07/31/2002 12:00AM

Fairmount track report


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - Saturday night's Red Cloud Handicap may have been the most exciting race of the meet. Canyon De Oro, ridden by J. D. Hundley, went wire to wire, holding on by a nose after a stretch duel with favorite Bulldog George.

For Canyon De Oro's owner, Gary Rotermund, and his wife, Shelia, the victory temporarily took their minds off a terrible event.

The Rotermunds purchased Canyon De Oro at the Keeneland September yearling sale of 2000 for $10,000, and turned him over to trainer Leroy Hellman. Canyon De Oro began working toward his first start late last summer.

The Rotermunds daughter, Meghan, had an allergy to cats and on Sept. 2 she spent the night with a friend who had a pet cat. A senior at Parkway West High School in St. Louis, Meghan had an allergic reaction, which led to an asthma attack and death by cardiac arrest.

Shortly after, Canyon De Oro won his first career start, but it was a bittersweet moment for the family.

"Meghan had been planning to design silks for us, which of course she never had the chance to do," Rotermund said. "But the win did provide a some relief for us at the time."

Canyon De Oro has won five races from 10 starts and has earned $42,180. Rotermund spoke warmly of how the horse has helped the family through their time of sorrow.

"Canyon De Oro's success has provided a much-needed diversion from the pain of losing Meghan for her mother and I," Rotermund said. "Over the 10 months since her death we have been able to come to terms with this situation in some ways, but you never stop hurting. Canyon De Oro has given us some moments of happiness when we really needed them."