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Stubborn Filly Learning

Published: July 28, 2011 12:02 pm ET

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When the Ontario Sires Stakes' three-year-old pacing filly Grassroots circuit stops at Georgian Downs on Saturday, July 30, Back Yard Baby will be looking to combine home field advantage with Post 1 to score a top-three finish in the final $24,000 division.

“We’re stabled about 15 minutes from Georgian Downs,” said trainer John Curran, who has raced the filly extensively at Georgian Downs since her freshman debut last October.

Back Yard Baby heads into Saturday’s contest off four consecutive tours around the Innisfil, Ont. oval in the Grassroots starters class, where she has logged one second, two thirds and one seventh-place finish. Through 17 starts this season, the filly boasts a record of three wins, three seconds and six thirds — two of them in Grassroots action — for earnings of $28,375. In addition, her personal best (1:54.2) came over the Georgian Downs surface in a June 4 overnight.

Anthony MacDonald was in the race bike for the 1:54.2 victory, and for a third-place finish in the second Grassroots event of the season (June 15, Grand River Raceway). Curran is hoping the resident of Guelph, Ont. will be at the lines again on Saturday.

“We’re hoping to get that Anthony MacDonald for a driver, but I see he’s down on three,” the resident of Barrie, Ont. said. “He’s driven her twice; he [won] once at Georgian in 1:54.2 and he drove her at Grand River. She wasn’t the greatest there, but she still raced all right.”

Curran --- who conditions the homebred daughter of Mach Three and $373,247 winner Tawnee Herbert for his father Kenneth Curran of Coldwater, Ont. --- added that the filly is at her best when she is in the thick of the action, and he expects to see her hustling off the starting gate from the advantageous rail position on Saturday no matter who is in the race bike.

“She definitely loves to leave,” he emphasized. “We tried something different last week because she had Post 7, and (Billy) Davis said she was no good, she lost interest once they got to the quarter pole. She likes to be on the front end, or up close, anyway.”

Curran is hoping Back Yard Baby will expand her repertoire of racing tactics as she matures and gets a few more tricks up her sleeve. At present, the lifelong horseman does not believe the filly is giving 100 per cent when she steps on to the racetrack.

“I think she’s going to be a lot better than she is,” he noted. “I think she’s still learning. She doesn’t seem to put her whole effort into the race yet.”

Some of the filly’s energy is expended before the race, on a variety of quirky behaviours that have cost the Currans both time and energy over the past two years. Curran joked that a full account of Back Yard Baby’s idiosyncrasies would fill volumes. He noted that her refusal to load onto a horse trailer may be the most extreme example.

“I had to buy a new horse trailer just to get her in it, because she wouldn’t go in our old trailer,” explained the trainer, who also enlisted outside help to solve the filly’s trailer-loading problem.

“We had a guy come and get her to load. He spent a week with her, he was kind of a horse whisperer,” continued Curran. “He guaranteed he could get her loaded in a day or it wouldn’t cost anything, and it took him a week. She was always pretty stubborn.”

In spite of her quirks, the Currans have been pleased with Back Yard Baby’s results to date, and they are looking forward to seeing what she can do with the advantageous Post 1 over her hometown oval on Saturday. Among the fillies she will face in the eleventh race are Epoxy Queen, owned by Millar Farms of Newmarket, who gets Post 6, and Trusting, owned by Sean Hodgson of Bradford, who will start form Post 7.

First-race post time for Georgian Downs’ Saturday evening program is 7:25 p.m., and the three-year-old pacing fillies will be featured in Races 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, and 11.

One of the Grassroots races will be designated as the evening’s ‘Win The Thrill’ race, and Georgian Downs fans will have their second opportunity to get in on this exciting Ontario Sires Stakes promotion. By simply dropping a ballot into the box marked with the name of horse they believe will capture the ‘Win The Thrill’ race, fans could have a shot at a Georgian Downs betting voucher on Saturday and at the grand prize — a share in the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s (SBOA) New Owner Mentoring program — which will be drawn during the October 1 Grassroots Championships at Mohawk Racetrack.

More information about the ‘Win The Thrill’ contest and the SBOA New Owners Mentoring program is available at and Ballots and details are available in the official Georgian Downs program.


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