CAMPBELLVILLE, ON — Bringing a freshman Gold Series champion back to form for their sophomore campaign is an inexact science, but trainer Frank O’Reilly feels he has done all he can to prepare a trio of three-year-old trotting fillies for the Sunday, May 10 Ontario Sires Stakes opener at Mohawk Racetrack.

“I’m really pleased with them, but I’ve pretty much got to let them do the talking for themselves,” says the Orton resident, who will harness Cumin First, Quantum Royalty and Warrawee Kate in the 2009 Ontario Sires Stakes kick off.

After their freshman season wrapped up last fall, all three fillies journeyed to North Carolina, where they spent the winter in the care of veteran horseman Bob Carss. Since making the trip north in time for Easter celebrations at the O’Reilly farm, the fillies have made steady progress toward their sophomore debut.

“Everything has gone very well. We’re just fortunate to have them, that’s all,” says O’Reilly. “We’re just fortunate to have those creatures, because they want to achieve.”

Leading the charge from the O’Reilly barn is Cumin First, who achieved a record of five wins, two seconds and one third as a two-year-old, banking earnings of $259,200 for owners Mary Anne Lauzon and Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell, John Jesson of Tillsonburg and Jim Fielding of Toronto. The Striking Sahbra daughter captured three Gold Eliminations and two Gold Finals in her freshman year, and O’Reilly hopes her competitive spirit will result in more success this season.

“She still has that want,” notes the trainer. “She’s just a good horse.”

Oakville resident Rick Zeron will return to his regular seat behind Cumin First, steering the filly from Post 6 in the first $40,000 Gold Elimination. The pair head into the contest off an effortless 2:02.4 qualifying victory over a sloppy Mohawk oval on May 1.

Keith Oliver of Lynden will pilot Quantum Royalty in the Gold Series opener, sending the Angus Hall miss after a top three placing from Post 8 in the second elimination. Quantum Royalty also heads into Sunday’s event off a May 1 qualifier, where she was caught in the final strides of a 2:00.3 mile.

In just five starts at two, Quantum Royalty posted one Gold Elimination victory for owners Jean Pierre Lareau of Saint-Leonard, QC and Yves Sarrazin of La Presentation, QC. The young trotter will be looking to add a little more Ontario Sires Stakes hardware to her collection this season, as will stablemate Warrawee Kate, who will start from Post 8 in the last elimination.

Raced just once at two, Warrawee Kate will be looking to find her niche in the provincial program this season. O’Reilly has always been confident in the Angus Hall daughter’s ability and is hoping that this season she has a few opportunities to show off her skill.

“I thought she was the best filly I ever trained, but she’s yet to prove that,” admits the horseman wryly. “She has struggled through lots of issues; she’s an overachiever just to get there. Now she’s there, now it’s up to her.”

After a solid qualifier at Mohawk on March 30, Warrawee Kate delivered a third-place finish in an April 30 overnight at the Campbellville oval, trotting over a sloppy surface in 2:00.2. Zeron guided her through both early season tests and will be back in the race bike on Sunday for owners Jesson, Fielding, Dr. Michael Wilson of Rockwood and John Fielding of Toronto.

Mohawk Racetrack kicks off the 2009 Ontario Sires Stakes season at 7:30 pm on Sunday, turning the spotlight on the province’s talented three-year-old trotting fillies in Races 2, 4, and 6. The top three finishers, plus one fourth-place finisher selected by random draw, will return to Mohawk on May 17 for the first $130,000 Gold Final of the season.

Worth a total of $26.2 million in 2009, the Ontario Sires Stakes program is a breeding a racing incentive program established in 1974. The leading program of its kind in North America, the OSS program has produced countless outstanding equine athletes, including last season’s four-time world champion Somebeachsomewhere.

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