WOODSTOCK — Woodstock Raceway kicks off its 2003 season with the largest offering of Grassroots action in the 30 year history of the Ontario Sires Stakes. The half-mile oval will be teeming with three-year-old pacing colts on Saturday afternoon as a record 12 Grassroots divisions go postward on the 1:15 pm program.
Putnam resident Scott McNiven will send a trio of colts into the fray, jump starting a busy afternoon in Race 7 with Dons Decision, who makes his Ontario Sires Stakes debut from Post 2 with Greg Dustin in the race bike.
“He’s just kind of an immature three-year-old. He maybe doesn’t belong, but it’s close to home so I thought we’d try him,” says McNiven of the Run The Table colt. “He’s kind of a grinder. He’s only raced really bad once, in his last start at Sarnia he didn’t seem to get a hold of the track. I schooled him at Woodstock Saturday and he got around there all right, that’s why I threw him in.”
McNiven shares ownership of Dons Decision with Thomas Brodhurst of London, George Griffin of St. Thomas and Pine Vue West Stable of Westfield, NY. The partners offered up $11,000 for the colt as a yearling and have recouped $13,530 through four freshman starts and 10 starts this season, including two wins and five seconds.
Following his stablemate onto the Woodstock half-mile is Hussys Buddy, who starts from the outside Post 7 in the ninth race. The Albert Albert gelding, owned by breeder Donald Douglas of Ingersoll, heads into the $18,000 contest off an impressive winning effort in a qualifier at Woodstock on May 10.
“He should be a lot better his next go round at Woodstock,” says McNiven. “He’s got a lot of ability, but he doesn’t always try like he should. He just seems to get scared of his surroundings the first time he goes somewhere. His last start he got on the (judges’) list at Elmira. It was his first time there and he was just plain scared of everything.
“He’s different than anything I’ve ever had before,” adds the trainer. “But these kind of horses should get better as they go along.”
Hussys Buddy’s up and down career has netted Douglas $25,750 with three wins, three seconds and one third in 10 starts this season. Ray McLean, Jr. will drive the nervous youngster on Saturday afternoon.
McNiven’s final entry is Killean Sweep, who will leave the gate from Post 6 in Race 13 with Jody Jamieson at the controls. The Run The Table gelding has just one start under his belt this season, but the impressive 1:57.1 victory at Flamboro Downs on May 8 has owners Donald Douglas and Don and Jack McNiven of Ingersoll staking out front row seats for Saturday’s contest.
“We are very pleased with him,” says the gelding’s trainer. “He qualified just kind of so-so (April 30), but he was that much better in his first start. He got a nice trip, but he still came home in :29 flat. And he’s a nice small, tidy horse so Woodstock should suit him.”
The impeccably bred brother to $100,000 winners Freedom Killean and Winning Killean will join 91 of his peers in the hunt for a total purse of $216,000 at Woodstock on Saturday. The first race gets under way at 1:15 pm with the pacing colts taking control of the race card for the 12 remaining races.