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Colt Hopes For Home Field Advantage

Published: August 10, 2012 9:43 pm ET

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Keneiko was born and raised just minutes from Georgian Downs and the two-year-old trotter will be looking to earn his first paycheque when he returns home on Tuesday to compete in one of eight Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions.

“Jeff Ruch raised him right around the corner from Georgian Downs,” explains trainer Ted MacDonnell, who shares ownership of the gelding with Innisfil resident Ruch.

Tuesday’s outing will be Keneiko’s third in Grassroots action, and MacDonnell is hoping the Ken Warkentin son can finally earn a share of the $24,000 in purse money up for grabs in the ninth race. In his debut at Hiawatha Horse Park on July 19 Keneiko trotted a steady mile over a sloppy oval, but finished just out of the money in sixth. And on August 3 at Woodstock Raceway the gelding made an early break and once again finished sixth, well back of the leaders.

“He made an uncharacteristic break last week at Woodstock,” says MacDonnell, noting that the gelding had been sure footed to that point, even at Hiawatha on a track rated three seconds slower than normal. “He was okay in the mile at Sarnia, and it was terrible conditions.”

MacDonnell expects a return to the five-eighths mile oval will help keep Keneiko on an even keel but, just in case, the Allenford resident has tweaked a few things this week.

“I changed his shoeing just a little bit and I trained him awful hard,” says the horseman. “Just to make sure he’s focused on his job at hand.

“Sometimes it works,” MacDonnell adds with a chuckle.

Thornton resident Stephen Byron has piloted Keneiko in both of his Grassroots starts and in a July 14 qualifier at Georgian Downs and will return to the race bike Tuesday, steering the gelding from Post 3 in the ninth race.

“He’s got a great post position and a good driver that knows his way around Georgian Downs, that’s for sure,” says MacDonnell.

The horseman is hoping Keneiko can come up with a strong effort on Tuesday that will boost his selling price in the August 26 Summer Sizzler Mixed Sale. MacDonnell and Ruch have chosen to sell the gelding in order to make room for several yearlings getting ready to come into the barn this fall.

“He’s matured into a nice gelding,” reflects MacDonnell. “We have been lacking speed, I’m not just sure why, maybe greenness. Maybe he’s just playing catch-up.”

The conditioner would like to see Keneiko catch up to his peers on Tuesday as he and Byron face a field of eight, all sporting similar records.

In addition to Race 9, the two-year-old trotting colts will also battle in Races 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 10 and 11. At the halfway point in the Grassroots season five colts are tied for top spot with 100 points, but only Treasury and Ale Ale Jandro will be looking to pad their tally at Georgian Downs. Treasury will be looking for his third win from Post 7 in the fifth race, while Ale Ale Jandro aims for trophy number three from Post 1 in Race 7.

Georgian Downs sends its first race into the starter’s hands at 7:25 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

To view Tuesday's harness racing entries, click on the following link: Tuesday Entries - Georgian Downs.


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