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Home Field Advantage To Pay Off?

Friday, July 8, 2011  By: Standardbred Canada

Home Field Advantage To Pay Off?

While his peers ship across the province in a horse trailer on Monday, two-year-old pacing gelding Retail will be enjoying his normal routine, hoping that home field advantage helps him to a top four placing in one of two $40,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Series eliminations.

In preparation for his OSS debut, Retail qualified sharply around a sloppy Rideau Carleton Raceway oval on June 23, where he finished second by less than a length in 2:02.4. Then trainer-driver Guy Gagnon gave him a test in non-winners-of-one-race company on July 4, and Retail held his own, as he finished fourth in a 1:58 mile.

“I qualified him in 2:02 in the mud, I raced him one time, he paced in 1:58, he [came] back in :28.4,” said Gagnon. “We wanted to try him here because we don’t have to travel.

“He has a big heart, he tries hard,” added the Gatineau, QC resident, who currently leads the driver’s colony at Rideau Carleton. “He’s a really nice horse to work around. He [does] everything right.”

Owner Robert Seguin of Gatineau purchased Retail for $12,000 at last year’s Canadian Open Yearling Sale and taught the son of Royal Mattjesty his early lessons. When Retail seemed to reach a plateau in June, Seguin opted to hand the gelding over to Gagnon, who made a few changes to the pacer’s equipment and routines.

“I think he was in 2:02, 2:04 when he sent him to me,” recalled Gagnon. “He [had] a couple things to change — equipment, shoeing. I fixed it the best I can, right now he looks good.”

Gagnon will steer Retail from Post 4 in the second Gold elimination, where he will line up alongside the undefeated Warrawee Needy, currently ranked as the fastest two-year-old in North America via his 1:51.4 mile in the June 27 Gold eliminations at Mohawk Racetrack. While Gagnon does not expect Retail to challenge the reigning Gold final champion, he is hoping the half-brother to $168,338 winner Going Native can hold his own in the field of seven.

“I [schooled] him (Thursday) morning again in Rideau, and he schooled very [well],” reported Gagnon. “He maybe can surprise Monday night.

“Four is just in the middle of the field. It’s a good spot for him at Rideau,” he added.

The other division will feature Gold elimination winner and Gold final runner-up Jake Sully from the advantageous Post 1.

The two-year-old pacing colts will battle in Races 2 and 4 on Monday evening, with the top four finishers from each elimination, plus one fifth-place finisher selected by random draw, returning to the Ottawa oval for the July 18 Gold final. Post time for Monday’s first race is 4:30 p.m.

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