3CP Sugartown wins Grassroots in 1:50.4
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Ontario’s talented 3-year-old pacing colts wrapped up their Grassroots regular season at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Monday night and Sugartown picked up his fourth win in the provincial program to finish atop the division standings.
Starting from Post 3 with Louis-Philippe Roy in the race bike, Sugartown got away sixth as Silver Beast sprinted out to a :26.4 opening quarter. Through the :54.3 half and 1:22 three-quarters clocked by HP Napoleon the heavy favorite was advancing up the outer lane behind Silas Seelster. Turning for home Sugartown was four lengths behind the leader, but a sharp finishing kick propelled him to a two and one-half length victory in a personal best 1:50.4. HP Napoleon hung on for second and The Regulator came on to be third.
“Sugartown is a beautiful horse. He probably could have been a Gold, but his life is easier in the Grassroots,” said trainer Richard Moreau. “I really liked Louis’s drive for that win.”
“I was expecting a lot of early speed in the race, so it helped us that he can race good off the pace on a helmet,” added Guelph, ON resident Roy. “He’s turning into a nice racehorse this year.”
Moreau trains Sugartown for W. J. Donovan of Delray Beach, FL. The Sportswriter gelding won four of his five Grassroots starts and finished second by a neck in the other one. Through 19 sophomore starts the pacer has netted seven wins, two seconds and three thirds for earnings of $88,355.
Moreau also trained the winner of the first $23,150 division. Late bloomer Legion Seelster made his Ontario Sires Stakes debut from Post 6 and got away smartly, taking a brief turn on the lead before settling in third behind favourite Cliffhanger and Better Moonon Over. As the colts straightened up in the stretch Legion Seelster looked like he was pinned on the rail, but when both Cliffhanger and Better Moonon Over drifted to the right, driver Sylvain Filion sent the gelding through the opening and Legion Seelster hit the wire one length the best in a personal best 1:51.3. Cliffhanger held on for second ahead of Prestige Seelster.
The win was Legion Seelster’s fifth in five lifetime starts. The Sunshine Beach gelding made his career debut at Grand River Raceway on July 31 and had been flawless in four overnight starts before taking his first crack at the Grassroots colts.
“I figured that in his winning streak he deserved a try in the OSS Grassroots,” said Moreau. “At the same time it makes him eligible to the class ‘horses who participated in the Grassroots’ for the rest of the year. To be honest I didn’t expect to win in 1:51.3.”
Legion Seelster learned his early lessons under the tutelage of Gaston Bibeau of Sorel-Tracy, QC, who shares ownership of the gelding with Ecurie CSL, also of Sorel-Tracy.
Dreamfair Moxy scored his third Grassroots win with a 1:52 effort in the second division. The Bettors Delight son and driver Travis Cullen took control early and held off a surging Sportsline for the three-quarter length victory. Fan favourite Priceless Beach settled for third.
Jodie Cullen of Dundas trains Dreamfair Moxy for John Lamers of Ingersoll, ON. With three wins and one second in four Grassroots starts, Dreamfair Moxy will head into the Sept. 28 Semi-Finals ranked second with 175 points.
The last Grassroots division of the sophomore pacing colts’ season went to fan favorite Fast N First, who took control early and made it look easy, cruising home a 3 1/2-length winner in 1:52. Loud Splash closed well to be second and Carsons Shadow rounded out the top three.
Chris Christoforou drove Fast N First to his second straight Grassroots win for trainer Blake MacIntosh of St. George and his partners Ridgeway Racing of Ridgeway and Steve Heimbecker of Conestogo, ON. The Bettors Delight colt started his season with a pair of starts at the Gold Series level before finding his footing in the last three Grassroots events. He heads into the post season ranked fourth with 125 points.
“He’s just borderline Gold and racing those three top guys up there is pretty tough so we dropped him down and he’s gotten brave again and seems good,” said MacIntosh.
With almost four weeks between Monday’s event and the Semi-Finals, Fast N First and his peers will be looking for prep races and MacIntosh said the colt might take a step back up the stakes ladder for his interim effort.
“I just read an article where the top five Jug horses aren’t going,” explained the trainer, who won the 2018 Little Brown Jug with Courtly Choice. “He might go to the Jug, because he’s eligible. We might take him there or we might just overnight him, we haven’t decided yet. It’s a big step up, but when you read the top five Jug horses aren’t either eligible or aren’t interested in going, you sort of think about that.”
The Little Brown Jug goes postward in Delaware, Ohio on Sept. 19. Sugartown is also eligible to the historic event.
No matter where they do their preparations, the top 20 point earners will return to Woodbine Mohawk Park on Sept. 28 for two $20,000 Semi-Finals. The top five finishers from each Semi-Final will then advance to the $50,000 Grassroots Championship at the Campbellville oval on Oct. 5. (Ontario Sires Stakes)