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Can The Northern Dude Deliver?

Published: August 3, 2012 12:38 am ET

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The Northern Dude will make his sophomore Gold Series debut at Flamboro Downs on Sunday and owner David Nicol is hoping the trotter is ready to show off his true colours against the province’s top colts.

“He was very immature as a two-year-old, physically and mentally. He showed signs, but he wasn’t always keeping his mind on his business. He was still like a little boy,” says the Mount Hope resident, who shares ownership of The Northern Dude with trainer Susie Kerwood of Rockwood and breeder Ann Munn of Guelph. “But he certainly has grown up this year, so we’re looking forward to a good performance from him.

“We would have started right out in the Gold, but we were fighting some health issues and we didn’t want to start him up with the bear cats too soon,” Nicol adds.

Rather than starting his three-year-old campaign in the Gold Series, The Northern Dude made two appearances in the Grassroots program. In the June 16 season opener at Sudbury Downs the son of Ken Warkentin and L R Alleys Concern delivered a hard fought win in a track record 1:59, and on July 2 at Grand River Raceway he finished second to Somebody AS, who also moves up to the Gold Series on Sunday.

Riina Rekila piloted The Northern Dude in both of his Grassroots starts and Nicol gives the Campbellville resident full credit for assisting with the colt’s development.

“I would give full marks to Riina for putting herself out to come drive him for us and not do anything to make a front ender out of him. He’s learned to sit in a hole, or go to the front, whatever you want to do with him now,” says the long time owner. “So I am quite excited about his races going forward, because he’s definitely better than his last race shows.”

The Northern Dude heads into Sunday’s Gold Elimination off a sixth-place finish in his July 28 Dream Of Glory elimination at Hanover Raceway. The colt and Rekila were hampered in their bid for a top three spot by the outside Post 7. In The Northern Dude’s only other sophomore start he delivered a third-place effort in a July 9 overnight event at Mohawk Racetrack, trotting his own mile in 1:56.

Campbellville resident Chris Christoforou engineered the third-place result at Mohawk and will be back in the race bike for the colt’s Gold Series debut on Sunday. The pair will start from Post 3 in the first $40,000 Gold Elimination.
“We have Chris Christoforou driving him and he is very fond of the colt, he’s driven him a few times for us,” says Nicol.

Christoforou qualified The Northern Dude in the spring and was in the race bike for three of the colt’s seven Ontario Sires Stakes starts last season. As he did this year, The Northern Dude made two starts in the Grassroots program as a freshman, finishing ninth and second, before moving up to the Gold Series, where he was third in all three of his elimination appearances and fourth and seventh in two Gold Finals.

In addition to The Northern Dude’s improved maturity on the racetrack, Nicol says the colt is also showing more maturity in the paddock before his races, which should stand him in good stead as he attempts to match or better his freshman results.

“He used to get himself so worked up and excited in the paddock that he pretty well wore himself out just bouncing around,” explains the owner. “Now he stands like a gentleman, much better behaved than he was as a two-year-old.”

Nicol, who will celebrate his 79th birthday next week, was unable to make the trip to Hanover for the Dream Of Glory eliminations, but he is looking forward to watching The Northern Dude in action on Sunday.

“I live in Mount Hope so Flamboro is literally just down the road,” says the former trainer. “I’m getting to be one of the old timers in the business and having these young horses go out and perform; that still gives me a thrill. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed, watching them.

“I enjoyed working on them, and now I just sit back and be an owner, I don’t go hands-on anymore,” he continues. “I don’t have the same pressure on me.”
If The Northern Dude rises to the occasion and records a top four finish on Sunday, Nicol and his partners will make a return trip to Flamboro Downs for the $130,000 Gold Final on Sunday, Aug. 6, part of the Dundas oval’s popular Confederation Cup program.

Joining the three-year-old trotting colts on the Confederation Cup program will be the nine three-year-old trotting fillies that advanced straight to their Gold Final without need for eliminations.

On Sunday the three-year-old trotting colts will battle in Races 2 and 4. Flamboro Downs sends its first race in behind the starting gate at 6 p.m.


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

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