When Ben Baillargeon was plotting Cool Creek Breeze’s sophomore season he did not expect the filly to be competing in Friday’s Grassroots event at Grand River Raceway, but he also did not expect her to land him in hospital in early May.
On May 1 Cool Creek Breeze reared up and struck Baillargeon in the face, causing serious gashes, fractures to his upper jaw and cheekbone, and bone fragments on both sides of his nose. The horseman underwent surgery to repair the damage, spending almost a week in hospital and several more recuperating at his home in Rockwood.
Although he does keep a warier eye on Cool Creek Breeze since the accident, the veteran horseman bears the filly no ill will.
“She didn’t really mean to do that,” says Baillargeon. “Something spooked her and she reared up and hit me with her front feet.”
Less than three weeks after their altercation, Cool Creek Breeze made an impressive debut in eliminations for the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) Stake at Mohawk Racetrack, finishing fourth with a 1:55.3 effort. However in the final she made a break and finished well back of the pack and Baillargeon says the winner of $152,091 has been underperforming ever since.
“She was supposed to race in the Gold this year,” he explains. “Last year she raced in the Gold.”
Following her meltdown in the SBOA Final Cool Creek Breeze finished fifth in her division of the Casual Breeze Stakes — named in honour of her $1.3 million winning half-sister — then fifth and fourth in overnight events at Mohawk Racetrack. In the Gold Series season opener at Georgian Downs the Angus Hall daughter failed to advance out of the June 30 elimination, finishing eighth.
A third-place effort in overnight action back at Mohawk followed, but from the outside Post 10 in the Canadian Breeders Championship elimination on July 13, Cool Creek Breeze could only manage a ninth. When the filly finished seventh in a July 27 overnight test Baillargeon opted against a return to the Gold Series and entered Cool Creek Breeze in the Aug. 10 Grassroots event at Mohawk.
With Mario Baillargeon in the race bike Cool Creek Breeze delivered her first win of the season with a 1:56.2 clocking, and last week at Hiawatha Horse Park she and driver Kevin Wallis replicated that effort with a second Grassroots triumph in 1:56.3.
“I dropped her back in the Grassroots and she win her last two,” says Baillargeon, who shares ownership of Cool Creek Breeze with breeder Diane Ingham of Mount Pleasant. “There’s nothing wrong with her.”
Cool Creek Breeze and Wallis will be looking for another win from Post 2 in the second $24,000 Grassroots division at Grand River Raceway on Friday and Baillargeon is hoping for the best.
Wallis will also steer Baillargeon’s other sophomore trotting filly contenders, Tyrany Seelster and Golden Lake.
Tyrany Seelster makes her bid for a share of the Grassroots purse money from Post 9 in the tenth race, and Baillargeon is hoping the Angus Hall daughter can finally catch a break.
“She’s been very unlucky this mare,” notes Baillargeon, who conditions the filly for Richard Berthiaume of Pointe-Aux-Trembles, QC. “I think she’s just as good as the other two, but there is always something happening to her.”
In last week’s Grassroots outing at Hiawatha Horse Park, Tyrany Seelster’s trotting hopple broke at the start and she finished sixth. In 11 starts the filly has only managed one win, a 1:59.3 clocking at Georgian Downs in a July 17 non-winners of one race contest.
Baillargeon’s final entry is Golden Lake, who will make her bid for a second straight Grassroots win from Post 7 in the eleventh race. The Majestic Son lass scored a front end victory at Hiawatha Horse Park on Aug. 23 and her trainer says that is what Grand River Raceway fans should also expect.
“She’s got a lot of speed, but the maturity is not all there,” he explains. “You’ve got to let her do her own thing.
“I tried to teach her a couple of starts, I tried to change the bridle, and this and that, but right now that is the way she wants to go,” says the trainer of the filly’s front end style. “Maybe next year we will try something else.”
Patricia Whittaker of Aspers, PA owns Golden Lake, who has two Grassroots wins and one second to her credit and currently sits in a tie for second in the division standings.
Grand River Raceway fans can catch the second last regular season Grassroots start of the three-year-old trotting fillies in Races 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Post time for Friday evening’s program is 7:05 p.m.
To view entries for Friday’s card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries – Grand River Raceway.