture in most of her starts. William Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, FL owns Maniana, who was a $12,000 acquisition from last November's Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Free Show led her stablemates in the division standings, finishing third with one win, one second and three thirds for a total of 137 points, and the Badlands Hanover daughter was also victorious in her elimination and the final of the Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway. Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA acquired the winner of $205,773 from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $14,000 and Menary says she may be the fastest two-year-old in Ontario in a sprint away from the starting gate. "I don't think there's any two-year-old colt or filly that can out leave her," attested the horseman. "I didn't want to have to try to prove it from the 10-hole, but she can absolutely follow the car, and we've done that all year, she's been so handy. You can follow the car out of there, and leave any kind of quarter you want to leave with her, and she'll just come right back to you." Division heavyweights Thatsoveryverynice, L A Delight and Twin B Thong will make their bid for the Super Final crown from Posts 5, 6, and 8, respectively, in the second race. Two-year-old trotting filly One Too Many makes her first start out of the Menary barn in Saturday's Super Final and the trainer says he and his staff have been tinkering with the young trotter's equipment in an effort to maximize her raw speed. "She's a filly that's made a good impression on me so far. Anthony MacDonald did a very good job with her all year," said the trainer. "The filly is maybe just a step behind the best fillies, but she has a very quick turn of foot. I think I've made changes that have helped her, and hopefully they don't backfire." Guelph, ON resident Anthony MacDonald will steer One Too Many from Post 2 in Saturday's third race on behalf of Rene Allard of Milford, PA, who purchased the Manofmanymissions daughter from the 2014 Canadian Yearling Sale for $14,000. Aside from Devils Advocate, who will start from Post 3, the big names in the freshman trotting filly division will be loaded on the outside of the starting gate. Division leader Caprice Hill gets Post 7, Emoticon Hanover will start from Post 8 and Could It Be Magic has Post 9. Menary's final group of starters will go postward in the seventh race, when the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will wage the last Ontario Sires Stakes battle of their careers. Last season's Super Final champion Reverend Hanover and North America Cup Consolation winner Physicallyinclined are expected to give fans another epic battle from Posts 7 and 4, respectively, but Menary is hoping his trio can earn their share of the $250,000. "I think every colt in the race is a step behind the best two colts, so the three that I have in there, I would like to see them all get a piece of the pie, and the bigger the better," said the trainer. "This is supposed to be the glamour boy division for Ontario so they're all going to be going, they're all going to be racing, hopefully things happen and my three can all pick up good pieces." Sportsmanship will start from Post 2 for Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown, Denis Breton of Welland, Thomas Kyron of Toronto and Parkinson Farms of Lucan, ON, getting the driving services of Jody Jamieson. The Sportswriter gelding finished the season in ninth spot in the standings and Menary expects an off-the-pace effort from the winner of $109,890. Robert Hill and Tim Tetrick will start from Post 3 and Menary expects another solid effort from the game pacer. Hamilton resident Tom Hill owns the Jeremes Jet gelding, who has banked $172,790. The final member of Menary's three-year-old pacing trio is division point leader J Js Delivery, who posted one win, one second, two thirds and one fifth in the regular season to tally 104 points. The Jeremes Jet gelding battled hard all season and the trainer does not expect things to change in the season finale. "It's just been ultra-tough all year. He's gone a lot of hard trips and he's been going a long time," said Menary, who trains the winner of $222,031 for owner-breeder Robert Hamather of Exeter, ON and will entrust the lines to James MacDonald. "I think from the eight-hole we're going to be going for it. We've given him a lot of hard trips; I don't think we're going to stop now." In addition to being treated to eight outstanding Super Final battles on Saturday evening, Woodbine Racetrack fans will also receive an Ontario Sires Stakes ball cap with their program purchase. The evening's first race goes postward at 7:25 pm, with the eight $250,000 Super Finals featured in Races 2, 3, and 5 through 10. For the full program click here. Ontario Horse Racing

OCT. 1, 2015 - Harness racing trainer Ben Baillargeon says Tessa Seelster may not be the prettiest filly to watch on the racetrack, but when it comes to grit and heart the three-year-old pacing filly has no equal. "She's a very gutsy mare, because she almost died as a two-year-old," explained Rockwood, ON resident Baillargeon. "She was on the operating table for colic surgery and the small bowel ruptured so they had to sew it by hand, and the chance of her surviving was about slim and none." Not only did Tessa Seelster survive the surgery, she went on to race as two-year-old, posting two victories in seven starts, and on Thursday evening she captured her first Ontario Sires Stakes trophy in Gold Series action at Flamboro Downs. Starting from Post 3 in the first $105,000 division, driver Mario Baillargeon of Milton, ON settled Tessa Seelster into fourth as fan favourite Solar Sister fired off the starting gate to a :27.1 opening quarter. The resinman kept Tessa Seelster in fourth through the :56.1 half and then sent the daughter of Shadow Play up the outside, reaching the 1:24.4 three-quarters with a narrow lead. Tessa Seelster stayed game down the stretch, holding off Maplelea for a three-quarter length victory in 1:53.1. Capela was well behind the leaders in third. "The half-mile is not her best asset, and she still made it today, so I am very pleased with the result," said Baillargeon, who conditions the filly for Richard Berthiaume of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, QC. "Very pleased with the result and looking forward to next week." Tessa Seelster and the other nine leading point earners from the five regular season Gold events will make their next start in the $250,000 Super Final at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 10. "She will try her heart out anyway, because she's a very gutsy mare," noted Baillargeon. Among the fillies joining Tessa Seelster on the starting gate at Woodbine will be Thursday's other division winner, Glamour Seelster. With Guelph, ON resident Doug McNair in the race bike Glamour Seelster fired off the starting gate from Post 2 and landed third on the rail as fan favourite Wrangler Magic led the field to a :28.1 opening quarter. The pair continued to sit third as Wrangler Magic paced by the half in :57, then circled around the leaders to take command before the 1:25 three-quarters. From there Glamour Seelster cruised home a one and one-half length winner in 1:53, with Ms Mac N Cheese and Wrangler Magic crossing the finish line in her wake. "She's a high speed filly, she can pace as fast as any horse I've driven for a piece," said McNair. "She's getting better every week." The driver's father, Gregg McNair of Guelph, conditions Glamour Seelster for Lindsey and Connie Rankin of Lexington, MI. The win, her first in Gold Series action, improved the Jeremes Jet daughter's record to seven wins, one second and one third in 11 starts and boosted her earnings to $155,033. In addition to the sophomore pacing fillies' last regular season Gold event, Flamboro Downs also hosted the regular season finale for the two-year-old pacing colts on Thursday. Two-time Grassroots winner Continual Hanover made the move to the Gold Series level look easy, reeling in pacesetter Arsenic in the stretch to post a three-quarter length victory in 1:55.1. Fan favourite Nocturnal Bluechip was hot on Arsenic's heels in third. "He's always been right on the cusp of the Gold, but it was a bit easier to stay with the Grassroots," said driver Jody Jamieson of Continual Hanover. "Tonight he was real good, and dodged (division leaders) Voracity, Betting Line and Nvestment Bluechip, which is always good." Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON owns and trains Continual Hanover, who qualified for the freshman pacing colt Super Final with Thursday's victory. The Bettor's Delight colt will require a new driver for the Oct. 10 test as Jamieson is already committed to division point leader Nvestment Bluechip, but the Moffat, ON resident says the colt is a legitimate player in the season finale. "I think he's got a good chance with the right trip," said Jamieson of Continual Hanover's prospects. "He's peaking at the right time." In the second pacing colt division, Semi Automatic earned his second Gold trophy with an effortless six and one-half length score over New Talent and Cruise Patrol. The fan favourite and driver James MacDonald of Guelph, ON hit the wire in 1:55. "Semi was great tonight. He has had a great year," said MacDonald of the Badlands Hanover son. "Tonight he was pacing great, drew well (Post 2), so I moved him to the front and he controlled the race and won pretty handy." MacDonald crafted the win for trainer Tony O'Sullivan of Puslinch, ON and his partners Let It Ride Stables Inc. of Boca Raton, FL and J and T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY. The win bumped Semi Automatic into second spot in the division standings with 142 points from two wins, one second, one third and one fifth in the five regular season Gold events. The Gold Series regular season wraps up at Woodbine Racetrack on Friday, Oct. 2 with two $105,000 divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, and then the Toronto oval will welcome the best horses from each division for the $2 million Super Final Night on Oct. 10. Ontario Horse Racing

SEPT. 27, 2015 - Adding trotting hopples to Devils Advocate's equipment bag paid immediate dividends for harness racing trainer Jack Darling and driver Ron Waples as the filly rocketed around Flamboro Downs to a track and Ontario Sires Stakes record during the Dundas oval's OSS Celebration on Sunday. In spite of a recall that delayed the start of the first $105,000 Gold division, Devils Advocate kept her mind on her job and led the field of two-year-old trotting fillies through fractions of :28.3, :58.1 and 1:28 on her way to the record setting 1:57.4 result. Magical Wonder finished three lengths behind Devils Advocate in second and One Too Many was six more lengths back in third. "The funny thing is, she really wasn't very relaxed warming up, she was kind of back to her old self, but we snugged up the hopples a little bit and she was fine," said Cambridge, ON resident Darling, who also owns the filly. "It's all really a testament to Ron Waples. He's been working for me for a while and that's his baby. He just knows her inside and out, trains her and drives her, and it's all working out pretty good." Darling said Guelph, ON resident Waples kept Devils Advocate calm during the delay by walking her around on the grass in the centre of the racetrack, but as soon as the starter called the fillies back to the gate she was raring to go. "He had her on the grass there trying to keep her calm, walking around, and she was fine, and then they called her to the gate again and geez she goes right up in the air a couple times just like 'Hi-Ho Silver'," said the trainer. "She got behind the gate and then she was fine the rest of the way." The impressive mile obliterated the Ontario Sires Stakes record of 1:59.2 set by Miss Aultsville at Grand River Raceway in 2013 and the Flamboro Downs record of 1:59.3 set by Birminghim in 2005 and matched by Charmed Life in 2012. Through eight freshman starts Devils Advocate now boasts two Gold Series wins and three seconds for earnings of $135,625. Sunday's win moved her into a tie for top spot in the two-year-old trotting filly division standings with 175 points. The Manofmanymissions daughter will make her next start in the Oct. 10 Super Final and, if she continues to behave, also has the Breeders Crown on her calendar. "I think it's about two weeks to the Super Final, so that works out good, and then after that, if all goes well, we've still got the Breeders Crown," said Darling. "The best fillies this year are Ontario Sired, the best in North America, and I just think she's one of them, so hopefully we get a chance to find out." Like Devils Advocate, Levitator made her debut with trotting hopples at Flamboro on Sunday and, like Devils Advocate, she emerged victorious from the second $105,000 Gold division. Starting from Post 4, Levitator was eased off the starting gate by driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON and watched from third as High Heels led the field to a :29 opening quarter and :59.3 half. Heading for the 1:29.4 three-quarters Henry sent Levitator up the outer lane and the filly sailed home to a one and one-half length victory in 1:59.4. Las Vegas Seelster trotted into second and High Heels was eight and three-quarter lengths back in third. The win was the first in four starts for Levitator, who is trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON, Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, FL, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, FL and Little E LLC of New York, NY. The daughter of Kadabra and Shesa Priority is a full-sister to $870,153 winner Prestidigitator and was a $120,000 purchase from the 2014 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. With one win and one second in Gold Series action, Levitator accumulated 75 points, good enough for eighth spot in the division standings and a berth in the Oct. 10 Super Final at Woodbine Racetrack. Flamboro Downs wraps up its 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule on Thursday evening with the last Gold Series events for the two-year-old pacing colts and three-year-old pacing fillies. Ontario Horse Racing

SEPT. 26, 2015 - With a large and enthusiastic crowd of Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing fans welcoming each Champion back to the winner's circle, the 2015 Grassroots season came to a close at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening. The curtain went up on the $400,000 Grassroots Championship in the first race, and Semi-Final winner Muscles For Life delivered his third straight victory to earn the two-year-old trotting colt crown. With Guelph, ON resident Doug McNair in the race bike Muscles For Life got away third from Post 8 and then led the parade of colts up the outer lane before sprinting home to a 1:57.2 victory. Dynamic Edge trailed Muscles For Life up the outer lane into second, while fan favourite Georgies Pockets settled for third. Gregg McNair of Guelph trains the son of Muscle Mass and Serenity Girl for Jarold Hawks of Jeddo, MI, who has purchased two Ontario Sired yearlings each fall for the last five or six years, sending them to McNair in the spring of their two-year-old season. "We bought him in Lexington and we broke him in Michigan, took him to Florida, had him down there for the winter and then I turned him over to Gregg," said Hawks, who acquired the colt for $35,000 from the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. "He looked like the nicest colt. I have a filly trotter that we trained, Cadillac Sally, and she was really nice but he looked like he had a little more ability than she had." In six freshman starts Muscles For Life proved Hawks right, tallying three wins and one second for earnings of $49,400. The trotter will once again spend the winter in Florida