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Whatta Hotty Aiming For Gold Final Title

Published: September 19, 2008 10:35 pm ET

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Whatta Hotty's path to the winner's circle was far longer than her connections expected, but as the three-year-old trotting fillies head back to Flamboro Downs for their second last Gold Final on Wednesday, Sept. 24, the filly's elimination win has cemented her as one of the favourites in the $120,000 contest.

"That filly there, she's a nice filly, she's just had bad luck," says Clarence Devos, who shares ownership on Whatta Hotty with his wife Mary Devos and son Terry Devos of Langton, and trainer Jim Whelan of Troy, Ont.

Among the obstacles that befell Whatta Hotty on her way to last Wednesday's elimination win were a pair of breaks in early season action, a couple of poor post positions, and a stall injury that wiped out the middle of her season.

A winner of four races at two, including her last three starts, Whatta Hotty made her sophomore debut in the Gold Series season opener at Western Fair Raceway. She made a late break in the elimination and finished third, then delivered a fourth-place effort in the May 18 final. Next on her agenda was the Casual Breeze Stake at Mohawk Racetrack, where she made another miscue late in the mile.

One week later, an impressive third-place performance in her elimination landed Whatta Hotty in the $588,706 Elegant Image Final, but while she was in the retention barn prior to the race the Yankee Paco daughter got cast in her stall and seriously injured her knee.

"Her knee was as big as your hip," recalls Clarence Devos. "Going for $580,000 - we'd never raced for a purse that big before - and you have to scratch your horse. You can get humble pretty quick in this game."

After six weeks off and regular veterinary attention, Whatta Hotty was ready to take a second stab at the province's top fillies. Whelan qualified her once at Mohawk Racetrack in late July and then entered her in the Aug. 1 Gold Series Eliminations at Mohawk. Way off the pace for most of the mile Whatta Hotty finished fifth and did not advance to the Gold Final. Whelan entered her in the Consolation and the homebred daughter of $333,303 winner Our Kuli Girl drew the outside Post 10 and finished tenth.

Things were only marginally better in the elimination for the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) Stake. Whatta Hotty landed Post 8, got interfered with at the half and finished fourth. Fortunately, that was enough to qualify the youngster for the final, and Whatta Hotty came up with an impressive effort in the Aug. 22 battle. Sitting eighth at the three-quarter pole the filly sprinted home in :27.3 to finish second to division leader Bella Dolce.

With almost a month between the SBOA Final and the next Gold event, Whelan decided it was time to teach the filly how to hustle off the starting gate, something he had been reluctant to do earlier in her career.

"She's got lots of vim and vinegar," explains Devos. "She was always wanting to go faster than what she could.

"She couldn't leave without breaking," continues the longtime owner. "But they've taught her to leave a little now. She did it well the other night."

To practise her new lessons, Whelan dropped Whatta Hotty into an overnight at Mohawk on Sept. 8 and driver Garrett Whelan hit the accelerator early. Starting from Post 6, the filly was only five lengths back in third at the quarter pole, four lengths closer to the front than she had been at that stage of any race all season. First up on the outside through the remainder of the mile, Whatta Hotty faded to second in the stretch, but she had clearly absorbed what Whelan was trying to teach her.

In last Wednesday's Gold Elimination, Whatta Hotty and Garrett Whelan started from Post 5 and landed second on the rail. Following Kadealia through fractions of :28.4, :59.4 and 1:30, the pair sprinted down the stretch to claim their first win of the season by half a length in 1:59.4.

"He gave her a real good drive," says Devos of the young Whelan's efforts. "He let the second favourite go, and then came back out."

Whatta Hotty and Whelan will start from Post 3 in Wednesday's $120,000 Gold Final, with the other elimination winners Condi Lane, Pasadena Princess and Jayporthasitall surrounding them at Posts 2, 4, and 5. The Gold Final is slated as Race 9, while the $20,000 Gold Consolation goes postward as Race 7. Post time for the exciting Wednesday evening program at Flamboro Downs is 6 p.m.

To view Wednesday's entries, click here.


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