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JULY 19, 2018 - After an early season that did not play out quite as his connections had hoped, three-year-old trotting colt Perfetto made a brief stop in the Grassroots Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Thursday evening and picked up a confidence building victory. Starting from Post 1, Perfetto and driver Trevor Henry eased away from the starting gate and were sitting fourth as Iam What I Am reached the :30.1 opening quarter. Henry soon sent the heavy favourite to the front and the pair was two and one-half lengths on top at the :59.4 half. On cruise control at the 1:29.3 three-quarters, Perfetto kicked into another gear in the stretch and trotted home a three and one-quarter length winner in 1:57.4. Smart Pick closed sharply to be second and early leader Iam What I Am was third. "That was easy for him," admitted Henry. "They just put him in here because it (the Gold event) was a half-mile at Grand River and they didn't figure he'd get around there, so they raced him here." A Gold Series winner at two, Perfetto's connections expected him to be a serious player at the province's top level again this season, but the gelding made a break in the Gold Series opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 28 and again in his Goodtimes elimination on June 8 and was forced to requalify. Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman decided to add trotting hopples to the gelding's equipment and he delivered a solid qualifier on June 12, then followed that up with a strong effort in the June 26 Gold event at Woodbine Mohawk Park, finishing second to Stormont Ventnor. On July 13 Perfetto found the winner's circle for the first time as a sophomore in an overnight event for non-winners of three races. "They had a lot of problems with his shoeing and that and they seem to have gotten it straightened out. Anthony Haughan has done a good job with him, and he seems to be coming around now," said Henry, noting that Cambridge, Ontario resident Haughan cares for the Norman horses while they are competing in Ontario. "He's getting better, he's getting his confidence back, you know, he's got two wins now and it will help him a lot." Arthur, Ontario resident Henry has piloted Perfetto in all but one of his Ontario starts for Norman and his Enzed Racing Stable Inc. of Allentown, New Jersey, David McDuffee of Delray Beach, Florida and Joe Hansford of Foothills, Alberta. Thursday's victory improved the gelding's sophomore record to three wins and two seconds in eight starts for earnings of $51,580. Say You Do's sophomore campaign also got off on the wrong foot with breaks in both the May 20 Grassroots opener at Flamboro Downs and the July 1 event at Dresden Raceway. The Kadabra gelding redeemed himself on Thursday evening however, with an impressive gate-to-wire score from Post 7 in the first $19,150 division. With Guelph, Ontario resident Paul MacDonell in the race bike for the first time, Say You Do fired off the gate and reached the quarter in :28.4. The pair carried on through a :59 half, fought off a challenge from Daylon Phantom heading by the 1:28 three-quarters and then cruised home to a two and one-quarter length victory in 1:57.2. Fan favourite T Barrr closed well to be second and The Magic Number was third. MacDonell crafted Say You Do's first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes victory for trainer Stephen Oldford and his Oldford Racing LLC of Port Huron and Gene Oldford Farms LLC of St. Clair, Michigan. Through six sophomore starts the trotter now has two wins, two seconds and earnings of $17,990. Perfetto and Say You Do will be hoping for additional Ontario Sires Stakes success when the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings head to Rideau Carleton Raceway on August 26 for both the Gold and Grassroots events. On Friday evening Woodbine Mohawk Park will showcase Gold Series pacing fillies, both two and three-year-olds. The freshman fillies will compete in Races 5, 7, and 8, while the sophomores square off in Races 2 and 9. The Campbellville oval's first race goes postward at 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

JULY 17, 2018 - James MacDonald and Mark Steacy teamed up to win two-thirds of what was a very regal night of Grassroots action at Georgian Downs on Tuesday. MacDonald opened the two-year-old trotting colt and gelding Grassroots season with a victory behind Rap Royalty in the first $18,450 division. Starting from Post 7 the pair moved strongly off the gate and sat briefly in third before circling around to second as Northern Tailwind logged fractions of :31, 1:01.3 and 1:32. Coming off the final turn MacDonald turned Rap Royalty loose and the co-favourite held on for a neck victory over H A Houston, stopping the teletimer at 2:03.2. Zorgwijk Tim, the other fan favourite, finished third. "Rapper was good. I got him off the gate good and then I had to move him first up a little bit, but I got to tuck in and draft for a little while and pop out just before they got to the stretch," noted Guelph, Ontario resident MacDonald. "He was a little green still, like he went by them and then he kind of let up when he cleared, but they're two-year-olds, everything's new to them still, so I was pleased." Steacy conditions the son of Kadabra for Landmark 11 Racing Stable of Lansdowne, David Reid of Glenburnie, Ontario, Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec, and Bertrand Gilhespy Stable of Edmonton, Alberta. The gelding was a $60,000 purchase out of the 2017 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Six races after their first visit to the winner's circle MacDonald and Steacy were back in front of the Georgian Downs fans with Royal Elite. Starting from Post 2 in the third division, MacDonald employed a similar strategy with the Royalty For Life son, sitting third early and then advancing up the outer lane heading by the three-quarter pole. Never Tell rolled along on the front end through fractions of :30.4, 1:01.3 and 1:32, but could not hold off Royal Elite when MacDonald asked for another gear. The colt trotted home a 2:02 winner, one and one-half lengths ahead of Never Tell and fan favourite Judge Ken. "He's a homebred from a hard luck Muscles Yankee mare (Day Dream) we bought several years ago. This is her first live foal and he has been good from the time we broke him," said Lansdowne resident Steacy, who trains Royal Elite for owner-breeder Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. "We're hoping for a couple of Grassroots starts and then maybe, if he keeps improving, a Gold try would be nice. He raced very game tonight, moving first up to win." The colt also impressed MacDonald, who had driven both Royal Elite and Rap Royalty in their pre-season qualifiers. "He was a little better today. He's got high speed, he just needs to learn how to do it right, like sometimes he wants to go when he shouldn't and doesn't want to go when you want him to," explained the driver. "He's just green, and I was really pleased with him." Rounding out the trio of regally-named winners was A Royal Line, who captured the second division in 2:02.4. Starting from Post 2 driver Robert Shepherd settled A Royal Line in fourth as MacDonald sent Steacy trainee In The Will out to a :30.3 quarter and 1:02.1 half. When In The Will skipped off stride heading for the 1:32.2 three-quarters, A Royal Line was advancing up the outside to the lead, a lead he had extended to four and three-quarter lengths by the wire. Y A Titan finished second and Sweet Lou Wittaker was third. Flamborough resident Shepherd crafted the win for trainer Bob McIntosh of Windsor and his partners Dave Boyle of Bowmanville and Mardon Stables of Loretto, Ontario. McIntosh also bred the son of Royalty For Life and Direct Dial. The two-year-old trotting colts and geldings will make their second Grassroots start on July 31 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Ontario Sires Stakes excitement continues at Georgian Downs this week as the Innisfil oval welcomes the three-year-old trotting fillies for their third Gold and Grassroots events this Saturday, July 21. Saturday's first race goes postward at 7:15 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

JULY 14, 2018 - Georgian Downs kicked off its 2018 Ontario Sires Stakes season with three $18,450 Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday evening. Scoring the first stakes victory of the freshman trotting filly campaign was Angel Status, who delivered a game effort from Post 7. Reaching the front just before the :30.1 quarter, Angel Status and driver Ryan Holliday led the field of seven to the 1:01.3 half and then faced pressure from Cadence Seelster, who had a slight lead at the 1:32 three-quarters. As the fillies turned for home Cadence Seelster appeared destined for a Grassroots victory, but Angel Status dug deep and regained a three-quarter length advantage by the wire. Cadence Seelster settled for second in the 2:03.2 mile and fan favourite Nifty Trick was third. "I didn't really plan on cutting it when I came up here, but you can't have too many plans with two-year-old trotting fillies. Knock on wood, she's pretty sure footed, so I thought we'd maybe take advantage of that," said Ryan Holliday. "She was parked past the quarter, and I mean she didn't want a whole lot more on the end, but neither did the rest of them, and she fought the one off that came up beside her so that was the important thing. Overall, I was very satisfied." Holliday drives Angel Status for his father, trainer David Holliday, and wife Caroline Holliday of Mount Forest, who shares ownership of the Archangel filly with Dennis Hannath of Harriston, Ontario. Hannath and the Holliday's acquired Angel Status at last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale for $11,000 and recouped $9,225 with Saturday's victory. "She's