with Hawks before returning to McNair's barn in time for his three-year-old Ontario Sires Stakes campaign. "It's a fun business," said the hands-on owner, who was standing in a Grassroots Championship winner's circle for the second straight year. In 2014 Second Sister won the freshman trotting filly title for Hawks and the McNairs. Muscles For Life Campbellville, ON resident Riina Rekila guided Jangone to this year's freshman trotting filly title, using a :27.1 final quarter to reel in the leaders and post the 1:56.3 victory. Tough Affair and Semi-Final winner Myretirementticket were one and three-quarter lengths back in second and third, while fan favourite Magical Steph settled for fourth. Bred and owned by Rekila and Esa Lahtinen's Overseas Farms Ltd., Jangone was a two-time winner during the Grassroots regular season, triumphing in the first and last events. "First of the year I let her leave and then she went nuts," said Rekila, who trains and drives the filly. "She was just leaving, and then I changed my tactics to coming from behind and that really worked with her." Jangone, by Overseas Farms' stallion Johnny William and mare Panderosa F, wrapped up her freshman campaign with a record of four wins, one second, one third and earnings of $54,140 from nine starts. Jangone Semi-Final winner Mayhem Seelster posted her fifth win of the season in the two-year-old pacing filly Championship. The Mach Three filly and driver Jack Moiseyev circled out three-wide at the three-quarter pole and fired down the stretch to a one-quarter length victory over division point leader Sports Expert and pacesetter Southwind Shania. "Tonight around that last turn she was just chomping at the bit," said Moffat, ON resident Moiseyev, who engineered the win for trainer Tony O'Sullivan of Puslinch, ON and owner Domenic Chiaravalle of Hamilton, ON. "I thought she was going to win a little easier, but there were some nice fillies in there, she had to race for it." Never worse than second in seven starts, Mayhem Seelster wraps up her freshman OSS campaign with earnings of $68,500, a surplus of $13,500 over her purchase price from the 2014 Forest City Yearling Sale. Mayhem Seelster Trevor Henry guided Semi-Final winner Duh Bubbees to a1:55.2 triumph in the three-year-old trotting colt and gelding Championship. The Arthur, ON resident engineered the two length win - over Parkhill Lancelot and In Secret - for Jamie and Chris Wilson of Huron Park, ON. "He was better tonight than he has been ever," said trainer Jamie Wilson, who also bred the son of Up Front Ben and Nothing To Justify. "I just kind of worked around with him a little bit this week, did a bit of work behind on him, and he (Trevor) said tonight he was really good." The gelding will be back at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday evening in a Gold Series division - his second run at the Gold level colts - starting from Post 6 in the evening's first race. Duh Bubbees Driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON scored the first of two Grassroots Championship victories with three-year-old pacing filly Dublin Rose. After trailing division point leader Stonebridge Quest through fractions of :26.2, :55.1 and 1:24.3,Jamieson was able to find racing room in the stretch and Dublin Rose hit the wire one-quarter length the best in 1:52.2. Ainsleynoelle finished second and Stonebridge Quest was third. "That's the horse I wanted to follow. It worked out. I think she can race any way, but I think getting a trip she's probably a little bit better," said trainer Dave Menary of Cambridge, ON, who welcomed Dublin Rose into his barn in late August when she was acquired by Jerry Clark of Finksburg, MD. "(Former trainer) Allen Tomlinson did a really good job with the mare and I just did my best to try to not screw it up," Menary added. Dublin Rose Jamieson's second victory came one race later with two-year-old pacing colt St Lads Moonwalk, the only regular season point leader to earn a Championship title. After sitting on the rail behind pacesetter Kokanee Seelster through fractions of :26.2, :55.3 and 1:24.3, Jamieson once again had to weave his way around horses to give St Lads Moonwalk a path to the finish. Once he reached open space the Mach Three son blasted under the wire a one length winner in 1:53.2. Azul Pool finished second and Bingo Ingo was third. "Somehow Jody has a way of sneaking through there, he does it time and time again," said owner and trainer Jack Darling. "He's such a game horse. He's got a lot of try to him, just the kind you hope for," added the Cambridge resident, who had to solve a couple of minor issues for the colt between a lacklustre fifth-place finish in his Semi-Final and Saturday's Championship. "Every time you go you know he's going to give a big effort." St Lads Moonwalk Three-year-old trotting filly Meadow Seelster was sent off as the heaviest favourite of the eight Championships and delivered the largest margin of victory, besting Oh My Magic and Judy The Beauty by four and one-quarter lengths in 1:56. Like Duh Bubbees, Meadow Seelster and driver Sylvain Filion of Milton will take one final run at the Gold Series horses, returning to Mohawk on Tuesday with Post 2 in the seventh race. "I'll give her tomorrow in the paddock and jog her a little Monday and race her Tuesday; she loves her job," said trainer Bill Budd of Waterdown, ON, who conditions the Holiday Road daughter for Bill Dixon of Caledon, ON. Meadow Seelster The final Grassroots title was bestowed upon Artful Way, who came up with a big trip when it counted for driver Paul MacDonell of Guelph and trainer-owner-breeder Bob McIntosh of Windsor, ON. Starting from Post 2 the Artistic Fella gelding stepped to the outside heading for the halfway marker and then reeled in pacesetter Make Some Luck in the stretch to score a one-half length win in 1:51.1. Fan favourite Make Some Luck settled for second while His Boy Elroy closed hard for third. "I didn't really know what to expect from him," said MacDonell, who picked up the drive when Milton resident Randy Waples opted for McIntosh's other colt, Thinkofagameplan. " He felt like a really nice horse on the track when I paraded him, so I got away fourth and then I looked at the horse that was third and it didn't look like he would probably move first over so I thought, 'Well, we can't stay in fourth and win the race', so I just moved him easily, didn't really pressure him too much until the last eighth of a mile. "Some of them can't take air like that," added the veteran reinsman. "Bob's horses, I find it doesn't seem to bother them, they seem to be able to live longer on the outside than most." Through six regular season Grassroots starts Artful Way had posted three wins, two thirds and one fifth, finishing third in the point standings. Saturday's victory improved the gelding's sophomore record to five wins, three seconds and three thirds in 17 starts for earnings of $78,380. Artful Way While Saturday's event completed the 2015 Grassroots season, eight events remain on the Gold Series calendar before the Oct. 10 Super Finals at Woodbine Racetrack. Mohawk Racetrack will host the three-year-old trotting colts and two-year-old pacing fillies on Monday and the two-year-old trotting colts and three-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday, post time 7:25 pm. Ontario Horse Racing

