Trotter A Treat to Have Around

Courtesy Standardbred Canada October 3, 2011.

Trainer Bruce MacDonald would love to have a barn full of horses like two-year-old trotting filly Frisky Strike, who makes her ninth lifetime start in Gold Elimination action at Woodbine Racetrack on Thursday evening.

“She’s averaged over $10,000 per start; if you could have a barn-full like that it would sure make life a lot easier,” says the Alliston resident. “She always makes money and is easy to keep.”

In her first eight starts Frisky Strike has tallied four seconds, one third, one fourth and two fifth-place finishes, for earnings of $80,516. All of the filly’s starts have come in the Gold Series program, except for a runner-up effort in a Champlain Stakes division at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 1, and she currently ranks fifth in the division standings with 105 points.

“The Sires Stakes have been her bread and butter,” notes MacDonald, who conditions Frisky Strike for Mardon Stables of Loretto and breeders Ray Schnittker of Middletown, NY and Jeffrey Gural of New York, NY.

The daughter of Striking Sahbra and $148,127 winner Frisky Fergi will make her ninth start from Post 8 in the first of two $40,000 Gold Eliminations at Woodbine on Thursday, and will have Jim Morrill, Jr. in the race bike for the first time this season. MacDonald says the filly is straightforward to steer and expects Morrill will have her in gear when the wings fold.

“She’s got great gate speed, I’m hoping she can be forwardly placed,” says the horseman. “They need to be close to where the action is, especially at that level, to get anything at the end.”

Among the fillies Frisky Strike and Morrill will face in Thursday’s third race are former Gold Final winner Witch Way from Post 1 and reigning Gold Final winner Miss Paris from Post 5. The top five fillies will earn a return invitation to Woodbine for the Oct. 13 Gold Final.

Frisky Strike heads into the final regular season event off a fourth-place finish in the Sept. 29 Gold Final at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and MacDonald says the filly needs little in the way of work in between starts at this stage in her career.

“She’s a real easy doer,” he explains. “If the weather cooperates she’ll be out in the paddock a little more, and all she’ll need is a bit of light jogging to have her ready for these races.”

Schnittker raised Frisky Strike and taught the filly her early lessons, qualifying her three times at The Meadowlands in New Jersey before sending her north to MacDonald. Possibly due to that early exposure to a one-mile oval, the dainty filly seems to prefer a larger racing surface, and MacDonald is expecting a strong effort on Thursday.

“She’s stepped right up on a big track,” notes the trainer. “Which is a surprise by her stature, but she has good quick speed and can carry it for a piece.”

The other Gold Elimination features former Gold Final winners Circles, who will be looking for a return to the winner’s circle from Post 5, and Counter Pointe, who will be aiming for her fourth lifetime win from Post 6.

Woodbine Racetrack sends its first race into the starter’s hands at 7:30 p.m., and rolls out the red carpet for Ontario’s finest two-year-old trotting fillies in Races 3 and 8.

Fans Enjoy Great Harness Action

(November 10, 2003) by Sandra Snyder

Mohawk Racetrack fans got their money’s worth on Saturday evening (November 8) as the top Ontario-sired trotters and pacers delivered outstanding racing in eight $300,000 Super Finals. The final $300,000 division went to Armbro Acquire, who battled to a 1.52.3 front end victory over Border Patrol and Make It Brief. “He’s been a tough horse all year. He really deserved that,” said Bruce MacDonald, who conditions the Rustler Hanover colt for Mardon Stables of Loretto and Daniel MacIsaac of Charlottetown, PEI. “He wasn’t the bridesmaid tonight.” The win boosted the colt’s record to five wins, 10 seconds and three thirds in 27 starts for earnings of $359,092.

The Canadian Sportsman:
All His Ducks in a Rowe

(November 29, 2001) by Dave Briggs

Few parts of Newton Robinson hold as much allure for Marv Chantler as the area that used to be called the Rowelands– 1,400 acres of farm land once owned by the Honourable W. Earl Rowe. A champion for both the agricultural community and the sport of harness racing, Rowe spent 31 years in Ottawa as his area’s member of parliament. In 1963, he was named Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, a post he held until 1968. The late legend was also the man who gave Chantler his first hands-on experience with harness racing. Chantler, who lived just down the road from Rowelands, was, and still is, close friends with Rowe’s grandson, Earl Rowe, Jr. That association provided an education in itself. “Mr. Rowe was the Lieutenant Governor and I was his grandson’s friend. It made me not be intimidated by anyone,” Chantler says. His respect for the Rowe family remains profound today. So it is understandable why he is sensitive about not stealing their limelight when it comes to Ontario’s new racetrack–the gleaming $30 million palace named Georgian Downs. Yes, Chantler is one of the track’s owners.