not a world beater, but she's a nice steady, honest little racehorse I think, and that's kind of how she trained down," noted Mount Forest resident Holliday. "She hasn't flashed a whole lot of speed yet, but she's done what's been asked of her. I guess that's all she needs to do right now. We were quite happy with her performance. Hopefully she can rebound in ten days or so." Angel Status and her Grassroots peers will make their second Ontario Sires Stakes start on July 24 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Eramosa Magic captured the second division with a gate-to-wire effort from Post 1, reaching the finish three and one-half lengths ahead of the field in 2:00.3. Order Mattie finished second and Magically Hip was third. Campbellville resident Tyler Moore piloted Eramosa Magic to the win for trainer John Kopas of Milton and his partners 2 Johns Stable of Rockwood, Grieve Stables of Union and Avery Goodbadexample Stable of Toronto, Ontario. The Holiday Road daughter, a $21,000 purchase from the London Selected Yearling Sale, now has one win and one fourth to her credit through two lifetime starts. Teddys Littleangel recorded the quickest mile of the three Grassroots divisions, stopping the teletimer in 2:00.3. Starting from Post 7 driver Paul Mackenzie of Puslinch, Ontario settled the Archangel daughter in second through the early going and then moved her to the front heading for the three-quarters. From there it was smooth sailing and Teddys Littleangel trotted home a four and three-quarter length winner. Galaxy Seelster, in rein to Thornton resident Stephen Byron, finished second and fan favourite Miss Congeniality finished third. Ted MacDonnell trains Teddys Littleangel for owner-breeder Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke and the Allenford, Ontario resident was relieved to see the filly deliver a strong effort in her career debut. "She's always been a nice filly training down, what I wasn't anticipating was her to be bad in her baby races," MacDonnell explained, referring to the trio of breaks Teddys Littleangel made in her June 22 and 29 and July 6 qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "It kind of caught me off guard, because she'd been pretty professional up until that point." The filly rebounded with a solid effort in a fourth qualifying attempt on July 10 and MacDonnell is hoping Saturday's victory will set her up for success through the rest of the season. "We added a screen to her, but that's basically it. It was just more her taking a couple extra baby steps on me that took a while to get figured out, but we really didn't do a lot different," the trainer noted. "She's always been one that's been a little bit aggressive. I knew it was always there so we've tried to be pretty careful with her, but hopefully we'll get a few races in her here and she'll behave herself and be fine, because she's always had a nice bit of go." The two-year-old trotting filly Grassroots event was just the first in a week-long showcase of Ontario Sires Stakes events at Georgian Downs. On Sunday the Innisfil oval will roll out the red carpet for the Gold level two-year-old trotting fillies, who will battle for a total of $200,000 in Races 4, 7 and 9 on the 6 pm program. From the Ontario Sire Stakes  

JULY 13, 2018 - Woodbine Mohawk Park was flooded with two-year-old pacing colts and geldings on Friday evening as 68 of the harness racing youngsters went postward in seven Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots divisions. Driver Bob McClure kicked things off in the $19,150 first division, employing a come-from-behind strategy with B Stoney who paced under the wire three and three-quarter lengths the best in 1:54. Fan favourite Kenny Joe finished second and Century Farroh was third. "He has lots of go, he just needs some experience," said McClure of B Stoney, whose time would stand up as the fastest of the Grassroots divisions. "He's kind of goofy, but he was significantly smarter from his first start to this week." McClure piloted the Sunfire Blue Chip son to the win for trainer Murray Brethour of Sunderland and his partners, breeder Doug Millard of Woodstock and Barry McClennan of Cavan, Ontario. In B Stoney's first start, a July 1 two-year-old race at Georgian Downs, the Elora resident engineered a fourth-place result with the youngster. B Stoney Both McClure and Brethour would return to the winner's circle with a second Grassroots winner, McClure in the fourth division and Brethour in the sixth. Aboard Sauble Play in the $19,500 fourth division, McClure also opted for come-from-behind tactics, getting the Shadow Play gelding home to a one-half length victory over Balder Son in 1:55.2. Favourite DA Delightful was another length back in third. "He seems to have very high speed," said McClure of the gelding, who paced home in :27.1. "I think he'll keep improving." Tara, Ontario resident Larry Hall trains Sauble Play and shares ownership of the homebred with his wife Marilyn through their Sauble Hill Farms. A half-brother to $206,548 winner Sauble Claire, Sauble Play now has one win, one fourth and one fifth in his first three career starts. Sauble Play Brethour returned to the winner's circle with Machdavid, who hung on for a neck victory after carving out most of the fractions in the sixth division. Sylvain Filion drove the Mach Three son to the 1:55.1 victory for Brethour and breeders Jeff and Lori Thomson of Chesley, Ontario. Boys Turn settled for second and Carlisimo sprinted into third. Machdavid Like McClure and Brethour, Filion also picked up a pair of Grassroots wins. The Milton, Ontario resident guided Battle Strong to a commanding five and one-quarter length victory in the second division, stopping the teletimer at 1:55.2. Ballparkfrank finished second and Come On Barney was third. Tony O'Sullivan of Cambridge, Ontario trains Battle Strong for Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, Pennsylvania, who also bred the son of Betterthancheddar at their Winbak Farm of Chesapeake City, Maryland. Battle Strong In between McClure, Brethour and Filion's first and second victories, Mo Bettor captured the third division with a late sprint that saw him reach the wire in 1:55.1, one and one-half lengths ahead of Ys Sunshine and Big Kiz. Guelph resident Anthony MacDonald drove the Bettors Delight son to his second lifetime victory for trainer Kevin McMaster and owners Thestable Mo Bettor Group of Guelph and breeder Karry Howard of Wardsville, Ontario. "He's a medium-sized horse that's filled out well, and you know, he's ahead of the curve right now because it's early in the season," said MacDonald. "He's been good from Day 1, he never wore a boot or anything like that and he's really turned into a nice little colt. "We're probably going to aim him toward the (Aug. 6) Battle of Waterloo," MacDonald continued. "He wears a 56-inch hopple, I think, and no boots or nothing like that so he's built for a half, I think he'll excel on a half." Mo Bettor The other divisions went to Sports Hero and Keystone Concrete. Fan favourite Sports Hero led from gate-to-wire in the fifth split, laying down a 1:55.2 effort for driver Jonathan Drury of Guelph. Twin B Jays recovered from interference to be second and Mittnite Delight was third. Blake MacIntosh of Cambridge trains Sportswriter son Sports Hero for his partners in the 3 Hero Stables of Cambridge, the 30 Plus Stable of Trenton and Touch Stone Farms of Guelph, Ontario. A half-brother to 2012 3-year-old pacing filly Super Final champion Mach A Wish ($601,975), Sports Hero was a $60,000 purchase from last fall's Lexington Selected Yearling Sale. Sports Hero In the last division Keystone Concrete took command early and never looked back, cruising home to a two and one-quarter length victory in 1:54.3. Chiefs Beach followed the pacesetter into second and Ok Kudo closed well for third. Oakville resident Rick Zeron piloted the Bettors Delight colt to the win for trainer Rob Fellows and owners Yolanda Fellows of Rockwood, Arpad Szabo of Bradford, Ontario and Blair Corbeil of Beaumont, Alberta. The partners acquired the colt for $18,000 at the 2017 Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Keystone Concrete The two-year-old pacing colts will make their second Grassroots start on July 23 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to the Campbellville oval on Monday, July 16 with four Gold Series divisions for the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings. The trotters will make their Ontario Sires Stakes debuts in Races 2, 3, 6 and 9, with the evening's first race going behind the starting gate at 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

