Day At The Track
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YONKERS, N.Y. - Ottawa-based horseman Robert Robinson is no stranger to working with talented horses. Every year, he breaks and trains quality 2-year-olds before shipping them out to trainers who will campaign and race them. Among his former harness racing pupils are Gerries Sport, a multiple Ontario Sire Stakes winner. “I do train some horses for people that are pretty well respected, but once I get them ready, they go on to other places,” Robinson explained. Robinson started with a roster of 16 horses last fall, many of which were 2-year-olds for clients and a few of which were freshman of his own. Like in years past, nearly all of them shipped out as planned. Robinson now trains a stable of three horses and looks after one broodmare. This time, however, one of the talented 2-year-olds who made his way stateside is his own, Kwik Talkin. Robinson purchased Kwik Talkin, a son of Well Said and the Cam’s Card Shark mare Kwik Dial, out of the 2016 Harrisburg Sale for $18,000. A half to Pennsylvania Stallion Series-placed Kwik Mac and from a family that includes millionaire pacer Dial Or Nodial, Kwik Talkin drew attention at the sale, but for the wrong reasons. “Before I went to the sale, I looked at the video and he moved pretty good,” Robinson recalled. “I remember when I went to the sale, I went back to look at him a few times. He toed out a bit in the right front. I was with a good friend of mine who races in Toronto and he said, ‘does that right front not concern you?’ I said ‘not at all because I watched him trot, I watched him pace and he had lots of clearance.’ ” While others shied away, Robinson stepped up and took Kwik Talkin home. Partnering on the colt are Jacqueline Dinelle, Robinson’s wife, and an old friend of Robinson’s, Scott Henry and his wife Lisa. For the Henrys, Kwik Talkin is their first delve into racehorse ownership. “After my dad died, they bought my dad’s farm,” Robinson explained. “They got my number last year and they asked to buy into a horse. They ended up getting in on this horse and it’s the first horse they’ve ever owned. “I knew Scott from when I first started racing. His dad had some horses and his father is probably one of the first people who ever gave me a catch drive,” Robinson remembered. Training down, Kwik Talkin never had any bad days. Although he wasn’t a standout among Robinson’s stable, Kwik Talkin showed promise by winning his first qualifier in wire-to-wire fashion at Rideau Carlton May 31. It was in a schooling session at the track the following week that Robinson first realized he had a very talented colt on his hands. “In the two weeks between his qualifier and his first race, I took him to the track and schooled him with aged horses. Three of them were in to race that Sunday and went (1):55 and he just blew them away in the schooling,” Robinson said. “That was my first indication that he was going to be real good. I always thought he was a nice horse, but I thought he was a little bit better than a nice horse after that schooler.” Kwik Talkin continued to face older horses in his first two pari-mutuel starts at the Ottawa oval. He won his debut June 15 by 2 1/2 lengths, pacing a mile in 1:58.3 before doubling up with a 1:55.0 score the following week. In both victories, his owner and then trainer drove him. “He really impressed me when he went in (1):55. He probably stopped and went three or four times in the mile and whenever I asked him he just kept going,” Robinson said. Kwik Talkin’s impressive outings in Canada earned him a trip to compete in the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace elimination at Yonkers Raceway July 8, the only Grand Circuit event Robinson staked him to. Last year, Robinson was the underbidder on Summer Side, winner of the 2016 Sheppard Pace, and thought his colt could pursue a similar path. “I followed that horse a little bit and saw what he did, so I figured this was a good spot,” he explained. “He’s only got some Pennsylvania Sire Stakes after this, so he’ll end the year with seven or eight starts, which is probably a good thing. It works out good that the horse isn’t going to be over-raced this year.” Racing out of Rob Harmon’s barn, Kwik Talkin sparkled in his Sheppard elimination. After racing parked through an opening quarter of :27.4, Kwik Talkin cleared the lead, but was soon met with the challenge of Phat Blue Chip. Forced to yield, Kwik Talkin rated in the pocket until finding clear racing room a furlong from the finish. Angled three-wide by driver Jordan Stratton, Kwik Talkin charged down the center of the track with dead-aim on rival Springsteen. With minimal encouragement, Kwik Talkin streaked past his competition to score by a length in 1:54.4, the fastest of the three Sheppard eliminations by more than two seconds. His final quarter of :27.1 was the fastest on the 12-race card. “I felt there was a lot more under the hood. A lot of horses ship from Rideau Carlton to other tracks and will go faster because it’s not the fastest track,” Robinson reasoned. “I was kind of surprised after watching the other divisions that they could go that fast. I thought that was impressive.” Although Kwik Talkin is the 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $110,500 Sheppard Pace Final, it won’t be a walkover as he will start from post seven. Trump Nation and Persist Blue Chip, winners of their eliminations last week, drew posts two and eight respectively. Springsteen, Damion Diesel Hahn, Phat Blue Chip, Real Rayenbow, and Hora Star complete the field. “I’m just hoping he does well,” Robinson said. “I’ve done good for other people, but this is like the first one that I’m doing good for myself, so it’s a little bit more special. My partners went last week and my wife and I are going this week. It will be our first trip there, so hopefully he’ll be good.” First post time Saturday at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. EST. For entries for the card, click here. by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

