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Rivest Confident In Longshot

Published: June 20, 2012 10:57 am ET

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In the eyes of handicappers, Casimir Longshot is predicted to live up to his name in this Saturday’s Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots contest at Sudbury Downs, but trainer-driver Mario Rivest is hoping the three-year-old pacing gelding proves them wrong.

“I think we get a good trip, I think we’ll be right there with them,” said the resident of Hanmer, Ont. “I didn’t look really closely what he’s up against, but I’m sure he’s competitive with them.”

The horseman’s confidence stems from the impressive way Casimir Longshot handled a field of maidens in his career debut over Sudbury Downs on June 6. The son of Sir Luck cruised home a four-length winner in 1:59 without any urging from Rivest. The pacer followed that up with a runner-up effort by a nose in the same class on June 13, but Rivest says sickness kept the gelding from recording his second straight victory.

“His first start he was impressive. Just under wraps,” said Rivest, who conditions Casimir Longshot for his wife, Kari Rivest, and longtime partner Fernand Brisebois of Sudbury, Ont. “The other one, he made a good move and then coming down the stretch I had no more horse and I thought oh, oh. I scoped him and he scoped sick.

“That’s why we didn’t race him 10 days, and this was coming up,” the horseman added. “I was debating on putting him in, but he’s feeling good now, so he should be okay.”

Rivest will steer Casimir Longshot from Post 7 in Saturday’s seventh race, the fourth of six $24,000 Grassroots divisions. The outside post adds to the gelding’s light ranking in the morning line, but Rivest is hoping gate speed and familiarity with the oval will stand his charge in good stead.

“Hopefully he’ll overcome it and get a piece of the pie,” the trainer said with a chuckle.

Rivest acquired Casimir Longshot as a yearling and trained the pacer down last season, but decided patience was in order due to the gelding’s diminutive size. After a stretch of rest and relaxation, Rivest resumed the gelding’s training regimen in February and Casimir Longshot qualified at Sudbury on May 30, turning in a runner-up effort in 2:00.

“We trained him right down, he was good, but it was around November and I said, you know what, let’s shut him down. Tracks are hard being up north like that,” Rivest recalls. “We turned him out a couple months, and then brought him back in February, trained him right down, and everything went good.”

Rivest says Brisebois has been a central player in the gelding’s day-to-day routine, and that Casimir Longshot has been a joy for the 66-year-old to work with.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer horse for him to look after. He does nothing, nothing wrong. He doesn’t wear a boot, he just goes out and does his job every day, and he never cost me a red cent in vet work, it’s unbelievable,” said the trainer. “He’s just a perfect little horse.”

So long as Casimir Longshot holds his own in Saturday’s test, the gelding will have a shot at the remaining Grassroots events in hopes of earning enough points to compete in the post season. Among the horses he and Rivest will face on Saturday are five that competed in the Grassroots season opener at Clinton Raceway on June 10 and three others making their first start of the season in the provincial program.

The three-year-old pacing colts and geldings are featured in Races 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10 at Sudbury Downs on Saturday, with the evening’s first race rolling in behind the starting gate at 7:15 p.m.

To view the harness racing entries for Saturday at Sudbury, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Sudbury Downs.


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