JULY 10, 2018 - On Tuesday evening the harness racing  Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots fillies picked right up where their Gold Series counterparts had left off on Monday, roaring around Woodbine Mohawk Park in impressive style. Delivering the quickest mile was second division winner Powerful Chris, who romped to a 1:53.1 victory. Lady Maya finished second, eight and three-quarter lengths behind Powerful Chris, and Sugar Shadow finished four more lengths back in third. "I was shocked every teletimer that came up, because she was doing it so easy. I didn't even think I was going that fast," said driver Bob McClure, who sat motionless down the stretch as the Betterthancheddar daughter opened up on the field. Elora resident McClure drives Powerful Chris for owner-trainer John Pentland of Dorchester, Ontario and while he had piloted the filly in her June 22 and 29 qualifiers at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he had no idea she was going to lay down a 1:53.1 mile in her Ontario Sires Stakes debut. "She was a little bit aggressive the first time she went to the gate (June 22), so I took her back and made sure she sat in a hole the whole way, never let her out," explained McClure. "And then the second week there (June 29) she went a little bit faster, but she was well in hand, so I didn't know once she got stressed, you never know how deep they are." McClure expects Pentland will boost Powerful Chris up to the Gold Series level for the second leg, which takes place July 20 at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Pentland acquired the filly for $12,000 from last fall's London Selected Yearling Sale and has already recouped $9,925 of his initial investment. Powerful Chris Driver Anthony MacDonald and trainer Kevin McMaster, both of Guelph, Ontario, teamed up for a pair of Grassroots victories, taking the last two $19,850 divisions with Hard Eight and Buckingham, who both hit the wire in 1:56. Hard Eight led from start to finish and battled down the stretch to keep a head in front of fan favourite Machlikeanegyptian. Justjennysliberty was two lengths back in third. Bettor's Delight daughter Hard Eight, a $35,000 acquisition from the Harrisburg Yearling Sale, is owned by fractional ownership group Thestable Hard Eight Group of Guelph. "She's a big filly with a big frame and she's only going to get better, I think," said MacDonald. "She's always had a beautiful gait and it's almost like she's a small horse put into a big horse's body. She gets around a half or a big track the same, and she's really a big, big chunk of a filly. "It was great, we had a gentleman and his two, well kids, but they're like 45 or so, come by the barn there about two weeks ago. He hadn't owned a horse in 50 years and he bought the last 15 shares in Hard Eight, and she won tonight and he was in the winner's circle," continued the horseman, who operates The Stable in partnership with his wife Amy MacDonald. "He was pretty pumped." Hard Eight The group's enthusiasm continued into the last division as Buckingham popped out of the pocket in the stretch and dug hard to the wire, finishing three-quarters of a length ahead of fan favourite Karans Choice and Saint Albray for Thestable Buckingham Group of Guelph. "I wasn't surprised that she won, I was happy the way she did it," said MacDonald of the Sportswriter daughter. "She was a little bossy training down, a little grabby, and she sat in the two-hole very good. I moved her over and I didn't really know if she had enough steam left in her to chug through there, but as soon as she got daylight I called on her and she just shot through, she raced awesome." Buckingham Blossom Onthebeach opened the Grassroots program with a 1:54.3 victory, pacing under the wire two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Whitehaven Beach and Windsong Parisian. Moffat resident Jody Jamieson engineered the Sunshine Beach daughter's first victory for trainer Dave Menary, Menary Racing Inc. of Rockton, Ontario and Billy Joe and Anthony Timmins of Birmingham, Great Britain. Blossom Onthebeach Soft Wind Hanover closed well in the third division to claim a one-half length victory over Lady Driver in 1:54.1. Persistant Xample finished two lengths back in third. Guelph resident Doug McNair piloted the Sportswriter miss to the win for trainer Casie Coleman and West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Mac Nichol of Burlington, Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham and Brad Grant of Milton, Ontario. Soft Wind Hanover The fifth division was captured by Sporty Song and driver Paul MacDonell of Guelph, who reached the wire one and one-quarter lengths ahead of Jessicas Legacy and Ideation Hanover in 1:55.3. Bruce McGean of Stewiacke, Nova Scotia trains the Sportswriter daughter for his partner Scott Davidson of Waterloo, Ontario. Sporty Song The Grassroots fillies will make their second Ontario Sires Stakes start at Grand River Raceway on July 18. Woodbine Mohawk Park continues to showcase Ontario Sired two-year-olds this week, with the two-year-old pacing colts taking centre stage on Thursday, July 12 in three Gold Series divisions. The colts will aim to follow the fillies' impressive example in Races 3, 5 and 7. Thursday's first race goes to post at 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

JULY 8, 2018 - The three-year-old fillies were flying around Clinton Raceway on Sunday afternoon, sending track records toppling throughout the $144,350 Kin Pace program. Setting the tone for the afternoon in the first race, and first Grassroots division, trotter Ezee Tiguan and driver-trainer Lyle MacArthur held off a fast-closing Stormont Charlotte to reach the wire in a track record 2:00.3. P L Layla was four lengths back in third. The victory was a satisfying one for fan favourites MacArthur and Ezee Tiguan, who were caught at the wire in the June 7 season opener and had to settle for second. St. George Brant resident MacArthur conditions the Angus Hall miss for Linda Wellwood of St. George Brant and Tammy Aspden of Caistor Centre, Ontario. The record fell for a second time after the third $14,450 division, captured by Melanie G in 2:00. In rein to Louis Philippe Roy, the fan's top choice cruised along on the front end, finishing three lengths ahead of Power And Grace and Shotgun Sally. "She is a nice size filly, a bit aggressive. The inside post for sure helped," said trainer Richard Moreau of Melanie G, who lined up at Post 3. "We have been working on her front gait and it seems like it worked out," the Puslinch resident continued, adding that his success with Melanie G is at least in part due to the mentorship of trotting specialist Per Henriksen. "He didn't suggest anything specific on this horse, but he has shared so much knowledge with me over the years I have known him." Moreau conditions Angus Hall daughter Melanie G for Mary Anne Lauzon and breeder Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell, Ontario. Sunday's track record effort was the filly's first lifetime victory. Two races later Clinton Raceway fans were once again applying their erasers to the track record page as Gotta Pay To Play rocketed around the half-mile oval to an eight and one-half length victory in 1:59.3. Frick and Dalliance Seelster battled into second and third behind the fan favourite. Driver-trainer Wayne Henry piloted Gotta Pay To Play to her second straight victory for his Henry Stable of Arthur, Ontario. A Gold Series winner at two, the Windsong Espoir daughter seems to be back on track after a lacklustre start to her sophomore season. "She had to have an operation on her throat; it seems to have worked," Henry explained. "She's a real good half-miler. She can trot a turn as fast as a straight-away." The other Grassroots division went to Miller Time, who was able to ease down the stretch to a 16 length victory after her main rivals broke stride around the final turn. The Windsong Espoir daughter and Travis Henry hit the wire in 2:01.3, well ahead of fan favourite Magics Lucky Charm and Trevor Henry and Agent Thirteen and Wayne Henry. "She can trot a half and she's honest, she doesn't make breaks, so that's pretty much her forte," said trainer Mark Etsell. "She tries and she's honest, two aspects you really like in a trotter." The win was Miller Time's third of the season for Rockwood resident Etsell and his partner Chaun Tan of Cambridge, Ontario. The afternoon's rich finale, the $60,900 Kin Pace Final, saw the record setting continue as heavy favourite Write Me A Song reeled off a gate-to-wire score in 1:54.3. Katniss S BG tucked in behind Write Me A Song at the start and crossed the wire one and three-quarter lengths behind the winner. Askmysecretary, who, like Write Me A Song, won her elimination last weekend, finished four more lengths back in third. "Everything went well. It was a little tighter this week, but when you've got a final like that you're going to go a big mile, it was a big effort," said owner-trainer Jack Darling of the record setting mile. Campbellville resident Mike Saftic piloted the three-year-old pacing filly to the win, subbing for regular reinsman Jody Jamieson whose transportation arrangements fell through on Friday. "He had this plan, it's his son's birthday party today, but he had a guy that was going to fly him to Clinton just for her race and then fly him back for the party, and then something happened that he couldn't get the plane," explained Exeter native Darling, who currently resides in Cambridge, Ontario. "So I got Mike Saftic last night to come take over. It was lucky because Mike had driven her, I think, two or three starts ago (June 23) so he knew her. It worked out well." Sportswriter daughter Write Me A Song will make her next start in the July 20 Gold Series event at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Clinton Raceway on Sunday, August 5 with the fourth Grassroots event for the three-year-old pacing colts. Complete results for the July 8 Kin Pace program are available at From the Ontatio Sire Stakes     -30-       Photo attached 1: Gotta Pay To Play and Wayne Henry rewrote the three-year-old trotting filly track record winning their $14,450 Grassroots division at Clinton Raceway in 1:59.3 on Sunday, July 8. (AG Photography)       Photo attached 2: Write Me A Song captured the $60,900 Kin Pace Final in a track record 1:54.3 on Sunday, July 8. Mike Saftic piloted the three-year-old pacing filly to the win for Exeter native Jack Darling who owns and trains the Sportswriter daughter. (AG Photography)               OSS Program Information   For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit:   OSS Program Administration   Ontario Racing   10 Carlson Court, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M9W 6L2   416-213-1800       Follow the OSS on Social Media!   @ONTSSNews   You may unsubscribe at any time by clicking here.   Upon request, this document will be provided in an accessible format.   Vous pouvez vous désabonner à tout moment en cliquant ici.   Sur demande, ce document sera fournie dans un format accessible.          