On Monday evening harness racing driver Scott Coulter stepped into the race bike behind a horse that needed a win to extend his Grassroots season and, for the third time in the last five days, the Grand River Raceway regular delivered the needed result. Starting from Post 2 in the first two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots division, Coulter opted to roll Gerries Sport off the gate for the first time in the Mach Three colt's career and the pacer responded with a :28.2 quarter, :57.4 half and 1:26.3 three-quarters before powering down the stretch to a 1:55.1 victory. Favourite St Lads Moonwalk settled for second, two lengths behind Gerries Sport, and St Lads Charger was three more lengths back in third. "I intended to race him from off the pace as they had been doing, but after looking at the inside horse I decided to let him roll off the car and he got front relatively easy," said Coulter, who currently sits second in the Grand River Raceway driver's standings. "He was just a complete professional; he made front in two steps, and he relaxed and just waited for the customers to come on the outside, and then fought them off. It was just as easy as that." The Brantford, ON resident engineered the win for trainer Robert Robinson of Metcalfe, ON and owner-breeder Gerrie Tucker of Montreal, QC. In his four previous Grassroots starts Gerries Sport had tallied one second and two thirds and went into Monday's event sitting twenty-sixth in the division standings. The victory boosted him up to tenth, with a total of 99 points, and assures him of a berth in the Sept. 17 Semi-finals at Mohawk Racetrack. "I've had a few like that this week," said Coulter, of the colt's must-win situation. "I drove two for Shane Arsenault at Flamboro that needed to win." The reinsman piloted Shane Arsenault trainees Irish Scotch and Seeking Steven to wins in the three-year-old trotting colt regular season finale at Flamboro Downs last Thursday, advancing both colts to the Grassroots post season. Coulter also finished third in the second Grassroots division at Grand River Raceway on Monday, guiding favourite Secrecy home behind a pair of Jack Darling trainees, King Of Sports and Vegas Dream. King Of Sports earned his first Grassroots win with the 1:56 mile, which saw him control the tempo from start to finish, reaching the wire one and one-quarter lengths ahead of his stablemate. Jody Jamieson of Moffat, ON piloted King Of Sports to the win for owner-trainer Jack Darling of Cambridge, ON. The Sportswriter son did not appear in the Grassroots program until the Aug. 23 event at Georgian Downs, and tallied one win and two seconds in his three appearances for a total of 100 points, putting him just ahead of Gerries Sport in the standings. "I liked him a lot early in his two-year-old training and then he just got, he was just horrible, he couldn't go any, or wouldn't go any. I think I tried to qualify him a couple times and he'd pace in 2:00, so I had to geld him, and he's made a complete turn-around," said trainer Jack Darling after King Of Sports' Aug. 23 debut. "By gelding him we got five seconds out of him, it's amazing really." The final Grassroots trophy of the evening went home with the ultra-consistent Derecho, who did not finish worse than second in five Grassroots starts this season. On Monday the Big Jim son and trainer-driver Dustin Jones cut all the fractions and then battled to the wire for a one-quarter length victory in 1:55.2. Fan favourite Perseverant finished second and Tommys Trooper was a hard-closing third. Waterdown, ON resident Jones shares ownership of Derecho with Ecuries Daniel Plouffe Inc. of Bromont, QC and Jean Dessureault of Candiac, QC. The colt wrapped up his regular season with two wins and three thirds for a total of 175 points and sole ownership of second-place in the division standings. "He raced real good, cut the mile, he held on for the win," said Jones. "That's his second win, and what's he got, three seconds in the Grassroots, so we're hoping he'll do good in the Semifinals next week. "He's a real smart horse, we're real happy with him," added the trainer. "I think he should be a nicer three-year-old, because his family seem to get better at three. It's the family of Stonebridge On Ice ($530,665) and that, so I think he should improve every year, it seems that the family does that." Grassroots action continues at Grand River Raceway on Wednesday, with four $18,000 divisions for the two-year-old pacing fillies. The fillies will battle for a post season berth in Races 3, 5, 7, and 9 on the 6:30 pm program. Ontario Horse Racing

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