Grassroots champion steps up to Gold Series

03:52 AM 05 Oct 2011 NZDT
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Eat Me Up
Eat Me Up - Paced the fastest mile of the night
Iron Horse Photo

She conquered the Grassroots fillies last weekend, and on Friday night (October 7) Eat Me Up will test her skills against the province's upper tier competitors in a $40,000 Gold Elimination at Woodbine Racetrack. The two-year-old pacing filly captured Saturday's Grassroots Championship at Mohawk Racetrack with a commanding 1:54.3 victory and will make her Gold Series harness racing debut from Post 9 in the sole elimination on Friday.

With just 11 fillies competing, the top 10 will advance to the Oct. 14 Gold Final, but trainer Gord Remmen is hoping the filly can do more than just qualify.

“She just has to beat one, but it would be nice to get a cheque,” says the Campbellville resident.

“She came out of the Final excellent,” Remmen adds. “If there had been any issues at all, I would never have thought about it (trying Gold Series). It didn’t really matter to me if she raced again.”

Remmen and Eat Me Up’s owner, David Ratchford of North Sydney, NS, started thinking about giving the filly a shot at the Gold Series back in mid-September. With a healthy lead atop the division standings, they opted to skip the last regular season Grassroots event, knowing it would give the Mach Three daughter an opportunity to enter the last Gold Series skirmish.

“We decided that we’d give her a shot at it. We kind of planned it, we missed the Grassroots at Flamboro,” explains Remmen. “We realize she’s only got the one kick at it.”

Ratchford purchased the filly out of the 2010 Harrisburg Yearling Sale for $12,000 and took her home to North Sydney, where she picked things up quickly all winter and won two starts at Northside Downs in early July. The longtime horseman then called Remmen and said he was shipping the filly to Rideau Carleton Raceway for the second Grassroots event, but was not sure how she would measure up against the rest of the Ontario-sired talent. Eat Me Up scored a seven and one-quarter length win over a sloppy track in that July 17 event and was not bested in Grassroots action until the Sept. 23 Semifinal at Mohawk where she missed the winner’s circle by a neck.

Last weekend’s victory in the Grassroots Final capped off a spectacular season for the novice pacer, which saw her bested only twice, finishing second in the Semifinal and in the Aug. 1 Battle of the Belles Final at Grand River Raceway. The Ratchford’s were on hand for the win and Marguerite Ratchford had to wipe away tears of joy as the filly approached the winner’s circle.

“That was kind of a thrill for them,” says Remmen. “Sometimes we have owners that are kind of blasé about a win, so to see people that were that excited was kind of gratifying.”

Eat Me Up’s success in the Ontario Sires Stakes program this summer has also influenced Remmen’s plans.

“I hope to get some Ontario-sired yearlings,” says the horseman. “I’ve never been involved much in the program, but I think it’s an exceptional program.”

In preparation for her first test at the top level of the provincial program, Eat Me Up will enjoy an easy week. With just six days since her last start Remmen says the filly will jog lightly and simply enjoy the attention regularly lavished upon her by caretaker Robert Dion.

“Bobby Dion has done an excellent job keeping her happy and sound. He really cares about her,” notes the trainer. “He gives her (time on) grass and carrots, and just gives the extra bit for her.”

Eat Me Up and her peers will battle in the fifth race on Friday’s program, which also features two $40,000 Gold Eliminations for the two-year-old trotting colts. Division leaders The Game Plan and Il Mago will return to action after skipping the September Gold Series event, with William Wellwood Memorial winner The Game Plan getting Post 3 in the first race and former Gold Final winner Il Mago starting from Post 7 in Race 7.

The freshman trotting colts will kick off Woodbine Racetrack’s Friday evening program at 7:30 pm.

Sandra SNYDER

Eat Me Up's last start win at Mohawk last Saturday October 1:

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