SEPT. 24, 2015 - Flamboro Downs celebrates the Ontario Sires Stakes program on Sunday with two $105,000 Gold Series divisions for the exciting two-year-old trotting fillies and the "Be A Winner" contest, which puts one lucky harness racing fan in the OSS winner's circle. Leading up to Race 4 fans can place their ballots in a box representing the horse they believe will win the second Gold division. One semi-finalist will be selected to represent each horse and will receive an OSS golf shirt, ball cap and a $10 win voucher on their chosen horse. With their semi-finalists cheering them on, the two-year-old trotting fillies will battle in Race 7 and the semi-finalist who selected the winner will join the victorious filly and her connections in the winner's circle. The successful "Be A Winner" contestant will have their photo taken with the Gold Series winner, receive a commemorative photograph, a trophy and $50 wagering voucher. In addition to the "Be A Winner" fun, fans arriving early for the festivities will receive an Ontario Sires Stakes t-shirt with their program purchase, while those who prefer a ball cap should keep their eyes peeled trackside throughout the evening. On the track, trainer Jack Darling is hoping Devils Advocate can find her way back to the winner's circle in the first division on Sunday. After scoring a win in the July 23 Gold Leg at Mohawk Racetrack and finishing second in all three of her other Gold Series outings, the filly made miscues at the start of both her Peaceful Way Elimination and Champlain Stakes division earlier this month. As a result Darling and driver Ron Waples opted to add trotting hopples to the filly's equipment bag for Sunday's test. "She's just a very excitable filly, and she kind of got the running in her head so we put the hopples on and she's settled right down, so hopefully she'll be fine," said the Cambridge, ON resident, who also owns the daughter of Manofmanymissions and Malabar Memories. "Ron Waples, he does her every day, and he said when he put the hopples on it helped her relax." Hall of Fame reinsman Waples piloted Devils Advocate to a solid 2:01.1 qualifying win at Flamboro on Sept. 17, and she has also taken a few extra spins behind the starting gate in an effort to erase the memory of her miscues. "We schooled her behind the gate a little bit, but once we put the hopples on that seemed to do the trick," noted Darling. "Flamboro will tell the tale, how she behaves there, and if she behaves there hopefully we're in good shape for the rest of the season." If she minds her manners in Race 3 on Sunday, Devils Advocate will be headed to the $250,000 Super Final at Woodbine Racetrack on Oct. 10. She currently sits third in the two-year-old trotting filly division standings with 125 points. The filly is also eligible to the Breeders Crown at Woodbine, with eliminations on Oct. 16 and the final on Oct. 24. "I really believe she can go with those top fillies so it would be nice to have a chance to find out, but we're just going a week at a time," said a cautious Darling. "I'd like to be in with those top ones and be sitting close. I think she'd make a good account of herself in the stretch," he added. On Sunday, Guelph, ON resident Waples will steer Devils Advocate from Post 4 in the first Gold division, taking on a field of eight, including Champlain division and Peaceful Way Elimination winner Could It Be Magic who will start from Post 8. The second division features six Gold Series veterans and two newcomers to the Ontario Sires Stakes program. Muscle Mass daughter Dottie makes her debut from Post 5 for trainer Jerry Duford of Campbellville, ON and his partners Joanne Wray of Campbellville and Lloyd and Barbara Tylee of Grimsby, ON. Ulittleripper debuts from Post 6 for trainer Jeff Gillis of Hillsburgh, ON and his partners Mac Nichol of Burlington, ON and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, NY. Flamboro Downs' Sunday program gets under way at 6 pm, with the two-year-old trotting fillies featured in Races 3 and 7. The draw for the "Be A Winner" semi-finalists will take place following the fourth race. Ontario Horse Racing

An average that was up nearly 70 per cent over the 2014 harness racing sale wasn’t the only thing to like about the Canadian Yearling Sale held Sunday in Hamilton. David Reid said Ontario standardbred horse breeders have reason for optimism after Sunday’s (Sept. 20) Canadian Yearling Sale at the Standardbred Canada Sales Pavilion at Flamboro Downs in Hamilton, ON. Reid, whose U.S. -based bloodstock business Preferred Equine Marketing sold nearly half of the 119 yearlings that went through the auction ring, said he thought the sale, “was very good.” In all, 119 yearlings grossed $2,540,700 for an average price of $21,350 that was up 69.4 per cent from the 2014 sale average of $12,614. Thirty-six fewer horses were sold this year compared to 2014. “The attendance was terrific and the enthusiasm was great,” Reid said. “There was a lot of interest really from (the preview on) Saturday and it carried right into Sunday. From the sales ring perspective, I thought it was a very encouraging market, better than it had been in the past. “You have to drill down into the numbers to figure out where the increases came from, but I would say maybe the four components are: supply and demand, currency, the bonus program and the overall strength of the Ontario (Sires Stakes) program. I think people realize it’s a very good program.” The Ontario Sires Stakes program is one of the most lucrative jurisdictional breeding programs in the global harness racing industry with total purses in 2015 of more than $15 million. This year’s crop of Ontario Sired yearlings is one of the smallest in recent years and that has led to the supply and demand issue. Reid said he thinks the low crop numbers, taken in concert with the fact the Canadian dollar is currently relatively low versus the U.S. dollar means Canadians may be opting to spend more of their money on Ontario Sired yearlings sold in Ontario, rather than traveling to the United States to buy the Ontario Sired yearlings sold there. Trainer Dustin Jones of Waterdown, ON agreed with Reid. “The nicer individuals did sell for a good dollar,” Jones said, “but I think the big cause was the supply and demand and not having many out there.” Reid said he thinks new bonuses for owners of Ontario Sired horses ( also helped drive the sales numbers up. In place for 2015 and 2016 is a purse bonus of 20 per cent for owners of Ontario Sired two-year-olds competing in overnight races in Ontario and a bonus of five per cent for owners of Ontario Sired two-year-olds competing in Ontario Sires Stakes events. For 2017, the purse bonus system will be replaced with a $2 million program that will provide pro rata bonuses based on horses’ earnings to owners of Ontario Sired and/or Ontario Bred horses. Owners of a horse that is both Ontario Sired and Ontario Bred will earn double the bonus. Ontario Sired horses are ones sired by registered stallions standing in Ontario. Ontario Bred horses are those produced by Ontario Resident mares that reside in Ontario when enrolled in the Ontario Resident Mare program and remain in the province for a minimum of 180 consecutive days surrounding foaling. Reid said the positive sales results gives the province’s standardbred breeders, “some numbers to back up what the industry’s been asking for and stressing, which is if you put in a nice program, a viable program, it will keep the industry going. It’s good for employment and it’s good for the province of Ontario if the industry is strong.” Jones purchased two yearlings at the sale, both are trotters sired by Manofmanymissions including a filly named Jayport Rosita that he bought for $16,000 on behalf of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s (SBOA) New Owner Mentoring Program ( “It’s really nice to see people so keen,” Jones said of his group of new owners being mentored by Hall of Fame driver Bill O’Donnell. “The mare that we bought has a good pedigree. She’s not small, but she’s not a big filly and I thought we made a really good buy. I couldn’t get over how keen the people were and after we bought the filly how happy they were.” Reid said the breeders for which his Preferred Equine Marketing sold horses were happy, too. “My pulse from my customers was very good. But it was almost like a sigh of relief. They got a little return on their investment, versus taking a loss,” Reid said. The next step, he said, was for breeders to reinvest in better quality mares. “I think what Ontario did with the Sires Stakes program and adding bonus money for Ontario Bred and Ontario Sired horses for overnight races for the younger horses I think is going to encourage breeders maybe to reinvest some money,” Reid said. “I think it’s important for the industry to have a little churn and ultimately it comes from purses. If we can benefit the breeders, there’s going to be horses to race in the province… I think it’s a very important thing to recognize that they need to be paid for what they’re producing.” Reid and Jones both said breeders selling yearlings on Oct. 25 at the Forest City Yearling Sale at the Western Fair Agriplex in London, ON also have reason to be optimistic. “I imagine the people selling at Forest City are pretty happy with what they saw at the Canadian Yearling Sale,” Jones said. Dave Briggs Standardbred Communications Ontario Horse Racing

