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Lukas Rossi wins by five in Grassroots semifinals action

October 18, 2008

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Two-year-old trotting colt Lukas Rossi extended his Grassroots win streak to three with an impressive victory in his $30,000 Semifinal at Flamboro Downs on Friday night.

\"He’s all right this colt, he’s got some high speed,\" said trainer Ron O’Neill of Cambridge. \"He looks like he could be a really nice colt.\"

In rein to Burlington resident Randy Fritz, the Roadshow Hall son stepped off the gate in lively fashion and was just a half length off the pace when Senor Roberto reached the opening quarter in :30.1. Taking command well before the 1:01.4 half, Lukas Rossi cruised along to a 1:32 three-quarters and then sprinted away from the field to a five length victory in 2:02.2.

O’Neill conditions Lukas Rossi for his partners P C Wellwood Enterprises Inc. of Cambridge and Nancy Stephens of Woodstock. The homebred gelding is the first foal from a mare O’Neill raced and then sold to Stephens, and is from the first, small crop of Roadshow Hall, a winner of $472,958 who was owned and trained by Paula Wellwood.

Lukas Rossi has done his first-time parents proud, scoring four wins from five starts and banking $38,300. In addition to Friday’s victory, the young trotter scored Grassroots wins at Hanover Raceway on Sept. 6 and Hiawatha Horse Park on Sept. 27, in a track record equalling 2:00, and went into the Semifinal ranked eighth with a total of 100 points.

Oaklea Rush also scored regular season wins at Hanover and Hiawatha, and the Angus Hall son was equally impressive in his Semifinal victory, leaving the field four and a half lengths in his wake in a time of 2:01.

\"He did it easily. He’s a good horse if he only behaves,\" said trainer-driver Riina Rekila. \"When he can leave a little bit, then he is okay.\"

Esa Lahtinen of Campbellville owns Oaklea Rush, a $30,000 purchase at last fall’s Forest City Yearling Sale, who now boasts a record of three wins in five starts and earnings of $36,600.

Brad Forward, who has a 122 point lead atop the Ontario Sires Stakes driver’s standings, has the enviable task of choosing between two Semifinal winners for next Friday’s pacing filly championship. The Woodstock resident teamed division leader Tomorrowpan to an impressive 1:56.2 win from Post 8 in the first Semifinal, and then followed it up with a 1:56.3 score aboard Noshameinmygame in the second split.

Both fillies are trained by Windsor resident Bob McIntosh, and the Hall of Fame horseman also bred and owns Camluck miss Noshameinmygame with his cousin Al McIntosh of Leamington and Dwight Stacey of Mitchell. Through ten starts this season the filly has posted two wins, two seconds and one third and finished the regular season in seventh spot in the standings.

Peter Pan Stables Inc. of Pepper Pike, OH bred and owns Tomorrowpan, who has only been bested on three occasions in her nine race career.

\"I actually just got a perfect trip, a second over trip, things went real well. It’s probably the first time she actually got a good trip because she’s so hard on herself,\" said Forward of the feisty No Pan Intended daughter. \"I thought I’d probably end up being parked with her, but she come back and she was good.\"

Astreos sons, and fan favourites, Shortstacked and Sterling Chris delivered the goods in the pacing colt Semifinals, but in significantly different fashion. Shortstacked and driver Jason Brewer were effortless two and a half length winners in 1:55.4 for trainer Ervin Miller of Springfield, IL and his partners Omer Miller of Humboldt, IL and Nelson Herschberger of Tuscola, IL, while Sterling Chris and driver Anthony MacDonald had to fight right through the wire to earn their three-quarter length victory in 1:56.

\"It didn’t unfold the way I thought it would,\" admitted Guelph resident MacDonald, who drives Sterling Chris for trainer James Dean of Campbellville and owner-breeder John Fielding of Toronto. \"I drove him very hard tonight and he had every reason to get beat, and he dug down at the head of the lane and kicked away by two, and it was enough to hang on to win.\"

Flamboro fans were also accurate in their selections in the trotting filly Semifinals, sending Mind Over Money and Stonebridge Marita off as their top choices. In Conchnito daughter Mind Over Money and driver Stuart Sowerby circled out at the three-quarters to take command of the race and cruised home two and three-quarter length winners in 2:02 for trainer Jim Dennie and owner Rob Dennie of Walkerton, while ‘The Magic Man’ Bill O’Donnell bided his time until the very end with Stonebridge Marita, sending the Angus Hall miss charging down the stretch to claim a quarter length victory in a personal best 2:00.4. Mark Steacy trains Stonebridge Marita for breeder Angie Stiller of Arva and Robert Kauffman of New Albany, OH.

The top four finishers from each two-year-old Semifinal will return to Flamboro Downs next Friday, Oct. 24 for their respective Grassroots Championships. The freshman will be joined on the $480,000 program by their sophomore peers, who waged their Semifinal battles at the Dundas oval on Thursday evening. (OSS)

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