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CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — During the winter of 2010-11 long time Boston Bruins fans Joe MacIsaac was watching his team play the Toronto Maple Leafs while thinking up names for the latest foal from partner Carolyn Williston’s broodmare Chelemark Gizmo. As the Boston faithful chanted ‘Thank You Kessel’ — referencing the 2009 trade deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Leafs in exchange for draft picks that would become Boston stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton — MacIsaac thought, ‘Why not?’ and weeks later the name Thankyoukessel was approved by Standardbred Canada. Thankyoukessel made his racing debut in the summer of 2012 and over the past two years has amassed a consistent record of seven wins, two seconds and three thirds in 19 starts for earnings of $212,445. Competing at the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold Series level this season the gelding has posted two wins, two thirds and one fifth, ranking him second in the point standings heading into Saturday night’s $200,000 Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack. “He started off the year good with a win down in London and he really, really didn’t give us a bad race all year,” says Moffat resident MacIsaac. “He doesn’t do a whole lot wrong; he’s a pretty nice boy.” In addition to his successes in the Gold Series, Thankyoukessel also captured the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk on July 20 in a personal best 1:54.2 and his sophomore debut in a May 2 overnight event at Woodbine Racetrack. The Ken Warkentin gelding has surpassed the standard set by his full-sister Witch Way, who was a Gold Final winner and earned $170,833 in her career. “The best thing about that mare, all her foals have been good gaited,” says MacIsaac, who raced a two-year-old Federal Flex half-brother to Thankyoukessel this summer and will start training a yearling Federal Flex brother this fall. “That makes it a lot easier to get them to the races.” Thankyoukessel and driver Mike Saftic of Campbellville will make their run at the OSS division title from Post 3 in Saturday’s seventh race and MacIsaac is expecting another exciting show from the talented Ontario-sired colts. Point leader Buddy Hally will start from Post 4, Goodtimes and Mid-Summer Challenge winner Flanagan Memory gets Post 7, and Yonkers Trot Elimination winner and reigning Super Final champion Creampuff Macdaddy will start from Post 9. “I don’t know how it will end up shaping up,” notes the trainer, “But Flanagan Memory looks like the horse to beat.” Thankyoukessel finished third to Flanagan Memory in the Sept. 20 Gold Series event at Mohawk Racetrack, a mile timed in 1:53.3, and MacIsaac is not sure the gelding can alter that result on Saturday. However, whether Thankyoukessel finishes off his sophomore stakes campaign with a win or a loss, MacIsaac and Williston will head home just as happy with the trotter’s efforts as Boston fans have been with the Kessel trade. “We’re just looking forward to tomorrow (Saturday). I hope things work out for him and he gets a piece of it, but regardless, it’s been a great year for us,” MacIsaac explains. “Anything he gets will be a bonus for us right now. We’re going to enjoy it any way.” Post time for Mohawk Racetrack’s Saturday, Sept, 28 program is 7:25 pm, with the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals featured in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 10. For complete entries please go to Ontario Sires Stakes

ELORA, ON - Fans may not have sent Thankyoukessel off as their top choice in the second Gold Series division at Grand River Raceway on Friday night, but driver Mike Saftic was confident in his mount's abilities. Starting from Post 6, Saftic put Thankyoukessel on the rail in fourth while last year's Grassroots champ Buddy Hally rolled through fractions of :29.2, :58.4 and 1:27.2. Heading for the three-quarter marker Saftic tipped Thankyoukessel out behind fan favourite Gotta Secret and waited until the stretch to shift the gelding into top gear. Once he hit his stride Canadian Breeders champ Thankyoukessel reeled in the leaders and hit the wire one-quarter length on top in a track record 1:57.1. Buddy Hally settled for second and Gotta Secret was relegated to third. The win was the second in Gold Series action this season for Thankyoukessel, who is trained by Joe MacIsaac for owner-breeder Carolyn Williston of Moffat. The win vaulted the Ken Warkentin son to the top of the three-year-old trotting colt point standings with 112. After starting his season at the Grassroots level, last year's Super Final champion Creampuff Macdaddy made a successful leap up to the top tier with a gate-to-wire 1:59.1 score in the first $105,000 division. Another son of Ken Warkentin, Creampuff Macdaddy is trained by Brad Maxwell for Howard Taylor of Philadelphia, PA, Theodore Gewertz of New York, NY, Edwin Gold of Phoenixville, PA and Judith Taylor of Bala Cynwyd, PA. Randy Waples crafted the colt's third sophomore victory. The three-year-old trotting colts make their last regular season Gold Series start at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 20. Ontario Sires Stakes excitement returns to Grand River Raceway on Monday, Aug. 26 with the fourth Gold Series leg for the three-year-old pacing fillies. For complete results For up to date point standings, race replays, and more. Sandra Snyder  

