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Best Ball looking for final round success in London
October 9, 2002
By Sandra Snyder

LONDON, ON — Ontario’s talented two-year-old trotting colts wrap up their Grassroots season at Western Fair Raceway this Saturday evening, their last opportunity to garner points toward a post season berth.

Only the top 16 point earners will advance to the Nov. 2 Semifinal and at present eight colts are tied for 16th in the standings with 50 points, making a top five finish in Saturday’s event a necessity for those hoping to extend their freshman campaign.

The colts hovering just below the current cut off can also jump into the Semifinal with a big effort on Saturday and Duane Hicks is hoping Best Ball can do just that from Post 5 in the seventh race. From four Grassroots starts the Mr Lavec son has posted one second, one third and one fifth for a total of 42 points.

“We’re hoping,” says the Aylmer resident, who shares ownership on Best Ball with John Jesson of Tillsonburg, trainer Frank O’Reilly of Orton and John Fielding of Toronto. “I think he stands a good chance of getting into the top three with the ones he’s in with.”

The gelding comes into Saturday’s contest off a sharp qualifier at Mohawk Racetrack on Oct. 1 where he finished second, trotting his own mile in 2:01.4, and his connections are looking for an improvement on his last two Ontario Sires Stakes starts where he made breaks in the early going.

“Frank doesn’t know why he broke in Elmira (Sept. 2). He can’t figure that one out, but in Barrie (Sept. 21) he got scared. There was a change in the fence, a colour change or something, and it spooked him,” explains Hicks. “We were happy with that (qualifier), so I think he should be all right.”

Veteran reinsman Ross Battin will pilot the gelding on Saturday evening and the duo would like to chalk up a top three finish to propel them over the 50 point mark and into a position on the starting gate in the Semifinal. Among the colts they will face are C S Ruff Start, who comes into the race off a win in the Sept. 21 Grassroots event, and Earl Vic Dol, who sits sixth in the point standings with three seconds from four starts. C S Ruff Start will make his bid for a second straight Grassroots victory from Post 2 while Earl Vic Dol, one of two colts in the seventh race trained by Arthur’s Ross Henry, gets the trailing Post 8.

Henry, a three-time winner of the Johnston Cup as the top trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, will harness six colts at Western Fair on Saturday. In addition to Earl Vic Dol and Hidden Profits (Post 4) in Race 7, the trotting specialist will send out Rueben Syn (Post 1) and Kuruption (Post 4) in Race 1 and Odee Tantie (Post 5) and Brisk Success (Post 7) in Race 2.

Western Fair Raceway sends the first Grassroots division of two-year-old trotting colts behind the starting gate at 6:30 pm, with the other two divisions following in Races 2 and 7.