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Bax On His Super Final Quintet

Published: October 8, 2014 8:00 pm ET

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In 2001, John Bax enjoyed one of his best years ever as a Standardbred trainer culminating with an O’Brien Award as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. One of the highlights of that season came on November 10 at Mohawk Racetrack when he started four trotters in the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals and came away with three wins and a second.

That night Natashas Kiss upset her stablemate from the Bax barn, Pepi Lavec (who finished second), in the two-year-old trotting filly final, while Duke Of York and Northern Bailey were also successful in their divisions for the popular conditioner.

This Saturday night, the Peterborough, Ont. horseman has an opportunity to add more Super Final trophies to his case as he’ll send out five starters in the eight finals worth $250,000 each at the Campbellville, Ont. oval. Like 2001, he has two starters and the probable favourite in the rookie trotting filly division, Stubborn Belle and Juanitas Fury.

Stubborn Belle comes into Saturday’s contest riding a two race winning streak, which includes the Peaceful Way final. The Taurus Dream daughter, co-owned by Bax’s Parkhill Stud Farm and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont., has five wins and a second in nine tries to date this year. Bax and Libfeld bought the filly from the Hanover Shoe Farm consignment at the Standardbred Horse Sale for $85,000 and she’s rewarded them with $361,000 in earnings so far.

“My son Marshall renamed her and she is her name,” noted Bax today. “She has a mind of her own, that’s for sure. She’s getting better the more experience she gets. She’s tough and she’s strong. She doesn’t look like a two-year-old filly, she looks more like a four-year-old horse. She won’t win any runway model contests.”

Bax is content to put up with the ornery miss given the way she performs on the racetrack. “She has the right combination of stride, speed and fight and she’s using it the right way. She’s not a push button horse by any means but it makes it easier to deal with her quirks when she races the way she does.”

Stubborn Belle has drawn post one in the first Super Final of the evening, race two, with her regular pilot Paul MacDonell at the lines. Her stablemate, Juanitas Fury, has post eight in the same race with Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren in the sulky. A daughter of Kadabra, Juanitas Fury has played the bridesmaid’s role somewhat this year with a summary of 3-4-1 in nine tries for $227,000 earned.

Owned by Bax, Glengate Farms of Campbellville, Don Allensen of Wyoming and Gaelic Stable of Sharon, Ont., the filly has finished second in her last four starts, an OSS Gold division, the elimination and final of the Peaceful Way and the Champlain Stakes.

“If it wasn’t for Stubborn Belle she’d likely be the best in the barn,” Bax said. “I was a bit nervous about her when she was training down in Florida. She did everything right but was just content to follow the rest around. Once she got to the track though she got much better. She’s a totally different filly than Stubborn Belle, she’s easy on herself and nice to be around.”

If one of those fillies are successful, it will mark Bax’s second straight victory in that division as his Riveting Rosie won last year’s Super Final for this class on her way to being named Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. She’s had a slower start this year due to a few injuries, but has been on fire lately.

Riveting Rosie, owned by Bax, Allensen, J And T Stable of Newmarket and John Hayes of Sharon, Ont., will look for her second straight Super Final victory in the eighth race on Saturday where she’s drawn post nine. MacDonell will be driving as usual. 'Rosie' comes into the contest off two impressive Gold victories, which she’s won by open lengths.

“Right now she’s at the top of her game again, she’s feeling really good,” Bax related. “She’s got a great gait, she’s tough and she’s game.”

Bax considers his other Super Final contenders longshots, “but that’s why we race them, you never know what will happen.” Amityville Lindy drew the rail in the two-year-old trotting colt final, race five, with Steve Byron listed to steer.

“He’s a big, gangly colt, we call him 'Bubba' in the barn,” explained Bax. “Nothing seems to bother him, he just hangs around. He’s like having an old dog around, nice and docile and loves his peppermints and carrots. I’m hoping he’ll blossom next year.”

Verdi is Bax’s other Super Final starter in race three, the final for the sophomore trotting colts. “He has some talent, he’s earned $70,000 this year and is still a maiden. He’s content to follow, whether it’s in :54 or :58. I’m hoping it clicks with him soon. His family does seem to get better with age.”

Saturday night’s racing action gets underway at 7:25 p.m. and Bax will be hoping for history to repeat when his starters step onto the racetrack.

To view Saturday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Saturday Entries - Mohawk Racetrack.

(OSS / Photo courtesy New Image Media)

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