Day At The Track

Lots of fresh faces join Grassroots ranks

04:39 AM 18 Jul 2012 NZST
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Ontario Sires Stakes

Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing action returns to Hanover Raceway on Saturday night (July 21) with eight Grassroots divisions for the two-year-old trotting fillies.

A sizeable number of new faces will join the fillies that made their provincial debut in the Grassroots season opener at Kawartha Downs on July 5, including Paul Walker trainee Run The World who heads into her first start off a July 14 qualifier at Hanover.

“She qualified nicely, we were very pleased with her,” says Walker. “Usually we like to school them a bit before we qualify them, but she kind of got short-cutted that way. We didn’t get a chance to school her so we just put her in to qualify, and she went all right, so I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us. I hope she races all right.”

The filly’s accelerated schedule was due to a foot problem she suffered earlier this year that caused her to lose a few weeks of training time. With the Grassroots stopping at his local oval, Walker opted to skip straight to the qualifying step to give the filly a chance to make her debut on familiar territory.

“She should have been ready to go a bit sooner, she had a couple set backs. She had a foot problem, a quarter crack, and she lost about two or three weeks with that,” he explains. “And so we kind of had to rush a little and get her qualified for Hanover, which is good when it’s kind of local like that.”

Walker shares ownership of Run The World with his longtime partners Malcolm MacPhail and Robert MacPhail of Dover Centre. The filly was one of a handful of Ken Warkentin daughters the group assessed at last fall’s Forest City Sale, with the final decision, which totaled $7,000, left in Walker’s hands.

“Malcolm MacPhail and my wife (Brenda Walker) had picked out some, I think they’d picked out two or three, and so we looked at the three that they liked and she was the one I pointed at so I guess it’ll eventually come down to being my fault,” he says with a chuckle. “Out of the two we looked at she was the one we picked, basically because I liked the Donerail dam and she had a bit of a racy look to her. And as it’s turned out she has a pretty decent sister racing at Mohawk and Woodbine, and a brother too, so she’s got a little bit of family to her.”

Run The World’s half-sister Selfish Princess has earned $156,903 in her career to date, while half-brother Guiltywithanexcuse has banked $108,350. Walker hopes the filly can start down the path her siblings have blazed with a solid outing on Saturday. Walker will steer the novice trotter after a share of the $24,000 Grassroots purse from Post 3 in the tenth race.

“She got a good spot, I can’t complain about that,” he says. “And if she behaves herself she has no excuses. She’s trained on the track lots before and it’s pretty good for a half-mile, it’s a pretty forgiving track really.”

Among the six fillies Run The World will face on Saturday is Ballade, who captured one of the divisions in the season opener. Ballade will be hampered by the outside Post 7 in her attempt to collect a second Grassroots trophy. The rest of the field includes two fillies that also competed in the season opener and three other first time provincial starters.

“There’s always a lot of them out there now, but I think you still think you’re fortunate if you get them racing and get them going anyway,” muses Walker. “It’s nice to see them get a chance to see what they can do.”

Walker and his partners, like the rest of the owners and trainers sending hopefuls to Hanover, are hoping Run The World has the capacity to battle through the rest of the season with her Ontario-sired peers.

The two-year-old trotting fillies are featured in Races 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 on Hanover Raceway’s Saturday, July 21 program, which sees the first group of Grassroots hopefuls parade in front of the grandstand at 7:15 pm.

by Sandra SNYDER

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