SEPT. 18, 2015 - Mohawk Racetrack fans got a second evening of outstanding Grassroots Semi-Final action on Friday, courtesy of the province's top harness racing three-year-old pacers and trotters. In the first of the $20,000 Semi-Finals, driver Chris Christoforou teamed trotting gelding Irish Scotch to a come from behind victory in a mile that saw the top five finishers separated by less than two lengths. The fan favourites hit the wire one length ahead of Namesmuscle, Parkhill Lancelot, Buzz and A Little More Love, stopping the teletimer in a personal best 1:55.4. "It worked out very well," said owner-trainer Shane Arsenault of Waterdown, ON. "Chris was very patient and tidy with him so it worked out well." Friday's outing was Christoforou's first appearance in Irish Scotch's race bike, and his first Ontario Sires Stakes victory since recovering from a broken collarbone. Arsenault asked the Campbellville, ON resident to drive the son of Muscle Mass because he felt Christoforou's patience and experience would benefit the trotter. "I just thought he would complement the horse a little bit, you know he's quiet with trotters and he handles them well, and this guy can be a little bit excitable sometimes," said the trainer. "I think he gets more keyed up when he's at the racetrack, definitely. It does kind of spin him a bit." Irish Scotch earned his spot in the Semi-Final with a win in the last regular season Grassroots event. Prior to that Sept. 3 victory at Flamboro Downs, the gelding had recorded one third, two fourths, and two sixths in Grassroots action. Irish Scotch In the first trotting filly Semi-Final, Meadow Seelster was the picture of cool, cruising along on the front end to a four and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:55. Division point leader Renegade Magic finished second, Oh My Magic was third, Desis Dream finished fourth and Allies Gift rounded out the qualifiers for next Saturday's Grassroots Championship. 'She's a good mare, she's tough as nails," said trainer Bill Budd of Waterdown, ON, who conditions Meadow Seelster for Bill Dixon of Caledon, ON. "They pull on her; they're pulling on the wrong horse. That's a new mark for her too. She was good, real good." The daughter of Holiday Road and Must Sold Dream captured two of three regular season Grassroots starts and finished third in the other. Meadow Seelster A three-time winner in regular season action, Dublin Rose collected her fourth Grassroots trophy with a 1:53 triumph in the first pacing filly Semi-Final. The daughter of Major In Art powered out of the pocket in the stretch and paced home to a two length score over Nationalize, Ainsleynoelle, Northern Starlet and OK Hallelujah. "She won pretty handily," said driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON, who piloted the fan favourite to the win for trainer Dave Menary of Cambridge, ON and owner Jerry Clark of Finksburg, MD. "I got out kind of flat footed and the outside horses had a head of steam on me, but she just dug in right to the wire, she was really good." Dublin Rose Duh Bubbees also battled right to the wire to capture the second trotting colt Semi-Final. The Up Front Ben son finished one length in front of Seeking Steven, stopping the clock in 1:57.1. Favourite In Secret finished third, Mandeville was fourth and Its Huw You Know rounded out the top five. Division point leader Kadabrasnewrecruit made a series of breaks and finished at the back of the pack, the only division leader not advancing to the Grassroots Championships. Jamie Wilson of Huron Park, ON bred and trains Du Bubbees and Chris Wilson, also of Huron Park, owns the trotter, who won a Grassroots event at Mohawk on July 3 and finished sixth and seventh in his other two regular season appearances. Duh Bubbees Driver Jody Jamieson captured his second Semi-Final with pacing colt Make Some Luck, who went gate-to-wire in the seventh race. The Camluck gelding romped to a three and one-half length victory over His Boy Elroy, Mach Code, Artful Way and Western Bayama, recording a personal best 1:51.2. "That's only the second time he's raced off the front end and he win both times. He really was strong the last time he win off the front end, and he was strong tonight, I guess he likes the front end," said trainer Carl Jamieson of Rockwood, ON. "He seems to be better this year than he was last year. He was more immature last year, he's really come a long way." In six regular season starts Make Some Luck picked up two wins, two seconds and two thirds, finishing fourth in the point standings. Jody Jamieson's numbered company 1140545 Ontario Ltd. owns the pacer. Make Some Luck The second pacing colt Semi-Final went to Mac Raider, who prevailed by one-half length in another finish that saw less than two lengths separate the top five colts. Thinkofagameplan finished second, fan favourite and division point leader Southwind Indy was third, Win One Soon finished fourth and The Fire Within was fifth. Doug McNair of Guelph, ON engineered the 1:52.3. win for his father, trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke, ON, and Don MacDonald and David Kryway of Amherstburg, ON. In six regular season outings the Mach Three gelding had posted one win, one second, one fourth, one fifth, one sixth and one eighth. Mac Raider Judy The Beauty snuck up the rail to claim victory in the second trotting filly Semi-Final. The Muscle Mass daughter and driver James MacDonald of Guelph hit the wire in 1:56.4, a new personal best for the filly. Favourite World Class Izzy was one-half length back in second, with Giona, Hope Rises and Railee Priti completing the top five. Keith Jones of Midland, ON conditions Judy The Beauty for Randy Zhok of Dover Centre, ON. The filly was the runner-up in the division point race, with two wins, two seconds and one fifth to her credit in five regular season starts. Judy The Beauty Pacing filly Lovely Erin claimed the last Semi-Final trophy of the evening, sailing home a three and one-quarter length winner in 1:53.2. Aniston Seelster, Machmeter, Stonebridge Quest - who went undefeated in four regular season starts to finish atop the point standings - and Brown Brinny also advanced to the Grassroots Championship. Doug McNair crafted the win, the Sportswriter daughter's third straight in Grassroots action, for trainer Ron Adams of LaSalle, ON and 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor, ON. Lovely Erin The top five finishers from each Semi-Final will return to Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, Sept. 26 for the 2015 Grassroots Championship. Ontario Horse Racing

