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Grand River Raceway will gather 65 of Ontario’s finest two-year-olds onto one program this Monday, July 30 as the Elora oval hosts eliminations for both the Gold Series and its signature stakes events, the Battle of Waterloo and Battle of the Belles.

The two-year-old trotting colts will lead off the stakes laden card and Fergus resident Don Lindsey is hopingSam Hayes can be among the top three finishers in the first $40,000 Gold Elimination. The Angus Hall gelding makes his debut in the Gold Series on Monday after scoring an impressive victory in Grassroots action at Hiawatha Horse Park on July 19.

“We’ll just see how he handles Grand River, and everything. He’s still a two-year-old colt trotter who has run a third of the time behind the gate so far,” says Lindsey. “I’m not worried about talent I’m just worried about him behaving his manners.”

Lindsey and his partners, father Paul Lindsey of Fergus and Paul Kleinpaste of Orangeville, have had confidence in the gelding’s ability for several months. However the path to glory is rarely straight and Sam Hayes has enjoyed his fair share of detours. Like most two-year-olds the gelding has had a few bouts of sickness, several stretches where his brain could not seem to control his growing body, and the odd mental hiccup.

“He went through bouts of sickness and times when he couldn’t trot, but everything kind of — he kind of did everything easy when it fell into place,” explains Lindsey.

After an impressive training mile in late spring, Lindsey felt confident Sam Hayes could compete in the Gold Series, but the gelding missed a few weeks of training due to sickness soon after, so he opted for the July 8 Grassroots season opener at Clinton Raceway instead. Unfortunately Sam Hayes made a miscue behind the starting gate and again at the three-quarter marker and could only salvage a fifth-place finish in the 2:07 mile.

Following the novice error Lindsey schooled the youngster at Grand River and, satisfied with the result, decided to make a second attempt at securing a Grassroots prize. Sam Hayes was flawless in his second Grassroots start, in spite of a Hiawatha Horse Park oval rated three seconds slower than normal, and delivered a 12 and one-quarter length victory in 2:02.4.

That effort earned Sam Hayes his shot at the Gold Series, and regular reinsman Dave Boughton will steer the gelding after a share of the $40,000 elimination purse from Post 4 in Monday’s first race.

“Dave’s kind of brought him along,” notes Lindsey. “It’s been a big asset to him that Dave’s been able to train him and sit behind him every start so that he knows his idiosyncrasies.”

Lindsey says the error in Clinton was largely due to inexperience and expects Sam Hayes to be in the hunt on Monday so long as he minds his manners. The top three finishers from each Gold Elimination will earn a berth in the $130,000 Gold Final on Monday, Aug. 6, part of Grand River Raceway’s popular Industry Day program.

“I’m not worried about track size,” explains Lindsey. “I’m more worried about just general all around; just getting away from the gate good and everything else.
“There’s lots of nice horses over there Monday,” he adds.

In addition to the 25 other two-year-old trotting colts — who compete in Races 1, 3, and 5 — Monday’s program also features three Battle of Waterloo Eliminations for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts and two Battle of the Belles Eliminations for the two-year-old pacing fillies. The top nine finishers from the battle rounds will be back at Grand River Raceway next Monday, Aug. 6 as the highlight of the track’s Industry Day program. The pacing colts will compete for $300,000 in the Battle of Waterloo Final, while the pacing fillies vie for $150,000 in the Battle of the Belles Final.

All the exciting elimination action gets under way at 7:05 p.m. this Monday, July 30.