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O'Neill On Grassroots Charges

Published: June 17, 2009 9:49 am ET

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Three-year-old pacing filly Wen Im The Best is hoping the answer to the question posed in her name is: Friday, June 19 at Flamboro Downs.

The diminutive youngster was second in the Grassroots season opener at Hanover Raceway on May 30, and trainer Ron O’Neill would love to see her grace the winner’s circle on Friday night.

“At Hanover when she was second, she raced tough that night. She gives it all, every time,” says the Cambridge resident, who shares ownership on Wen Im The Best with Paul Larrabee and Debi Martin of Freelton, and Daniel Harper of Toronto. “She’s just a little sweetheart.”

A daughter of Cammibest and Wendells Sister, a mare O’Neill trained through much of her racing career, Wen Im The Best heads into Friday’s skirmish off a hard fought 1:58.3 victory at Woodstock Raceway on June 13. Through five outings this season the filly has recorded one win, three seconds and one third for earnings of $16,890.

Regular reinsman Randy Fritz will pilot Wen Im The Best in the ninth race on Friday, sending her after a share of the $24,000 Grassroots purse from the advantageous Post 1.

Fritz will also pilot O’Neill’s other entries, Joint Effort and Modern X Ample, both owned by breeder Robert Hamather of Exeter. Joint Effort will start from Post 5 in the first race, while Modern X Ample gets Post 7 in Race 11.

A two-time Grassroots winner as a freshman, Joint Effort is making her sophomore debut in the program after taking a stab at the Gold Series level in May. The filly made an unfortunate break heading into the first turn at Western Fair Raceway and was unable to recover, finishing well back of the winner in eighth.

“She kind of darted out and caught a wheel with her front foot,” says O’Neill of the filly’s May 22 Gold effort. “Then she threw a stinker at us in her last start, and she came up sick.”

Joint Effort faded badly in the May 29 overnight at Mohawk Racetrack, and when she developed signs of sickness, O’Neill opted to skip the June 12 Bud Light Stakes at Flamboro. Instead, the Modern Art daughter enjoyed three weeks of rest, and will ease back into the provincial stakes campaign via Friday’s Grassroots start.

“We thought we’d braven her up a bit; she needs to be bravened up a bit,” notes O’Neill. “I think she’ll race really good in there Friday.”

Like her stablemate, Joint Effort has made five starts this season, posting one win and two fourths for earnings of $12,860.

Modern X Ample got off to a slower start than her stablemates this spring, but O’Neill says the filly seems to be rounding into form as the Ontario Sires Stakes season shifts into high gear.

“She was skinny, we had to get some weight put on her,” recalls the horseman. “She raced really good her last start. She has a beautiful way of going.”

O’Neill expects Modern X Ample to show an improved effort on Friday, in part because of a visit by the equine dentist.

“She had an impacted wolf tooth, we just found it a couple of weeks ago,” he explains. “She was really fussy with her mouth, but since we got that tooth out her mood has really changed a lot.”

Another daughter of Modern Art, Modern X Ample will be looking to improve on the seventh-place finish she posted in the Grassroots season opener at Hanover Raceway on May 30.

The talented three-year-old pacing fillies will line up behind the Flamboro Downs starting car at 7:25 p.m. on Friday, kicking off a program that features 10 Grassroots divisions and the $118,000 final of the Ellamony Stakes for aged pacing mares. The Grassroots fillies battle in Races 1 through 3, again from dashes 5 through 7, and later in Races 9 through 12. The Ellamony final goes postward in Race 8.

Click here to view the entries.

(OSS)


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