JULY 5, 2018 - Windsong Ophelia may not be a typical three-year-old trotting filly, but trainer Bud Sinclair is hoping the quirky youngster can earn a share of the $144,350 in purse money up for grabs at Clinton Raceway on Sunday afternoon. The filly will start from Post 6 in the first of four $14,000-plus Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions, and when she trots up behind the gate it will be the last step in a very specific race-day routine. "You've got to do everything the same, every day, or it just mentally doesn't work for her," explains Stratford, Ontario resident Sinclair. "As soon as we get her off the trailer we have to go out and warm her up one trip right away, and that seems to get her to mellow out. If she's got to stand around too long it doesn't work either," he continued. "We're in early so that should help her; we don't have to be there super early, and it's afternoon racing, so I'm hoping that maybe helps her nerves a bit too." Sinclair and his staff spent most of the winter developing the highly specific daily routines that keep Windsong Ophelia in a mindset conducive to racing and to date she has delivered one win, two seconds and two thirds in nine starts, earning owner Jerry VanBoekel of Woodstock, Ontario a total of $11,970. "You've got to get her mentally prepared for everything, and then once you do that, so far things have been working," noted Sinclair. "Hopefully it stays that way." Fergus, Ontario resident Bruce Richardson will steer Cornaro Dasolo daughter Windsong Ophelia from Post 6 in the first race on the Sunday afternoon program, which will be capped off by the $60,900 Kin Pace Final. Coming off an impressive 1:55.3 clocking in her Kin Pace elimination last Sunday, July 1, Write Me A Song is the early favourite to claim the 2018 Kin Pace title. The filly and driver Jody Jamieson of Moffat, Ontario led from start to finish in their elimination and will line up at Post 4 in Sunday's eleventh race. "She should be tough to beat if all goes well in Clinton. That was pretty impressive last week, I just hope she can do it again," said Jack Darling, who owns and trains the long-legged daughter of Sportswriter. "She gets around the turns pretty good, they're pretty tight for her, but she seemed to handle it okay." If Write Me A Song can deliver a victory, the filly will be joined in the winner's circle by a sizeable fan club. Darling grew up in the Exeter area and his family are planning to be on hand for Sunday's final. "I came from right down the road," said Darling, who now makes his home in Cambridge. "I've got some brothers from Exeter, so they'll be out to Clinton on Sunday." Raced just four times at two due to a season-ending injury, Write Me A Song has rapidly made up for lost time in her sophomore campaign. In nine starts she has posted five wins, two seconds and one third for earnings of $80,500. Competing on the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series circuit, she has delivered one second and one third in two starts against the province's top fillies. "She's a good-sized filly, but very athletic, likes to do her work," noted Darling. ""She's very fast and she was, she could get a little bit speed crazy, but her last couple starts we've rigged her up a little differently and she's been a lot better." Grassroots regular Askmysecretary won the other Kin Pace elimination on July 1 with a 1:59.1 effort, also going gate-to-wire. The Mach Three daughter and driver Doug McNair of Guelph will start from the trailing Post 8 in Sunday's final for trainer Ted MacDonnell of Allenford and his partners Leonard Gamble of Etobicoke and Tony Lawrence of Hanover, Ontario. Sunday's program gets under way at 1:30 pm with the Grassroots contests slated as Races 1, 3, 5, and 7 and the Kin Pace going to post in Race 11. Complete entries for the program can be found at In addition to Sunday's contest, Clinton Raceway will also host Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots events on August 5 and September 2. A complete schedule is attached below and can also be found at From the Ontario SIre Stakes           -30-       Photo attached: Exeter native Jack Darling owns and trains Write Me A Song, the early favourite in Sunday's $60,900 Kin Pace Final at Clinton Raceway. (New Image Media photo)           Clinton Raceway   Race Date   Post Time   Age/Sex/Gait   Race Type   Event #   Sunday, July 8   1:30 pm   3-year-old Filly Trot   Grassroots Series   2 (of 5)   Sunday, August 5   1:30 pm   3-year-old Colt Pace   Grassroots Series   4 (of 5)   Sunday, September 2   1:30 pm   2-year-old Filly Pace   Grassroots Series   4 (of 5)               OSS Program Information   For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit:   For background information and/or contact details for local Ontario Sires Stakes participants, feature stories, and photographs to complement your local coverage contact Sandra Snyder at 519-572-0167 or       OSS Program Administration   Ontario Racing   10 Carlson Court, Suite 400, Toronto, ON M9W 6L2   416-213-1800       Follow the OSS on Social Media!   @ONTSSNews   You may unsubscribe at any time by clicking here.   Upon request, this document will be provided in an accessible format.   Vous pouvez vous désabonner à tout moment en cliquant ici.   Sur demande, ce document sera fournie dans un format accessible.              

JULY 1, 2018 - A steamy afternoon at Dresden Raceway's annual Canada Day celebration resulted in a track record equaling performance from three-year-old trotter Sicario in the first of two $18,800 Grassroots divisions. Starting from Post 1, Sicario and driver Stephen Byron never saw another horse as they rocketed along on the front end. Posting fractions of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:30, the fan favourites cruised home eight length winners in 1:59.3, equaling the record set by Starsel in a 2006 Grassroots event. Daylon Phantom overcame an early mistake to finish second and Road Tripper was third. "I didn't know (about the record) until they announced that after, but he did it very easy," said Byron. "He is good on a half, that's for sure, he trots a turn very well. Where some of them might have to be a little more careful, he can zip around them." Byron piloted Sicario to his second-straight Grassroots victory for trainer John Bax, whose Bax Stable of Campbellville shares ownership of the gelding with breeder Dave Hudson of Dallas, Texas. The son of Holiday Road and $1.04 million winner Gypsy Balance now has a record of six wins and two seconds in 15 sophomore starts for earnings of $53,400. The thermometer read 33 degrees Celsius when Sicario and his peers went to post in the fourth race and Byron said keeping the horses cool was a full-time job. "It was pretty hot on them. Matt (Bax) was just throwing cold water on them to keep them cool," said the reinsman. "Now we'll get them home where they can relax." Byron also drove Bax trainee Delcrest Holiday in the second Grassroots division, finishing a hard-closing third after a little bobble heading toward the quarter-mile marker. "(We were) going to be three-wide in the first turn so I waited, and then when I was in a spot where I had to drive on a bit he kind of ran in on me, so I had to check him, and then he just got a little bent on me," explained the Thornton, Ontario resident. "After that he was fine. He still raced well, we were happy with him." Delcrest Holiday finished behind Leaderofthepack and Edstone in the second Grassroots division, which saw Ryan Holliday emulate Byron's front-end tactics with Leaderofthepack. Powering away from Post 5, Holliday and Leaderofthepack rang up fractions of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:30.2 on their way to a five length victory in 2:00.2. "He's handy off the wings so he'd benefit on a racetrack like this where a few others wouldn't," said Holliday of the fan favourite. "He's pretty sure footed, knock on wood." A two-time Grassroots winner last season, Sunday's victory was Leaderofthepack's first on the sophomore Ontario Sires Stakes circuit. David and Ben Holliday of Mount Forest, Ontario own and train the Angus Hall son, who boosted his three-year-old record to two wins, three seconds and one third in seven starts for earnings of $22,070. The Holliday's helped Leaderofthepack cope with the heat by adding a fan to the list of equipment that usually accompanies the gelding to each race. "We brought a fan down and hooked it up and had that blowing on him all day," said Holliday, who also makes his home in Mount Forest. "I said to my brother Ben, who is with me here, that he actually didn't feel that good today in the race, he just felt a little dull, but he said he was like that warming up. He can sometimes be a bit of a handful, but today I think he was feeling the heat, just like the other seven or eight were. He'll get a couple days rest now to get over it." With two victories Sicario sits atop the three-year-old trotting colt and gelding standings with a total of 100 Grassroots points. With one win and one third-place result Leaderofthepack and Delcrest Holiday are tied for second with 62 points. All three colts will be looking to pad their totals when they meet up in the third Grassroots leg at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 19. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

