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Freshman fillies take first steps down the stakes trail Monday
ELORA, ON — After months of education and practice, 14 of Ontario’s finest two-year-old pacing fillies will finally put their skills to the test at Grand River Raceway on Monday, July 5, competing in a pair of Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Eliminations.
As the only filly with a previous trip around the Elora oval under her belt, Grand River fans may award Pindars Grin a slight home field advantage, but trainer Jeff Gillis says that the Grinfromeartoear daughter is a puzzle he has yet to completely solve.
“She’s just a tidy, average sized filly, maybe a little bit fine, a little bit racy, and a little bit aggressive,” says the Hillsburgh, ON resident, who shares ownership on Pindars Grin with breeder Michael Timpano of Orillia, ON and Ashley Morgan of Burlington, ON. “I don’t really know what to make of her yet.”
Gillis shipped the youngster to Grand River on June 28 for a two-year-old qualifier, and Pindars Grin delivered a steady front end effort to secure a 2:00.2 victory. The trainer was satisfied with the on-track result, and pleased with the filly’s overall comportment during her travels away from home.
“She’s very, very stubborn. She’s out of a Jenna’s Beach Boy mare, and they tend to have a mind of their own,” explains Gillis. “She’s given us lots of grief with anything new — wash racks, trailers, anything.
“We had taken her over to Mohawk before, just to basically see how she’d be and stuff. She took to that fairly well, and it was the same with Grand River the other day,” he adds.
In addition to the grief Pindars Grin has given Gillis and his staff around new things in her living environment, the filly also presented more than her share of challenges on the training track. As the 12 two-year-olds in Gillis’s stable progressed through their education last winter, Pindars Grin became increasingly aggressive, causing the horseman to employ a variety of training techniques and equipment to keep her in check.
“As we went along she kind of got progressively worse,” notes Gillis. “We’ve kind of been trying to curtail that a little bit. We’re working to try and have her rigged up right so that she’s controllable.”
Jody Jamieson, a three time Lampman Cup winner as the leading driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, qualified Pindars Grin, but due to other commitments will hand over the lines to veteran reinsman Randy Waples in Monday’s test. Waples will steer Pindars Grin from the advantageous Post 1 in the second $40,000 Gold Elimination, and Gillis is confident the 44-year-old Waples will be a good match for the excitable youngster.
“She’s just no toy, and I think Randy’s experience will help her out,” says the trainer. “And Randy’s been out to the farm and gone with her a couple of times.”
The top four finishers from each Gold Elimination will return to Grand River Raceway for the $130,000 Gold Final on July 12. Gillis was surprised to see just two eliminations for the Gold Series season opener; which will also serve as a prelude to Grand River’s $150,000 Battle of the Belles, the companion to their signature event for freshman pacing colts, the $300,000 Battle of Waterloo.
“With the addition of those races — at Grand River and Georgian Downs (Upper Canada Cup) — it’s hard to justify buying or breeding outside of Ontario, in my opinion,” notes Gillis. “I might still buy a few American-breds, but for the most part, Ontario is where it’s at.”
Pindars Grin is eligible to the July 26 eliminations for the Battle of the Belles, and a strong showing in Monday’s Gold Elimination is the first step toward participation in that lucrative event and the four remaining Gold Series events on the freshman pacing filly schedule.
The two-year-old pacing fillies will open Grand River Raceway’s Monday, July 5 program at 7:15 pm, with the second Gold Elimination going postward in the fourth race.
For complete entries please go to: http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0705grvrn.dat.