Hiawatha Horse Park hosted the two-year-old trotting colts for Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots action on Saturday, July 31 and, for the second straight year, the colts were flying around the Sarnia oval.
The speed show started early as Archery Seelster tied the two-year-old trotting colt track record in the first $21,800 division. Starting from Post 7 with Bob McClure in the race bike, Archery Seelster eased away from the starting gate and was sitting sixth when Mass Attack reached the :28.4 quarter. As Mass Attack continued through a sharp :59.2 half and 1:28.1 three-quarters, McClure kept Archery Seelster out of trouble in the outer lane before turning the colt loose in the stretch. Archery Seelster powered home to a 1:59.4 victory, three-quarters of a length in front of Mass Attack. Usurp Hanover was three lengths back in third and favourite Lexus Ranger was fourth.
The mile equalled the track record set by Fashion Frenzie in Grassroots action at the Sarnia oval last July.
“He’s a good gaited colt, suited well for the smaller tracks,” said McClure. “He’s still green so he should improve.”
Trainer Marcel Barrieau of Cambridge, ON and Gestion Mastel Inc. of Longueil, QC share ownership of Archery Seelster, who was an $85,150 purchase out of last fall’s London Virtual Yearling Sale. The Wheeling N Dealin colt missed the July 15 Grassroots season opener due to sickness, but Barrieau said the youngster was a solid performer all winter. Saturday’s outing was Archery Seelster’s third and he now boasts a record of one win, one third and one fourth.
“He’s a very mild mannered colt and never ever done nothing wrong. I just hope he can go fast enough, that’s all,” said Barrieau. “I didn’t want to throw him in the ‘A’s’ right away because I like giving them a couple of starts before I do that, it proves to me that they are good enough. I’ll try him in another Grassroots and maybe a Gold after.”
The two-year-old trotting colts will make their third Grassroots start at Kawartha Downs on Aug. 7.
McClure also captured the third $22,150 division with favourite Mask Of Zoro, who sat third through the :29 quarter and 1:00.1 half put up by Rolling In Clover and then took command. On top by a comfortable margin at the 1:29.4 three-quarters, Mask Of Zoro pulled away from his peers in the stretch, reaching the wire four and three-quarter lengths ahead of Rolling In Clover in 2:00.1. Unresolved Debt finished third.
“He’s a very nice colt,” said McClure. “He’s not built like a two-year-old, physically or mentally. He’s all racehorse and a very powerful colt.”
Rockwood, ON resident McClure piloted Mask Of Zoro to his first lifetime win for trainer Benoit Hebert of Papineauville and Eric Lafleur of Gatineau, QC, who purchased the Muscle Mass son for $12,000 out of the 2020 Ontario Select Yearling Sale. With Saturday’s win and a third-place finish in the Grassroots season opener, Mask Of Zoro currently sits atop the two-year-old trotting colt standings with 62 points.
Driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON won the other two Grassroots divisions, guiding Stonebridge Zeus and P C Double Down to victory.
Starting from Post 5 in the second division, Stonebridge Zeus watched from fifth as Northern Ironman rolled through fractions of :29.1, 1:00.2 and 1:31.1. Turning for home Henry found the colt an open lane and Stonebridge Zeus powered by the leaders to a 2:02 victory. Sir Ballykeel was one-half length back in second and Arch Ruler was another length back in third. Favourite Livingontherail finished seventh.
“He got a really good trip,” said Henry. “He squeezed out at the head of the stretch and when he got room he raced good.”
Henry engineered the win for trainer Blake MacIntosh of St. George, Van Camp Trotting Corp. of Port Perry, ON and Mortgage Boys Stable of Fayetteville, NY, who offered up $20,000 for the Resolve son at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. The win was the first lifetime for Stonebridge Zeus, who finished eighth in the Grassroots season opener.
“We were high on him all winter and now he’s just starting to show what we thought he could be,” said MacIntosh, noting that the colt was a little behind his peers after missing about three weeks of training due to sickness. “We’re hoping he just keeps improving, and keeps going forward and shows us the speed we think he has.”
Henry wrapped up the Grassroots action with P C Double Down, going gate-to-wire from Post 1 for a 2:00.2 score. The fan favourite battled to the wire, keeping a neck in front of Down The Fence and Guinness.
“I drove him last week (July 15) and he raced good. Today he dug in at the wire to win,” said Henry. “I thought he would have win a little easier, but they rushed him the whole way, three-quarters in 1:28.4.”
Amy and Curtis Clements of Dobbinton, ON bred and own P C Double Down and Curtis handles training duties on the son of Il Sogno Dream, who earned his first victory with the effort. The gelding was sixth in the season opener.
Feature Image: Archery Seelster and driver Bob McClure tied the Hiawatha Horse Park two-year-old trotting colt track record with a 1:59.4 victory in Grassroots action on Saturday, July 31. (Holly Chaytor-Photos By Design)