Southwind Indy finished the Grassroots regular season atop the division standings and trainer Casie Coleman says everything looks positive for the three-year-old pacing gelding's bid for a top five finish in Friday's Semi-Final at Mohawk Raceway. "I like the way the draw come out; he's in the middle of the gate. The six-hole is like my favourite hole at Mohawk/Woodbine," said Coleman. "He drew good, and he trained real good this week, and everything seems good, so we'll hope for the best that he can get into the final." Southwind Indy will line up at Post 6 in the second sophomore pacing colt Semi-Final at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday, taking on a field of nine challengers also hoping to extend their Ontario Sires Stakes season through the Sept. 26 Grassroots Championship. A son of Sportswriter and Its Only Rocknroll, Southwind Indy earned top spot in the division standings with three wins, one second and one third in five Grassroots starts. The gelding heads into Friday's test off back-to-back Grassroots wins - at Mohawk on Aug. 21 and Grand River Raceway on Sept. 2 - and recorded a personal best 1:51.3 in the Mohawk event. "I've been real happy with him each week lately, so we'll hope he keeps getting a little better each time," said Cambridge, ON resident Coleman. "Every time I put him behind the gate he just impresses me a little more, so if he keeps doing that I'll be pretty happy." At two Southwind Indy was a two-time Gold Leg winner, but after testing the Gold Series waters in the season opener Coleman and her partners West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Steve Calhoun of Chatham, ON and breeders Southwind Farms LLC of Pennington, NJ decided the Grassroots program was the best choice for the gelding's sophomore campaign. Milton, ON resident Steve Condren will pilot Southwind Indy in Friday's eighth race, looking to extend the gelding's win streak to three. The first $20,000 pacing colt Semi-Final goes postward as Race 7. Trainer Bill Budd was also pleased to land Post 6 with sophomore trotting filly Meadow Seelster, who makes her bid for a top five finish in the third race. "That's the best post there for her. She can follow the car, she can get spotted," said the Waterdown, ON resident. "She's a nice filly, a real nice filly." Like Southwind Indy, Meadow Seelster made one start at the Gold Series level, finishing sixth in the June 18 season opener at Mohawk before moving into the Grassroots program. In three Grassroots starts the daughter of Holiday Road and Must Sold Dream scored two wins and one third, ranking her ninth among the three-year-old trotting fillies. Meadow Seelster heads into Friday's Semi-Final off a 1:56.2 win in the Aug. 25 Grassroots event at Mohawk. Following that effort, the filly's fourth win of the campaign, Budd opted to give her a week off rather than head to the regular season finale at Hanover Raceway on Sept. 5. "I gave her a week off and then I took her over and schooled her there (Mohawk) Friday; ready to go," said Budd, who trains the filly for Bill Dixon of Caledon, ON. "She's a good filly. She does everything you know, she's a trier." While Budd is hopeful that the winner of $102,135 delivers a top five effort in Friday's Semi-Final, the trainer is also looking forward to the end of the Ontario Sires Stakes season. Once her Grassroots career wraps up, Budd plans to remove a piece of equipment that has been a critical part of Meadow Seelster's attire since last August. "I'm actually going to take the trotting hopples off her," he explained. "I schooled her in 1:55 over there the other day without them. We're going to try her anyway. Probably give her a week off after the stakes and then qualify her without the hopples. "She used to be pretty rammy, she was tough," he added. "She'd push the gate out and then just couldn't handle it you know, the trotting hopples kept her together." Regular reinsman Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON will guide Meadow Seelster from Post 6 in the first $20,000 trotting filly Semi-Final on Friday. The second trotting filly Semi-Final is slated as Race 9. The three-year-old trotting colts kick off the Grassroots Semi-Final action in Race 1, and are also featured in Race 6. The three-year-old pacing fillies wage their Semi-Final battles in Races 5 and 11. Post time for Mohawk Racetrack's Friday evening program is 7:25 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

SEPT. 15, 2015 - Ontario Sires Stakes post season action gets under way at Mohawk Racetrack on Thursday evening with eight Grassroots Semi-Finals for the harness racing two-year-old trotters and pacers. Trainer Blake MacIntosh won the two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots Championship in 2014 with Star Cover and the Cambridge, ON resident will send out two hopefuls on Thursday, including two-year-old pacing filly division leader Sports Expert. "She's feeling really good. She trained well this morning (Sept. 15) and we're really happy with the way she's going into the race," said MacIntosh of Sports Expert. "She had an easy race Saturday night; she got away last in the Champlain and closed hard and just missed a cheque. I wasn't happy we didn't get a cheque, but I was happy with the way she raced." In her four regular season Grassroots starts Sports Expert posted three wins and one second, clocking a personal best 1:54.2 in the Sept. 1 event at Mohawk. The daughter of Sportswriter and Lyons Mandi has seven starts under her belt and has banked $34,000 for MacIntosh and his partners Touch Stone Farms of Guelph, ON and 30 Plus Stable of Trenton, ON. "They're good people. They're always supportive of whatever I decide to do with the filly and they follow her very closely," said MacIntosh of the ownership group. "Joe Intine (of Touch Stone Farms) and his wife (Barbara) are always at every race, they come to the barn once or twice a week and follow her very closely and are very involved with the horse. The 30 Plus group (Andy, Stan and Tim Klemencic) has come up a couple times, but they live in Trenton so it's harder for them to get up here." MacIntosh expects a solid group of supporters will be on hand when the filly lines up at Post 3 in the first $20,000 two-year-old pacing filly Semi-Final on Thursday. Guelph, ON resident Doug McNair will be in the race bike as the filly aims for a top five finish and a berth in the Sept. 26 Grassroots Championship. McNair and Sports Expert will battle a field of nine challengers in Race 5, with the second two-year-old pacing filly Semi-Final slated for Race 8. In addition to Sports Expert, MacIntosh will also harness a son of Sportswriter, Sporty Mercedes, in the first two-year-old pacing colt and gelding Semi-Final. Sporty Mercedes heads into the race off a fifth-place finish in the Sept. 7 event at Grand River Raceway, but MacIntosh is cautiously hopeful that the gelding is poised to deliver a stronger effort on Thursday. "Sporty Mercedes, he's been a bit of a disappointment this year. After we gelded him he had two good races and we were pleased, we thought we had him on the right track, and then he got loose on the groom trying to load him just before Georgian (Aug. 23) and he banged himself up and he just hasn't been the same since," the trainer explained. "Now, saying that, he trained the best he's trained in a while this morning (Sept. 15). "We were high on him during the winter time and he's sort of been a bit of a disappointment, but hopefully we can get him to the final and things will come around for him," MacIntosh continued. "He's a colt we paid into the Metro, and paid into everything else. He's not a Metro horse, but hopefully he can be a good Grassrooter." In four Grassroots starts Sporty Mercedes garnered one win, one fourth, one fifth and one eighth to finish eighteenth in the point standings. The gelding recorded his personal best 1:55.1 in the Aug. 13 Grassroots test at Rideau Carleton Raceway and has banked $15,740 for MacIntosh and his partners Dan and Kim Sergeant of Straffordville, ON. Sporty Mercedes will make his bid for a top five finish from Post 3 in the sixth race with Iona Station, ON resident Alfie Carroll in the race bike. The second two-year-old pacing colt and gelding Semi-Final will go postward as Race 10, wrapping up the evening's Grassroots action. The two-year-old trotting colts and geldings kick off Mohawk Racetrack's Thursday evening program at 7:25 pm in Race 1 and are also featured in Race 9, while the two-year-old trotting fillies wage their Semi-Final battles in Races 2 and 3. Grassroots post season action continues at the Campbellville oval on Friday with eight Semi-Finals for the three-year-old trotters and pacers. Ontario Horse Racing

