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Shepherd Psyched For Sunday

Published: July 20, 2012 12:07 am ET

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When Brenway Dixie captured her Gold elimination at Flamboro Downs last weekend the two-year-old trotting filly launched Patrick Shepherd into the 20th spot on the Ontario Sires Stakes trainer’s standings.

With just four OSS starters in his barn the 20-year-old horseman now has 23 points in the Johnston Cup race, tallied in eight starts from two winners, one second-place finisher and two third-place finishers. The Cambridge resident will be looking to further boost his point total with another strong effort from Brenway Dixie in this Sunday’s $130,000 Gold Final.

“I trained her today (Thursday) actually, she trained really good,” says Shepherd, who will send the filly after a second victory from Post 2 in the tenth race. “She drew a good post at Flamboro so we’re hoping for something good.”

Shepherd conditions Brenway Dixie for owner Terry Hunter of Cambridge and is quick to express his gratitude to Hunter for the opportunity to train a filly of her calibre. The daughter of Oaklea Julian arrived in his barn earlier this spring and, although he was not initially impressed with her potential, he is delighted to be harnessing a Gold Final starter in just his second year of participation in the provincial program.

“He actually, he gave me a big shot because she seems like a nice filly, and he’s helped me out a lot,” says the native of Prince Edward Island who learned the business of harness racing from his father Harold and whose elder brother Robert Shepherd is currently ranked ninth in the OSS driver’s colony.

“I’m only 20 years old, and to have a Gold filly, it’s pretty nice,” he adds.

Shepherd is also grateful for the support of veteran reinsman Jack Moiseyev, who guided Brenway Dixie to the 2:01.2 victory last weekend and will be back in the race bike for Sunday’s Gold Final. The Moffat resident also piloted the filly to a qualifying win at Mohawk Racetrack on June 14 and a runner-up finish in the season opening Gold Elimination at Kawartha Downs on June 28.

“Jack’s pretty good to me because I’m a young kid, and he’s helped me out, he’s told me a few things, suggested a few things, and we get along good, we kind of have a good relationship,” Shepherd explains. “I qualified her on Saturday (June 9) at Mohawk and I was telling him I had the half-hopples that go to the race bike, that hook right back to the bike, and she made a break on me because I took a hold of her and kind of loosened the hopples up. And Jack said, I’m going to tell you something, he said put the belly hopples on her and that filly’s going to be a nice filly.”

Moiseyev’s words have proven to be accurate as the filly, a $1,200 purchase by Hunter out of last October’s Fall Extravaganza Mixed Sale, boasts a record of one win and one second in three starts for earnings of $30,000. The only blemish on her record came in the July 5 Gold Final at Kawartha Downs where she made an early break in stride, but Shepherd says the miscue was due to an ill-conceived equipment change and takes full responsibility for the result.

“I’m going to have to blame that on myself, it wasn’t really her,” says the horseman. “She was running out a bit in the elimination and we tried to make her go straight, and she’s just not that type, she always carries her head off to the side. We changed a little bit of equipment on her and stuff, trying to correct her, but she didn’t take it all that well.

“When you’re going for that kind of money you feel like you have to try to make her go straight,” he continues. “But we should have just left her alone and let her do her thing and I think she would have been fine.”

In the lead up to last week’s elimination Shepherd returned the filly’s equipment to its original configuration and was relieved when she returned to normal during her training sessions. He was pleased with her effort in the elimination round and says Moiseyev had his foot well off the accelerator as the pair sailed under the wire one and three-quarter lengths on top in 2:01.2.

Among the fillies Moiseyev will be watching out for in Sunday evening’s final are the other elimination winners Angies Lucky Star at Post 7 and Bee A Magician from Post 8, in addition to reigning Gold Final champion Legzy at Post 9.

The two-year-old trotting fillies will compete for the second Gold Final trophy of their season in Race 10 on Flamboro Downs’ Sunday evening program, which gets under way at 6 pm.


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

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