ELORA, ON - Grand River Raceway hosts a pair of $105,000 Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old trotting colts on Friday, Aug. 23 and the second division features a showdown between the top two colts in the division. Buddy Hally and Thankyoukessel share top spot in the point standings, having accumulated one win and one third-place result through the first two Gold Series legs for a total of 62 points. Both colts also competed in the Aug. 10 Mid-Summer Challenge at Mohawk Racetrack, with Buddy Hally finishing a narrowly beaten second and Thankyoukessel crossing the wire fifth. Gregg McNair trainee Buddy Hally capped off his freshman season with a Grassroots Championship victory over the Grand River Raceway oval and the Angus Hall colt will be looking to replicate that effort from Post 4 in Friday's sixth race. Through 10 starts this season the colt has posted one win, two seconds and two thirds for $89,460 in earnings. Guelph resident McNair shares ownership of the colt with Howmac Farms of North Wiltshire, PE, Reginald MacPherson of Stratford, PE and Wayne MacRae of Fall River, NS. In addition to his Gold Series victory, Thankyoukessel has posted two other wins this season, including the final of the Canadian Breeders Championship at Mohawk Racetrack on July 20. Through nine starts the Ken Warkentin gelding has three wins and one third for earnings of $114,955. Joe MacIsaac conditions Thankyoukessel for owner-breeder Carolyn Williston of Moffat. The gelding will make his bid for a fourth win from Post 7 in Race 6. Also making his bid for a Gold Series triumph in the second division is fifth-ranked Gotta Secret, who will benefit from Post 2. The Muscle Mass colt, trained by Richard Moreau for Gestion Jean Yves Blais of Montreal, QC, set a track record over the Grand River Raceway oval last fall in his Grassroots Semifinal. The three-year-old trotting colts will duel in Races 2 and 6 on Friday, with Grand River Raceway's first race going postward at 7:05 pm. For complete entries.      For up to date point standings, race replays, and more.            Sandra Snyder  

There might not be any National Hockey League action these days, but it hasn't stopped one 'Kessel' from scoring impressively. With apologies to fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's not Phil Kessel, the team's points leader of 2011-12 in the limelight. In this instance, standardbred trotter Thankyoukessel is the one making harness racing headlines.

Harness racing driver Randy Waples will steer two freshman trotting fillies in Thursday's $30,000 Peaceful Way eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack in hopes they both advance to the $447,000 final on Saturday September 17.

With a trio of $89,267 Champlain Stakes divisions featuring harness racing sophomore filly trotters taking place Thursday evening at Mohawk Racetrack, it was Check Me Out who stole the show with a 1:55.1 stakes record performance.

Reigning Gold Final champ Witch Way began defence of her title with a front end victory in Gold Elimination action at Flamboro Downs on Wednesday afternoon. With Milton resident Randy Waples in the race bike, Witch Way powered off the starting gate and led the field of two-year-old trotting fillies through harness racing fractions of :30.3, 1:00.4 and 1:30.4 before cruising home to a one and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 2:00.2.

Grand River Raceway harness racing fans overlooked elimination winner Witch Way in Monday's $130,000 Gold Final, but the two-year-old trotting filly made it clear early that she had come to Elora ready for battle.

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