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Homefield Advantage For Amigo Ranger?

Published: June 12, 2012 8:54 pm ET

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After Amigo Ranger scored a surprising win in the Grassroots season opener in May, Gerry and Brenda Gauthier are cautiously hoping for another successful outing in round two at Sudbury Downs on Saturday.

“We’re impressed, but we’re not boasting yet,” says Gerry Gauthier of the three-year-old trotting colt’s early season results. “I’m not counting my chickens before they are hatched.”

With just three lifetime starts under his belt Amigo Ranger has turned in some admittedly impressive efforts. Unraced at two, the son of Amigo Hall-Armbro Aperitif made his debut in a maiden event at Woodbine Racetrack on May 14 and overcame an early break to finish fifth.

Once he regained his stride, the colt’s debut effort was solid enough to earn him a berth in the May 21 Grassroots contest at Mohawk Racetrack, and Amigo Ranger surprised both his owners and the fans with a 1:57 victory.

“We were very, very surprised,” admits Azilda resident Gauthier. “He was 30-1 odds.”

On June 5 the trotter proved his Grassroots success was no fluke when he delivered an off-the-pace victory at Georgian Downs, stopping the clock at 1:59.2. Trainer Wayne MacLean will send Amigo Ranger after a third straight victory from Post 4 in the eighth race on Saturday.

Amigo Ranger qualified twice over the Sudbury Downs half-mile before venturing south, so Gauthier expects the youngster will be very comfortable in the middle of the starting gate. If the colt delivers another impressive mile, it may even earn him a promotion to the Gold Series level.

“We’re thinking of putting him in the Gold, but that’s a decision we’ll have to make after we see him race in Sudbury,” says the owner. “Like my wife says, he has to prove himself first; we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Amigo Ranger faces a field of seven in Saturday’s eighth race, including City of London Series winner P C Firecracker, who gets Post 5.

Reigning Grassroots champion Northern Victory leads the parade of three-year-old trotting colts onto the Sudbury Downs oval in the first $24,000 Grassroots division. Another son of Amigo Hall, Northern Victory heads into the second Grassroots event off a seventh-place effort in an overnight event at Rideau Carleton Raceway on June 3, but trainer-driver Rodney Zeron says the colt will be firing on all cylinders on Saturday.

“We had a foot issue with him there, just a minor thing, it was like a pus pocket,” Zeron explains. “He didn’t race well his last race, but we got him all leveled out now.”

Prior to the June 3 outing, Northern Victory had begun to demonstrate the form that saw him capture the freshman trotting colt Grassroots championship last October. In five sophomore starts the colt had recorded two wins and one second, with one of the wins coming in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on May 21.

Although the Amigo Hall son rang up a 1:57 victory in his sophomore stakes debut, Zeron believes the foot issue had begun to fester below the surface before the May 21 event.

“I was expecting a little more of him. He wasn’t 100 per cent that night,” says the Oxford Mills resident, who conditions Northern Victory for owner Robert Montgomery of Carp. “When (Sylvain) Filion got off the bike he said he wasn’t the same as he was last year, but then that’s when the foot thing started to come to a head, the week after.”

Zeron will steer Northern Victory from Post 5 in Saturday’s fourth race, the first of three $24,000 Grassroots divisions, and does not expect the colt to have any issues in his first start of the season on a half-mile oval.

“He raced on all three sizes last year and did quite well on all three,” notes the trainer. “He’s not a front end kind of horse; he likes to sort of chase somebody.”

Northern Victory faces a field of seven at Sudbury Downs on Saturday, including the gelding who finished on his heels in the season opener, Canadian Wildcat, who will be looking for a different result this week from Post 6.

Post time for Sudbury Downs’ Saturday evening program is 7:15 p.m. and the northern oval will feature the talented three-year-old trotting colts and geldings in Races 4, 6, and 8.

(OSS)

To view entries for Saturday's card of harness racing, click the following link: Saturday Entries – Sudbury Downs.


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