JUNE 29, 2018 - Sophomore pacing colt Pretty Handsome has earned top harness racing honours in five of his six Grassroots outings over the last two seasons, but none were as impressive as Friday evening's 1:50.1 clocking at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Starting from Post 7 the fan favourite went straight to the front and reeled off fractions of :27.2, :56.1 and 1:23.3 before battling down the stretch to a three-quarter length victory over hard-closing Avalon Hanover and Yacht Seelster. The 1:50.1 mile lowered the gelding's personal best - set in his June 1 Grassroots win at Woodbine Mohawk Park - by two full seconds. "Those hot humid days, no wind, they like to go fast," said trainer Andrew McCabe with a chuckle. ""He just keeps getting better that horse." Noting that driver Jonathan Drury never pulled the gelding's ear plugs, McCabe added that the toughness Pretty Handsome displayed in the stretch has developed through his six starts this season. "He's learned that, I believe, at three. Now that he's in an open bridle he can see them coming at him," explained the Guelph Eramosa resident. "Last year I had him a little bit more closed up. He saw the odd thing on the track and I just didn't want him to make a mistake in that regards. Now that he can see, if he's on the front, see them coming to him, he's got some fight to him." The 2017 two-year-old Grassroots champion, Pretty Handsome now boasts a sophomore record of four wins in six starts for earnings of $28,705, giving owners Glenview Livestock Ltd of Wallenstein, Ontario a two season total of $84,905. Friday's effort put Pretty Handsome in a two-way tie for top spot in the Grassroots standings and has likely earned the Mach Three son a start at the Gold Series level. Pretty Handsome JM Jack Of Hearts also scored his second straight Grassroots win on Friday, giving him a share of the lead in the Grassroots point race alongside Pretty Handsome, and driver Trevor Henry thinks he too has earned a shot at the Gold Series colts on July 22. "I think they should try the Gold with him. He is at the top of his game right now," said Henry, who piloted JM Jack Of Hearts to the win for trainer Isabelle Darveau of Flamborough and owner Jason Redmond of Smithville, Ontario. "He can race from the front, the back, it doesn't matter." Starting from Post 8 on Friday, Henry opted for a pocket trip behind his co-favourite Western Passage, who posted fractions of :27.1, :56 and 1:24.3. In the stretch Henry squeezed JM Jack Of Hearts out of the pocket and the Shadow Play gelding sailed away to a three and one-quarter length victory in 1:52.1. Atomic Seelster closed for second and Lucky Sport was third. The win gives JM Jack Of Hearts a record of four wins and two seconds in six starts this season for earnings of $41,325. JM Jack Of Hearts Shadow Of Lindy earned his first-ever Grassroots victory with a tour up the outer lane in the $19,500 second division. In rein to Jody Jamieson, Shadow Of Lindy got away fifth from Post 5 and watched as Shadow Moon and Denver Seelster traded blows through a :27.1 quarter and :55.3 half. Tipping off the rail going past the half Shadow Of Lindy stalked up the outside, reaching the front by the 1:24.2 three-quarters and cruising home to a two length victory in 1:52.3. Pokerface Bluechip and Shadow Moon finished second and third, giving sire Shadow Play a sweep of the top three spots. "I was very happy with the way he raced. He made a strong first-over move and kept going," said owner-trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, Ontario. "I was a little concerned because he hadn't raced for just under a month. Luckily he is a good training colt and was ready enough for this race." Shadow Of Lindy, who was a $110,000 purchase out of the 2016 Harrisburg Yearling Sale, had made his last start in the June 1 Grassroots season opener where he finished third. Through 16 starts this season he has tallied three wins, three seconds, two thirds and $44,762. Shadow Of Lindy The other Grassroots division was captured by Stock, who sailed along on the front end to a seven length victory in 1:51.4. My Teen Idol and Declan Seelster rounded out the top three behind the fan favourite. Louis Philippe Roy piloted Stock to the win for trainer Dany Fontaine, owner-breeder Sotirios Anastasopoulos of Sainte-Therese and Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. of Montreal, Quebec. The win was the Sportswriter son's first of his sophomore campaign, which he started with a seventh-place finish at the Gold Series level. Stock Both the Grassroots and the Gold Series colts will make their third start at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 22. Next on Woodbine Mohawk Park's Ontario Sires Stakes schedule is the first two-year-old event of the season. The Campbellville oval will host the two-year-old pacing fillies in their Gold Series debut on Monday, July 9. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: OSS Program Administration Ontario Racing

Milton, ON - JUNE 22, 2018 - Play The Bell's Grassroots win at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday evening was impressive - digging deep to hang on by a nose in the driving rain - but given what the three-year-old harness racing pacing filly has been through in the last month it was positively inspiring. "When we scratched out of the Gold in London (May 26) it was because she got colitis on the day of the race," explained trainer Casie Coleman. "She was in Guelph University for five or six days and I wasn't sure which way it would go at first, then she snapped out of it." A Gold Series regular at two, Play The Bell had started her sophomore campaign with a fourth-place finish in the May 19 Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stakes, but Coleman felt the filly was not ready for the kind of fast mile that the Gold fillies are expected to deliver in their $125,000 contest on Saturday night at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "We decided to go to the Grassroots as she wasn't ready for the Gold with just the one fast mile we could put into her," said the Cambridge resident. "She raced well. That was a big mile in the mud out of Post 9." Play The Bell and driver Bob McClure powered away from Post 9 and led the field of nine through fractions of :27, :56.1 and 1:24.2. Pressured hard in the stretch by pocket-sitting Azure Seelster and fan favourite Neon Moon, Play The Bell found something in reserve and kept a nose in front to claim the 1:53.2 victory over a track rated one second slower than normal. Azure Seelster settled for second, with Neon Moon a head back in third. Coleman shares ownership of Shadow Play daughter Play The Bell with her partners in the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, Mac Nichol of Burlington and Calhoun Racing Ltd. of Chatham, Ontario. So long as she bounces back well from Friday's start the winner of $211,599 is expected to be back in the Gold Series for the third leg at Woodbine Mohawk Park on July 20. Unlike Play The Bell, Lady Bubbles will be sticking with the Grassroots when it heads to Grand River Raceway's half-mile oval for the third leg on August 6. The Sportswriter daughter picked up her second straight Grassroots win in the first $18,800 division on Friday, contested over a dry, fast track, and would love to make it a three-peat. "She should be good there if she gets a good draw," noted trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, Ontario. "She has been a real pleasure so far this year. She always gives a great effort. She has a big heart for a little horse." Guelph, Ontario resident James MacDonald piloted Lady Bubbles to the victory, which saw her hit the wire in a personal best 1:53.1, a neck ahead of the fast-closing Sharks Summrshandy. Startistic Wonder crossed the wire third, but was placed back to fifth due to a late break which elevated Askmysecretary to the third spot. The win was the third of the season for Lady Bubbles and her fifth in Ontario Sires Stakes action; she was a three-time Grassroots winner at two. Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec bred and owns the winner of $86,055. Driver Louis Philippe Roy captured the other two Grassroots divisions, piloting Katniss S BG and Saulsbrook Beauty to their first-ever Ontario Sires Stakes victories. In the second division Roy sent Katniss S BG to the front from Post 7, yielded to favourite Lifelong Dream through the central panels and then fired back to the front in the stretch, reaching the wire two and three-quarter lengths the best in 1:53. Lifelong Dream settled for second and Hey Sweetie was third in the last division contested before the track was downgraded from fast to good. Puslinch, Ontario resident Richard Moreau trains Mach Three daughter Katniss S BG for owner-breeders Sylvain Descheneaux and Gaston Bibeau of Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. "She is a perfect size mare owned by people from home who raised her," said Moreau. "Thanks to Louis, everybody is happy." Roy made Saulsbrook Beauty's owner-breeders happy with a come-from-behind steer from Post 7. Saulsbrook Beauty circled around the leaders in the stretch to claim a three-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:55.3 over the rain-soaked oval. Mittany Nicole was second and Shadow World completed the top three. Brain Lee trains the Shadow Play daughter for Saulsbrook Stables Inc. of Windsor, Nova Scotia and Louis Willinger of Louisville, Kentucky. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Saturday, June 23 with two Gold Series divisions for the three-year-old pacing colts (Races 2 and 9) and one for the three-year-old pacing fillies (Race 6). Saturday's program gets under way at 7:30 pm. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

Freshman Grassroots champion Pretty Handsome picked up where he left off last season, scoring a victory in the three-year-old pacing colt season opener at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday, but this time there was nothing controversial about the win. "He got his regular reinsman JD (Jonathan Drury) back on him tonight and picked up where he left off last year. This start we didn't win by default, we won outright," said trainer Andrew McCabe with a chuckle, referring to last September's Grassroots Championship where Pretty Handsome was awarded the win after Phantom Seelster was placed from first to ninth for causing interference in the stretch. In Friday's rematch Drury and Pretty Handsome lined up at Post 7 while Phantom Seelster and driver Sylvain Filion were at Post 4. Big Talking Man roared away from Post 10 to a :26.4 opening quarter so Filion dropped Phantom Seelster into fourth on the rail and Drury tucked Pretty Handsome right behind the favourite in fifth. When Filion and Phantom Seelster made their move into the outer lane before the :55.2 half, Drury tipped Pretty Handsome out in their wake and tagged along through the 1:52.1 three-quarters. Turning for home Drury gave Pretty Handsome a clear look at the wire and the gelding powered by Phantom Seelster and on to a 1:52.1 victory. The Downtown Bus and My Teen Idol also reeled in the favourite, finishing second and third. The fair and square win was Pretty Handsome's first this season, coming on the heels of two starts against older horses, one at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 5 and the other at The Raceway at Western Fair District on May 21. "He just had to get in with his own kind. It's pretty tough when they have success as a two-year-old, they've got to start out pretty tough as a three-year-old," noted McCabe. "That's why he ran to London his last start, just to kind of try and braven him up. (Driver) Nick (Steward) did a good job of that." Guelph-Eramosa resident McCabe trains Pretty Handsome for Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, Ontario. Through 10 lifetime starts the son of Mach Three now has five wins and one second for earnings of $66,710. The fastest of the five Grassroots divisions was clocked by Hudson Phil, who romped to a seven length victory in 1:51.3. Montys Play and Shadow Of Lindy took second and third-place honours. Both a Grassroots and a Gold Series winner at two, Friday's victory was Hudson Phil's first of the sophomore campaign. "He was very good. He had to start this year in pretty tough and we tried not to be too hard on him," noted driver James MacDonald. "He drew good today and he performed just how we expected. He powered to the front and won pretty easy. Hopefully he keeps progressing." The win gave Guelph resident MacDonald and trainer Mark Steacy of Lansdowne, Ontario three Grassroots wins at Woodbine Mohawk Park in the last two days. The trainer-driver duo also captured a pair of wins with three-year-old pacing fillies Hello Love and Lady Bubbles on Thursday evening. Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Quebec bred and owns Hudson Phil. The son of Shanghai Phil now boasts a record of four wins, two seconds, three thirds and earnings of $181,232 in 14 starts. The last division saw local colt Uptown Funk earn his first lifetime victory, getting a neck in front of pacesetter Sporty Mustang at the wire in 1:55.1. Campbellville resident Mike Saftic engineered the victory for trainer Bill Cass of Milton and his partner John Craig of North York, Ontario. The son of Shadow Play and former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Lucks Mistress made just two starts last season and had one sophomore start - a second at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 21 - under his belt prior to Friday's victory. "He raced good last week, in his first race of the year, and I thought he had a good shot if the trip went his way, and it did," said Saftic, who also piloted the gelding in his May 14 qualifier at the Campbellville oval. After finishing second three times, third once and fourth twice during his freshman Grassroots campaign, JM Jack Of Hearts finally found the winner's circle in Friday's fourth division. The Shadow Play gelding and driver Trevor Henry of Arthur sailed across the finish line three lengths the best in 1:52.3, besting Gideon Seelster and Taste Of History. Flamborough resident Isabelle Darveau conditions the consistent JM Jack Of Hearts for owner Jason Redmond of Smithville, Ontario. The other Grassroots division saw Yacht Seelster record his second straight victory with a 1:52 effort for driver Sylvain Filion of Milton, trainer Paul Reid and owner 1187422 Ontario Inc. of Ottawa, Ontario. The Shadow Play son finished one and one-half lengths ahead of Family Sports and Gold Rush. The three-year-old pacing colts will make their second Grassroots start at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 29. Ontario Sires Stakes action continues at the Campbellville oval on Monday, June 4 with the Gold Series season opener for the three-year-old trotting fillies. The first race gets under way at 7:30 pm and the trotting fillies will battle for a total of $190,400 in Races 2 and 8. From the Ontario Sire Stakes

SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 - Eighty of the best trotters and pacers in Ontario gathered at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening for the 2017 Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots Championships, competing for a total of $400,000 in eight divisional harness racing battles. The two-year-old trotting fillies kicked things off in the first race and trainer John Bax swept the top three spots with his entry of Dalliance Seelster, Warrawee Trip and Gradabra. In rein to Guelph, ON resident James MacDonald, Dalliance Seelster left smartly from Post 2, yielded to P L Layla just after the quarter pole and then circled out around that filly and Warrawee Trip before powering down the stretch to a one and three-quarter length victory over her stablemates in 2:00. "James gave that filly a great drive, I mean you couldn't have mapped it out any better than that," said Bax, also complimenting the efforts of drivers Steve Byron and Paul MacDonell. "She's been half sick all summer so the stars all lined up tonight. I'm happy for all the owners, including Matt and I. It couldn't be any better than that." The Bax Stable, the trainer and his son Matt, shares ownership of the daughter of Holiday Road and Desi Sweet Sixteen with Glengate Farms of Mississauga, ON. A $30,000 purchase at last fall's Forest City Yearling Sale, Dalliance Seelster wrapped up her freshman campaign with one win, two seconds and two thirds in 10 starts and earnings of $40,487. "John does a great job with them. I give him a hard time because that's the one I picked out you see. The two he picked out were second and third," said Glengate Farms' Jim Bullock with a chuckle. "No. I don't buy anything without him looking at it, and we've been together a long time." Dalliance Seelster After the win, MacDonald recorded one second, a pair of thirds and three off the board results before returning to the Grassroots winners circle in the last showdown with three-year-old trotting filly Delcrest Magicstar. Starting from Post 9, the recently crowned World Driving Champion had Delcrest Magicstar in high gear as soon as the wings folded and the pair rang up all the fractions on their way to a one and one-half length victory in 1:56.1. The Ontario Sires Stakes' leading trainer Mark Steacy, who calls Lansdowne, ON home, came close to replicating Bax's result from the first race as Ticket To Seattle and Stritch finished third and fourth behind their stablemate. Bustingattheseams broke up the Steacy trio, shadowing Delcrest Magicstar from start to finish and collecting the second-place share of the $50,000 purse. "I really thought, as long as she got an okay trip, I thought she was the one to beat so I raced her like that and she didn't let me down," said MacDonald, who shares ownership of the Majestic Son filly with Johnathan McKinnon of Guelph and Peter Porter of Port Dover, ON. "Front end's not her cup of tea and then coming back in four days, but it just, it didn't matter, she was the best tonight." Delcrest Magicstar, who finished second in a Canadian record mile against the Gold Series fillies at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening, wrapped up her Grassroots season with a flawless record of four wins in four starts and boosted her season earnings to $103,617 with the victory. Delcrest Magicstar Driver Jonathan Drury of Guelph also piloted two division winners, scoring with two-year-old pacing filly Love Kills and two-year-old pacing colt Pretty Handsome. Love Kills reeled in division point leader and fan favourite Neon Moon with a 1:54.1 effort for trainer Carmen Auciello of Stouffville and owner Denarben Stables of Thornhill, ON. Ashlees Sport was third. Love Kills In the two-year-old pacing colt contest, Pretty Handsome was elevated to the top spot when winner Phantom Seelster was ruled to have caused interference while manoeuvering from the rail to an open lane in the stretch. Pretty Handsome finished one length ahead of Letjimmytakeover and two lengths up on Sprocket in the 1:54 mile. Andrew McCabe of Guelph-Eramosa conditions the Mach Three son for owner Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, ON. Pretty Handsome Like Delcrest Magicstar, three-year-old pacing colt Wildriverbumblebee wrapped up his Grassroots campaign with a flawless record and a commanding gate-to-wire performance. The Sportswriter son cruised to a three and three-quarter length victory in 1:52.1, with The Dark Shadow and Dream Of Luck battling it out for second and third. Milton, ON resident Sylvain Filion engineered Wildriverbumblebee's third Grassroots win for trainer Francis Richard of Becancour, QC and owner-breeder Dr. John Bradbury of Cookshire-Eaton, QC, boosting the fan favourite's sophomore earnings to $87,125. Wildriverbumblebee Just two division point leaders converted their regular season success into a division crown - two-year-old trotting gelding Stormont Ventnor and three-year-old pacing filly Shewearsthepants. Stormont Ventnor delivered an impressive effort to earn the freshman trotting colt title, sitting in the outer lane for the better part of the mile before pulling away in the stretch to a one and three-quarter length victory in a personal best 1:57.4. James MacDonald piloted John Bax trainee Chief Justice into second and Barney Mac rounded out the top three. "He raced huge," said Guelph, ON resident Phil Hudon, who drove the Justice Hall gelding to the win for trainer Kevin Benn of Napanee and owner-breeder Eric Baker of Long Sault, ON. "I didn't want to be locked in, but I wouldn't have minded being second over. It didn't work out, but I was pretty confident in the colt." Sent off the fans' top choice, Stormont Ventnor wrapped up his freshman Ontario Sires Stakes campaign with two wins and four seconds in six starts, for earnings of $52,937. Stormont Ventnor Favourite Shewearsthepants also delivered an impressive effort to claim the sophomore pacing filly crown, taking command at the :55.3 half and then battling all the way down the stretch to a 1:53 victory, one and one-half lengths ahead of Manhattan Play and Treasures Pearl. "I actually did think we were in a little bit of trouble at the head of the stretch, because you can't torture her that way. I know she's got a lot of wins this year, but a lot of them have been off cover or like a first over or something. She hasn't win too many off the front the whole way, but she dug in tough," said driver Doug McNair of Guelph, ON. "She knows how to win, that's for sure. If she'd come in not winning as many she probably would have stopped in the stretch, but she's brave so she was good." McNair engineered the win for his father, trainer Gregg McNair of Guelph, ON and owner-breeder Anatolia Farm LLC of New Holland, PA. In seven Grassroots starts the daughter of Big Jim and Simply Liz recorded five wins and two seconds and Saturday's victory boosted her season earnings to $119,182. Shewearsthepants The other Grassroots trophy went home with three-year-old trotting gelding Yo Yo Mass, who squeaked up the inside to nab pacesetter Charmbo Chrome at the wire in 1:56.3. Vesuvio Bi came up the outside for third and the three colts were separated by a lean neck at the wire. "All week I figured, this horse, he's better off the front end, we're better just to roll him and play catch me if you can," said trainer Kyle Reibeling. "But Jody (Jamieson) was patient, he gave him a great drive, everything worked out. I'm just tickled pink with the way things worked out." Moffat resident Jamieson piloted Yo Yo Mass to the win for Reibeling, who hails from Campbellville, and Nancy Grimble of Newcastle, ON. The Muscle Mass son was the runner-up in the point standings with two wins, two seconds and one fourth in five regular season Grassroots starts. His championship victory boosted the gelding's sophomore earnings to $81,780. Yo Yo Mass Ontario Sires Stakes action is back at Mohawk Racetrack on Monday, Oct, 2 as the Gold Series three-year-old pacing colts and fillies wrap up their regular season. The first race gets under way at 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017 - A total of $400,000 is up for