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Tough Task For 'Lil' In Grassroots Finale

Published: October 1, 2010 11:17 am ET

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Warrawee Lil is heading into Sunday’s Grassroots event off a personal best effort, and trainer Murray Kennedy figures the three-year-old pacing filly will have to replicate that mile over the Rideau Carleton Raceway oval in order to land a spot in the lucrative post season.

“Obviously, we don’t really have a choice, it’s 'win and you’re in,' the rest is just numbers,” said the Ottawa, Ont. resident. “She’s done everything we’ve asked of her, but this is a big task at hand.”

Through her first four Grassroots starts, Warrawee Lil posted one win, one fourth and two fifths for a point total of 68. The current cutoff for one of 16 berths in the October 16 Grassroots Semifinals is 75 points, and Kennedy expects that number to rise after Sunday’s skirmish.

“It’s too bad we put all the pressure to the last week,” said the horseman, who shares ownership on Warrawee Lil with his Game Time Racing partners Kenneth McCafferty of Ottawa, Ont. and Georg Leber of Pefferlaw, Ont.

The group acquired Warrawee Lil following her first Grassroots start, at Flamboro Downs on June 19, where she finished fourth. Since then the daughter of Astreos and La Bella Vita has made steady progress — culminating in a 1:52.2 personal best at Mohawk Racetrack on September 23 — and exceeded her owners’ early expectations.

“She’s been a really nice surprise for myself, and I have a couple of partners on her, and one guy is new to the business,” said Kennedy.

“She’s given me some fun,” he continued. “She’s not a champion, but she’s really fulfilled my expectations, for sure.”

Since moving into Kennedy’s barn, the half-sister to $162,158 winner Warrawee Iceman has tallied three wins, two seconds, three thirds and two fifths in 10 starts and banked $35,130. She will aim to extend her string of top-five finishes to 11 from Post 6 in Sunday’s fifth race. Kennedy admitted that she faces a difficult test in a field which includes two fillies currently ranked among the top 16, and five others within striking distance.

“I’d like to have a better post,” said Kennedy. “And Richard Moreau’s filly (Highland Dancer, Post 4) is superb right now. She went a big mile (1:51.4) at Mohawk her last start.”

Working in Warrawee Lil’s favour are her easy going attitude, her home town cheering section, and the fact that she has already made the trip to Ottawa from Kennedy’s Caledonia base.

“She is a complete sweetheart. She’s really easy on herself and a little bit lazy,” said the trainer. “She loves people, almost like a pet.

“I don’t want to say that word, but basically she is,” he said with a laugh. “She’s a pleasure to be around.”

Kennedy and McCafferty, who has yet to see the filly race live, will be greeting friends and family members at Rideau Carleton on Sunday, all eager to see Warrawee Lil in action.

“She’s going to have a lot of people cheering her on — family, friends,” said the third-generation horseman. “It would be nice to surprise the hometown crowd for sure.”

Regular reinsman Scott Zeron, who is currently ranked second in the Ontario Sires Stakes driver’s standings and leads all Canadian drivers in number of wins, will steer Warrawee Lil from Post 6 on Sunday.

The three-year-old pacing fillies will wage their last Grassroots battles in Races 2, 5, 7, and 10 on Rideau Carleton Raceway’s Sunday evening program, which will get underway at 6:30 p.m.

Click here to view the entries.


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