Chantler is definetly not a watch-from-the-sidelines kind of guy. If something needs doing, he does it. In the summer of 1973, after giving up on his career as a horse-man, Chantler was hired as Barrie Raceway’s first race secretary. After a few years, Chantler returned to selling heavy equipment and soon became a partner in the British Columbia based company, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. When he left Ritchie Bros., he was the company’s vice-president for eastern Canada and five U.S. Great Lakes states. At the same time, he is adameant about maintaining strong ties to his past. He is proud that one of his original barns contains stalls that once were on Earl Rowe, Sr.’s farm. “When Bill sold the Windsor Raceway, he said, ‘Marv, take the starters bell it’s yours,remember me. Today it sit’s in front of my barn. ,'” Chantler says. He has made his fortune, seen the world and made much of his gift for socializing as easily with dignitaries as he does with the common man. Still, something powerful draws him back to the simplicity of Newton Robinson. Marv Chantler once logged as many as 100,000 air miles a year. Amazing then, that he remains so grounded.

The Canadian Sportsman Front Cover:
Everything’s Coming Up Rosebud

(June 3rd, 1998) by Dave Briggs

Marv Chantler, who lives in Loretto, ON, shares Armbro Rosebud with Dick Bartel and also with his wife, Donna, under their Mardon Stable. He said trainer Ben Wallace gets the credit for picking out Armbro Rosebud and signing the papers before Chantler even made it to the sale that day. But Chantler Kiddingly said Bartel owes him a big debt of gratitude for cajoling him into being part of the best horse the pair have ever owned. The first horse Bartel and Chantler owned together was a Ralph Hanover colt named Cocomo Son, a $7,500 yearling purchase that won the final of Buffalo’s Hopeful Series with a track record performance. Cocomo Son made $175,000 lifetime. The pair also owned a Dexter Nukes gelding named Fuzed who made over $150,000.

But there’s no question the queen of Bartel and Chantler’s hearts is Armbro Rosebud. Not only was the filly a gifted two-year-old who made over a half-million big ones, scored an O’Brien Award as Canada’s two-year-old pacing filly of the year, was never worse than second in all 17 freshman starts and caught the eye of the boys south of the border with a second-place showing to Take Flight in the Breeders Crown final at Mohawk, but she’s already showing signs of greater things at three. On May 24 at Winsor Raceway, Armbro Rosebud set a track record and an all-time Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) filly record on a five-eights mile trackwith a 1:53.3 scorcher in the $101,720 Gold Series final. Such lavish praise may be a bit premature, but it doesn’t deter Rosebud’s owners from having the time of their lives rooting for her both in Ontario and on the left coast. And it definetly won’t deter Marv Cantler from reminding his buddy Dick Bartel who he has to thank for bringing him along for the ride.

The Toronto Star:
O’Brien Awards Winners 1997

by Hans Grottke

The complete list of the 1997 O’Brien Award winners: Horse of the year, Western Dreamer; driver, Steve Condren; trainer, William Wellwood; 2-year-old pacing colt, Rustler Hanover; 2-year-old pacing filly, Armbro Rosebud; 3-year-old pacing colt, Western Dreamer; 3-year-old pacing filly, Paling Avenue; etc.

The Herald:
Two-year-old Filly Burning up the track, Coming up Roses

by Lara Bradley

Armbro Rosebud looks like an ordinary bay filly. She’s got a long face, a long mane and is skinny like most standardbred pacers. But what this two-year old from Loretto can’t stand, is any horse in front of her on the track. Rosie’s drive to be the fastest has netted $512,738 in prize money this year. She’s raced 17 times, coming home to 12 first place finishes and five second places. And she’s broken two track records – nipping two seconds off the Elmira track record and setting a new speed of 1:56.2 at Flamboro Downs. While the Breeder’s Crown was certainly one of the high points of the year, Rosie also fared well in the Ontario Sire Stakes. In fact, in all four she started in, Rosie came first. Now Rosie is taking a month off at the Chantler’s farm in Loretto. They run a 50 stall barn and own parts of 10 other horses. After Rosie’s career is over, she’ll retire as a brood mare.

TROT magazine (January 1998):
There’s No Bloom Off This Rose(bud)

by Heather MacKay Roberts

“Man, that girl’s got attitude,” trainer Ben Wallace thought admiringly to himself as he watched his rookie pacing filly Armbro Rosebud win her very first pari-mutuel start last July. “It doesn’t show it on the lines, but in that race she had the lead, was beat and then came back on to win by a neck,” Wallace remembered. “You sure like to see that in a green horse. Up to that time I knew she had speed and manners, but you can never judge the intangibles–the determination and attitude–until they’re in a race situation. And she showed me that night she had them.” The Dexter Nukes daughter earned $512,738 in total for her owners Mardon Stables of Loretto, Ontario, and Richard BArtel of Kelowna, B.C. “I loved her. Her size was excellent, her conformation is impeccable and she didn’t look dainty. She looked like she was tough enough to take some punishment,” Wallace explained. Rosebud handled her breaking and training for Wallace without incident. “She was excellent right from the start. I said the smartest thing I did all year was buy her, she basically did the rest. I just wish it was May already,” sighed Wallace. And who can blame him? After all, spring is when the rosebuds really bloom.

