Grassroots to Stonebridge Rhyme, Yokomotion
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The trotting filly Stonebridge Rhyme may not have earned back all of her $29,000 purchase price, but on Sunday night the 2-year-old gave owner Arpad Szabo something almost as a valuable, an Ontario Sires Stakes victory at his local oval Georgian Downs.
Starting from post 1, Stonebridge Rhyme and driver Sylvain Filion were in front for most of the mile, trotting under the finish wire in 2:02.1 to take the second $19,500 Grassroots division of the evening. Division point leader Christmas Candy and fan favorite Kant Afford It were one length behind Stonebridge Rhyme in second and third.
"He's a great guy and he deserves to have a nice little horse. He's from up in Bradford there so all his family was there tonight. He just loves the game, he loves the game," said Rob Fellows, who trains Stonebridge Rhyme for Szabo. "That win — at his home track, on his home turf, with all his family — that will be worth him buying that horse, and, you know, maybe she'll have a nice career ahead of her."
Fellows said the daughter of Kadabra and Stonebridge Ballad has been a pleasure to train and chalked up a break in the July 6 Grassroots opener at Mohawk Racetrack to inexperience. The filly quickly resumed trotting and finished fourth, so her connections were hopeful she would rebound with a positive effort Sunday.
"When she qualified the first time she kind of threw her head a little bit going into the first turn, but kept trotting. But her first race, when they were cutting over in front of her, just being green, she just tossed her head and went off stride," explained the Rockwood, ON resident. "She was better this week so hopefully she can keep going.
"You always worry about them getting a little aggressive and that kind of stuff, especially trotting fillies, you have to worry about every step they take," he added.
The third Grassroots event for the two-year-old trotting fillies goes postward July 30 on Clinton Raceway's Legends Day program, and Fellows hopes Szabo has another opportunity to gather his family in the winner's circle before the end of the campaign.
"This is a nice little filly, I don't know if she has any total package speed to be a 1:54 trotter or anything like that as an aged horse, but right now, in this stage, she's had two starts and she's stayed trotting in one of them and she's won it, so I'm happy," said Fellows. "If I keep her in the Grassroots and manage her properly she might develop."
Stephen Byron captured the other Grassroots division with fan favorite Yokomotion in a sharp 2:00.3. The John Bax trainee sailed home two and one-half lengths ahead of Bonnie Breeze and another length in front of her stablemate Gradabra.
Like Stonebridge Rhyme, Yokomotion made an early break in the July 6 Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack and had to settle for fifth, but Byron said she was solid, if a little aggressive, in her second lifetime start.
"Last week she hit the bike and this week they put a different bike on her, but in saying that she was still a little excitable. She remembered it," Byron noted. "She was a little keener than I would want, but she did race great."
Bax shares ownership of Yokomotion with Goin To The Show Stable and Kenneth Andrews and Happy Trails Stables of London, ON. The partners acquired the daughter of Justice Hall and Yoko Hanover for $22,000 at last fall's Canadian Yearling Sale and she returned $9,750 with Sunday's victory.
"She did that pretty easy," said Byron. "She's a big, strong, fast mare, so hopefully she keeps doing it."
The Ontario Sires Stakes returns to Georgian Downs on Tuesday, August 15 with the fifth Grassroots event for the three-year-old pacing fillies. (Ontario Sires Stakes)