Ontario's talented two-year-old trotting fillies will wrap up their regular season at Woodbine Racetrack on Friday night, and divisional leader Cumin First would like to finish the way she started: by taking home a Gold final trophy.
The daughter of Striking Sahbra finished fourth in her elimination last week, fading through the last quarter, but driver Rick Zeron is hoping the filly will be back on top of her game on Friday.
"I was forced at the quarter pole to move her to the front. I had to power move her a little bit and she got a little tired down the stretch," the resident of Oakville, ON said about Cumin First's elim effort. "She had been off for a couple weeks and she came up a little short.
"Frank (O'Reilly) told me he scoped her after the race and she came up a little sick, but he said he would have her prepped and ready to go for me this week," the reinsman added.
Last week's outing was only the second time Cumin First has been bested in a Gold elim. The Frank O'Reilly trainee swept undefeated through the first two Gold Series events and then finished second in an elimination at Kawartha Downs on August 16. An unforced error on the front end in the final marked the first of two lacklustre performances for the young trotter, but she bounced back with a commanding five-length victory in Gold elim action at Rideau Carleton Raceway on September 26.
Cumin First was unable to repeat in the Gold final one week later, but Zeron has said that the filly had an excuse.
"We ran into a little trouble at Rideau in the final. We got caught in a little confusion around the first turn, she had a little interference and made a break," explained the horseman, who has steered Cumin First in all but two of her 10 starts. "That's the only break she's made for me; she's a doll to drive."
O'Reilly said that the filly has been a star since the moment he stretched the lines out behind her in a June 8 qualifier at Mohawk Racetrack. A season of campaigning has given her more race strategy, but her basic skills and desire were present long before she made her Ontario Sires Stakes debut.
"She's the same today as she was the first day I drove her. She loves being out there, she loves her work," Zeron explained. "If Frank has her ready she'll get a few calls from the announcer this week."
Zeron will steer Cumin First from Post 1 in Friday's $120,000 contest for Jim Fielding of Toronto, John Jesson of Tillsonburg, breeder Dr. Ruth Irving of Russell, and Mary Anne Lauzon of Russell, ON. The reinsman will be keeping an eye out for the filly that bested him in last week's elimination, Elusive Desire, who will start from Post 8, and the other elimination winner, Daylon Mystique, who will start from Post 5 in the fifth race.
The freshman trotting fillies will open Woodbine Racetrack's Friday evening program at 7:30 p.m. with a $20,000 Gold consolation, featuring seven fillies who finished out of the top five in the elimination round. The Gold finalists will light up the Toronto oval in Race 5.
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