News ArchivesArchives for June '03
Elmira hosts freshman pacing filly Grassroots opener
ELMIRA, ON — For the second time this week the excitement of the Ontario Sires Stakes program returns to Elmira Raceway. On Friday evening four divisions of two-year-old pacing fillies will compete in their first Grassroots event, with a total of $118,680 up for grabs.
With a sparkling runner-up finish in a 1:59.3 mile at the Woolwich County oval on June 23, Lovefest will be one of the favourites to earn a top prize in the sixth race. Owned by Larry Clements of Listowel and trained and driven by Hanover resident Mark Etsell, the Village Jiffy daughter has been impressing onlookers since her victorious June 7 debut in a qualifier at Hanover Raceway.
“After that 1:59 mile I was really thinking of going to the Gold,” says Clements. “But we were just scared they might go a little fast. And as Mark says, there’s a lot of racing ahead.”
Lovefest will benefit from Post 1 in her provincial debut and Clements expects Etsell and the filly will be near the front when the dust settles.
“She can leave and she tries. She wants to be a racehorse” he says. “How good she’s going to be I don’t know, but we like her.”
Clements acquired the filly in late May from breeder James Avritt of Lebanon, KY and has been delighted with Lovefest’s progress.
“I have two other fillies and Mark said, “Larry, the last thing you need is another filly,” but I bought her anyway and she’s turned out to be okay,” he says. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and this is the first year, the other two fillies look good, this filly looks good and my trotting filly is absolutely a monster.”
Clements admits he will watch the two-year-old pacing filly Gold Series at Woodbine Racetrack on Monday night with thoughts of what Lovefest might have accomplished had she been given a shot against the cream of the crop, but his confidence in Etsell reassures him that they made the right decision.
“I’m going to watch it on TV tonight (Monday) and imagine what might have happened, but at the same time I’m just as happy with our decision. I think Mark knows a lot more than I,” he says. “I’ve only been with Mark for a couple of years. He’s quiet and he doesn’t say a lot, but he’s a very good horseman.”
Among the fillies that Etsell and Lovefest will face on Friday is Fit For Life, who made her first two appearances at Charlottetown Raceway in Prince Edward Island. Owned by Russell Doyle of Sydney, NS, the Fit For Life filly will be trained by Putnam’s Scott McNiven during her Ontario Sires Stakes campaign and Greg Dustin will pilot her from Post 3 in the sixth race on Friday.
Elmira Raceway sends its first race onto the racetrack at 6:55 pm on Friday, with the two-year-old pacing fillies taking centre stage in Races 1, 3, 6, and 8.