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Local filly hoping for homefield advantage Thursday
GLOUCESTER, ON — When the three-year-old trotting fillies arrive at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Thursday evening for the last Gold Elimination of their careers, Robert Robinson is hoping prior experience over the five-eighths mile oval will be Terra Cotta Bye’s secret weapon.
The Mr Lavec filly is stabled at Rideau Carleton and has made the bulk of her 23 starts over the Gloucester oval, with growing success in recent weeks. On Oct. 24 she moved up to the second highest trotting class offered at Rideau Carleton and finished a hard-closing second to a more experienced competitor.
“It was a little bit of a test for her. We moved her up to give her a little more competition,” says Robinson, who shares ownership on the filly with Louis Lecuyer of Ottawa and Jacqueline Dinelle of Hull. “She was beat half a length by kind of a classy mare and there’s no shame getting beat by a horse like that. A lot of people were coming up after and telling me how good she raced.”
The filly will try her hand at the Gold level for the third time on Thursday and Robinson will be looking for an improvement on the first two efforts from Post 4 in the eighth race.
“That’s the kind of position I was hoping for, although I was kind of hoping there would be two eliminations,” says the Hull resident. “I’d be very happy if we could get a cheque and then come back next week and get another one. “If I could get in the middle of a bunch it would be good, but it’s just going to be a kind of a wait and see thing. I don’t have any set plans. I just hope for a clear trip.”
Terra Cotta Bye clocked her personal best 2:00.2 winning a Grassroots division at Kawartha Downs on Sept. 28 and Robinson and his partners considered following the Grassroots trail to Georgian Downs for their next provincial start, but opted to capitalize on their homefield advantage instead.
“If we were situated somewhere more in the middle of Ontario I probably would have gone in the Grassroots, but we figured we’d give her a shot on her home turf,” he says. “That could be the biggest advantage. A lot of horses have had trouble with the track here this year and she seems to be able to get over it most of the time.”
In the days leading up to Thursday’s contest Robinson and his veterinarian will be working hard to ensure Terra Cotta Bye is in top physical condition, a task that has provided them with several challenges over the course of the season.
“One week you think you have it all figured out, and the next week you come out and there would be something else,” says the trainer. “It’s just growing pains mostly but one night I warmed her up and came in and said to my wife, ‘I’ve got to do something,’ so I went out and pulled the back shoes off her. You wouldn’t believe the difference it made to the horse. I’ve got shoes back on her now, but I raced her a couple of times that way and she got a lot better without the shoes.”
Robinson and Terra Cotta Bye will face a full roster of top fillies in their quest for a berth in next Thursday’s Gold Final. Division leader Pepi Lavec will start from Post 6, number two filly Early Secret gets Post 9 and fourth-ranked Corinas Mission will start from Post 10. With just 10 starters only one filly will be eliminated from the field for the Nov. 7 Gold Final.
Rideau Carleton Raceway sends its first race into the starter’s hands at 6:30 pm on Thursday and the talented three-year-old trotting fillies will entertain the Halloween crowd in Race 8.