SUDBURY, ON — Sudbury Downs wraps up its 2008 Ontario Sires Stakes schedule this Saturday evening with a visit from the record setting three-year-old pacing fillies.

With three of six Grassroots events behind them, the sophomore pacing fillies will be battling fiercely for points on Saturday, hoping to solidify a place in the lucrative post season. Among the fillies hoping to make a jump up the Grassroots standings is Casimir Hugs, who makes her bid for a top five finish from Post 9 in the ninth race.

“She’s a good honest filly,” says Douglas McConnell, who bred the youngster at his Casimir Stables in Hagar and owns her in partnership with Samuel Taylor of Swift Current, SK. “She’s maybe a step below where you’d like her to be, but she tries every start.”

A Grassroots Semifinalist at two, Casimir Hugs has one third and one fifth to her credit through two sophomore Grassroots starts for a total of 17 points. She needs a strong finish over the Sudbury oval to have a second shot at one of the 16 post season berths.

Trained by veteran horseman Bill Budd, who also conditioned her father Sir Luck during his $1.2 million career, Casimir Hugs and driver Paul Cameron will be looking to get into the mix early in Saturday’s start. The pair will follow the speedy Keystone Mystique — a two-time Grassroots winner and the division points leader — off the starting gate.

“She’s had bad post position draws,” notes McConnell. “Anything from the five out on a half mile track and she just goes to the back. The one time we had a decent post she raced very well.”

In eight starts the filly has started on the outer half of the gate five times. She has posted one second and one third, with her best effort coming at Grand River Raceway on Aug. 12. Starting from Post 2 Casimir Hugs stalked the leaders throughout the race and then stormed down the stretch to finish second by half a length in the 1:58.1 mile, and her connections would love to see her replicate that effort on Saturday.

A $12,000 yearling at the 2006 Forest City Sale, McConnell bought Casimir Hugs back last summer when her original owners entered her in the Summer Sizzler Sale to dissolve a partnership. The filly went on to capture her first Grassroots start for McConnell and Taylor, bank a total of $20,993 and earn a spot in the Grassroots post season.

“I always liked her,” admits the breeder. “I couldn’t go to the sale, so I asked Billy (Budd) to go bid on her. He bought her and I said, you might as well keep her and train her.”

Although the two have been friends for three decades Casimir Hugs is the first horse Budd has trained for McConnell, and the filly is closely connected to both men — Budd trained Sir Luck through his racing career, and McConnell is stewarding the horse’s stallion career at Casimir Stables. The pair would love to see her succeed at Sudbury on Saturday, just miles from the farm where she was raised.

In addition to Keystone Mystique, Casimir Hugs faces a tough field in the ninth race. All eight fillies have finished in the top two in Grassroots action this summer, with Keystone Mystique (Post 1), Keystone Samurai (Post 3), Random Dreamer (Post 6), and Gerries Madison (Post 7) heading into the contest off wins in the Aug. 2 event at Woodstock Raceway.

Sudbury Downs sends its first race behind the starting gate at 7:15 pm on Saturday, with the three-year-old pacing fillies stepping to centre stage in Races 6, 7, and 9 to compete for a total of $60,000 in Grassroots lucre.

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