Campbellville, ON --- In the last decade no horse has captured an Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots championship at two and come back to defend their title the following season. At Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening (Sept. 21) two horses have an opportunity to change that statistic, 3-year-old pacing filly Cams Macharena and 3-year-old pacing colt Panpero Firpo.
Cams Macharena will attempt to defend her crown from post seven in the sixth race and trainer Tony O’Sullivan is hoping the filly is able to rise to the occasion.
“Her last three or four Sire Stakes have been really good. I’m actually pleasantly surprised with how fast she’s gone,” says the Cambridge resident, who has struggled to get the Mach Three daughter back on track since an early season jaunt to Ohio’s Northfield Park for the Courageous Lady.
“That trip set her back a month or six weeks, it was really hard on her,” explains O’Sullivan. “It threw a kink in her and it seemed to take her a while to recover.”
In the June 3 Grassroots season opener at Mohawk, Cams Macharena finished ninth, but she had bounced back by the end of the month and recorded her first win of the season in the June 30 test at Clinton Raceway. Since then the defending champion has added another Grassroots win, in a personal best 1:53.1 at Georgian Downs, one second, one third and one fourth, putting her fourth in the point standings.
O’Sullivan conditions Cams Macharena for owner-breeders Chris Arold, Michael Drury and Kenneth Kohut. Regular reinsman Doug McNair will be in the race bike Saturday.
Panpero Firpo will take aim on a second division title from post nine in the tenth race. In three regular season appearances the No Pan Intended son netted two wins and one fifth to squeak into the post season in ninth place with 105 points. The colt claimed his victories at Georgian Downs and Mohawk, recording his 1:51.1 personal best over the Campbellville oval on Aug. 9.
The David Menary trainee also tried his hand against the Gold Series colts on two occasions this season, but failed to crack the top five.
Brett Miller will pilot Panpero Firpo after his second Grassroots title on behalf of Menary and owner-breeder Peter Pan Stables Inc.
Peter Pan Stables and Menary will also send out Panongahela in the 3-year-old pacing colt championship. Undefeated in four regular season starts the gelding will be looking to make it a perfect five from the outside post 10. Billy Davis, Jr. will be aboard Panongahela, who is also a son of No Pan Intended.
Before either Cams Macharena or Panpero Firpo attempt to replicate their 2012 success, O’Sullivan will be preparing Concert Artist for his first run at a provincial title. The 2-year-old pacing gelding comes into the season finale riding a two race win streak and will start from post two in the fourth race.
“He’s stepped his game up every week,” says O’Sullivan. “It was a pleasant surprise what he did the other night.”
Concert Artist and Paul Mackenzie wrapped up the regular season with a 5-1/2 length victory at Mohawk on Sept. 12, stopping the clock in an impressive 1:53. The win gave the son of Artistic Fella and Western Concert a record of three wins and one fifth in four Grassroots starts and he also picked up a win in an overnight event at Georgian Downs on Aug. 10.
“Other than the Battle of Waterloo elimination, where he over-paced himself, he really hasn’t raced bad all year,” adds O’Sullivan, who also trained the gelding’s mother for owner-breeder Emerald Highlands Farm.
Concert Artist finished fifth in the freshman pacing colt point race, a hotly contested division which should result in an outstanding showdown on Saturday.
Mohawk Racetrack’s first race goes postward at 7:25 p.m. and the eight Grassroots championships will be featured in races two through six and eight through 10.
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