Dagfin Henriksen returned to Kawartha Downs on Saturday evening and guided his two-year-old trotter North And South to an Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots victory, the gelding’s second of the season.

Sent off as the second choice by Kawartha Downs fans, who strongly favoured the trotters with local connections, North And South got away sixth from post nine and avoided some early confusion caused when Irish Master made a miscue that pushed favourite Stormont Ventnor into the middle of the racetrack. Closing to fourth by the halfway marker, North And South had taken command by the three-quarters and sailed home a two and three-quarter length winner in a personal best 1:59.1.

Stormont Ventnor, with Kawartha’s top driver Reg Gassien of Lindsay in the race bike, recovered from his first quarter shuffle to finish second and third choice Chief Justice, trained by former Peterborough,  resident John Bax, was third.

“Nine-hole, you kind of have to plan as you go a little bit, and when the horse run out of the first turn there was a little bit of a confused first quarter, and then there was a big gap,” said Henriksen. “I was just trying to close the gap and when he closed the gap he just swelled up, so I just moved him when I had to. It worked out perfect.”

Henriksen, a former resident of Peterborough who started his training and driving career at Kawartha Downs, shares ownership of North And South with Dr. Brett Anderson of Port Hope, Ontario and Kyle Anderson  of Edmonton, AB. The partners anted up $10,000 to acquire North And South from last fall’s Canadian Yearling Sale and through four starts the son of Southwind Lustre and Queen Nora has earned $18,975.

“He raced really good. When I moved him he just fired right up. It was fun,” said Henriksen, who now calls Cambridge, home. “He’s learning the right way and does everything the right way.”

The victory bumped the gelding to the top of the division standings with 102 points, which should assure him of a berth in the Sept. 30 Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack, but Henriksen was happy to just enjoy Saturday’s win without looking too far into the future.

“It’s nice to win here. It’s always been fun to win here,” said the horseman. “The crowd’s always cheering me on, everybody knows me; it’s good.”

Veteran trainer-driver Jack Moiseyev also enjoyed an enthusiastic reception from Kawartha Downs’ fans when he guided Charlie Ona Harley into the winner’s circle after the second Grassroots division. The pair was part of a three-horse charge to the wire that required a photograph to determine that Charlie Ona Harley got a head in front of Nobodynosjustice and pacesetter Radical Attempt in the 1:59.2 mile.

“Usually, you know he acted like a two-year-old, but tonight he got behind the gate and he just was a different horse,” said Moiseyev. “I was happy with him.”

Saturday was Charlie Ona Harley’s debut, both in the Grassroots and as a gelding. The son of Glidemaster and Carnac started the Ontario Sires Stakes season at the Gold Series level, finishing fifth in the July 9 season opener at Georgian Downs, but his behaviour that night caused Moiseyev and owners Joanne Colville of Moffat and Nancy MacNevin of Essex, to make the decision to transform him from a colt to a gelding.

“He was so bad in the paddock that night, he was trying to hurt people, so we just gelded him,” explained Moffat resident Moiseyev. “He really calmed right down after about 10 days, now he’s all business.”

With Saturday’s win Charlie Ona Harley moved into ninth spot in the division standings and both he and North And South will have an opportunity to pad their point totals in the fifth event for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings on Sept. 2 at Flamboro Downs.

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal was on hand for Kawartha Downs’ Ontario Sires Stakes event Saturday and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs made the trophy presentations to the winning connections of North And South while MPP Laurie Scott made the presentation to Charlie On a Harley.