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Ontario’s three-year-old trotting colts will open their 2021 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots season at Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday (July 3) and trainer Blake MacIntosh is hoping Arch Hall can find his way to the winner’s circle in Sarnia for a second-straight year.

As a two-year-old, Arch Hall sailed to victory in his Grassroots division at Hiawatha Horse Park, going gate-to-wire with a 2:00.4 effort that remained a personal best as he added two more wins to his resume through eight freshman starts. This season, the newly gelded son of Archangel is off to a slower start than his connections expected — failing to hit the top five in two starts at Woodbine Mohawk Park — but MacIntosh is hoping the return to Sarnia’s five-eighths of a mile surface will benefit the trotter.

“He hasn’t been as sharp this year as we expected him to be. We sort of expected a little more out of him, but I think he’s one of these horses that can trot the same on any size track. He’s a very good gaited horse and I think that he just doesn’t pick up the speed when he goes to the big track,” said MacIntosh. “He can trot the half and the five-eighths just as fast as he can trot on the bigger tracks so I think that Sarnia should help him. I think he’ll be okay in there.”

Jody Jamieson of Moffat, Ont. will steer Arch Hall from Post 5 in the second $22,500 Grassroots division on Saturday, carded as Race 4. MacIntosh, who calls St. George, Ont. home, and his co-owners Hutt Racing Stable of Malvern, Pa. and Jean-Christophe Plouffe of Magog, Que. will be hoping the gelding can add to the $32,692 he earned in the Grassroots program last season.

In addition to Arch Hall, the MacIntosh stable will also send Muscle Jack and Rookie Season in Saturday’s season opener. Of the two, MacIntosh has the highest expectations for Muscle Jack.

“He’s been racing great. It was a toss up to take him there or to take him to the Golds and I decided to put him in the Grassroots, just to try and get a win with him,” said the trainer, who shares ownership of the Muscle Mass son with Hutt Racing Stable and Mortgage Boys Stable of Fayetteville, N.Y. “He looks like he should be very competitive in there. I think that he’s got a lot of talent this colt.”

Jamieson will also be in the race bike behind Muscle Jack, who starts from Post 2 in the first Grassroots division, going as Race 2. The start will be the gelding’s first in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. As a two-year-old he made just one start before MacIntosh turned him out to grow and mature.

Rookie Season and Jamieson will line at Post 6 in the third division (Race 6) and MacIntosh is hoping the son of Glidemaster can bounce back from a recent health problem and pick up a share of the $22,500 purse.

“Rookie raced in the Golds last year mostly, but this year he’s had a bit of a breathing issue. We’ve been working on that. He raced better last time (June 27), but still didn’t finish the way we’d like him to finish, so we’re going to work on him a little more this week and hopefully he can do in there,” said MacIntosh, who trains the gelding for Hutt Racing Stable. “He can leave and get himself spotted and should be able to get a cheque in there.”

Competing in the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series as a two-year-old, Rookie Season tallied second- and third-place finishes in the first two legs before developing a habit of breaking stride. The youngster has been fairly surefooted through eight sophomore starts, which have netted him one more second and a pair of third-place finishes, boosting his career earnings to $45,841.

Hiawatha Horse Park’s Saturday afternoon program gets under way at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) and the 3-year-old trotting colts will be featured in Races 2, 4, 6, and 8.

For the first time this season, Hiawatha Horse Park will also welcome a limited number of spectators to Saturday’s live racing program. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the racetrack at 519-542-5543.