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'Dude' Claims Northern Speed Record

Published: June 17, 2012 2:39 am ET

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The Northern Dude staked his claim to a piece of history at Ontario’s most northern racetrack when he battled down the stretch to a track record performance in the first of three Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions at Sudbury Downs on Saturday evening.

Starting from the advantageous Post 1, driver Riina Rekila had The Northern Dude in gear early and the Ken Warkentin son reached the opening quarter two lengths ahead of his peers in :29.3. The pair continued to lead through a 1:00 half and a 1:30.1 three-quarters before coming under fire from Canadian Wildcat. The two colts battled furiously all the way to the wire, with The Northern Dude holding on by a neck in 1:59 flat. Gus Is All Lane sat in the pocket from start to finish and earned the third-place finisher’s share of the $24,000 Grassroots purse.

The mile time shaved four-fifths of a second off the three-year-old trotting colt track record and was three-fifths off the overall male mark held by gelding Abbey Road C.

Rockwood resident Susanne Kerwood trains The Northern Dude for her partners Ann Munn of Guelph, who also bred the colt, and David Nicol of Mount Hope.

Saturday’s outing was the first of the season for The Northern Dude, who was a Gold Series regular at two.

David Boughton also used front end tactics to guide Windsong Illusion to victory in the second Grassroots division. Starting from Post 5, the duo led the field through fractions of :29.3, :59.3 and 1:30 before cruising home one and a half lengths ahead of Elviswallace and Benns Rocket in 2:00.3.

A runner-up in the Grassroots season opener at Mohawk Racetrack on May 21, Windsong Illusion now has two wins, two seconds and two thirds to his credit through eight sophomore starts. Emma Frieze conditions the son of Kadabra for Double Or Nothing Stables, Bella Vita Stables and Fintec Stables of Hamilton.

The final Grassroots division unfolded in similar fashion, with fan favourites Hey AJ and driver Keith Oliver controlling the tempo and then battling through the stretch to secure a half-length victory in 2:02.1. Southwind Nazareth did his best to score an upset, while House Money cruised along in the pocket into third.

Oliver engineered the victory, Hey AJ's fifth of the season, for trainer Tony Montini and owners Albina Montini of Acton and Big Als Stables Inc. of Woodbridge. The talented Striking Sahbra colt now boasts a record of five wins and two seconds in seven starts for earnings of $42,700.

Local colt Amigo Ranger, trained and driven by Wayne MacLean for Gerry and Brenda Gauthier of Azilda, made an early miscue and was never part of the action.

The three-year-old trotting colts and geldings make their third Grassroots start at Grand River Raceway on July 2. Sudbury Downs welcomes the Grassroots Series back to northern Ontario next Saturday, June 23, featuring the provincial program’s marquee division, the three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

Another record-setting victory took place on Saturday night before the OSS action as five-year-old Amigo Hall gelding Lexis D J matched the 1:57.4 male trotting record. Advancing first over from fifth in the second race, the three-race streaker wore down pacesetter Gunga Win and opened up three lengths in the stretch. David Boughton drove the 21-time career winner for owners Louis Arsenault of Freelton and Brandon Arsenault of Waterdown. The record is co-held by Zorgwijk Fortunate and Long Ago.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Sudbury Downs.

(With files from OSS)

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