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Carly Hollywood Aiming For Photo Shoot

Published: August 3, 2011 10:11 am ET

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Carly Hollywood picked up a cheque in her Grassroots debut and the three-year-old pacing filly is hoping to match or better her fifth-place result when the Ontario Sires Stakes program arrives at her hometown oval in Sudbury on Saturday night.

“We’re still not sure,” says owner and trainer Jim Belanger of the filly’s long term prospects in the Grassroots program. “But since we’re at home, we’re giving it another shot.”

Carly Hollywood got her first crack at the Grassroots fillies on July 30 at Georgian Downs, racing out of the Dave Byron stable. With Stephen Byron in the race bike she finished a closing fifth, pacing her own mile in a personal best 1:54.4. One week earlier Byron gave the filly a test run over the Georgian Downs oval in a non-winners of one race contest, and the daughter of Camotion and Cheryls Place finished a charging second, beaten by a nose in 1:56.2.

“I sent her to Dave for the two weeks before because I wanted her to race at Georgian Downs once before the Grassroots,” explains Belanger. “I knew she had a little bit of speed, but, not racing with fillies here at Sudbury, it was difficult to gauge her.”

Carly Hollywood proved that she belonged among the provincial regulars, but the Azilda, Ont. resident would like to see her step up another notch in Saturday’s eighth race. Making the trip north to drive a pair of Eric Adams-trained division winners from the Georgian Downs event, Byron will be back in the race bike and Belanger is hoping the veteran reinsman can coax a little more early speed from the filly.

“If she could get closer to the bunch, we’d be happier,” admits the part-time horseman. “She’s spotting them two seconds every time she starts.

“We haven’t really rushed her out because she’s just been really learning to race,” he adds.

With just seven starts under belt Carly Hollywood has less than half the experience of most of her Grassroots peers, and having missed the first two of the six events in the series, Belanger does not expect her to earn enough points to land a berth in the post season. However, he does admit that the filly’s modest success to date has been thrilling not just for him, but for his whole family.

“For us, Carly’s doing amazingly well. This is the first time we’ve raced in the sires stakes,” says the trainer, who named Carly Hollywood and her sophomore stablemates Coco Shanel and Justlikejessejames after his three children. Of the three, Carly Hollywood is the only one currently racing, and her provincial stakes experience may cause a shift in Belanger’s whole approach to the standardbred business.

“Just that one stakes race has the family so excited that we might focus more on that than just racing. It’s fun and the program is good,” explains the trainer, whose full-time career selling and hauling petroleum supports his passion for horses.

“My wife is excited. She’s been telling me for 15 years to get out of the horse business, and this year she kind of likes it,” he adds with a laugh.

Carly Hollywood will benefit from Post 1 in her second Grassroots start. Among the fillies she and Byron will face in the fourth $24,000 division are two-time runner-up Dapple Apple from Post 2 and former division winner Wiskywisky Nancy O from the outside Post 8.

The other fillies Byron will steer on Saturday night hail from Millar Farms in Newmarket, Ont. and were both sharp winners at Georgian Downs last weekend. Three Charms was the quickest, laying down a 1:52 mile off a front end steer by Byron, and Epoxy Queen was not far off her stablemate’s pace, halting the teletimer in her division at 1:52.3. Three Charms will start from Post 3 in the fourth race and Epoxy Queen gets Post 2 in Race 5.

“With the good posts and everything, hopefully strategy doesn’t play into it too much,” says trainer Eric Adams, noting that both daughters of Camluck have the ability to hustle away from the starting gate. “If they race like they did last week we should do decent.”

Post time for Sudbury Downs’ Saturday program is 7:15 p.m., with the three-year-old pacing fillies hoping to show off their speed in Races 4, 5, 7, and 8.

To view entries for Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Entries - Sudbury Downs.


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