OTTAWA, ON — When Rene Laarman heads to Rideau Carleton Raceway on Sunday with three-year-old trotting filly Abby Kadabra, the trainer has an advantage not shared by any of his peers.

“If we’re stuck, I give Mel a call and he’ll get his silks out of the closet and go warm her up for me,” explains the Guelph resident, who trains Abby Kadabra for Melvin Hartman of Ottawa. “Mel used to drive in Montreal.”

Although Hartman has concentrated on owning horses in recent years, Laarman says the former driver enjoys the occasional spin around the Rideau oval.

“He doesn’t do it all the time, but when we’re stuck it’s not a problem,” adds the trainer.

On Sunday, Abby Kadabra will be warming up for a shot at the last Gold Final event of her career. She earned her way into the $140,000 contest off a strong third-place finish in her elimination and Laarman expects her to be a shade sharper this week.

“Gord (Brown) thought he was going to win, but she hung late in the mile. She hadn’t raced in three weeks,” he explains. “She should have a little more leg underneath her, be a little tighter this week. She trained good this morning (Thursday), so hopefully we’ll get a little bit of racing luck.”

Although the Kadabra daughter has only scored one win this season, she has been the model of consistency. In 16 starts Abby Kadabra boasts a record of one win, four seconds, four thirds, four fourths and three fifths. She has never failed to earn a cheque and boasts a $102,493 bank balance.

After a limited freshman campaign that saw the filly make just four starts and fail to finish anywhere near the top five, Laarman and Hartman opted to start her in the Grassroots program this year. She debuted in the June 2 season opener at Western Fair Raceway and finished second to Gaelic Mistress — who won her Gold Elimination last week and will start from Post 7 on Sunday — then finished second in her June 24 division at Grand River Raceway to Dornello, the number two ranked filly in the Grassroots program.

Off those two solid performances, her connections decided Abby Kadabra had earned a shot at the top fillies, and she has recorded two fifths in Gold Elimination action in addition to last week’s third-place effort. Sunday will mark her first appearance in a Gold Final.

“She’s been kind of a pleasant surprise for us this year. We didn’t know what to expect,” admits Laarman. “She was like an overgrown kid last year, clumsy. She’s kind of grown into herself.

“She’s had the same girl looking after her since she came into the barn, Lynne Delahaye,” he adds. “Those two are pretty inseparable.”

Gord Brown will steer Abby Kadabra from Post 2 in Sunday’s $140,000 skirmish, and Laarman would love to see the filly come up with a big effort in what will likely be the last Ontario Sires Stakes start of her career. She starts alongside reigning Gold Final champion Whatta Hotty (Post 3), and the other elimination winner, Pleasure Girls, gets Post 4.

“I hope she can get a cheque,” says the horseman. “We’d be real happy to get a prize out of there Sunday.”

Post time for Rideau Carleton Raceway’s Sunday evening program is 6:30 pm, and Abby Kadabra and her sophomore trotting filly peers will face off in Race 7.

For complete entries please go to: