News ArchivesArchives for August '02
Bax fillies ready for second round with Hiawatha record
SARNIA, ON — After winning their eliminations in track record time last weekend, stablemates Natashas Kiss and Pepi Lavec have been ranked the early favourites for the $130,000 Gold Final at Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday night.
The John Bax trainees dazzled Sarnia fans on Aug. 10 when Natashas Kiss lowered the three-year-old trotting filly track record to 1:57.2 in the first elimination and then Pepi Lavec set an all age speed mark for trotters over the five-eighths mile oval with her 1:56.3 performance two races later. Both times were personal best efforts for the fillies and seem to signal an upward swing in sophomore campaigns that have been less successful than anticipated from the 2001 Super Final winner and the overall division champion.
Natashas Kiss will make her bid for a second win from Post 1 in the Gold Final and Bax hopes the royally bred daughter of Balanced Image and Davidia Hanover can duplicate her elimination effort in the $130,000 contest.
“We have been disappointed with her so far this year. We kind of expected her, with her size and the way she finished off last year, to make the step up and be a player,” says Bax. “We did some blood work on her (after July 22 Final) and she had a low grade infection that seemed to be hanging on. We treated her for ten days and she came back and raced awful well. So hopefully it’s onward and upward from here.”
Bax trains the filly, who captured last year’s Super Final, for Al Libfeld of Pickering and Marvin Katz and Sam Goldband of Toronto. The long time partners have banked a total of $253,442 on behalf of Natashas Kiss, but she has earned just $53, 463 of that this season.
Hiawatha regular Terry Kerr will take over the reins on Natashas Kiss in Saturday’s Final as Dave Wall will handle the lines on Bax’s first string entry Pepi Lavec from Post 8 in the tenth race.
Like her stablemate, Pepi Lavec struggled through the opening races of her sophomore season leaving Bax searching for an explanation. The Peterborough resident finally located some physical problems that were holding back the daughter of Mr Lavec and Next Victom and after a course of treatment between the July 15 Gold Elimination at Woodbine Racetrack and the July 22 Gold Consolation the filly seemed to return to the two-year-old form that earned her top honours in the Sires Stakes.
“Her season has been so up and down,” says Bax, who shares ownership on Pepi Lavec with Glengate Farms of Campbellville. “She hadn’t been racing well and we couldn’t find anything then we finally found a couple of spots that were bothering her. We seem to have gotten them straightened out, so we’re hoping for the same thing for her.”
Pepi Lavec won the July 22 Gold Consolation and then headed south for Hambletonian Oaks eliminations at The Meadowlands in New Jersey. Finishing second by just three-quarters of a length in the July 27 elimination she advanced to the $500,000 Final on Aug. 3 where she delivered an impressive third-place effort in a 1:53 mile.
“I didn’t know how the heat and the trucking would affect her but she raced, obviously, really well and she seems to have come out of it well,” says last year’s O’Brien winner as Canada’s top trainer. “My concern was that it didn’t hurt her or take too much out of her, but she seems to be trotting square and her appetite is good.”
Although Post 8 is a little further outside than he would like to be, Bax says it is not the end of the world with a filly as versatile as Pepi Lavec and a driver with as much Sires Stake experience as Dave Wall.
“She’s got good gate speed so I think she’ll find a spot,” says Bax. “I imagine Dave won’t handle her much different (than elimination), just try to get a spot and see how the race shakes out.”
The powerful Bax entry will be joined by seven other fillies looking for a share of the $130,000 provincial pie on Saturday. Hiawatha Horse Park’s first race is slated for 7:10 pm with the three-year-old trotting fillies ready to go another round with the track record in Race 10.