Day At The Track

Daring Nikki hoping for home track success

02:06 AM 10 Aug 2011 NZST
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Ontario Sires Stakes

Ontario's talented two-year-old trotting fillies invade Hiawatha Horse Park on Saturday evening (August 13), competing for a total of $216,000 in nine Grassroots divisions. Local filly Daring Nikki will make her second appearance in the provincial harness racing program from Post 5 in the third $24,000 division, and Gerald Pedden is hoping the homebred youngster can match or exceed the fourth-place result she posted in her debut at Woodstock Raceway on Aug. 2.

“She could have went a little more in Woodstock too, but it was her first start off a qualifier, and I just, I babied her around there pretty good,” says the Watford resident of the filly’s first Grassroots outing. “I’d rather do it right than have her learn to do things wrong, because it’s hard to get them over it.”

Pedden, who shares ownership of the filly with her namesake, his daughter Nicole Pedden of McGregor, says Daring Nikki has done almost everything right more or less from birth. The daughter of Armbro Worldwide and Daring Cole was nicely conformed and easy to get along with as a foal, and after a brief resistance last fall, picked up quickly on her lessons.

“She was a nice filly right from the time she was born,” Pedden recalls. “She was a little hard to break at first, she didn’t want to go when I first put the harness on her, but the third day she just took off trotting and she was all trot all winter. You don’t get them too often like this one.”

In preparation for her Grassroots debut, Pedden qualified Daring Nikki at Hiawatha on July 14 and the filly turned in a steady effort, crossing the wire fifth in a time of 2:05.4. This week the trainer-driver will turn the reins over to son-in-law Mark MacQuarrie and join the rest of the filly’s supporters along the rail.

Pedden combines training and driving with a career as a blacksmith, and currently conditions one other horse in addition to Daring Nikki. That number will double in the fall when the longtime horseman gets started with a pair of yearlings, but unfortunately neither of his young trotters is a sibling to Daring Nikki.

“I got rid of the mare after she had this foal, yeah, that was a mistake,” says Pedden ruefully. “Maybe that’s why this one is trotting as good as she is, you’ve got to look at the positive side too.”

If Daring Nikki continues to deliver solid results in the Grassroots program, Pedden will send her to the remaining events on the freshman filly calendar, but says the filly has already demonstrated her potential and her health and well being will dictate whether or not she gets to Sudbury and Innisfil.

“I just go one race at a time and see how they come out of it,” he explains, ”Because it doesn’t take much for me to pull the shoes off if they just aren’t right.”

Among the fillies Daring Nikki and MacQuarrie will face in Saturday’s sixth race are former division winners Winbak Tess from Post 7 and Happy Everything from Post 9.

The two-year-old trotting fillies will also be featured in Races 3, 4, and 7 through 12 on Hiawatha Horse Park’s Saturday evening program, which gets under way at 6:30 pm.

Hiawatha Horse Park fans will have their first opportunity to get in on the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program’s Win The Thrill contest on Saturday. By submitting a ballot in the designated Win The Thrill race, fans can earn a Hiawatha Horse Park betting voucher and a shot at the Grand Prize — one share in the Standardbred Breeders Association of Ontario (SBOA) New Owner Mentoring program.

On Grassroots Championship night at Mohawk Racetrack on Oct. 1, finalists from Saturday’s Win The Thrill contest can enter the Grand Prize draw and cross their fingers that they will join the eight other new owners who have purchased a share in the exciting SBOA program. Trainer Tony O’Sullivan and longtime owner Brian Webster will mentor nine new owners through the process of purchasing, owning and hopefully watching an Ontario-sired yearling race in the 2012 OSS program.

More information about the ‘Win The Thrill’ contest and the SBOA New Owners Mentoring program is available at www.ontariosiresstakes.com and www.standardbredbreeders.com. Ballots and details are available in the official Hiawatha Horse Park program.

Sandra SNYDER

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