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orough Sports Hall of Famer John Bax will harness five sophomore trotting colts in Kawartha Downs’ Ontario Sires Stakes season opener this Saturday, June 26.


The trotting savant is hoping for strong performances from several of his trainees, including Lukes Raoule, who finished second in the first Grassroots event on the three-year-old trotting colt schedule — on May 26 over Western Fair Raceway’s half-mile oval.


“I think he has the talent to be a top Grassroots horse,” notes Bax, who shares ownership on the trotter with Paul Kinmond of Peterborough and Harry Locke of Oshawa.


“He keeps teasing me,” adds the horseman. “He’ll put in one real good one, where he does everything right, then the next start he doesn’t do it right or he flattens out. He’s inconsistent.”


Lukes Raoule will start from Post 6 in the third $24,000 Grassroots division on Saturday, and Bax would love to see the Ken Warkentin son use his local oval to kick off a streak of consistently strong finishes.


Bax and Kinmond also share ownership on Fuel Cell, along with Carl Bax of Peterborough and John Houston of Cobourg. Fuel Cell delivered a third-place finish at Western Fair in the season opener, but heads into Saturday’s start off a break in an overnight event at Kawartha on June 12.


“We put a head pole on him and he had a bad reaction,” Bax explains. “Any time you try something different, it seems to upset him.”


The veteran horseman is hoping the Mutineer son will be back on form for Saturday’s test, where he will start from Post 8 in the ninth race.


Joining his stablemates at the Grassroots level is Sombrero Hall, who opened his season in the Gold Series, finished sixth in his May 23 elimination at Mohawk Racetrack. Bax hopes the move will boost the Striking Sahbra son’s confidence and allow him to achieve his full potential.


“He’s a big strong horse, but he can’t finish a mile,” notes the trainer. “We dropped him back to improve his confidence. He needs to be in where he can do the beating up, instead of getting beat up.”


Bax, Locke, Don Allensen of Camlachie and Glengate Farms of Campbellville share ownership on Sombrero Hall, who heads into Saturday’s 11th race (Post 3) off a 1:56.1 runner-up finish in an overnight event at Mohawk Racetrack on June 17.


Unraced as a two-year-old, Incredible Kadabra is still learning the ropes of the racing game, but Bax hopes the husky Kadabra son can deliver a solid result on Saturday.


“He’s showing some good finishing speed, he’s just got to get the mental aspect,” says Bax, who conditions the trotter for Len Kordy of Kingston. “He shows good last quarter speed, he’s just not savvy as far as racing goes.”


Incredible Kadabra will hope to improve on the fifth-place finish he logged in the season opener from Post 5 in the seventh race.


Bax’s final starter is Fire Meets Ice, who will kick off the evening’s Grassroots parade from Post 1 in Race 2, and the veteran horseman admits that his expectations for the Striking Sahbra son are modest.


“He’s been a disappointment,” admits Bax. “He wants to do it when he wants to do it; he’ll stop and start on you.”


Al Libfeld of Pickering and Steven Kazman of Thornhill share ownership on Fire Meets Ice, who finished sixth in his division of the Grassroots season opener.


Kawartha Downs sends its first race behind the gate at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with the three-year-old trotting colts commandeering the crowd’s attention in Races 2 through 5 and 7 through 11.


Besides the fact that there are nine Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots races scheduled for Saturday night at Kawartha Downs, how can you pass up an evening which honours a truly classic piece of summer fare?


This coming Saturday at the Fraserville, Ont. racing plant has been dubbed as one of the Dog Dayz Of Summer Nights, a salute to almost everyone's favourite, the hot dog.


Fans will be able to enjoy a BBQ hot dog and a drink for just a toonie, and can enter to win a deluxe BBQ package to take home, including a BBQ, cooler, solar lights and a three-seater swing set. The total package is worth $600.

(With files from OSS)