The top local horseman for Wednesday night at Grand River Raceway was harness racing trainer driver Joe Hudon. Joe was able to capture the 9th race and the 3rd division of the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots level for three-year-old pacing colts aboard Twin B Scandal. Joe also trains Twin B Scandal and is a part owner. The mild upset at 9-1 returned $21.70 on a win wager. The race purse was $18,000. It was just Joe's 4th driving and training win of 2015 and Twin B Scandal's 2nd trip to the winner's circle this season. The win puts Joe's total lifetime driving wins at 3812 and training wins at 1701. Joe is a native of Rockwood, ON and is a regular of the Ontario Sires Stakes and local harness racing scene. Grand River Raceway features live harness racing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights all summer. Complete schedule info at . Scott McNair

Hanover Raceway will play host to five divisions of 3 year old Filly Trotters in the Ontario Sires Stakes this Saturday night. Among those taking part are 6 of the top 10 horses in the OSS Grassroots standings, and several with local connections.    They’ll all be trying to gather points to qualify for the season ending Grassroots Championship. Among those taking part are two owned by the Henry Stables of Arthur. Wing Flash won her first start in the 3 year old OSS program at Dresden in 1:58.2 but has struggled at Mohawk in her recent starts. Pointe of Inquiry however won at Mohawk on August 10thin 1:57.1. Jeff and Lori Thomson of Chesley own Renegade Magic who leads the OSS Grassroots standings with 3 wins and a second in four starts. This daughter of Kadabra has earned over 43,000 dollars already this season. Julie Walker and JB Renaud own Tymal Fireitup, who has a 3rd and 4th place finish so far and will need a good finish in order to move up the Grassroots points standings. Fans who purchase their program at the Kiosk this Saturday starting at 6:00pm will get a choice of an OSS T Shirt, or OSS hat,  while supplies last. Also Saturday Hanover Raceway will feature a live band, as Craig Dougan from the Almost Hip will be playing some classic Tragically Hip songs,  as well as some of his originals from his 1st 2 CD’s. And its CKNX Night at the Races.  The staff will be on hand to help with swag prizing and one lucky fan will win a 50 inch Smart TV package from HDTV in Hanover and Walkerton. Post time is 7:15pm  

AUGUST 29, 2015 - Georgian Downs wrapped up their 2015 Ontario Sires Stakes season on Saturday evening with four impressive Grassroots performances from the harness racing three-year-old pacing fillies. Stonebridge Quest paced the quickest mile of the four $18,000 divisions, rocketing around the Georgian Downs oval to a one and one-half length victory in 1:51.4. The Camluck daughter and driver Trevor Henry powered away from Post 7 as the heavy favourites and controlled the pace from start to finish, ringing up fractions of :27.2, :56 and 1:23.3 on their way to the win. Warrawee Qually and Brown Brinny finished second and third. Arthur, ON resident Henry engineered Stonebridge Quest's third Grassroots win of the season for trainer Andrew McCabe and owners Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph, ON and Angie Stiller of Arva, ON. The Grassroots Championship winner at two, Stonebridge Quest currently sits second in the division standings with 150 points, assuring her of a berth in the Semi-finals. The top 20 point earners following the last regular season event, at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 7, will compete in the Sept. 18 Semi-finals, also at Mohawk, and the top five finishers from each Semi-final will return to the Campbellville oval for the $50,000 Grassroots Championship on Sept. 26. In addition to the win with Stonebridge Quest, Henry also piloted Evas Girl to victory in the last Grassroots division. Evas Girl also lined up behind the number seven on the Georgian Downs starting gate, but Henry opted for a different strategy with the Rambaran daughter, easing away from the start and landing on the rail in fifth. From that vantage point Henry watched Nationalize lead the field to a :26.4 quarter and a :55.3 half and then decided to send Evas Girl into the outer lane. When the fillies leading the charge up the outer lane failed to make any gains on the leader, Henry sent Evas Girl out three-wide and the filly had a short lead by the 1:24.2 three-quarters which she had increased to five lengths by the finish. The 1:53.2 clocking was a personal best for Evas Girl. I Wonder Why and Windsun Chanel completed the top three. Isaac Waxman of Dundas, ON trains Evas Girl for Aaron Waxman of Hamilton, ON, Alan Alber of Thornhill, ON and Crawford Partners LLC of Syracuse, NY. In three Grassroots starts the filly now has two wins and one third for a total of 112 points and a share of fourth spot in the standings. Division leader Dublin Rose captured her third Grassroots trophy in the third division at Georgian Downs on Saturday. The Major In Art daughter delivered an impressive effort that saw her pressing pacesetter Machmeter for most of the mile before pulling away to a one-half length victory in the stretch. Much Adoo and Twin B Honour finished second and third in the 1:53 mile. Purchased by Finksburg, MD resident Jerry Clark from breeder Allen Tomlinson of Mason, MI following her Aug. 14 Grassroots start, Saturday's outing was Dublin Rose's first from trainer Dave Menary's Rockton, ON barn. Driver Robert Shepherd of Cambridge, ON steered the fan favourite to the win. With three wins and one second in the first four Grassroots events, Dublin Rose has accumulated 175 points. The other Grassroots division saw Lovely Erin earn the first Grassroots trophy of her career with a hard fought effort that saw her pressed through every step of the mile. The Sportswriter daughter hit the wire a neck in front of Got Some Spark and War Filly in 1:54.1 to secure the win. London, ON resident Nick Steward piloted Lovely Erin to the win for trainer Ron Adams of LaSalle, ON and owner 1362313 Ontario Ltd. of Windsor, ON. Third in her Grassroots debut at Mohawk Racetrack on Aug. 14, Lovely Erin has 62 points and will be looking to pad that total in the last regular season event. In addition to the four Grassroots divisions, Georgian Downs fans were also treated to the $100,000 Honourable Earl Rowe Memorial Trot, which was captured by Rockin With Dewey in 1:53.2. Bob McClure of Orangeville, ON crafted the win for trainer Benoit Baillargeon of Rockwood, ON and his partner Diane Ingham of Mount Pleasant, ON. Ontario Horse Racing

AUGUST 27, 2015 - A few strides from the wire in Thursday's ninth race it looked as though Solar Sister's perfect Gold Series season would come to an end at Mohawk Racetrack, but the gritty harness racing three-year-old pacing filly fought to the end and extended her Ontario Sires Stakes win streak to four. "I think he backed her off a little around the last turn, hoping to get some room there, and then next thing he knew Mario (Baillargeon) was gone on him, so he had to gain a fair bit of ground to catch her," said trainer Gregg McNair of the race crafted by son Doug McNair. "She raced good, she's a good mare." Starting from Post 1, Doug McNair and Solar Sister had early command of the race, reaching the opening quarter in :26.3. However, a parked out Mario Baillargeon and Tessa Seelster decided the front end was more appealing than a spot among the followers and McNair chose not to disagree, allowing the challengers to take the lead before the :54.4 half. Fan favourites McNair and Solar Sister watched from the pocket as Baillargeon and Tessa Seelster reached the three-quarters in 1:23 and turning for home they were hemmed in by Maplelea mounting a charge in the outer lane. Once the fillies