An outside post did not hinder Lovedbythemasses, who scored a five-and-one-half length victory in the first of four $23,500 divisions of the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Driver Mike Saftic allowed the heavy favourite to ease away from the starting gate, placing Lovedbythemasses seventh in the outer lane when Mr Arch trotted by the quarter pole in :28.1. Saftic opted to trot on with Lovedbythemasses and the Muscle Mass son reached the half in :59 and the three-quarters in 1:29.4 before sprinting down the stretch to the 1:57.4 victory. Mr Arch finished second and Laval Titan rounded out the top three.
“Really nice colt. He’s got a nice big long gait to him and he’s got a head on his shoulders,” said Saftic. “It’s really the first time we’ve left with him, because he drew that 10-hole, but I was happy with him, he was strong at the wire. He just kind of floated out of there and made front and kept rolling.”
Saftic steers Lovedbythemasses for trainer Edward Peconi and his partners Nicholas Peconi and Wade Peconi. The win was the gelding’s third in three Grassroots starts and puts him atop the division standings with 150 points.
In the second division Magic Bob recorded his second Grassroots win with an on-the-front effort that saw him ring up fractions of :28.3, :59.4 and 1:30.3 before facing a tough challenge from Enduring Strength in the last quarter. Enduring Strength appeared to have taken command as the colts turned for home, but Magic Bob battled back for a one-and-one-half length win in 1:58.4. Enduring Strength settled for second and Mor Muscle Mass was seven lengths back in third.
Magic Bob started his Ontario Sires Stakes career in the Gold Series, but found success with the move to the lower level, winning his Grassroots debut at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Aug. 6. With two victories and 100 points, the Kadabra son currently sits fifth in the division standings with one regular season event remaining, on Sept. 14 at Hanover Raceway. Trevor Henry drove the colt to the win for trainer Anthony Montini and owners Melvin Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee and Little E LLC.
Aussie Lover also picked up his second win in the third division. Starting from post 1 for driver Stephen Byron, Aussie Lover coasted away from the gate and landed in the middle of the pack as Gretzky Seelster set the tempo with a :28.3 quarter, :58.1 half and 1:28.1 three-quarters. Coming off the final turn Byron swung Aussie Lover to the outside and shifted the Angus Hall gelding into overdrive. Aussie Lover reeled in the leaders for a two-and-three-quarter length score in a personal best 1:58.3. Gretzky Seelster held on for second and Youboozeyoulose was another length back in third.
“We knew that he had trained better coming into this,” said Byron, who drives the gelding for owner-trainer Gino Cicero. “He got a little sick after the one Mohawk race (Aug. 6), but he (Cicero) thought he would be better coming into this race and he was very pleased with how he raced. It was nice to see him bounce back.
“When he got sick he dropped a bit of weight on them and he’s got it back on now,” Byron also said. “He just needed two or three weeks of rehab, but he looks good.”
In addition to Tuesday’s victory, Aussie Lover also won his Grassroots division in the July 7 season opener at Georgian Downs. With two wins, one third and one eighth-place result in Grassroots action the gelding sits third in the standings with 113 points.
The last division saw Awesomedabra get his first Grassroots win with a pocket trip behind favourite Ripped And Ready. With Chris Christoforou in the race bike Awesomedabra left smartly from post 7 and led the field to a :29.1 quarter. Ripped And Ready took command before the :58.3 half and carried on to a 1:28.3 three-quarters before Christoforou tipped Awesomedabra out of the pocket and took aim on the leader. The Kadabra colt powered down the stretch to a three-and-three-quarter length win in a personal best 1:57.4. Remember Titans was second and Secrets Justice was third.
“He was a bit more aggressive than I’d like in the second quarter, but I was able to let one go and follow until the stretch. When I moved him, he trotted by well in hand and raced great,” said Christoforou. “He’s a nice colt; hopefully he can progress through the rest of the season.”
Gary Lance trains Awesomedabra for his partner Keith Mullins. In his three previous Grassroots appearances the gelding had recorded two seconds and one fifth. Tuesday’s victory gives him 105 points and sole ownership of fourth spot in the standings.