The Toronto Sun:
Ontario’s Rosebud in Bloom

by Rob Longley

It wasn’t long ago that Ontario-bred pacers had their place in the harness racing world–and it wasn’t necessarily competing against the best in world. Two-year-old filly pacer Armbro Rosebud showed how times have changed with a gallant second-place finish to winner Take Flight in her $583,200 Breeders Crown race. “This filly was born, bred and raced right here in Ontario and for her to accomplish what she did is something else,” says elated trainer Ben Wallace, who lives in Milton and trains on the Mowhawk backstretch. Canadians grabbed the place and show positions in the next race for freshman trotting colts. After half of the field made breaks in stride, driver Randy Waples got second with STar of Crown while trainer/driver Joe Hudon rallied Armbro Revolution for third.


Secret Grin made a bold move up the backstretch and rolled to an impressive 1:53.3 score in the first split for the duo of trainer Bruce MacDonald and driver Steve Byron.

Byron got away fourth with the daughter of Grinfromeartoear – Armbro Wichita while Ms Michelle D (Randy Waples) was on the motor through panels of :27.4 and :56.1.

Secret Grin vaulted off cover as the field entered the straightaway and she rolled her filly foes to the third station in 1:24.3 before finishing them off with a final quarter in 29 seconds.

Quail Seelster (Jason Brewer) closed to finish second, Magic Maverick (Don McElroy) was third and that one’s stablemate Playin With Magic (Mike Saftic) was fourth.

Mardon Stables of Loretto, ON hold the papers on Secret Grin, who racked up her fifth win of the season and increased her career earnings to $193,497.

SECRET GRIN Secret Grin wraps up provincial season on a winning note
TORONTO, November 3 2006 — After struggling through her last three starts, two-year-old pacing filly Secret Grin finally found her way back to the winner’s circle on Friday evening with a 1:54.3 upset in Trillium Series action at Woodbine Racetrack. Secret Grin, who led the Grassroots point standings with four wins in five regular season starts, cruised to a two length triumph over the heavily favoured Appleoosa Hanover and the fast closing Iwishihadbaytsim. The talented youngster and driver Phil Hudon started from Post 4 and dropped in along the rail in third as Bet Your Booty hustled away from Post 7 to a :27.1 opening quarter. While Bet Your Booty rang up a :56.2 half, Appleoosa Hanover made her move up the outside and had gained control of the race by the 1:25 three-quarters. However, Secret Grin and Phil Hudon were not about to hand the race to the American-sired favourite, and when they challenged on the outside Appleoosa Hanover gave up the goodies. On top by one-quarter length at the head of the lane, Secret Grin pulled away to a two length triumph in a personal best 1:54.3. The end of season victory provided a small consolation to Secret Grin’s connections for the break she made in the Grassroots Semifinal, which cost her a top four finish and a berth in the Oct. 7 Championship. Prior to the miscue in the Semifinal the Grinfromeartoear daughter had only been bested in one Grassroots event, also due to a break in stride, and was among the favourites to challenge for the division crown. Once they got over the disappointment of missing the Grassroots Championship, trainer Bruce MacDonald and owners Mardon Stables of Loretto sent Secret Grin out in an overnight event at Woodbine on Oct. 17 and the filly finished second. Nine days later, Secret Grin logged a third-place finish in Trillium Series action at Rideau Carleton Raceway, improving on the fourth she delivered in the first Trillium contest of the season, Sept. 2 at Flamboro Downs. Friday’s victory in the $83,655 Trillium battle boosted Secret Grin’s freshman record to six wins, one second and one third in 11 starts and almost doubled her earnings to $89,466. While Friday’s event completes the 2006 Ontario Sires Stakes season for the two-year-old pacing fillies, Woodbine will play host to the three-year-old trotting fillies on November 18 in the last event of the provincial stakes season. Secret Grin returned $30.80, $5.50, $3.30, combining with Appleoosa Hanover ($2.20, $2.10) for an exactor worth $79.70. Iwishihadbaytsim ($6.20) rounded out a triactor worth $358. The $1 Superfecta returned $513. (Courtesy of OSS) Flamboro Breeders June 17 2007 In The first division Secret Grin and Randy Fritz posted a half-lenght score in 1.55. It was the third win in a row ,one Trllium event,one O.S.S grassroots and Flamboro Breeders. Brings her lifetime totals to ,17 Starts 9. 1 .1. Lifetime earnings to $131.000