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L A Freeway On The Improve

Published: October 14, 2010 8:12 pm ET

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Ontario’s talented two-year-old trotting fillies will kick off Woodbine Racetrack’s fall schedule on Monday, Oct. 18, and trainer John Bax is hoping the new and improved L A Freeway can deliver a second strong effort in the last $130,000 Gold Final of the season.

“We had to kind of try and reinvent her,” says Bax of last week’s elimination winner. “She won her first start in the Grassroots - she just jogged - and we said, ‘This is easy’, then the wheels fell off.”

After that first victory, a 2:02.2 mile in the Grassroots season opener at Grand River Raceway on July 14, Bax moved L A Freeway up to the Gold Series. The daughter of Kadabra-My Star Trecker finished third in her Aug. 2 Gold Elimination at Mohawk Racetrack, but a top two finish was required to secure a spot in the Gold Final so her next start was an overnight event at Mohawk on Aug. 9 where she made an early break and finished at the back of the 10-horse field.

Back at Mohawk for Gold Elimination action on Aug. 19, L A Freeway looked to be in contention through the first half of the mile, but made a miscue heading to the three-quarter marker that forced her to requalify. An Aug. 28 qualifier at Kawartha Downs saw her make another error, but she and Bax toured the Fraserville, ON oval successfully on Sept. 4.

Hoping to ease her back into competition, Bax sent the fractious filly to Georgian Downs for the Sept. 17 Grassroots event, where she again made an early break, but was able to recover quickly and roar off to a 10 length victory in a personal best 1:59.3. A fourth qualifier followed, and L A Freeway circled Mohawk in a steady 1:58.4, earning her berth in last week’s Gold Elimination.

“We were thinking, going into (last) Monday night, if she doesn’t behave she’ll be in the box Tuesday for London,” recalls Bax, referring to the Oct. 15 Grassroots Semifinals at London’s Western Fair Raceway. “She could have gone either way. She’s a Gold horse talent-wise, but mentally — I don’t know what she was, but she wasn’t behaving.”

Fortunately for Bax and owner-breeders Marvin Katz of Toronto, ON and Al Libfeld of Pickering, ON, L A Freeway did more than behave in her third Gold Elimination test. In rein to Guelph, ON resident Paul MacDonell, the filly delivered a gritty effort up the outside to edge out two-time Gold Final winner Extraordinaire by three-quarters of a length, stopping the clock at 1:59.2 over a track rated one second slower than normal.

“I was relieved, because she did what I said she could do,” admits Bax. “And I was happy for the owners. I said to Al, ‘It must feel good seeing all that Breeders Award money coming down the stretch’, because they bred both of them.”

Extraordinaire is the first foal from Katz and Libfeld’s broodmare She Has It, purchased for $16,000 out of last year’s Forest City Yearling Sale by the Henry Stable of Arthur, ON and James Laverty of Sauble Beach, ON. Wayne Henry trains and drives the Duke Of York daughter, who will start from Post 2 at Woodbine on Monday.

MacDonell will steer L A Freeway from Post 7 in Monday’s $130,000 Gold Final, and Bax says he would like to see another strong effort from the youngster before deeming her reinvention a success.

“I was impressed with her last week, she kept coming and Wayne’s (Henry) horse didn’t give up, they both toughed it out,” says the Peterborough, ON resident. “We’ll see if she can do it twice in a row; that would impress me.”

Reigning Gold Final champion My Whispering Eye will attempt to defend her title from Post 6 in Monday’s fifth race, while the other elimination winner from last week, Myherbal T Hanover, gets Post 4. Woodbine Racetrack’s first race rolls in behind the starting gate at 7:20 p.m.

(O.S.S.)

To view Monday’s entries, click here.


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