Five Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions for three-year-old trotting colts headlined the 14-race $176,300 Opening Night card on Friday, June 3 at Grand River Raceway.
Each division was won by a different driver-trainer combination, highlighted by a win for a special trainer-owner partnership in the closing division.
Kipper Whipr Snipr, piloted by Louis-Philippe Roy, was the fastest of the five winners in the final $22,200 Grassroots division, trotting a mile in 1:57.1 for trainer Rob Fellows.
“I was expecting that; he trains on a half,” said Fellows. “It was a perfect trip. He got around the first turn, he settled in and he made his move. Other horses came at him and it was a pretty good mile."
The son of Royalty For Life won a Gold division at Flamboro as a two-year-old and was third in the 2021 Super Final. The gelding is a special horse for Fellows because he’s owned and bred by Edward Wilson.
“He’s the first person I ever caught horses for, back in the early 70s at the Port Perry Fairgrounds,” said Fellows. “That’s where I started this journey. I’ve known him for 50 years of my life and he’s still a big part of it.”
HP Maestro was second for owner and breeder Claude Hamel. Brett MacDonald drove the Benoit Baillargeon trainee. Dave Boughton drove Come Home For Life to a third-place finish for local owner/trainer Don Lindsey of Fergus, Ont.
Kipper Whipr Snipr is now six-for-14 lifetime with more than $156,000 banked in purses.
In the first Grassroots division, second choice Tuxedo Attire, at 4-5, left from post three and Doug McNair moved the son of Archangel to the front heading into the first turn. The gelding led at each quarter-mile marker for a two-length win in 1:57.2 for trainer Stephen Bossence.
“He had better post position than some of the better ones in there and I thought if he could stay ahead of them leaving the first turn, it would be good,” said McNair. “He trots the turns perfect, so that’s what makes him excel on this track.”
Owned by Bossence and partners Stephen Palermo, Richard Thompson and Derek Reid, Tuxedo Attire now has three wins from six starts in his debut season.
Louis-Philippe Roy and Archery Seelster made a move through the far turn, but the Wheeling N Dealin colt couldn’t catch his rival after leaving from post seven. Lenis rounded out the top three with Chris Christoforou in the bike.
Marvin Hagler, a son of Crazed, got a pocket trip for Jody Jamieson and powered to a two-length win in 1:58.1 in the second Grassroots division.
“I was able to get good position off the gate, which is always important on a half-mile track, and I was able to turn that into a win,” said Jamieson. “The strategy was to get away close and keep him trotting. When I moved him, he responded to win pretty handily.”
Fireinsidemyveins, driven by Chris Christoforou, led until the stretch drive before finishing second. The 2021 Grassroots champion, Armstead Cole, was third in rein to Randy Waples.
Marvin Hagler, a winner of two races (both Grassroots events) from 10 career starts, lifted his bankroll over $42,000 for trainer Mark MacQuarrie, who co-owns with Mary Padden.
After two popular winners to open the evening, Ricky Resolve went off from post three at 18-1 to upset in the third Grassroots division.
Anthony Haughan moved the chestnut Resolve gelding into first at the third quarter marker and held on for a 1:58.4 score by three-quarters of a length. Radio Lab earned second position, finishing gamely after an early break and sitting seventh at the halfway point for Ed Hensley. Mass Attack finished third with Curtis Clements in the sulky.
Trained by Mark Johnson, Ricky Resolve earned his first OSS win in his season's debut for owner/breeder Denise Ball. The win was his second in a dozen career starts and lifted his earnings over $40,000.
Star Power Hanover reverted the trend back to favourites in the fourth Grassroots division, with Samuel Fillion driving the Luc Blais trainee to an impressive five-length score in 1:58 flat. Promise For Life, driven by Bruce Richardson, gave a challenge around the far turn, but the Rene Dion trainee couldn’t match the star power of the winner and finished second. Resolute Bay was third for Scott Coulter.
Star Power Hanover, a Wheeling N Dealin son who was entered in the Mohawk Million last season and won a Gold division, now has more than $120,000 in career earnings for owner Determination. The victory was his second lifetime from 12 starts.
Nine divisions of the Prospect Series for three-year-old trotters and pacers filled the remainder of the card.
Trained by Ben Wallace and driven by Colin Kelly, the Sportswriter filly Novella Seelster was a repeat winner in the series, pacing her mile in 1:58.4.
Sir Ballykeel also won his second straight Prospect division and equalled his mark of 2:01.4 on the trot for trainer Joshua McKibbin. Scott Coulter drove the Il Sogno Dream gelding as well as the maiden-breaking trotting filly Jandals for trainer Susie Kerwood.
J Harris had a series driving double as well, partnering with a pair of Windsun Farm homebred pacers: the David Brown-trained filly Windsun Martini and the Murray Brethour-trained gelding Hes A Ladies Man.
In addition to a Grassroots win with Kipper Whipr Snipr, Roy guided trotting filly Say Something to victory in a Prospect split for conditioner Garry Merner.
Other Prospect winners were JMR Sporty Mel, Hashtag Watch Me and Moonwatcher.
To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Grand River Raceway.
(With files from Ontario Racing)