It was an inspiring season for the Rocky Mountain Turf Club - weather wise, crowd-wise and wagering-wise. And to top it all off their were some extremely close, and exciting races.
"One of the big pluses this year was the number of new faces we saw at the track, with many of them young people. They will certainly help our sport grow," said RMTC CEO Max Gibb.
"Millarville (which RMTC also presents) was a great day and certainly put me in the mood for our Fall Meet, and I wasn't disappointed. The Spring Meet experienced a few rainy days but the Fall Meet ran under virtually ideal conditions. On the unfortunate side we had far too many Memorial races. While its nice to see horsemen remembering their family and friends through those races its depressing to realize we are losing so many fine horsemen." Now remember, the following are all unofficial tallies, but they are fairly close to the mark.
If you tally up the trainer victories in the Spring Meet you'll see Lyle W. Magnuson on top with 21 victories. That gives the busy trainer, who says the key to winning is to line up a good selection of horses, the overall RMTC season lead with 36 victories. Lyle also likes to have Larris Allan on his horses, which makes for a tough combination to beat.
At the close of the Spring Meet, Clayton, Cory, Carson and Rick Wiest racked up 18 wins. An impressive number considering Rick and the boys only run five horses at the RMTC.
In the Spring, sitting in third place was Laurie Ferguson, basically a Quarter horse trainer, with some Thoroughbreds. She wound up with 12 wins. Fellow Quarter horse trainer William Leech was right behind her with 11 wins. Stan Marks and Kevin Oberholtzer racked up eight wins apiece with Kurt Calton at seven and Pete Dubois with six.
Pete picked up another win at Millarville, as did Laurie Ferguson.
Come Fall, Laurie was third again, with seven wins. Angelle Carter and Rick Wiest were knotted at six wins apiece.
Overall The Wiest boys had 24 wins, and Laurie wound up the year with 19 wins.
It was nice to see Rosa Lee Burbank among the top trainers this year. This American lady is more than welcome at the RMTC.
It was also great to see 86-year-old Stan Marks with eight wins in the Spring and a few more come Fall. As well, it was nice to see former jockey Angelle Wilson, now a trainer, rack up six wins and run second in the Alberta Bred Futurity.
Speaking of Futurity races, there were very few disappointed faces trackside when Janice Sather won the big race in the early Fall with her Cruisinfourabruisin, ridden by Sean Evans.
And speaking of big wins, how about Bruce Ironshirt and his rompin' three-year-old filly Zoomin Daphne- by Azoom out of La Reina da La Noche by First Down Dash, bred in Oklahoma by Harry Brown - earning a trip south.
Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club meeting Lethbridge Bruce's filly romped to the $23,742 Canada Quarter Horse Cup Derby and this summer, at Grande Prairie won the Adequan Evergreen Derby Challenge, a $28,527 Derby Challenge Finals.
Bruce and Zoomin Daphne had their sites set on the $200,000 John Deere Adequan Derby Challenge Championship in mid-October at Prairie Meadows, Altoona, Iowa.
"We'll not only be representing the Kainai Nation but the whole of Canada," said a happy Ironshirt. "What a thrill, what an honour." Zoomin Daphne ran a respectful fifth in the $200,000, 400-yard dash against the top American horses.
I mentioned Larris Allen earlier. Well, Larris closed the Spring Meet with four wins for a leading total of 31 victories, an impressive showing indeed. Trevor Simpson was the closest to Larris with 26 wins. Tyler Walker, a favourite rider for Laurie Ferguson, closed the Spring off with six wins to bring his third-place total to 25. Blandford Stewart and Ramiro Sanchez Castillo - a favourite with William Leech - ended the meet with 21 wins apiece.
In the Fall, with injuries taking Tyler Walker and Trevor Simpson out of the jockey's race, it was all left to Larris Allen who took the honours with an impressive 32 wins. Ramiro Sanchez Castillo was next in line with 18 wins and Blandford Stewart followed with 16, followed by Jose O. Roca with 13 wins and Philip Clunis with 10.
It goes without saying the overall leading rider was Larris Allen with 63 wins, plus two more at Millarville.
To me, the surprise of the Spring was the slipping of Dubla Gold from the top horse at the track, to be replaced, again in my opinion, Careless Hunter. The two went head-to-head twice, and both times Careless Hunter ran away with the victory. Careless Hunter is part of the Wiest clan's lineup, and in Rick's words for him is "just awesome." However, in the Fall, Pete Dubois and Dubla Gold beat Careless Hunter to win a B Cup Final.
All in all it was a great year of racing at the RMTC, and for the true race fans the Spring of 2015 can't come soon enough.