ONTARIO SIRES STAKES
Georgian Downs hosted the second Grassroots Leg for the two-year-old trotting fillies on Tuesday, Aug. 3 and Felt Tip Marker delivered the quickest mile of the four $21,800 divisions.
Taking early command of the third division from Post 6, Felt Tip Marker and driver Anthony Haughan laid down fractions of :29.4, 1:00.3 and 1:29.2, and then powered down the stretch to a 1:58.2 victory. Her Grace K finished second and First One was third, with both fillies finishing well back of the leader. Fan favourite Mischevious Rose made a break in the final turn and finished fourth.
“She was in the first Gold (July 6), she kind of got parked the mile there but came up with a good effort. Then she came up with a little sickness so she missed a couple weeks. Two weeks ago (July 20) she had a win on the front and was just a little green on the front, but tonight she was really good and really strong,” said trainer Meg Crone. “We skipped the (second) Gold just because it was on the half. She’s a very big filly, so we just didn’t want to take her to the half, but now hopefully she’ll stay in with the Golds.”
The Cambridge, ON resident trains Felt Tip Marker for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa, ON and trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman’s Enzed Racing Stable Inc. of Allentown, NJ. The partners offered up $15,000 for the filly at last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and Norman prepped the Kadabra daughter in New Jersey before sending her to Crone in mid-June for the Ontario Sires Stakes campaign. Felt Tip Marker finished fourth in the Gold Series season opener and was a 2:00 winner in overnight action on July 20, both at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Allisonann Hanover kicked off the evening’s action in the first race with a 1:59.4 effort that saw her sit mid-pack as Complete Life posted a :29.4 quarter and Gala Halo rang up a 1:00.3 half. Heading for the 1:30.4 three-quarters driver Bob McClure sent Allisonann Hanover after favourite Gala Halo and the challenger sprinted down the stretch to a one length victory. Gala Halo settled for second, holding off a quick-closing Complete Life.
“She’s a big filly. I think she’ll be that much better next year. She’s good gaited and honest and doesn’t mind her work,” said trainer Mark Etsell. “That was a good mile tonight and she did it right, come home in :29, so we were good with that.”
Etsell trains the Archangel daughter for Etsell Newton of Rockwood, Chaun Tan of Cambridge, Graham Hopkins of Chesley and Peter Porter of Port Dover, ON. Like Felt Tip Marker, Allisonann Hanover started her Ontario Sires Stakes career at the Gold Series level, finishing seventh, but unlike her fellow winner, she will likely appear in the third Grassroots Leg at Hanover Raceway on Aug. 14.
“She’s good gaited and handy, so that’s the plan, but a lot can happen between now and then,” said Etsell, who selected the $85,000 yearling out of the Black Book Yearling Sale. “She’s pretty good around a half.”
Driver Chris Christoforou swept the other two Grassroots divisions, guiding Cersei De Vie and Socks N Crocs to victory.
In the second division, fan favourite Cersei De Vie circled her peers at the half and never looked back, cruising home a two and one-half length winner in 2:01.1. Trade Secret finished second and Muscle Envy was third.
“Chris did a good job with her,” said trainer Pam Forgie. “She’s kind of funny, because she’s really quiet for the most part and then when you turn her to the gate she’s all business, she wants to go. Paul MacDonell schooled her and qualified her and did her first couple starts with her and he basically said, ‘Don’t leave with her because she wants to go and we just want to keep her quiet off the gate’, and that’s what he (Christoforou) did.”
The win was the first lifetime for Cersei De Vie, who debuted in the July 13 Grassroots season opener where she finished sixth, and then delivered a runner-up effort in a July 27 overnight at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Goderich resident Forgie shares ownership of the Resolve filly with Dr. Steve Taylor of Kitchener, ON.
In the last $21,800 Grassroots division Socks N Crocs controlled the tempo from Post 2, leading the field through fractions of :29.4, 1:01.3 and 1:32 before sprinting down the stretch to a three-quarter length victory in 2:00.4. Muscle Up The Gold finished second and pocket-sitter Opas Faith was third. Favourite Smashing Success made a mid-race break and finished last.
“She raced good at this track last time,” said Christoforou of the runner-up result Socks N Crocs posted at Georgian Downs on July 25. “Tonight she got to the front early, controlled the race and sprinted home in :28.4. She’s a very nice filly that loves to race.”
Christoforou has now steered the Resolve daughter to one win and one fifth in Grassroots action for trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph and his co-owners M & S Racing Stable Inc. of Rockwood, Dean Lockhart of Collingwood and Paul Kidd of Guelph, ON. Socks N Crocs was a $30,000 purchase at the Black Book Yearling Sale.