James MacDonald, Steacy have big OSS night
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Driver James MacDonald and trainer Shawn Steacy teamed up for two wins and two seconds in Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots action at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday night.
The duo kicked off the Grassroots program in the fourth race with fan favourite Moonshine Kisses, who took command of the race before the halfway marker and powered home a five length winner in 1:50. Balder Son closed well to finish second and pocket-sitter Silver Beast was third.
“I was really pleased with his effort because I think he’s got a great attitude. His attitude has come a long way from last year and that’s what’s made him a better horse. He’s more focused, he’s more willing to put in a full effort,” said Steacy. “And 1:50 was a real big mile. I think that’s the fastest Sunshine Beach there is now, if I’m not mistaken.”
Steacy shares ownership of the Sunshine Beach colt with his mother Katherine Steacy of Lansdowne, ON and Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy of Edmonton, AB. The win was Moonshine Beach’s third of the season and, added to his runner-up finish in the May 19 Grassroots opener, gives him a total of 75 points and a share of second-place in the division standings.
Guelph, ON residents MacDonald and Steacy were back in the winner’s circle one race later with OK Kudo, who reeled off a :27 last quarter to score his first lifetime win in 1:52. Dreamfair Moxy was one-half length back in second and Missile Seelster was one more length back in third.
“OK Kudo I was really happy with. He’s been waiting to win, he’s about three weeks overdue that horse,” said the trainer. “So many times I thought tonight was his night, tonight was night, and he’d let me down. Tonight he just had to prove that he could do it.”
Another son of Sunshine Beach, OK Kudo had recorded one second, two thirds and two fourths in overnight action and a seventh in the Grassroots season opener since making his sophomore debut in early May. Breeder Oak Knoll Stables of Campbellcroft, ON and Stephen Downey of Quispamsis, NB share ownership of the colt.
Steacy and MacDonald’s other two Grassroots starters, also sons of Sunshine Beach, finished second in their divisions.
Phils Sun battled Sportsline down the stretch, but was unable to reel in the heavy favourite. Sportsline stopped the Woodbine Mohawk Park teletimer at 1:50.3, reaching the wire three-quarters of a length ahead of Phils Sun, with Jay Eye Em another length back in third.
Trevor Henry piloted Sportsline to his eighth win in nine sophomore starts for trainer Jim Watt of Clinton and his co-owner Harry Parrott of Goderich, ON. With two wins in Grassroots action the Sportswriter son currently shares top spot in the division standings with 100 points.
“Phils Sun, he raced a huge mile and only got tired in the last couple steps and got beat by a horse that’s, in my mind, a super horse for a Grassroots horse,” said Steacy of Sportsline.
In the last division fans sent MacDonald and Priceless Beach off as the top choice, but the pair was unable to catch pacesetter The Regulator in the stretch. After moving to the front at the :54.1 half, The Regulator reeled off a 1:22.1 three-quarters and then sprinted home to a 1:49.4 victory. Priceless Beach was two and three-quarter lengths behind in second, one-half length ahead of third-place finisher Better Moonon Over.
Arthur, ON resident Trevor Henry picked up his second Grassroots win aboard The Regulator, steering the Bettors Delight son to victory for trainer Victor Puddy of Mountain, Dale Towle of Leamington and Michael Horwood of Tecumseh, ON. The win was the first in Ontario Sires Stakes action for The Regulator, who dropped down from the Gold Series level for Thursday’s test.
“Sportsline’s a nice colt. He’s got a quick turn of foot. Jim just has to figure out how to stop him from drifting in the stretch. The Regulator is just a nice colt. I can’t believe he paid as much as he did his first time in the Grassroots,” said Henry of his winning mounts.
The other $23,850 Grassroots division went to Sugartown, who also recorded a personal best with his 1:51.2 victory. Sugartown finished three-quarters of a length ahead of fan favourite Cliffhanger and that much more ahead of third-place finisher Carlisimo.
Doug McNair piloted Sugartown to his second straight Grassroots win for trainer Richard Moreau and owner W J Donovan of Delray Beach, FL. With two Grassroots wins under his belt, the Sportswriter son shares top spot in the division standings with Sportsline.
The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will make their third Grassroots start on August 5 at Grand River Raceway, where MacDonald and Steacy will attempt to replicate Thursday’s success.
“We had a real good night,” said Steacy. “We can always think about Golds maybe later on with some of them, but they seem to be very comfortable where they are, so we’ll probably just race some overnights and prepare for the next one.”
The Gold Series three-year-old pacing colts and geldings will square off in their second event on Saturday, June 29 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The $159,600 Gold division is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s program, which gets under way at 7:55 pm. (Ontario Sires Stakes)