If it was basketball it would have been a double, double, but as it was William Leech finished first and second in both of Sunday's featured Quarter Horse races, the AQHRA Aged Stake and the Whoop-Up Classic Distance Series. The Aged Stake had a $15,100 purse and the Classic, $11,766.
In highly blustery conditions at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club, Leech saw his Free Thought, with Ricardo Moreno aboard, take the 660 yard Whoop-Up Classic. Minutes before he and owners Jim Plume and Charlie Weaselhead withstood a photo finish to lose to yet another Leech-trained horse, Northforkzoom.
"This was his (Northforkzoom’s) day," exclaimed winning jockey Larris Allen. "He started to really move the last 100 yards. He gave me everything he's got. He gave me his all."
Allen said he let his horse have a breather and compose itself in the gate, and then "he gave me everything he had."
The winner is by Mezoomn out of Bitterroot Babe by El Mistral and was bred in Alberta by the owner and Tom Copithorne.
Leech trains Nothforkzoom, a Glenn Wills horse, and the second-place Mals First Down for Plume and Weaselhead. Then in the Classic he was the trainer for Charles Sojan's Free Thought as well as the runner-up Glittering Blue from Rigetti Farms Ltd.
Another trainer, Floyd Buffalo, was beaming as he left the winner's circle for the test barn with Swift Progress in tow after winning the Second Leg of the Starters Allowance.
"The jockey (Neville Stephenson) ran him exactly as we wanted, well maybe a little quicker than we thought. The horse ran the race as we thought he would though.
"Now we hope to go for the last leg of this marathon series (Sunday, Oct. 4)."
Sunday's second leg, with a purse of $5,100, covered a mile and an eighteenth.
You are never too old for horse racing, and every meet Stan Marks proves that maxim to be true.
Saturday he was at it again, winning the fourth race with Keepanosecrets, coming in on top of the field, guided by Trevor Simpson in the irons.
"That horse ran well," the 87-year-old trainer/owner stated in his usual understated manner. “He's been off a long time. He was in Edmonton this summer, and we didn't go into Grande Prairie, so today was a nice return for him.
"This was seven furlongs and he's more of a sprinter. Trevor is a good rider.” And with that , Stan was off on his motorized cart ("my knees just don't take walking anymore") for a snack his wife was buying at the RMTC snack bar.
Friday, the first night racing card of the Fall Meet, saw Kevin Oberholtzer’s Bringon The Wain top the field to pay 15.00, 6.70 and 4.80. The Wain is by Kafwain out of Greenapplegal by Distant View and was bred in California.
The eighth race Saturday was the Harold Silbernagel Memorial, in memory of a man who had a passion for horse racing, as an owner and as an executive. Harold, who passed away in August of 2014, served on Horse Racing Alberta’s board of directors and was a key man in the formation of the Alberta Community Thoroughbred Racing Association. The Memorial purse was $5,000, with $1,000 added by the Silbernagel family.
The Memorial was taken by Allen Goodsell’s Hope Faith Gold, ridden by Trevor Simpson. The horse, owned by Allen’s wife and former jockey Teagan Oulton, is by Amaruk out of Software by Southern Halo and was bred in British Columbia.
This coming Sunday is a big day for - we won't say oldtimers - but rather, those with long memories.
"We expect about 250 people to be part of be the scene for this Community Circuit Reunion, with a banquet and dance in The Rocky Mountain Turf Club's 3rd floor dining room.
“We’ll also have a Rocking Chair Race. We expect riders like Scott Sterr, Peter McAleney, Terry Ronson, Elijah Bourne, Howie Solberg, Tim Smith and others to be involved in the race," says Jody Nakamura, one of the organizers.
"We'll use older horses in the race and the purse is put up, half by ACTRA and also the RMTC. The horse post positions and their riders will be drawn for in the regular fashion, seeing that everything is fair."
The winner will receive an actual rocking chair.
She says moneys made from the race and other events will go to charity.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE . . . In Friday’s fourth race Sweet Annie paid a nice 19.60 to place and Mochadream paid 13.60 to show . . . La Pieta won and paid 9.00 . . . The bettors in the $1 Superfecta, for 5-1-6-2, didn’t take these longshots into consideration and it meant the payout was a mere $3.95, which was all the 5-A-A-A would pay . . . In the opening race Saturday the Kaiani contingent of Chief Charlie Weaselhead and Jim Plume saw their horse, Go Jessin Beaver improve from 6th last time out to a close second . . . "He got bumped last time out, but he ran well today. I'm happy," said Jim . . .The wind Sunday was almost unbearable, not only for the riders, but older fans in particular . . . Former jockey and now trainer Randy Cunningham on the limp with torn knee ligaments in his right knee after a losing tussle with a horse in Grande Prairie . . . Next racing at the RMTC is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday , , . Post time Friday is 6 p.m., and 1:15 p.m. the other two days.