ELORA, ON — Ignoring the rain and the slightly off track, local trotter Keystone Orion delivered an impressive effort at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening, laying down the fastest mile of six $24,000 Grassroots divisions.
The two-year-old trotting gelding and driver Dave Boughton got away third from Post 6, but wasted little time before taking a run at early pacesetter P C Striker who clocked the :30.4 opening quarter. By the 1:02.3 half Keystone Orion was on top, and the young trotter had opened up a three length gap by the 1:32.4 three-quarters.
Turning for home with a comfortable lead, Keystone Orion sailed down the stretch to a five and one-quarter length victory in a personal best 2:02.3. Southwind Nazareth and Ledger Seelster overtook pocket sitter P C Striker in the stretch to earn the second and third-place spoils. Fan favourite Mikey Hanover made an early break and was never a factor in the race.
Fergus resident Don Lindsey owns and trains Keystone Orion, who finished second in his Grassroots debut at Hanover Raceway on July 9 and then captured his second provincial start with a 2:06 effort at Clinton Raceway on July 24. Lindsey purchased the Angus Hall son at last year’s Harrisburg Yearling Sale for a modest $4,000, and the gelding has banked $30,100 in his first three lifetime starts.
With a total of 125 Grassroots points Keystone Orion is currently tied for top spot in the division standings with Strike The Cheque, who captured his first two Grassroots outings, but had to settle for second at Grand River on Wednesday.
Starting from the trailing Post 9, Strike The Cheque and driver Ross Battin were forced to employ a come-from-behind style, and they came within a head of a third victory, but pacesetter Ballykeel Ulysses was able to stretch out his neck far enough to secure the 2:06.2 win. Magish finished one and three-quarter lengths behind the battling leaders in third.
The victory was Ballykeel Ulysses’ second straight in Grassroots action. The Oaklea Julian son and driver Jason Brewer also posted a victory on July 24 at Clinton Raceway. Owned and trained by Cameron McKnight of Tillsonburg, Ballykeel Ulysses started his provincial campaign off with a fifth-place result at Hanover Raceway and currently boasts a point tally of 105, good enough for second spot in the freshman trotting colt standings.
Rick Zeron opened the evening’s Grassroots festivities with a pair of victories, piloting Hero Of My Dreams to a 2:03.2 victory for owner and trainer Rob Fellows of Rockwood, and then returning to the winner’s circle with his own trainee Jake Be Nimble two races later.
Hero Of My Dreams bested Mutinyonthebounty and Conway Garre by three and one-quarter lengths to pick up his first Grassroots trophy. Fellows recently added trotting hopples to the colt’s equipment bag, and the move looks like a wise one as Hero Of My Dreams effortlessly circled the Grand River half-mile. A full-brother to former Gold Series star Laddie, a winner of $1.02 million in his career, Hero Of My Dreams was a $62,000 acquisition out of last fall’s Harrisburg Sale.
Oakville resident Zeron used similar tactics in the second Grassroots division, hustling Jake Be Nimble away from Post 8 and clocking fractions of :29.3, 1:01.2 and 1:32.4 en route to a six and three-quarter length victory in 2:03. Warrawee Nimby trotted into the runner-up position, leaving fan favourite The Golden Child to settle for third.
Zeron conditions Jake Be Nimble for Terry Hunter of Cambridge, and started the Oaklea Julian son in the Gold Series in July. Jake Be Nimble finished second in his elimination and fifth in the July 14 Gold Final at Kawartha Downs and was all set to return to the top tier when the Gold Eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack were cancelled due to the extreme heat on July 21.
Both San Pietro and Ill Be There were also drawn into the July 21 Gold Eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack, and both colts picked up a Grassroots trophy as a consolation prize on Wednesday.
San Pietro and Paul MacDonell circled the Grand River oval in 2:05.3, besting House Money and Yackety Yak. Ben Wallace trains the Striking Sahbra son for Bradley Grant of Milton, and shipped him home from the Kawartha Downs Gold Series opener with a second-place cheque from the elimination round and a fourth in the Gold Final.
Ill Be There was a comfortable two length winner in 2:03 for trainer-driver Carl Jamieson in the other Grassroots division. The son of Kadabra and Disco Inferno son bested two other sons of Kadabra — Grandin Road and Windsong Illusion — to score his first lifetime victory. Princeton resident Jamieson shares ownership of Ill Be There with Thomas Kyron of Toronto.
The talented two-year-old trotting colts make their fourth Grassroots start at Kawartha Downs on Aug. 11, while Grassroots action returns to Grand River Raceway on Aug. 24 in the shape of the three-year-old pacing colts.
For complete results please go to: Grand River Raceway Results — Aug. 3, 2011