If you ever wanted to take that toy boat you had as a kid and float it in two inches of sloppy mud you had an opportunity to do just that Saturday on the Whoop-Up Downs track.
While the horses, their riders, and the trainers were, to say the least, unhappy with their mud-caked clothing, you can bet the Rocky Mountain Turf Club's dry cleaners was just beaming with joy.
Despite the slop there were some good horse races - albeit for a few scratches - and in the end last year's leading trainer and leading jockey were looking good, mud and all.
Larris Allen rode four winners out of the seven races to vault into the lead for top jockey and trainer Lyle Magnuson watched from the top of the homestretch as C. C.S Orfin Anhey flew home in the lead to take the seventh race. The RMTC Stables entry in by Real West out of Hey Reba by Rahy and bred in Alberta by Max Gibb.
On the Quarter horse end of things Jose O. Rocha had Socket To Em Logie in top gear and he socked it to the rest of the field in the opening 300-yard dash. Bucky Stockwell trained the bay gelding by Special Fly Bye out of A Regal Purpose by a Regal Choice and was bred in Alberta by owner Robert McCutcheon.
The track was better today (Sunday), just a little sticky," said jockey Vincent Alvin Palmer.
Vincent was aboard one of the popular wins of the day, trainer Phil Wiest's Bull Pen.
Phil has been in the sport for more than 50 years and was all smiles when Bull Pen crossed the wire in first. The horse, which is owned by Phil, Sheri Gram and Dean Reynolds is by Holy Bull out of Colleague by Cherokee Run and is a Kentucky bred.
"He's a nice little horse, that's for sure," said the 83-year-old trainer. "I had a guy down in Phoenix claim him for me, and he ran a hell of a race today. You know, that fellow in Phoenix phoned me after the race to see how he had run." And whatever its condition the track was well suited to Ricardo Moreno aboard Tiny Flying Corona in the 300-yard RMTC Markel Bonus Challenge. The Challenge had a nice $16,736 purse.
Tiny Flying Corona is by Tinys First Corona out of Pj Phoebes Flying by Chicks Beduino.
Trainer William Leech had his hands full after the Challenge, first posing for the photo in the winner's circle and then supervising the unsaddling of the runner-up Northforkzoom, which also ran under his colours as did an also ran Mals First Down.
While William Leech won the big race the weekend really belonged to trainer Lyle Magnuson.
His six wins during the holiday stretch moved him to a meet-leading eight, with his final win Monday with Megatron Ruler, Larris Allen aboard, for his eighth win of the weekend.
"He's a pretty nice horse, and he's only four," said owner Jacqueline Smith.
"He ran just a couple of clicks off the track record at 58:850," said Magnuson about the Kentucky-bred Megatron Ruler by Roman Ruler out of Argyle Park by Sky Mesa.
"I think I've won four races this meet for Max too (RMTC CEO Max Gibb).
Magnuson is passionate about horse racing and realizes its more than just his pocket he's lining each time he goes to the gate.
"A lot of people don't realize the financial impact horse racing has on a community, not only for all the horsemen and people who work around the track but the community in general, through hotels, restaurants and service stations for example." In the second race Monday Magnuson trained and owned the winner, Five Dollar Bandit, ridden by Larris Allen. That's a winning combination race fans have seen for the past two or three years.
Bandit is by Real West out of Widly Ruth by Pole Position and was trained in Alberta by Max Gibb.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE . . . Saturday, in the driving rain of the first few races, not many punters ventured out of the grandstand to see the paddock parade or the races themselves, staying inside to watch the TV . . . When the rain almost stopped by the fourth race the fans, well the brave ones anyway, were back along the rail . . . Tommy Ivins, former pro rodeo bull dogger, taking time out to drop by and watch the Quarter Horse Challenge race . . . Wilf McDougall, the first chairman of ACTRA, was also on hand for the Challenge race . . . The sad news reached us as we all were sitting chatting that the former world calf roping champion, Jim Gladstone, had passed away Saturday . . . Jim, off the Blood Reserve, won the world's title in 1979 . . . It could only happen in Lethbridge - after a soggy track Saturday and a sticky one Sunday the water trucks were on the track Monday . . . Vincent Alvin Palmer had a nice weekend with three wins, one of them Monday on ACTRA award winner Bob Gwilliam's Sizzano . . . next racing in Lethbridge will be May 23-24, featuring to high paying Quarter horse sprints.