from the Ontario Sires Stakes
Hanover, ON — In front of an enthusiastic Dream Of Glory night crowd at Hanover, local reinsman Bruce Richardson piloted a pair of 3-year-old pacing fillies to Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots victories on Saturday evening (Aug. 1).
“It’s just like playing for the Leafs,” quipped Richardson from the Hanover Raceway winner’s circle. “A jam-packed house.”
Richardson made his first visit to the winner’s circle in the opening division, guiding Dublin Rose to a 1:55 victory over Aniston Seelster and Code One Hanover. Starting from post five, Richardson and Dublin Rose watched from sixth as Code One Hanover rocketed out to a :26.4 opening quarter. Heading for the :56.3 half the reinsman tipped Dublin Rose into the outer lane and the fan favorites made steady progress up the outside through the 1:25.2 three-quarters.
Turning for home Dublin Rose was a half-length back and she powered down the stretch to score a half-length victory, just one-fifth of a second off the track record for sophomore pacing fillies.
“She’s a real nice filly,” said Richardson. “I drove her up in Clinton (July 5) and got locked in the two-hole with her and she finished okay, she finished third up there. Tonight she raced just real tough, I come first up with her and just grinded it out, and she raced right to the wire.”
Richardson engineered the win for Allen Tomlinson, who bred, owns and trains the daughter of Major In Art and Bronwen Seelster. The win was the filly’s second in Grassroots action and gives her 100 points in the race toward a post season berth.
The driver’s second Grassroots victory came in the fourth division, with lightly rated Happy Ending Gal, who lived up to her name after a rocky start to the evening.
“He said that she made a break warming up, and she pulled a shoe, he said she did everything bad that she wasn’t supposed to tonight,” said Richardson of his pre-race conversation with trainer Gerald Lilley. “And he said that she sometimes doesn’t finish her mile very good, but she got a good enough trip. They battled up at the front end and kind of slowed up, and we were in a lucky spot and got through, and she won.”
Starting from the trailing post eight, Happy Ending Gal was sixth at the :27.4 quarter and :56.4 half. Richardson tipped the Jereme’s Jet daughter into the outer lane behind three other horses heading for the 1:25.3 three-quarters and when the leaders seemed to stall in the stretch he sent her wider still and Happy Ending Gal sprinted home to a 1-3/4 length victory in a personal best 1:56. Southwind Geisha and Got Some Spark also closed well to be second and third.
The win was both Happy Ending Gal and trainer Gerald Lilley’s first in Ontario Sires Stakes action. Lilley conditions the filly for Bill Manes, Steven Papillon, Donald Swackhamer and William Cripps.
In addition to his pair of Grassroots victories Richardson, currently second in the driver standings at Hanover Raceway, also won the evening’s first race with maiden trotter Mulan Road.
The other three Grassroots trophies went home with Warrawee Qually, Northern Starlet and OK Heavenly.
Warrawee Qually earned her first Grassroots win of the season with a 1:55.4 effort in the second division for driver Steve Byron and trainer Pat Hunt. The Jereme’s Jet daughter went gate-to-wire, besting Wishes For You and Mystical Wonder.
Hunt trains Warrawee Qually for his partners Glengate Farms and Goldfinger Stables. The win was the first of three on the night for Byron, including a romp to victory with heavy favorite Hemi Seelster in the featured C$75,000 Dream Of Glory Trot final.
Northern Starlet posted her first victory of 2015 in the third division, circling the Hanover oval on the front end for driver Jean Bernard Renaud. The favorites hit the wire one length ahead of Amazing Control and Evas Girl in 1:57.
Stephane Larocque trains Sportswriter daughter Northern Starlet for Bayama Farms Inc.
The final Grassroots division was captured by Clarke Steacy and OK Heavenly, who was also making her first appearance in the winner’s circle this season. Another daughter of Sportswriter, OK Heavenly powered down the stretch to a quarter-length victory over Windsun Chanel and Much Adoo in 1:58.
Steacy crafted the come-from-behind victory for his father, trainer Mark Steacy, and owners Oak Knoll Stables, Conrad Leber, Richard Karper and Wheelhouse Racing Stable.
The 3-year-old pacing fillies will make their fourth Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on Aug. 14.
Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Hanover Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 5) with the last Grassroots test for the 3-year-old trotting fillies.