“He’s learning how to be a racehorse, which was very important. Bringing him back to Kawartha was probably the best thing I did, because he got to race with horses that he could race with and beat, and he’s gotten pretty cocky ever since,” says trainer Dave Gibson of his three-year-old pacer Lock N Reload who will make his Ontario Sires Stakes debut at his home track of Kawartha Downs on Saturday night. 

The Bettors Delight colt heads into the first of six $18,000 Grassroots division off a trio of victories over the Fraserville oval. Gibson, who lives in Peterborough, co-owns the gelding with long time partner Glenn Tarver of Scarborough, Ontario. 

Lock N Reload will start from the outside post eight, facing off against a field of seven Grassroots veterans, including three-time runner-up Derecho from post six.

“Really, the reason he’s even here is because it was at Kawartha and it’s only 15 minutes down the road from where we stable, so we thought we’d give it a chance,” explained Gibson.<p> “Unfortunately, drawing the eight-hole, I’m not sure I’m going to really see what I really wanted to see.”

Gibson and Tarver purchased Lock N Reload for $20,000 as a yearling and after qualifying him in the fall of his freshman season decided to postpone his debut until this spring.

“I qualified him, and both him and his training partner Bet Till Dawn got sick, and it was getting later in the season and I just decided that it was probably better just to quit with them and start fresh this year,” recalled the horseman.

“They both seemed like they had a little talent, so I thought instead of racing them if they were sick, and maybe causing some damage, I better just stop when I did.”

Since making his debut at Mohawk on May 30, Lock N Reload has tallied three wins in seven starts for earnings of $7,050. His personal best 1:57.2 came in his August 6 effort at Kawartha. Regular pilot Reg Gassien of Lindsay will be in the race bike for the gelding’s Grassroots debut on Saturday and Gibson says Gassien can map out whatever course suits him when the gate pulls away from the fourth race field.

“He can race pretty much any way you want to,” noted Gibson. “He’s becoming a little more aggressive since he’s actually gotten braver, but nothing that’s going to hurt him or anything like that.”

The trainer said Lock N Reload’s performance on Saturday will determine whether he follows the Grassroots program to Georgian Downs for the fifth leg, or remains at Kawartha Downs in overnight company.

“I’ll see how he races against this group and then decide from there,” said Gibson.

Lock N Reload and his peers will kick off the Grassroots action in race four, with the other five $18,000 divisions going behind the Kawartha Downs starting gate in races five, seven, nine, 10 and 11. First race post time at the Fraserville oval is 7 pm. 

One lucky Ontario Sires Stakes fan will also have a chance to win a great prize package. 

By placing their “Be A Winner” contest ballots in the box representing their favourite horse in race seven, eight fans will have a chance to win an Ontario Sires Stakes t-shirt, ball hat and lanyard badge, and a $15 win-place-show wager on their chosen horse.

Those finalists will cheer on their horses from trackside and the finalist representing the victorious horse will join his connections in the winner’s circle for a commemorative photo. The winning finalist will also take home a trophy, an OSS jacket and golf shirt, and a $50 wagering voucher.

(OSS/KD)