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Byron & Bax Team Up For Grassroots Double

Published: September 18, 2010 2:12 am ET

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Thornton, ON resident Stephen Byron teamed up with trotting specialist John Bax to capture a pair of two-year-old trotting filly Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions at Georgian Downs on Friday evening.

Byron and Bax made their first appearance in the winner’s circle following the fourth $24,000 division with Incredible Emmy Go. Starting from Post 2, Byron hustled the Amigo Hall miss off the starting gate, but opted to let Anotherdayinthered (Paul MacKenzie) take control of the tempo heading by the :28.4 opening quarter. That filly was quickly challenged by Abes My Uncle (Dave Wall), who rang up a :59.2 half and then proceeded to run off on the field, reaching the 1:28.2 three-quarters a full nine lengths ahead.

Turning for home, Abes My Uncle was still six and one-half lengths ahead, but Byron had moved Incredible Emmy Go into the pocket and was readying her for a sprint to the wire. Pounding down the stretch, Abes My Uncle went off stride and Incredible Emmy Go was able to cruise home a one and one-half length winner in 2:01.3. Miu Miu Bi (Per Henriksen) rounded out the top three.

Peterborough, ON resident Bax trains Incredible Emmy Go for owner-breeder Len Kordy of Kingston, ON. The filly has only started in the Grassroots program this season, posing one win, one second and three thirds. Friday’s victory doubled her earnings to $23,760.

One race later it was Byron and L A Freeway who were forced to recover from an early break in stride. Fortunately the veteran reinsman was able to settle the filly quickly and they were only three lengths behind pacesetter Cedars Chip at the :28.3 quarter. Cedars Chip (Garrett Whelan) continued to lead the field through a :59.4 half, with L A Freeway sitting fourth, but by the time the teletimer flashed up the 1:29.4 three-quarter clocking Byron had L A Freeway on top by 10 lengths and it was all over but the shouting. The pair cruised home 10 and one-half length victors in a personal best 1:59.3. Barbies Korvett (John Muir) was a steady second and Last Chance Babie (Dave Wall) was seven more lengths back in third.

Marvin Katz of Toronto, ON and Al Libfeld of Pickering, ON bred and own L A Freeway, who now has two wins and one third to her credit through five starts for earnings of $28,800.

After testing her skills at the Gold Series level for six weeks without any positive results, Ally Oop returned to the Grassroots program Friday and laid down a hard fought 1:58.4 victory, her first top three result in six starts.

Firing off the gate from Post 4, Ally Oop was a full three lengths ahead of the field at the :29 quarter. By the :59.2 half that gap was narrowed to three-quarters of a length by Magic Wheel (Karen Hudon), who continued to pressure the leader through the 1:28.1 three-quarters, around the final turn and all the way down the stretch. For half a mile Ally Oop refused to yield control of the race to the fan favourite, and that dogged determination carried her under the wire three-quarters of a length on top in 1:58.4. Honey Thorn (Anthony MacDonald) finished third, four lengths behind the front running combatants.

Tom Durand drives and trains Ally Oop for his wife June Durand of Puslinch, ON. The filly is by Kadabra and out of Durand’s former Ontario Sires Stakes competitor Maleficent, who was a Gold Final winner at two and banked $201,990 in her racing career.

While Ally Oop has been struggling to find her footing in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, Dabrina has finished no worse than third in five Grassroots starts. The division leader picked up her third Grassroots trophy in the first $24,000 division on Friday, circling the Georgian Downs oval in 2:02. Zorgwijk Locket (Paul MacKenzie) finished one and one-quarter lengths behind the favourite, with Clock Work (Simon Allard) four more lengths back in third.

Joe Hudon trains Dabrina, and his wife Karen Hudon handles driving duties on the daughter of Kadabra and $128,001 winner Oaklea Ina. Through seven starts the youngster has posted three wins, one second and two thirds for earnings of $45,660. Acton, ON resident Hudon shares ownership of Dabrina with R A W Equine Inc. of Burlington, ON and Herbert Boggs of Duncan, BC.

The other Grassroots divisions went to Life Class (Scott Zeron) in 2:02.4; Magical Paige (Robert Shepherd) in 2:02.1; Edens Cover Girl (Paul MacKenzie) in 2:03; and Some Like It Hot (Lyle MacArthur) in 1:59.2.

The two-year-old trotting fillies make their last Grassroots start at Windsor Raceway on October 3 before the top 16 point earners proceed to the October 15 Grassroots Semifinals. The top four finishers from each of two $30,000 Semifinals will earn a berth in the $100,000 Grassroots Championship on October 23 at Western Fair Raceway.

Georgian Downs continues its fall spotlight of Ontario Sires Stakes action on Tuesday, September 28, when the two-year-old trotting colts will take the stage in Grassroots competition.

To view Friday's results, click here.

(With files from OSS)

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