OTTAWA, ON — Ontario’s talented two-year-old trotting colts wrapped up their Grassroots season with a trio of thrilling races at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Thursday evening.

The excitement started to build in the first $20,000 Grassroots division when pocket sitter O Grady reeled in pacesetter Agusto at the top of the stretch, and then found himself under assault from Vangogh Lavictoire. The colts battled right to the wire, and when the dust cleared the judges awarded Vangogh Lavictoire with a nose victory in 2:02.1. O Grady settled for second and Agusto was two and one-quarter lengths back in third.

Rheo Filion drove Vangogh Lavictoire to his second Grassroots win for trainer James Lamacchia and owner Luigi Di Campo of Montreal, QC. In eight starts this season the Dr Ronerail gelding has recorded two wins and one second for earnings of $27,265. With two wins and one fifth in his three Grassroots appearances, Vangogh Lavictoire finishes the regular season tied for sixth in the division standings with 105 points.

The colts maintained the buzz in the second Grassroots division when fan favourite Dashing Earl was forced to circle out three-wide around stalled cover at the three-quarter marker. Just a neck behind pacesetter Senor Roberto as they turned for home, Dashing Earl dug in hard down the stretch to pull away to a one and three-quarter length victory in 2:02.3.

Senor Roberto stayed game for third, while King Gus, owned by George Judson of Athens, Barry White of Orleans, David Reid of Glenburnie and Richard Karper of Saint-Laurent, QC, recovered from an early break to claim the third-place share of the $20,000 Grassroots purse.

Two wins and two seconds in Grassroots action give Dashing Earl 150 points and sole ownership of third place in the division standings. The Earl son has only finished out of the top three once in seven starts for trainer Keith Klages and owner-breeder Robert Key of Leechburg, PA. Randy Fritz engineered Thursday’s victory.

The final Grassroots division was another nail biter as Matador Bo fought off a challenge from Winning Decision at the three-quarters only to see the colt come on again in the stretch. After another fight to the finish, Matador Bo earned the nose victory in 2:02.1 over a game Winning Decision. Northern Spirit finished six and one-quarter lengths back in third.

Matador Bo was making his first start in the Grassroots after spending the summer battling the top colts in the province at the Gold Series level, and the victory was his first. Tomas Dalborg piloted the Striking Sahbra son to the win for trainer Paul Buer and owner T W Wilhelmsen Inc. of Boca Raton, FL.

The top 16 point earners will now sharpen their skills in preparation for a pair of Grassroots Semifinal contests at Flamboro Downs on Oct. 17, with the top four finishers from each Semifinal earning a pass into the 2008 Grassroots Championship at Flamboro on Oct. 24.

Ontario Sires Stakes excitement will return to Rideau Carleton Raceway on Sunday, Oct. 12 with a $140,000 Gold Final for the three-year-old trotting fillies. Post time for Sunday’s program is 6:30 pm.

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