GLOUCESTER, ON — Two years ago Barry White would have been watching Friday’s Trillium Series event from Rideau Carleton Raceway’s grandstand, but thanks to an innovative program that mentors new owners through the process of acquiring a Standardbred yearling, the Orleans resident will be standing beside Allstar Salute in the paddock when the two-year-old pacing filly makes her provincial debut.

“We’ll be in the barn there; we’ll give her a pat and hope she runs fast,” says White, who has been a harness racing fan for over four decades. “I’m looking forward to it.”

White turned his interest in harness racing into ownership through the 2006 edition of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s New Owner’s Program, which matches a group of 10 newcomers to the industry with an experienced mentor and a veteran trainer for just $4,500 a share. The mentor then answers questions and provides guidance as the group selects a yearling, makes stakes payments, watches the training process and, hopefully, heads to the racetrack.

In White’s case, the group he joined in the fall of 2006 purchased trotting filly Allmar Surprise, who made just three starts as a two-year-old, but has gone on to be a steady Grassroots player this season, earning a total of $16,500 in nine starts.

“I’ve followed this since I was 18, and I’m in my 60’s now,” explains White. “I was watching The Score on Monday night and this flashed on, Jim Bullock and Tammy McNiven were talking about it, so I called Tammy and asked if they had anything in this area, and she said no we don’t, but a few months later she called me back and said somebody dropped out, would you like to go into this group.”

That group, the Mark Ten Stable, was mentored by Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell, and the trainer was Lansdowne resident Mark Steacy. In spite of Allmar Surprise’s limited success in her freshman season White enjoyed the ownership experience, so when the yearling sales rolled around last fall he approached Steacy about acquiring an interest in another horse. Allstar Salute is just one of seven horses White ended up owning a share of, and so far all but two have made it to the races.

“It’s pretty exciting,” admits White. “I was just telling my staff at work, we have one running tonight, one Friday and one Saturday.”

Allstar Salute faces a stiff test in her provincial stakes debut on Friday, drawing into the same division as St Lads Popcorn, who impressed Rideau Carleton fans earlier in the month when she swept to victory in her Gold Elimination and Final. Steacy will steer Allstar Salute from Post 5 in the fourth race, sending the filly into the $40,347 Trillium skirmish off three starts at Rideau Carleton — one win, one second and one sixth-place finish over a track rated one second slower than normal.

White has watched all three of the filly’s races, but the owner is especially looking forward to Friday night’s contest.

“It’s kind of nice that the race is here,” says White, who shares ownership on the Art Major lass with David Reid of Glenburnie and David McDonald of Cornwall. “Mind you I’ve watched the other ones, but it’s kind of nice to have a bigger race here, and that we’re part of it.”

Friday’s festivities get under way at 6:30 pm, and the two-year-old pacing fillies will battle for a total of $80,694 in two Trillium Series divisions, Races 2 and 4 on the Rideau Carleton Raceway program.

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