grabs in Saturday's Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots Championships at Mohawk Racetrack and in four of the division finals one of Ontario's leading trainers will take aim at the top prize with a squadron of harness racing talent. John Bax, Jack Darling, Dr. Ian Moore and Mark Steacy will each harness at least three starters in one of the eight division championships. Three Bax trainees are in the hunt for the $50,000 in the two-year-old trotting filly final, three Steacy trainees will compete in the sophomore trotting filly battle, three Moore trainees will square off in the two-year-old pacing colt division and a quartet of hopefuls from the Darling Stable will duel in the three-year-old pacing colt contest. "It's interesting. I didn't realise that; well I saw Mark had a bunch of three-year-olds in one race, but just because I had one that didn't get in," said Bax with a chuckle, referring to Hudsons Ya Ya who is the second also eligible in the three-year-old trotting filly final. None of the four see the size of their entry as an advantage, and both Bax and Moore believe it could prove to be a significant disadvantage. With all three of his colts on the outer half of the gate, Moore is concerned that an early speed duel could derail their chances, and with all three of his novice fillies lining up side-by-side on the starting gate, a mistake by one Bax trainee could mean curtains for all three. Dalliance Seelster (Holiday Road), Warrawee Trip (Majestic Son) and Gradabra (Kadabra) have Posts 2, 3, and 4, respectively, in the first race. All three fillies head into the final off strong performances in the last regular season event at Flamboro Downs on Sept. 12 where Warrawee Trip and Dalliance Seelster finished first and second in their division and Gradabra defeated point leader Ms Miller in hers. Kadabra daughter Magical Lady was also a winner for Bax at Flamboro, but missed the top 10 by one point and is the first also eligible in the final. "They've all got their ups and downs. All three of them are coming off good showings at Flamboro, so I'm optimistic about them," said Bax. "A few of them have had bad luck and bad posts, but you can hear that story from every horseman." The Campbellville, ON resident will also start a pair of hopefuls in the two-year-old trotting colt and gelding final. Delcrest Holiday gets Post 4 and Chief Justice will start from Post 9 in the second race. The sons of Holiday Road and Justice Hall missed the Sept. 13 Grassroots event at Grand River Raceway due to sickness and Bax is hoping the time off has allowed them to fully recover from the bug that impacted many stables through the second half of the season. Mark Steacy's barn is among those that have been dealing with the virus, and the horseman and his staff have been working hard to ensure that their Grassroots Championship contenders are in peak form for Saturday. The Lansdowne, ON resident will send out Majestic Son daughters Stritch, Ticket To Seattle and Delcrest Magicstar in the three-year-old trotting filly final from Posts 2, 5 and 9, respectively. Delcrest Magicstar, who was undefeated in three Grassroots starts, took one last swing at the Gold Series fillies at Grand River Raceway on Sept. 27 and showed no signs of ill health, delivering an impressive runner-up effort to division leader On A Sunny Day in a track, Ontario Sires Stakes and Canadian record-setting 1:56 mile. "She should be good and fit for Saturday after that race I hope," said Steacy. "She goes in the paddock every day, so she'll just probably spend more time in the paddock the next two days than on the track, and like I said she'll be fit and everything, so it's just a matter of freshening her up again." Along with his sophomore trotting filly squad in the ninth race Steacy, the reigning Johnston Cup champion and current leader in the trainer standings, will also send out two-year-old trotting gelding Majestic Fire (Majestic Son) from Post 10 in the second race, two-year-old pacing filly Lady Bubbles (Sportswriter) from Post 1 in Race 3 and three-year-old pacing colt Makasi from Post 7 in Race 8. "I'm really happy that Makasi drew in," said Steacy of the Shanghai Phil son who finished in a four-way tie for eleventh in the point standings. "He's battled a lot of sickness and stuff and he's just starting to get back to where he can race weekly now. He actually raced pretty good the last couple starts, so I think he's got a chance. It's nice to see him get in there." Makasi will compete against the four horse contingent from the Jack Darling Stable in the sophomore pacing colt final, going up against division point leader Southwind General, third-ranked The Dark Shadow, number five colt Frontier Seelster and number nine Oak Island. "With all of them, they've just got to work out a good trip and they can be close by," said Cambridge, ON resident Darling. "I think that three horse (Wildriverbumblebee) looks good in there, he'll be the one to beat, the favourite." Wildriverbumblebee made just two starts in the Grassroots this season, winning both, and comes into Saturday's final on a four-race win streak. The Sportswriter son will be flanked by Darling trainees at the start, with Shadow Play son The Dark Shadow at Post 2 and Vintage Master colt Oak Island at Post 4. Their stablemates Southwind General (Sportswriter) and Frontier Seelster (Artistic Fella) will start at Posts 6 and 10, respectively. Darling will also send out two-year-old pacing filly division point leader Neon Moon from Post 8 in the third race. The Sportswriter daughter has been a model of consistency this season and Darling is hoping she can overcome her outside post and cap off the season with another strong performance. "She's coming into the race as good as she can be. If she can overcome the post she should be fine," said Darling. "It makes it a little tougher, but at least she hasn't got the 10." Two-year-old pacing colt point leader Atomic Seelster did get Post 10, so trainer Dr. Ian Moore will be looking for a big effort from stablemates Casimir Richie P (Astronomical) and Lucky Michael (Camluck) from Posts 6 and 8 in Saturday's seventh race. "We got six, eight and ten out of three starters, none inside the five," lamented Dr. Moore, who would like to see the division point leaders rewarded with the opportunity to select their post in the final. "But anyways, Atomic Seelster and Richie, they're my best two, obviously, and Richie got the inside, so that's kind of good. I mean inside of some them anyway." Puslinch, ON resident Moore said all three colts trained in impressive fashion on Monday, Sept. 25 and should be ready to rumble in Saturday's final, an event he and his partners are looking forward to in spite of their shortage of luck in the post position draw. "I trained a couple of the colts there Monday, I don't think I ever trained a two-year-old that fast before at this time of year, but they just went there on their own. They were super," said Dr. Moore. "So we're looking forward to it going in, and we always enjoy the night. I've only had one Final win, that was Shadows Wonder, I think that was the two-year-old (pacing) fillies a couple years ago (2013), and it was fun. The OSS makes a nice night of it." The first $50,000 Grassroots Championship race will raise the curtain on Mohawk Racetrack's Saturday, Sept. 30 program at 7:30 pm and the division battles will also be fought in Races 2, 3, and 5 through 9. Fans arriving early for the Grassroots showdown will be entertained by musical duo Even Steven and will receive an Ontario Sires Stakes ball cap with their program. Fans can also purchase additional Ontario Sires Stakes apparel at the booth on the main floor. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 13, 2017 - The 2017 Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots regular season came to a close at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday evening with two divisions for the harness racing two-year-old trotting colts. Five colts squared off in the first $17,750 division and Leaderofthepack took quick command, reaching the quarter in :30. Fan favourite Nobodynosjustice and Jula Downton followed, with the other two competitors out of the action early. Heading for the 1:01.2 half Nobodynosjustice stepped to the outside, but failed to wrestle command from Leaderofthepack and Jul Downton's challenge heading for the 1:32 three-quarters was also thwarted by the pacesetter. Turning for home driver Sylvain Filion sent Nobodynosjustice out between the leader and the challenger and the gelding trotted strongly down the stretch to claim a neck victory in 2:02. Leaderofthepack settled for second and Jula Downton was third. "Dany Fontaine asked me to go and drive him. He said, he's got lots of go, but he's a little touchy, and I think he was right," said Filion. "In the post parade, he wouldn't trot, he had a hard time going, and I had to wake him up a bit. Then in the race he was pretty good, but he was real grabby. "I had a hard time holding him in the hole, that's why I had to move him out, so he doesn't get mad and go on the run," the Milton, ON resident continued. "That was quite the big effort to come back and win like that, after a trip like that. He's a really gutsy little horse." Filion piloted Nobodynosjustice to his second Grassroots win for trainer Dany Fontaine of Terrebonne, QC and owner-breeder Ecurie Gaetan Bono Inc. of Montreal, QC. Through seven starts the son of Justice Hall and Nobody Nos Butme has tallied three wins and one second for earnings of $27,337. His 125 Grassroots points put him in third spot in the division standings and will see him compete in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack. The second $18,100 division featured six starters and two of them skipped off stride at the start, including fan favourite Stormont Ventnor. Majestic Fire took advantage of his peers' misfortune, gaining control from Post 1 and cruising to a :31.4 quarter. Driver Scott Young of Guelph, ON took his foot off the gas in the second quarter, allowing Majestic Fire to reach the half in 1:04.4, then picked up the tempo as Smart Pick mounted a challenge. The pair battled to a 1:35 three-quarters, but Smart Pick faded around the final turn, splitting horses and allowing Majestic Fire to open up a large enough gap that he was able to hold off a charging Stormont Ventnor and Radical Attempt. Majestic Fire hit the wire one and one-half lengths on top in 2:05.1. "He's a small horse, but very determined," said trainer Mark Steacy of Majestic Fire. "He's been battling growing pains all year, but battling through it and improving with every start. "He got lucky tonight," added the Lansdowne, ON resident, who conditions Majestic Fire for David McDonald of Cornwall, David Reid of Glenburnie, Shelly MacMillan of Waterloo and A K Malik Stable of