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Briar Goes West ready to shake things up Friday
September 16, 2008
By Sandra Snyder

CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — Mark Austin expects that Briar Goes West will need a new strategy to vie for a Gold Final title at Mohawk Racetrack on Friday night.

The two-year-old pacing filly heads into the $120,000 Gold Final off an impressive come from behind victory in last week’s elimination round, but the Fergus resident does not think she will be able to close from seventh to steal a win in Friday’s contest.

“She’s going to have to be able to get up a little closer in the action this week,” says Austin, who trains the Western Terror daughter for owner and breeder Michael Cecile of Windsor. “She’s going to have to be on their coat tails a little closer.”

The coat tails Austin is referring to are those of the other elimination winner, Shacked Up, and reigning Gold Final champion St Lads Popcorn, who will start from Posts 1 and 4 respectively. Shacked Up handed St Lads Popcorn her first defeat in two months last week, and looked very impressive in the process.

“That other filly of Nifty Norman’s (Shacked Up) looks like she’s a creature,” speculates Austin. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the best filly in North America. She looks unbeatable.”

Shacked Up posted a 1:52.4 victory in her elimination last week, hitting the wire four and three-quarter lengths in front of St Lads Popcorn, and while Jack Darling admits the two-time Gold Final champ lost some momentum when pacesetter Terroronthebeach made a late break, he wonders if it would have made any difference.

“That other filly, she’s a monster. I’m not sure we can beat her,” says Darling, who owns and trains St Lads Popcorn. “She’s about as nice a filly as I’ve seen in a long time.”

With $236,323 earned through seven lifetime starts, St Lads Popcorn is no slouch herself, but the Cambridge resident figures she and driver Jason Brewer will have their hands full defending their Gold Final crown.

Like Briar Goes West, Shacked Up is a daughter of first year sire Western Terror — who boasts a total of four offspring in Friday’s Gold Final, and two in the $20,000 Gold Consolation. Austin says his filly is a little on the aggressive side, but he attributes that trait to her mother, Briar Classic, rather than the sire.

“The whole family has been fairly aggressive when they come to the racetrack,” notes Austin. ‘The old mare was like that too. I think this one is actually the smartest one the mare’s had.”

A winner of $145,168 herself, Briar Classic has produced five racehorses from five foals, with $117,796 winner Briars Luck currently holding the title as the most successful. However, Briar Goes West has already accumulated two wins, one second, one third and earnings of $31,956 in her first six starts, so that honour could be short-lived.

“She’s settling in and becoming a nice, useful filly,” says her trainer. “She’s all straight ahead when you put her in gear, so hopefully we can keep her going.”

Jack Moiseyev will pilot Briar Goes West from Post 3 in Friday’s $120,000 contest, slated as Race 8 on Mohawk Racetrack’s 7:30 pm program. The $20,000 Gold Consolation goes postward in Race 2.

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