SUDBURY, ON — The number of members in the three-year-old trotting colt’s undefeated club fell by one on Saturday night as Count Strike bested Frill Seeker in the first of three $24,000 Grassroots divisions at Sudbury Downs.
Tied with Traverse Seelster for top spot in the division standings with a flawless record of three wins in three starts heading into Saturday night’s test, pacesetter Count Strike and fan favourite Frill Seeker battled down the stretch to a half-length decision in the fourth race. The colts stopped the teletimer at 2:02, three-quarters of a length ahead of P C La Mousse.
Bruce Richardson piloted Count Strike to his eleventh win of the season for trainer Wayne Preszcator of Exeter and his partners Harness Racing Canada 12 of Ajax, Shawn Dixon of London and William Seplowe of Westbury, NY. In 15 starts the son of Striking Sahbra and Sips Speedy Spice has only missed the top two twice, earning $84,970 along the way.
The chestnut colt is flawless through four Grassroots starts, sharing top spot in the sophomore trotting colt standings with a total of 200 points, and already assured of a spot in the Sept. 24 Semifinals at Mohawk Racetrack.
Frill Seeker’s loss knocked him out of the exclusive winner’s club, but with 175 points in his four Grassroots outings the Angus Hall son has also secured a berth in the lucrative post season for trainer Ron Waples Jr. and owner Ebbsfleet Stables of Stratford.
The second Grassroots division saw Major Herbie deliver an impressive five and one-quarter length victory in a sharp 1:59.4. With trainer-driver Wayne Henry in the race bike, Major Herbie watched from the pocket as Winbak Hall reeled off fractions of :29.1, :59.4 and 1:30.1, then stepped to the outside and sprinted away to the victory. Mandinga also got past Winbak Hall in the stretch, leaving the pacesetter to settle for third.
Henry shares ownership of Major Herbie with his partners in the Henry Stable of Arthur and Daniel McCann of Parkhill. In 11 starts this season the Here Comes Herbie son has tallied six wins, one second and two thirds for earnings of $57,894. The young trotter has posted three wins and one third in Grassroots action and sits third in the standings with 162 points.
The final division saw Traverse Seelster extend his win streak to an impressive seven in spite of an early error that forced driver Doug Brown to adopt a come-from-behind strategy. After recovering from his miscue, Traverse Seelster pounded up the outside and put the pressure on pacesetter Finely Honed, who could not withstand the onslaught and gave up a half-length victory in 2:00.4. Here Comes Numbers was one length behind the fiercely battling leaders in third.
Frank O’Reilly trains Traverse Seelster for Franco Cianci of St-Laurent, QC, Isidoro Russo of Montreal, QC, and Vincenzo Monticciolo of Laval, QC. The talented son of Angus Hall and Travelin Lavec has not been bested since early June, and has a perfect record of four wins in four Grassroots starts for shared ownership of top spot in the division standings. The gelding also swept his elimination and the final of the Dream Of Glory Stake at Hanover Raceway in late July.
The three-year-old trotting colts and geldings make their second last Grassroots start next weekend, Aug. 28, at Dresden Raceway, then wrap up the regular season at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 14. The top 16 point earners at the end of the six event regular season will advance to a pair of Semifinals at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 24, with the top four finishers from each Semifinal earning a spot on the gate in the prestigious $100,000 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk on Oct. 1.
The Ontario Sires Stakes program makes one more stop at Sudbury Downs, as the northern oval welcomes the two-year-old trotting fillies to town for Grassroots action on Sept. 3.
For complete results please go to: Sudbury Downs Results — Aug. 20, 2011