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Keith Waples has Grassroots winner in Senior K

July 11, 2015

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Ontario's 2015 two-year-old pacing colt crop kicked off their provincial careers at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday night in the presence of a Canadian harness racing legend.
Hall of Fame horseman Keith Waples was on hand to watch the debut of his colt Senior K in the fourth Grassroots division, and when the Bettors Delight son delivered an impressive victory Waples joined the colt in the winner's circle, a spot he visited regularly during a driving career that spanned seven decades.
"It's pretty neat driving for the best driver to ever sit behind a horse,” said Doug McNair, who steered Senior K to the win.
The 25-year-old reinsman sent Senior K to the front from Post 8 and the colt rolled through fractions of :28.1, :58.2 and 1:27.4, fending off a challenge from Sure Fired Bet. Pacing strongly through the stretch, Senior K hit the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of fan favorite Gerries Sport and Mr Mach Jimmy in a mile time of 1:55.2.

The 91-year-old Waples, who crafted the first sub-2:00 mile ever recorded in Canada with Mighty Dudley at Richelieu Park in 1959, joined the young reinsman and his father Gregg McNair in the winner's circle, an event the elder McNair hopes to see repeated on the Grassroots circuit this summer.

"He raced real good, he finished good and left hard, so he kind of raced like a decent colt,” said the trainer. "We were really pleased with him.”

McNair and Waples picked Senior K out of the 2014 Harrisburg yearling sale, with Durham, ON resident Waples offering up $75,000 for the half-brother to $509,845 winner Handsoffmycupcake and $275,666 winner Lola Palooza.

"We bid on two, we bid on another one that we didn't get and so we went after him,” recalled Guelph, ON resident Gregg McNair. "We were looking for an Ontario-bred pacing colt and we kind of had it narrowed down to a Bettors Delight or a Mach Three; he was available and we liked the way he looked.”

McNair added that Senior K was a challenging yearling to work with, and continues to be difficult around the barn, but the trainer hopes Friday's victory has started the young pacer down a path that leads to continued Grassroots success.

"He tries to get out of things a little bit, but anyhow he raced good tonight, I hope that breaks him loose a little bit,” said the trainer.

The other five division winners will also be hoping to replicate Friday's success when they return to Mohawk next Friday, July 17 for their second Grassroots event. Currently sharing top billing with Senior K are Writers Kramp, Kokanee Seelster, Macharoni N Cheese, Think On It and Print Media.

Writers Kramp opened the evening with an impressive 1:55.1 win from off the pace. Starting from Post 9, driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, ON allowed the Sportswriter son to float away from the gate and had found room on the rail in fifth by the :27.3 opening quarter. Watching from mid-pack as First Car rolled through fractions of :58 and 1:27.2, Filion found an open lane in the stretch and Writers Cramp responded with a :26.3 finishing kick that propelled him past First Car and Vegas Dream and into the winner's circle.

Shaun McDonald of Rockwood, ON trains Writers Cramp for owner-breeder Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, ON. The colt is a half-brother $611,769 winner Dreamlands Art.

Fan favourite Kokanee Seelster made winning look easy in the second Grassroots division, sailing along on the front to a 1:53 victory over Derecho and Notetoself Hanover. Campbellville, ON resident Mike Saftic crafted the Camluck colt's two and three-quarter length victory for trainer William Corbett of London, ON and owners Edmund Lui of Parkhill, ON, Yves Blouin of London and Ming Siu of Richmond, BC.

Macharoni N Cheese posted a 1:55.4 victory in the fourth division, besting The Big Beast and Shadows Pro. The Mach Three son was driven to the victory by trainer Joe Hudon of Acton, ON who also shares ownership of the colt with his wife Karen Hudon.

Think On It got a confident steer from Milton, ON resident Randy Waples in the fifth split, rolling to the front past the half and then carrying on to a one and one-quarter length 1:54 victory over Wild Chance and favourite Blue Zombie. The Ponder son is trained by Hall of Fame horseman Bob McIntosh of Windsor, ON for his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON and James Walker of Port Perry, ON.

The final Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with Vintage Master son Print Media, who roared down the stretch to a neck decision over Only Half Bad and St Lads Moonwalk. It was the second Grassroots win of the evening for Sylvain Filion, who engineered the 1:54.2 mile for trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, ON and owner Saverino Spagnolo of Ottawa, ON.

While Mohawk Racetrack await the second Grassroots event for the two-year-old pacing colts next Friday, they can catch the division's Gold Series contenders in action on Saturday. The freshman pacers are featured in Races 2, 3 and 7 on the July 11 program, which gets under way at 7:25 pm. (Ontario Sires Stakes)

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