Ottawa, ON. Wednesday was Majestic Fire's fifth start and his first visit to the winner's circle. A $40,000 yearling at the 2016 Harrisburg Sale, the Majestic Son gelding boosted his earnings to $11,218 and his point tally to 61 with the win, putting him in a tie for ninth and landing a berth in the Grassroots Championship. The top 10 point earners will compete in the $50,000 Grassroots Championship on Sept. 30. The Ontario Sires Stakes program will make one more stop at Grand River Raceway this season, as the Elora oval hosts the last Gold Series event for the three-year-old trotting fillies on Wednesday, Sept. 27 with a first race post time of 6:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 - Thirty-four harness racing freshman pacing colts and geldings arrived at Mohawk Racetrack on Tuesday night ready to battle in the last Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots event of their regular season and the novices put on an impressive show for the Campbellville oval's fans. When You Dance and driver Doug McNair kicked things off in the first $18,800 division, firing to the front from Post 4 and reaching the quarter in :27.2. The pair yielded to Phantom Seelster and driver Sylvain Filion heading for the :55.1 half and followed the fan favourites through the 1:24.2 three-quarters, but coming off the final turn McNair asked When You Dance for another gear and the colt responded with a sharp finishing kick that propelled him to a four length victory in 1:52.3. Phantom Seelster settled for second and Notabadgame was five more lengths back in third. "I might be the only one he didn't surprise," said trainer Ben Wallace. "He's just a great big strong colt that's just starting to come into himself. He was caught in last week (Sept. 4) big time and had a big finish to him, and he had a great week going into this race, so I'm not surprised he did what he did tonight." Wallace shares ownership of When You Dance with Daniel Plouffe of Bromont, QC and breeder Birnam Wood Farms of Boca Raton, FL. In seven starts the Mach Three son has tallied two wins, one second and two thirds, but with just one of the wins and the pair of thirds coming in Grassroots action the gelding will miss the Grassroots Championship, four places out of the top 10. "He's been a decent colt for us," said Puslinch resident Wallace. "He's a hard luck horse, he drew the nine in an 11-horse field (Aug. 19) and he drew the 10 in an 11-horse field (July 20), his first couple lifetime starts. So he's been a bit of a victim of circumstance." When You Dance Zen Da Ballykeel took full advantage of the circumstances in the second division Tuesday, watching from sixth as Chocolate Swirl and Northern Rebel duked it out on the front end through fractions of :27, :55.3 and 1:23.2 and then sprinting down the stretch to a neck victory in 1:53.2. Northern Rebel stayed game off his outside lane tour to finish second and favourite Southwind Grizzly closed from mid-pack to be third. "He's a nice colt, a bit healthier after being sick," said trainer Richard Moreau. "He was surprising tonight, good timing." The Puslinch, ON resident conditions Zen Da Ballykeel for owner-breeder Ballykeel Racing Inc. of Tillsonburg, ON. Tuesday's win was the Mach Three colt's second in Grassroots action and boosted his point tally to 114, putting him fifth in the standings. Zen Da Ballykeel Casimir Richie P also picked up his second Grassroots win in the third division, controlling all the fractions - including a sharp :26.4 last quarter - on the way to a 1:52.4 personal best. Letjimmytakeover and Luka Shenko finished three and three-quarter lengths behind the favourite in second and third. "Nice colt, he has a very quick turn of foot," said driver Trevor Henry of Arthur, ON. "Tyler (Moore) had a little trouble last week at the gate, Doc (Moore) made some changes and he raced great tonight." A break behind the starting gate in the Sept. 4 Grassroots event saw Casimir Richie P settle for fourth, which, added to a win in the August 16 contest and a fifth in his July 20 debut, give the Astronomical son 113 points and a berth in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship. Dr. Ian Moore of Puslinch conditions Casimir Richie P and shares ownership of the colt with his son, Tyler Moore of Campbellville, and Michael Goldberg of Toronto, ON. Casimir Richie P The last regular season Grassroots trophy went home with Pretty Handsome, who paced to his second Grassroots and third straight victory in 1:53.4. Jonathan Drury of Guelph piloted the favourite to the one-half length victory over Atomic Seelster and JM Jack Of Hearts. "Hopefully we can go for four in a row, if he goes straight to the final," said Lacey McCabe, who works alongside her husband, trainer Andrew McCabe, to keep Pretty Handsome in top form. The youngster is the second generation to be cared for by a member of Lacey's family. Her sister, Melissa Steacy, took care of his dam Pretty Thing during her racing career. "She looked after Pretty Thing when she was with the Steacy's and now I look after him, so that's pretty neat I think." The Guelph-Eramosa residents train Pretty Handsome for Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Wallenstein, ON. In five starts the Mach Three son has tallied three wins and one third and heads into the Grassroots Championship tied for third with Phantom Seelster. Pretty Handsome The two-year-old pacing colt final will be part of the $400,000 Grassroots Championship Night at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 30, with the top 10 point earners from all eight divisions competing for the 2017 Grassroots titles. Before the pacing colts make their return to Mohawk, the Campbellville oval will host the two-year-old trotting fillies and three-year-old trotting colts for Gold Series action on Monday, Sept. 25, with a first race post time of 7:30 pm. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 - Driver Steve Byron and trainer John Bax teamed up to win all three $18,800 divisions of the last regular season Grassroots event for harness racing two-year-old trotting fillies at Flamboro Downs on Tuesday evening. Byron and Bax kicked off their successful evening in Race 1 with Warrawee Trip, who led from gate-to-wire in a contest reduced to five fillies as the result of three scratches due to sickness. The 2:01.4 clocking was a personal best for Warrawee Trip, who trotted under the wire one and three-quarter lengths ahead of her stablemate Dalliance Seelster. Candid Hally was well behind the leaders in third. "You never know until you get out in a race whether they're going to have that drive to win or not, or that heart, or brains; there's so many variables in this game," said Bax. "She always wanted to do it, that's her biggest attribute." Campbellville resident Bax conditions Warrawee Trip for his partners Glengate Farms of Mississauga, Kenneth Ewen of Georgetown and Bruce Norris of Caledon East, ON. Tuesday's win was the Majestic Son daughter's second in seven starts this season and boosted her career earnings to $22,099. Warrawee Trip, who was a $30,000 purchase at last fall's Canadian Yearling Sale, will have an opportunity to pad her earnings in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship. With one win and two seconds in Grassroots action she finishes the regular season in fourth-place in the standings with 100 points. In the second Grassroots division Byron got away fourth with fan favourite Magical Lady, then moved into second behind pacesetter Princess Stephanie when stablemate Tusk and Ladys Intuition went off stride heading for the half. Pretty N Well challenged Princess Stephanie through the final quarter, but when Byron maneuvered Magical Lady into an open lane in the stretch the filly trotted right by the duelling leaders and on to a one-half length victory in 2:02.3. Pretty N Well finished second, with Princess Stephanie settling for third. "That was the first time Steve drove her and he was pretty impressed with her gait," said Bax of the Kadabra daughter. "She was pretty green out there, she did a little sashaying once in a while, but I think when she learns she's going to be useful." It was just the third start of the season for Magical Lady, who finished second in her Grassroots debut at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 4. With a total of 75 points the filly fell one point shy of finishing in the top 10 and joining her stablemates in the Grassroots Championship. SRF Stable of Delray Beach, FL owns Magical Lady, who was a $150,000 acquisition from the 2016 Lexington-Selected Yearling Sale and has returned $15,395 in her first three starts. Bax and Byron completed the Grassroots hat trick with Gradabra in the third division. Starting from Post 3 Gradabra landed on the rail in second behind Precieuse CC, who led the field to a :30.1 quarter and a 1:01.4 half before skipping off stride heading into the third turn. Inheriting the lead, Gradabra demonstrated a bit of inexperience, but rallied when Ms Miller appeared on her flank heading for the 1:32.4 three-quarters. After matching strides with Ms Miller through the final turn, Gradabra found another gear in the stretch and trotted under the wire three-quarters of a length on top in 2:02.3. Ms Miller settled for second with Melanie G well back in third. "She's pretty green too," noted Bax. "Steve had to do a lot of yelling. He was actually happy when a horse pulled out beside him. When she warmed up Matt (Bax) said she was looking at everything, you know, her ears were going every which way. "She fought back really well today, I was real impressed," Bax continued. 'That was kind of the first time she's taken on another horse, so that was good to see." The win boosted Gradabra's point total from 34 to 84, landing her in the Grassroots Championship with Warrawee Trip and Dalliance Seelster. In her first four Grassroots starts the Kadabra daughter had posted two thirds and two fifths. Bax shares ownership of Gradabra with Glengate Farms of Mississauga, ON, Gordon Wright of Charlotte, MI and Dave Hudson of Dallas, TX. The filly, a full-sister to former Bax trainee Juanitas Fury ($416,292), was a $70,000 purchase at last fall's Harrisburg Yearling Sale and has earned $18,339. "It's good to end on a higher note," said Bax. "I'm really pleased with Gradabra and Magical Lady that they started to show me what I kind of thought in the winter time that they had." While the Bax fillies and their peers wrap up their Grassroots campaign at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 30, Flamboro Downs will host one more Ontario Sires Stakes event before the 2017 season comes to a close, welcoming the two-year-old trotting fillies for Gold Series action on Wednesday, Oct. 4. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: Ontario Racing

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