You take eight quality Quarter horses, separated in running time by only tenths of a second, and you have the recipe for a great race Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club..
Not so! The race - from the rail out to the middle of the track, was the shambles. One of the favourites, Cruisinfourabruisin, which was at least a length ahead just a few strides from the wire right along the rail, dumped his rider over said rail, thereby bringing a stunning wind-up to the 400 yard, $65,842, Alberta Bred Futurity.
The horse walked away unscathed but rider Sean P. Evans was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. As it was the race was won by Larris Allen aboard Juno Dat Timber running high near the outside rail.
"It was an unfortunate way to win it... but you take it," said trainer Les Adams. "I'm sure the other horse was ahead when it went down, but my horse was running up in the grandstand without any trouble." Owner/trainer Janice Sather, with three horses in the race, lost out on first, but picked up a third with Tequila Tuesday, behind Angelle Carter's Big Hoss Rollin. There couldn't have been a more respected trainer/owner than Janice Sather for this calamity to happen to.
The Alberta Bred Futurity Consolation, with a $7,315 purse, was taken by Battle Jac Eh, owned by Tim Rollingson and Laurie Ferguson.
"We had it all the way, yea! You know we were just .002 hundredths of a second from qualifying for the big race?" said Tim. With the shemozzel that race turned out to be perhaps it was a good race to miss.
The stud for Juno Dat Timber, First Timber, is also the stud for Canadian Timber, Les's other horse in the race and is headed to Oklahoma to stand stud there this winter.
Blazing Temper, trained by Pete Dubois and owned by Pete and Mason Bassett, took the mile and sixteenth $10,200 Amtote Derby.
"The horse is really green, he has just improved as he's gone on with riders like Blandford (Stewart) and Tyler (Walker)," said Pete.
The first of two Memorial races Sunday saw Ken Williams Jr., owner/trainer of Hawkers Gate, take the Edmund Wolfchild Memorial, a $5,050 five furlong affair for this well respected horseman.
The other Memorial was for Ivan Clark who rode his last race at the RMTC at age 69 and passed away at 82 in September of 2013. It was taken by Jill West's No Yielding.
Angelle Carter's horse finished second in the big Futurity earlier on the card, but took the $9,200, seven furlong Dating Game to ease the pain a bit, when Smile Lee, with Ramiro Sanchez Castillo aboard came home first.
Cory, one of the three Wiest family trainer/owners, was beaming Saturday, when Time To be A Hero did just that, became a hero.
"It was a pretty good performance," Cory said about Time To Be A Hero's performance in winning the $9,200 Fillies Oakes Saturday at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club. "Being on the rail really helped us. She had always run five furlongs before and I think this six furlong distance really helped us. She just seemed to do better at that distance." However, in the seven furlong Farewell Stakes the Wiest boys saw their great Careless Hunter run second behind Lyle Magnuson's Red Defense.
Dubla Gold had gone out quickly with Slews Academy but the two speed horses ended up bowing to Red Defense and Careless Hunter at the wire, with Gail McConaghie's Slews Academy third.
Cory Wiest just shook his head and said "we were second best this time... Last time out we were third behind Dubla Gold." Gail McConaghie was a bit choked up when she said, "That was Slews Academy's last time out, she's now going show jumping. She always liked to trail the pack and come from out of it and she just about did it her last race." Slews Academy was bred in Alberta at Crystal Meadows Farm in 2007 and won more than $80,000 during her racing career. She was by Royal Academy out of Our Slewshan by Slew City Slew.
He's called Bound Up, but he was certainly loose and unbound Saturday when he won the $7,350 Paint Derby over 400 yards. Andrew Wright brought Bound Up home in 20.441 seconds, much to the pleasure of trainer Lane No Runner, a grand nephew of the late Don No Runner.
"He's a good horse," said Lane of the winner, by Snowbound out of By Gone by Treasured and bred in California. "I didn't expect to win but I did expect he'd run with the leading pack. We've been training him for two years and it finally paid off.
"I was really happy with the ride Andrew Wright gave him." Bound Up is owned by WestWind OilField services (Alex Kirkpatrick) and will be taken back home "And given the long winter off." One of Saturday's feature races was the Rufus Goodstriker Memorial, a seven furlong, $4,000 affair. Pat and Gord Goruk and Bill and Debbie Pearce own the winning Promiscuous Lad, ridden to victory by Stephen Blakeley.
The Goodstriker family feted a large gathering of family and friends after the seven furlong race, presenting many of those present with special gifts. As well, Max Gibb, CEO of the RMTC presented Rufus' widow with a special bronze, created by Anne Buxton.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE... A light rain began in the fifth race, but didn't last long... Dubla Gold's trainer Pete Dubois, who saw his horse run out of gas in the stretch after leading much of the way, said of the rider "he just took off with him"... RMTC CEO Max Gibb called it a great year of racing at the RMTC and praised the government for its Racing Renewal Program... Gibb also said Century Downs at Balzac would be open in March, 2015 for Standardbreds and the following year for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses... The Ivan Clark Memorial was a moving experience for the RMTC's Parade Marshal, Shirley Clark, Ivan's wife of 60 years... There was a super crowd on hand Sunday, a great fall day... While the ambulance tended to jockey Sean Evans in the infield, Larris Allen was in the winners circle aboard Juno Dat Timber who was draped in a garland of yellow roses... Allen is a shoo in for top rider as his closest competitor, Trevor Simpson, was injured a few weekends ago... Monday's eight race card will close out the RMTC season.