straightened out in the stretch, McNair was able to maneuver Solar Sister into an open lane, but it took every ounce of stubborn determination the filly possessed to reel in Tessa Seelster. The fillies hit the wire almost as one, with Solar Sister a narrow winner in 1:50.4. Capela was three lengths back in third. The victory was Solar Sister's fourth straight in Gold Series action, giving her a perfect score of 200 points in the sophomore pacing filly standings, a division Gregg McNair predicts will only get more interesting through the final Gold Leg and Super Final. "There's some good mares in there. I'd say there's a couple new ones there that nobody was looking for that much earlier in the year. They're just starting to pop out here now," said the Guelph, ON resident, adding that he was impressed with Tessa Seelster's effort. "The nice thing about her, she was parked around the first turn, so she raced a heck of a trip, then the ones that were one-two in the first division raced big," continued the horseman, whose Glamour Seelster was the runner-up in the first division, in her first Gold Series start. "It's shaping up to be a different looking division than it was two weeks ago." With the next Gold Leg not taking place until Oct. 1 at Flamboro Downs, many of the three-year-old pacing fillies will be battling in open stake events in the coming weeks. Among the races McNair is considering for Solar Sister are the Simcoe Stakes at Mohawk on Sept. 5 and the Jugette at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio on Sept. 23. "She's going to the Simcoe, then she'll go to, possibly, the Jugette," said McNair, who conditions the daughter of Mach Three and $1.4 million winner Cabrini Hanover for owner-breeders David Willmot of King City, ON and Clay Harland Horner of Toronto, ON. "We'll see how she comes out of tonight and see how she races in the Simcoe. "We'd like to have her good for the Breeders Crown (Oct. 17 and 24) is what we'd like to have her good for, but it's a hard race to have them good for, because it's later on," added the trainer. "It's hard to keep them good all year, and she's been consistent here all year." Through 11 sophomore starts Solar Sister has accumulated seven wins, one second, one third and $384,112, giving her a two-season total just shy of $600,000. In addition to her flawless Gold Series record the filly swept her elimination and the final of the WEG-SBOA Stake in May and finished third in the Fan Hanover Final in June. Solar Sister The first $105,000 Gold division also featured a fierce stretch duel between fan favourite Wrangler Magic, pocket-sitter Cast No Shadow and McNair trainee Glamour Seelster. Wrangler Magic and driver Sylvain Filion took early command of the race, reeling off fractions of :27.1, :56 and 1:24.1 with Cast No Shadow and Randy Waples tucked in behind them. Rolling off the final turn Waples tipped Cast No Shadow out and the filly accelerated past Wrangler Magic and held off a late charging Glamour Seelster to secure a one-quarter length victory in 1:51. Glamour Seelster earned the runner-up cheque, with Wrangler Seelster settling for third. The win was the first in Ontario Sires Stakes action for Cast No Shadow, but not her first in stakes competition. The daughter of Shadow Play and $374,152 winner Hypnotize captured two legs of the Blossom Series and the final of the Princess Series in the spring. Through 15 starts she boasts a record of eight wins, three seconds and one third for earnings of $185,544. Nick Gallucci of Brantford, ON conditions Cast No Shadow for owner Millard Adams of Carlisle, OH. Cast No Shadow Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Mohawk Racetrack on Monday, Aug. 31 with five Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old pacing colts. The freshman pacers will be featured in Races 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10 on the 7:25 pm program. Ontario Horse Racing

AUGUST 22, 2015 - Hiawatha Horse Park hosted four Grassroots divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts on Saturday evening as part of their harness racing Ontario Sires Stakes Fan Celebration. Lucky fans took home Ontario Sires Stakes t-shirts and ball caps, and division point leader Kadabrasnewrecruit took home his fourth Grassroots trophy with a commanding victory in the third $18,000 division. Starting from Post 4, driver Steve Byron put the fan favourite on the front and the pair rolled through fractions of :27.3, :58 and 1:27 before accelerating away from the field to a six and three-quarter length victory in 1:56.4. Boondock and Raising Richard rounded out the top three. Thornton, ON resident Byron piloted Kadabrasnewrecruit to his fourth Grassroots victory for owner-trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor, ON. With one regular season event remaining, the son of Kadabra and Keystone Alberta boasts a point tally of 212, 71 points more than the second-ranked colt. Saturday's victory boosted the gelding's sophomore record to four wins, three seconds and one third in 10 starts for earnings of $54,165. Both Byron and McIntosh were also successful in another Grassroots division, McIntosh in the first and Byron in the second. McIntosh trainee A Little More Love opened the Grassroots competition with a gate-to-wire score in 1:57.1. Alfie Carroll of Iona Station ON was in the Kadabra colt's race bike, asking him to dig in down the stretch as pocket-sitter Mandeville mounted a late charge. Fan favourite A Little More Love prevailed by one-half length, with Mandeville settling for second and Ja El Storm completing the triactor. The win was the second in Grassroots action for A Little More Love, who competes for Hall of Famer McIntosh and Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON. The number two ranked colt in the province last season, A Little More Love has struggled to regain his Gold Series form this year, posting just two wins and one second through eight starts for earnings of $26,565. Byron's other victory came with John Bax trainee Parkhill Lancelot in the second division. Starting from Post 5, Byron settled the Muscle Mass son in third as favourite El Diablo Hall rang up fractions of :27.3 and :58.3, and then tipped into the outer lane heading for the 1:27.3 three-quarters. Parkhill Lancelot grabbed control before the colts turned for home and hit the wire one length ahead of his peers in a personal best 1:57.3. Its Huw You Know finished second with Lets Be Honest well back in third. The win was Parkhill Lancelot's first in Grassroots action this season and boosted the gelding into sixth spot in the division standings with 108 points. In 10 starts this season Parkhill Lancelot has two wins, three seconds and one third for earnings of $33,540 for trainer Bax, of Campbellville, ON and his son Marshall Bax of Mississauga, ON. The final Grassroots honour was bestowed upon P L Intimidator, who trotted under the wire in 1:59 after favourites Delcrest Massy and Pilgrims Joy locked wheels in the stretch. P L Intimidator got a nose in front of Easton Road and A Rod Hall to secure his first lifetime victory. Scott Coulter of Brantford, ON engineered the win for trainer Robert McMillan of Beaverton, ON and his partners, breeder Prince Lee Acres of Uxbridge, ON, Martin Garey of Ventura, CA and Irene McMillan of Aurora, ON. The win boosted the Kadabra son into fifth in the point standings with 113 and improved his lifetime record to one win, four seconds, two thirds and earnings of $27,225 in 14 starts. The three-year-old trotting colts and geldings make their last regular season Grassroots start at Flamboro Downs on Sept. 3. The top 20 point earners through the regular season will compete in the Sept. 18 Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack and the top five finishers from each Semi-final will battle in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship on Sept. 26 at Mohawk. Ontario Horse Racing

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