Amanda Seelster wires Grassroots at Flamboro
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Ontario Sires Stakes action returned to Flamboro Downs on Tuesday evening with the fifth, and final, Grassroots leg for the three-year-old pacing fillies.
Fan favorite Azure Seelster kicked things off with a gate-to-wire score from Post 5 in the first $18,800 split, reaching the finish two and one-half lengths ahead of Color Envy and Saulsbrook Beauty in 1:54.3.
"She’s a gorgeous black filly, she’s by Shadow Play. She looks kind of just like he does —like he used to, I should say, when he was in racing form — they have the same shape," said driver Tyler Moore, whose father Dr. Ian Moore campaigned Shadow Play during his $1.5 million racing career. "She’s got a lot of quick speed, she’s a little high strung, but she’s all-in-all a very fast racehorse."
Campbellville resident Moore piloted Azure Seelster to the win for trainer Jacques Dupont and owners Les Ecuries Dorleans Inc. of Repentigny, 2745 5815 Quebec Inc. and Sylvain Descheneaux of Sorel-Tracy, and Paul Andre Lehoux of Sainte-Marie, Quebec. Tuesday’s victory was the filly’s second in Grassroots action this season and gives her a final tally of 130 points, good enough for fifth spot in the standings.
Hello Love delivered an impressive effort from the outside Post 8 to earn a 1:55.2 victory in the second $18,800 division. The Shadow Play daughter and driver James MacDonald got away fifth and then led the charge up the outer lane, pressing pacesetter Sunday Afternoon through the second half. Matching strides with Sunday Afternoon around the final turn, Hello Love found another gear in the stretch and pulled away to a one-length win in 1:55.2. Lifelong Dream followed the fan favourite up the outer lane into second and Sunday Afternoon settled for third.
The win was Hello Love’s third in Grassroots action and puts her at the top of the division standings with 183 points. Heading into the Sept. 21 Semi-Finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park trainer Mark Steacy and his staff will be working tirelessly to keep the filly in peak condition.
"We’ve had a chiropractor work on her a few times, and a massage therapist work on her a little bit," said Steacy. "She’s had muscle issues so we have to monitor that pretty close with her, and as long as we keep that under control she races good for us."
Steacy conditions Hello Love, another daughter of Shadow Play, for Landmark 10 Racing Stable of Kingston, Ontario, J And T Silva Stables LLC of Long Beach, NY, Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, Alberta and Conrad Leber of Montreal, Quebec. The filly has not been worse than second in the last month and, as long as she maintains her current form, Steacy expects her to be among the primary contenders in the post-season.
"I think Neon Moon looks very good and I think them two, right at the moment, look probably the two best," reflected Steacy. "So hopefully our mare stays healthy and we’ll see what happens."
Neon Moon, also starting from Post 8, delivered an equally impressive effort in the last $19,150 division. In rein to Guelph resident Jason Ryan, Neon Moon fired off the gate and took command before the :28.1 quarter and then reeled off fractions of :57.4 and 1:25.4 on her way to a one and one-quarter length victory in 1:54.1. Pocket-sitter Shadow World finished second and Iveseenthefuture completed the top three.
"I’m very happy with her. She’s been very consistent and she always tries hard," said Cambridge resident Jack Darling, who owns and trains Neon Moon. "She has the speed to overcome a bad post like the eight-hole tonight at Flamboro. I hope she can keep it up for the Grassroots Finals."
The victory was Neon Moon’s second in Grassroots action and puts her in sixth with 124 points. Last season the Sportswriter daughter was the runner-up in the Grassroots Final, so Darling will be hoping she can match or better that result.
The top 20 point earners will advance to the Sept. 21 Semi-Finals, and the top five finishers from each Semi-Final will earn a berth in the Sept. 29 Grassroots Championship at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Flamboro Downs has one more Ontario Sires Stakes event on the calendar this season, welcoming the two-year-old trotting fillies for their fourth Gold Series event on Tuesday, Sept. 25. (Ontario Sires Stakes)