“Both of those colts are coming in on good form. They’ve kind of picked it up in the second half of the season,” the trainer noted. “I’m happy with them.”
Santanna One will make his bid for the division title from post two, coming into the C$50,000 contest off an easy, 1:56.2 win in the Sept. 8 Grassroots event at Clinton Raceway. The son of Santanna Blue Chip was also a front-end winner over the Grand River Raceway’s half-miler on Aug. 16, but Gillis says the location and style of the gelding’s victories was more a case of racing luck than track size and trip preference.
“When Jack (Moiseyev) drove him a couple of starts ago he was near the back and had one run there at the end,” the horsemansaid. “I thought that was one of his better efforts.”
In that Aug. 26 Grassroots start at Mohawk, Santanna One was nine lengths off the pace in 10th at the three-quarter marker and closed to within 1-1/2 lengths of winner Sea Harrier in the stretch.
Gillis bred Santanna One and shares ownership of the winner of C$70,192 with Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. reinsman Jody Jamieson’s 1140545 Ontario Ltd. of Moffat, Ont. and Ellen Ott of Buffalo, N.Y. The gelding will come into the season finale ranked sixth in the point standings with his two victories, one third, two fifths and one eighth place result in six Grassroots starts.
Santanna One’s stablemate Dull Roar was also a winner at Clinton on Sept. 8, keeping a nose in front of Classic Gent for a 1:55.3 score. The win was the son of Mach Three’s third straight in Grassroots action and, combined with the three runner-up finishes he recorded at the start of the season, boosted him to the top of the division standings with 225 points.
Dull Roar was a C$55,000 purchase out of the 2011 Canadian Yearling Sale and Gillis was very impressed with his early efforts, but the half-brother to the C$354,610 winner Village Janus made just two starts last season before being sidelined by injury.
“When we bought him I was high on him and in the early stages of training we were very high on him, but with only two starts we didn’t get a good read on him last year,” Gillis said.
“We gave him the time he required and he’s come back good,” the trainer continued. “I call him a ‘tweener;’ he’s not quite a Gold (Series) colt, but he’s a pretty darn good Grassroots horse.”
Gillis and Mac Nichol share ownership of Dull Roar with Ken Henwood of Vaughan and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, N.Y. Moffat, Ont. resident Jack Moiseyev will steer the winner of C$96,834 from post seven in Saturday’s season finale.
Among the other colts aiming to claim the division crown are Champagne Phil, who was undefeated through the first four Grassroots events and will start from post six; last year’s division champion Panpero Firpo who will start from post nine, and his stablemate in the Dave Menary barn, Panongahela, who has been flawless in four Grassroots outings … but has been saddled with the outside, post 10.
Mohawk Racetrack will send its first race behind the starting gate at 7:25 p.m., ET on Saturday evening and the eight Grassroots Finals will go postward in races two through six and eigh through 10. The 3-year-old pacing colt division will wrap up the festivities in race 10.
For complete entries please go to http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0921mohsn.dat.