SARNIA, ON — Peter Core says he is still tinkering with Voice Activated’s equipment, but the Sarnia resident expects the three-year-old trotting filly to deliver a stronger effort in Thursday’s Grassroots event at Hiawatha Horse Park than her early line odds might indicate.

“She’s got enough motor. I’m sure she can trot under two minutes when we get her just right,” says the horseman, who will steer Voice Activated from Post 7 in Thursday’s eleventh race. “We’ve never really extended her to where she’s been all out.”

In fact, Core admits that he gave the Angus Hall daughter a fairly conservative steer in her last start, a non-winners contest at Hiawatha on Aug. 2. She had made a break off the gate in her July 19 outing over the Sarnia oval, and Core did not want to see her make a second error and be forced to re-qualify before the Grassroots event. Fortunately, the filly was on her best behaviour and laid down a strong fourth-place effort in the 2:01.1 mile.

“I was a little concerned about her last start, because she was coming off a break,” explains Core. “But she raced real good. I gave somebody the hole in the mile and it cost me in the end. I never got back out and got shuffled back, but she raced really well.”

Core shares ownership on Voice Activated with longtime partner Don Allensen of Camlachie and Peter Buckley of Sarnia, a newcomer to the Standardbred ownership game. The partners acquired the filly for $22,000 at the 2006 Forest City Yearling Sale and watched her make just five starts last season, recording two seconds. Through nine sophomore starts Voice Activated has found her way to the winner’s circle once, and finished third on one occasion, for lifetime earnings of $10,750.

“This is Peter’s first horse,” says Core. “We’re not having as much success as we’d like, but we’re having a little more fun now that she’s racing. He’s really looking forward to it (Grassroots).”

The young trotter faces a tough field in her second Grassroots appearance, including recent 2:01.1 winner Lady Merlot from Post 1, former 1:57.4 winner Lady Keely from Post 2, former Gold Series competitor Only Lonely from Post 4, and June 24 Grassroots winner Pleasure Girls from Post 6. As a result, Hiawatha handicappers have pegged Voice Activated as the longest shot in the race in their early calculations.

Core hopes that home field advantage will shift the odds in the filly’s favour and help her grab some Grassroots points as the second half of the season gets under way, as an early miscue derailed the filly’s attempt to score points in her first Grassroots outing.

“It’s close to home, we don’t have to truck her, hopefully we’ll get some points,” says the horseman.

Current point leaders Valley Courtney and Tameka Seelster, both undefeated through the first two Grassroots events, will kick off the festivities at Hiawatha Horse Park on Thursday. Valley Courtney squares off against a field of eight from Post 2 in the first $20,000 division, and Tameka Seelster gets Post 3 in the second split.

The three-year-old trotting filly Grassroots divisions roll in behind the starting gate in Races 5 through 11 on Thursday, with Hiawatha Horse Park’s first race getting under way at 7 pm.

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