TORONTO, ON — Racing young horses is a stressful business on the best of occasions, but when you are heading into a $300,000 Super Final with a two-year-old trotting filly who devoured the field in her last start, the pressure gauge reads a little higher than normal.
“I’m a little worried. There is a lot of sickness around right now and she has had some crusty stuff on her nose,” says trainer Mike Keeling, who will harness Elusive Desire in the first of eight $300,000 Super Finals at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday evening. “Sickness is always a concern at this time of year.”
Elusive Desire heads into the season finale off an outstanding 1:57.4 victory in the Nov. 7 Gold Final at Woodbine that saw her wire the field by four and three-quarter lengths. The Angus Hall lass and regular reinsman Paul MacDonell will start from Post 5 in the third race on Saturday night, a draw result which allayed one concern Keeling had about his prot�g�e’s shot at the division title.
“I wanted to be in the middle of the gate, because she hasn’t had many chances at that. That was my number one thing for her,” explains the horseman, who conditions Elusive Desire for Charles Armstrong of Brampton, Robert Fasken of Oakville and P C Wellwood Enterprises Inc. of Cambridge. “She’s used to the eight-hole. She’s had it five times in 13 starts.”
Since making her debut in Mohawk Racetrack’s In Free Trotting Series on July 20, Elusive Desire has posted two wins, six seconds and four thirds and earned $245,904. The consistent youngster’s only off the board finish came in the Oct. 25 final of the Goldsmith Maid at Woodbine where she faded to eighth off a tough trip around the outside. Oddly enough, the Goldsmith Maid Final was one of just two occasions that the filly has drawn on the inside half of the starting gate. Her only other inside post was in the Sept. 14 Peaceful Way Final where she finished third from Post 1.
Saturday’s start will be the young trotter’s fifth outing in five weeks, so Keeling opted not to train Elusive Desire in preparation for the Super Final. In spite of her long season, the $65,000 yearling purchase seems to be in top form and the Cambridge resident is hoping she can stave off any sickness and finish off her Ontario Sires Stakes season on high note.
“It’s strange, she’s had a fairly long season, and raced hard, but Paul (MacDonell) had 100 per cent confidence in her last week,” notes Keeling. “This is her fifth straight week so she is doing very little, lots of paddock time, just trying to keep her fresh and happy.”
Frank O’Reilly will send division point leader Cumin First after a Super Final title from Post 2 in the freshman trotting filly showdown, and the Orton resident figures Elusive Desire is the biggest obstacle standing between his filly and a fifth trip to the provincial winner’s circle.
“That filly is tougher than a two dollar steak right now,” says O’Reilly about Elusive Desire. “She was off the gate last week in :27 and home in :28.1.”
Jim Fielding of Toronto, John Jesson of Tillsonburg, Mary Anne Lauzon of Russell and breeder Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell own Cumin First, who finished second to Elusive Desire in the Nov. 7 Gold Final. O’Reilly says the two-time Gold Final winner should be a little sharper for Saturday’s outing, which will wrap up her five month long season.
“The week before the final she wasn’t herself, but we’ve had another week to work on her, and I think she’ll be better,” says O’Reilly, who will also harness two contestants in the three-year-old trotting filly Super Final.
Warrawee June and regular reinsman Rick Zeron will start from Post 3 in the ninth race, and Luc Ouellette will steer Its My Time from Post 8. Angus Hall miss Warrawee June heads into the $300,000 contest off a trio of runner-up finishes and O’Reilly would love to see her make one last appearance in the winner’s circle.
“She’s had a good week, she trained good,” notes the horseman, who shares ownership on the winner of $310,064 with brothers John and Jim Fielding of Toronto. “It’s been a long year for her. She won the Celias Counsel, she got started early, but I think she’s got one more big race in her.”
While O’Reilly has been campaigning Warrawee June since April, Its My Time is a recent addition to his string of trotters. Trained by Jimmy Takter through the regular Ontario Sires Stakes season, the Angus Hall miss arrived in O’Reilly’s barn four weeks ago when Takter started to wrap up his Ontario operations. Since then Its My Time has made one start for O’Reilly, finishing a strong second in a Nov. 6 overnight at Woodbine Racetrack that was clocked in 1:56.1.
“If she races back to that she should get some money,” says O’Reilly. “I’m not saying she’s going to rip their heads off, but she should get some money.”
Toronto residents Jim and John Fielding share ownership on Its My Time with Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ and Free Money Stable LLC of Bethlehem, PA.
Post time for Super Final Night is 7:30 pm, with Ontario’s most talented two and three-year-old’s taking the stage at Woodbine Racetrack in Races 3 through 10.
For complete entries please go to: http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e1115wdbsn.dat.