WINDSOR, ON — Ontario’s talented three-year-old trotting colts wrapped up their Grassroots regular season at Windsor Raceway on Wednesday evening, and last year’s division champion The Mash Potato pulled out a squeaker to earn his shot at a second title.
After capturing the two-year-old trotting colt title in convincing fashion, The Mash Potato started his sophomore campaign at the Gold Series level, but made a late break in the season opening Gold Elimination at Mohawk Racetrack. Back in the Grassroots program, things did not go much better for the son of Potato Race, as he went off stride in the June 22 event at Rideau Carleton Raceway and again in the July 6 contest at Dresden Raceway.
After taking a month to address the issues the ridgling was having, trainer Brenda Spence and owners John Smith Racing Stable Inc. of Woodlawn and Denis Simard of Saint-Pascal-Baylon sent The Mash Potato to the Aug. 13 event at Flamboro Downs and crossed their fingers. Things finally worked in the trotter’s favour and he delivered a runner-up performance to Rapid Strategy.
On Sept. 16 at Kawartha Downs, The Mash Potato finished third in his Grassroots division, and his connections knew he would need a win at Windsor to have a shot at defending his title.
Starting from the advantageous Post 1 in the second $20,000 Grassroots division on Wednesday, driver Mitchell Sahely hustled The Mash Potato off the starting gate and had him settled into second when Long Ago reached the opening quarter in :28. Long Ago continued to lead the field of seven through the :58.2 half, and then handed control off to fan favourite Windsun Pride.
Windsun Pride reached the 1:28.1 three-quarters with a one length lead and maintained that margin around the final turn, but when Sahely kicked The Mash Potato into gear in the stretch, Windsun Pride could not hold off the defending Grassroots champion. As the colts hit the wire, The Mash Potato got a neck in front to secure the 1:58.4 victory and a berth in the Oct. 16 Grassroots Semifinals at Flamboro Downs. Windsun Pride maintained his position atop the division standings with his runner-up performance, while Matt Will Dance overcame the outside Post 7 to finish third in his Grassroots debut.
Wednesday’s victory marked The Mash Potato’s first appearance in the winner’s circle this season, and boosted him from twenty-eighth to thirteenth in the division standings.
Rapid Strategy picked up his second Grassroots victory with a commanding front end performance in the last division. In rein to Mario Baillargeon, the King Conch son fired out to the front from Post 5 and then rolled through fractions of :29.2, 1:00.3 and 1:30, before accelerating down the stretch to a 2:00.1 triumph.
Abe Linkin finished two and one-quarter lengths back in second, narrowly holding off Dillavec, who is owned by Richard Renwick of Merlin, Ronald Peltier of Pain Court, Brian Bartlett of Charing Cross and trainer Paul Walker of Owen Sound.
Benoit Baillargeon trains Rapid Strategy for Frank Cirillo of Kleinburg. Through 21 starts this season the gelding has amassed five wins, six seconds and two thirds for earnings of $74,371 and a spot among the top 16 Grassroots point earners.
John Kovacs and Were Rolling captured the quickest division with a 1:58.2 clocking for trainer Gordon Dancetovic and owners Bob Dancetovic of Paris and Jorgovanka Dancetovic of Cambridge. The other division went to Ron O’Neill trainee Patriot Seelster in a 1:59.1 clocking. Jalade Investments Ltd. of Oakville, Deanmar Sons Stables of Mississauga and Peter Miskolcsi of Brampton own Patriot Seelster, who wrapped up his season in a tie for third spot in the division standings.
The top 16 point earners will make their way to Flamboro Downs on Thursday, Oct. 16 for a pair of Grassroots Semifinals. The top four finishers from each Semifinal will earn a return invitation to Flamboro for the Oct. 24 Grassroots Championship.
Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Windsor Raceway on Tuesday, Oct. 21 with Gold Eliminations for the remarkable three-year-old pacing colts.
For complete results please go to: http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/results/data/rwrfwe.html.