The Raceway at Western Fair District is the fitting host for the 2012 Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing season opener, which goes postward on Friday night (may 18) with a trio of Gold Series Eliminations for the three-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
On hand for the evening’s festivities, and the subject of a special tribute during next week’s finals, will be newly minted Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame member Dave Wall. The Komoka resident — affectionately known as Mr. OSS after four decades of success in the provincial program — was delighted to learn of his induction when the class of 2012 was announced last month.
“When I got the call it was a very refreshing call,” says the 65-year-old Wall. “I really appreciated it.”
Since launching his career 40 years ago Wall has piloted horses to 7122 wins and earnings of $59,706,890, and trained 518 winners for earnings of $2,425,056. He was the regular reinsman for such superstars as $2 million winner Goodtimes, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, and world record setter Odies Fame.
“I never had much luck the first few years, then my Dad (Harold Wall) bought me a mare, and she had a foal, and he was the first one that got me going. Piper Wall was his name,” Wall recalls. “He got me going and it’s been nice ever since.”
Wall has a group of promising two-year-olds he hopes to race in the Ontario Sires Stakes program later this summer, but the veteran reinsman will be watching with interest as the sophomore trotting colts kick off the 2012 season in Races 5, 7, and 8.
Among the colts angling for a top finish in their respective $40,000 Gold Elimination is Mossley-based Cimeronken. The first-time OSS starter heads into Friday’s test off a runner-up finish in the final of the Ontario Prep Series at Flamboro Downs on May 13 and owner-breeder Wayne Anderson is optimistic about theson’s chances.
“He’s going along very good so far, he just can’t get a win, but he likes all those seconds and thirds,” says Anderson, who operates Cimeron Farms with his wife Denise. “He’s just a trooper, just a soldier, just puts his head down and goes to work every day.”
Through seven starts Cimeronken has accumulated three seconds and three thirds for earnings of $34,610. The only start the gelding finished out of the top three was the Tie Silk Final at Woodbine Racetrack on April 26 where he finished fourth. Raced just three times as a two-year-old, Cimeronken faces a field of four OSS veterans and one other newcomer to the provincial program.
While the Anderson’s and trainer Daryl Roberts considered starting the gelding in the Grassroots program, which gets under way at Mohawk Racetrack on May 21, they opted for Friday’s event in hopes of making an appearance on the Molson Pace under card next week.
“One of the reasons we did come to London was because we’re local too. Everybody wants to stay at Mohawk, at the big track — which would have been easier, no doubt about it — but I said to Daryl, ‘We’re from here, and we breed horses, and plus we have a local farm here; let’s try show some talent off if we can in town’,” explains Anderson. “We go to it (Molson Pace) every year as it is anyway, now we’re going to be a little prouder to go.”
Cimeronken and his peers in Race 7 will be angling for a top two finish on Friday, as only the top two finishers in each elimination are guaranteed a berth in next week’s Gold Final. The remaining slots will be filled by two of the three third-place finishers, selected by random draw.
With last year’s heavy hitters, The Game Plan and Prestidigitator, skipping the season opener, the door is open for some new stars to emerge into the sophomore trotting colt limelight. Fans will get their first glimpse of the 2012 hopefuls in Races 5, 7 and 8 on Friday.
The Raceway at Western Fair District sends its first race behind the gate at 7:05 pm on Friday, raising the curtain on an outstanding night of racing that features two Molson Pace Eliminations, five legs of the City of London Series, and the Wall of Fame Pace for aged horses, in addition to the trio of Gold Eliminations.
by Sandra SNYDER