Temperatures in the Hanover area are forecasted to be cooler heading into the weekend, but they may not get as low as harness racing owner Jeff Thomson would like.
“I wish it would get cold,” says the Chesley resident.
Thomson co-owns three-year-old trotting filly Counter Pointe, who is headed to Hanover Raceway on Saturday for the final regular season Grassroots event. Although the filly currently sits in a tie for seventh in the division standings, she has struggled all summer with allergies and Thomson thinks a good cold snap would help the filly out as much as all the other treatments trainer Wayne Henry has employed.
“She’s been fighting real bad allergies all summer. She just hasn’t been herself,” says Thomson, who shares ownership of the filly with Henry Stable of Arthur and Daniel McCann of Parkhill. “I know that Wayne’s been tearing his hair out trying to get her clean.”
A Gold Final winner at two, Counter Pointe made her sophomore stakes debut against the province’s top fillies in the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association Stake at Mohawk Racetrack in May, finishing fifth in her elimination and seventh in the final. Off that effort Henry, Thomson and McCann decided to concentrate on the Grassroots program this season and Counter Pointe won divisions of the first two events, posting a 1:58.1 win at Flamboro Downs on June 23 and an impressive six length 1:57.3 victory at Rideau Carleton Raceway on July 6.
The filly’s season went off the rails in her next start however as she finished a tired eighth in an overnight event at Mohawk Racetrack and a post-race endoscopic examination revealed an airway full of mucous.
“She raced pretty good at Ottawa but a week and a half later at Mohawk she was terrible and she just scoped right full after the race,” Thomson recalls.
Henry halted the filly’s training routine and spent his time working to get her healthy, but it was not until the days before the Aug. 31 Grassroots event at Grand River Raceway that her airway finally looked clear on an examination.
“She actually scoped clean a week ago Monday,” says the owner. “We scoped her a week ago Monday and she actually scoped clean for the first time all summer.”
Counter Pointe delivered a third place result in the Aug. 31 event at Grand River, a result Thomson and his partners were satisfied with given the length of time the filly had been laid off. The group is hoping that an additional week of training will stand the filly in good stead going into Saturday’s test.
“Hopefully on Saturday night she will be tighter and clean and back to her old self,” says Thomson, with his fingers firmly crossed.
Henry will steer Counter Pointe from Post 6 in the first of six $24,000 Grassroots divisions, but Thomson says the outside post will not be a factor as long as the filly arrives at Hanover in good health.
“She can leave. I don’t think there’s another three-year-old trotting filly that can leave with her,” he explains. “But you’ve got to be able to finish too.”
Saturday’s contest is the final opportunity for the three-year-old trotting fillies to accumulate points toward a berth in the post season, and although Counter Pointe’s spot should be secure with the 112 points she has already tallied, Thomson would love to see her wrap up the regular season on a high note.
“On the other hand, she sure doesn’t owe us anything,” says Thomson of the winner of $236,290. “I think we’re going to have enough points to make the Semifinal, and hopefully between then and now Wayne can keep her clean and get her tight.”
Thomson knows advancing out of the Sept. 19 Semifinal at Grand River Raceway will be a difficult task even if Henry has Counter Pointe in perfect form. While the filly struggled through the summer several of her peers stepped up their game and look to be in top form heading for the post season.
“Usually with a horse like that you can drop back to the Grassroots and be dominant, but even if she’s 100 per cent she’s still going to have her work cut out for her,” admits the owner.
In addition to the talent laden three-year-old trotting filly Grassroots divisions, which go postward in Races 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11, Hanover Raceway’s Saturday evening program features six other trotting races, including theFinals for two-year-old colts and fillies and the Walker Memorial Invitation Trot.
Hanover Raceway’s All Trot program gets under way at 7:15 pm.
To view Counter Pointe’s previous Grassroots starts please go to http://www.ontariosiresstakes.com/participants/display_horse.html?tattoo=5GP20
by Sandra SNYDER