LONDON, ON — Western Fair Raceway fans get their second look at this year’s crop of three-year-old trotting fillies when the Grassroots program arrives in London on Tuesday, May 24.

Four days after their Gold Series counterparts help kick off the 2011 Ontario Sires Stakes season, 56 Grassroots hopefuls will gather at Western Fair to battle in seven $24,000 divisions. Among the fillies hoping to earn a share of the Grassroots lucre is Winkys Pride, and owner Kevin Wagler is hoping the filly is just as consistent as she was last season when she earned four fourth-place cheques in four Grassroots appearances.

“She’s just a sweetheart. She was well-mannered even when we broke her,” says the Ingersoll, ON resident, who shares ownership of Winkys Pride with Gary Bryce of Plympton-Wyoming, ON. “She’s one of those horses that tries to do her best all the time.”

Wagler and Bryce sent the filly into battle seven times as a freshman, and Winkys Pride posted one win, one third and five fourths for earnings of $12,150. The filly then enjoyed a well-deserved break before resuming her training regimen in early February.

Wagler did the early work with the young trotter before handing her off to trainer Jeff Lilley, who prepped her for a May 6 qualifier at Western Fair where she circled the half-mile oval in 2:04.2, finishing third. On May 4 Winkys Pride made her sophomore debut in an overnight event at Flamboro Downs, where she finished fifth from the seven-hole, halting the teletimer at 2:04.4 over a track rated one second slower than normal.

“I was real happy with her,” says Wagler. “She trotted good and came home strong, there’s nothing more I could really ask of her.”

Wagler says the filly — who was a $12,000 US purchase at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale in 2009 — is as easy-going on the racetrack as she is around the barn, possessing a versatility that should stand her in good stead on the provincial circuit this summer.

“She does everything you ask. She can leave, and obviously last week they took her to the back and she raced pretty good from behind,” says the owner. “She’s not just a one way horse.”

Alex Lilley will steer Winkys Pride from Post 4 in the fifth race on Tuesday evening, and Wagler was delighted to see the Amigo Hall daughter land an inside post for a Sires Stakes event. At two the filly spent most of her time on the outer half of the starting gate.

“She’s been a tough luck drawing mare. This is honestly the best position I’ve had in the Sires Stakes,” he explains. “I’ve had nothing but outside posts in the Sires Stakes with her, so I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.”

Fans will find it easy to spot Winkys Pride on Tuesday; of the 56 entrants in the Grassroots event, she will be the only chestnut among a sea of bay and brown horses. Oddly enough, Wagler and Bryce’s other horse is also a chestnut trotting filly, a fact that has prompted some kidding from their peers.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people make fun of me for that,” admits Wagler with a chuckle. “Not many people like a chestnut trotter, but they just seem to keep coming my way.”

With Winkys Pride delivering consistent performances on the racetrack, it has been easy for Wagler and Bryce to take the kidding in stride, and the pair hope the filly gives them another opportunity to extol the virtues of the chestnut trotter on Tuesday.

The three-year-old trotting fillies open Western Fair Raceway’s Tuesday evening program at 7:05 pm, and will also be featured in Race 2 and Races 4 through 8.

For complete entries click: Western Fair Raceway Entries – Tuesday, May 24, 2011