Jockey Scott Sterr, himself taking a break, said owner Charles Stojan was away from the sport for a while on hiatus, but he was hack with a vengeance Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club.
His Goodest, by Stel Corona out of Plenty Good by Separatist, handily won the 350-yard All Canadian Open Derby Sunday, going away.
"He has been trouble in the starting gate and Riley Rycroft headed him in the trials for me and he was much better. Today Riley headed him again and did an excellent job. Goodest was nice and relaxed and I think we were a length ahead out of the gate," said William Leech about his horse's performance in the $27,678 Derby, and his second big win of the weekend.
"The horse has a lot of ability, once you get past his troubles in the gate.
"We'll probably sit him out until Grande Prairie in the summer, and also we're paid into the Canada Dup Derby here in Lethbridge in the Fall. We'll see how things go, but the probably won't run more than three times the rest of thee year." Sitting in the grandstand watching the race, and getting into the winner's circle picture, was William's mother Florence, wife of the late Quarter Horse racing legend Garnett Leech.
In the seventh race, just prior to Sunday's Open Derby, 87-year old Stan Marks won his third race of the Spring as Keepanosecrets won a five and a half romp with ease, Trevor Simpson aboard.
"If he's going to win, he is capable of going wire to wire as he did today," said Stan. "He's full of run, but you know you can't whip him too much.
"He's the type of horse that when he's good he looks real good, buy when he's bad he looks real bad, you know what I mean." Saturday's 350-yard Bank of America Maiden Challenge, with a purse of $24,738 in U.S. funds, was everything K. Glenn Wills was hoping for.
Running high on the outside, where the good ground tends to be, Bitterroot Corona took the Bank of America race, edging out Streakin Timber, owned by Shirley Lacks and trained by Les Adams.
The win wasn't easy.
Ricardo Moreno had his hands full keeping Streakin Timber away as he skillfully guided Bitterttoot Corona home on top in a winning time of 18.105 seconds.
After more than 45 years in the business Wills can still get excited about a win.
"I like getting my hands on that American money," he said with a laugh. "There was no banging coming out of the gate, we got out just fine, and a great start is everything." Bitterroot Corona is by Sizzlin Red Corona out of Rj Bitterroot Babe by El Mistral and was bred in Alberta by Wills and Tom Copirthorne.
Wills said his three-year-old was sick much of last year, tied in with a string of bad luck.
"But this was a great race, and a great way to begin 2015," he said. "William (trainer William Leech) did a good job getting him ready. And I like this jockey (Ricardo Moreno)." A second featured race Saturday, on the Thoroughbred side, saw Trevor Simpson, astride Careless Hunter, edge out Streets of Fire in a photo.
"He came out of the pack and with about two furlongs to go. I was surprised to see him," said Simpson. "I had to get after my horse as we came by the grandstand, and we just made it.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE . . . Former jockey Randy Cunningham, now a trainer, saw his Montello win the eight and final race Saturday . . . The first race of the weekend, a 220-yard maiden, was a shimozzel, with horses dumping riders before the starting gate, and then others refusing to go in . . . the race for these untried maidens did go off fairly well, however with the exception of the number one horse wanting to tun left as they hit the main track out of the Quarter Horse chute . . . Stan Marks now has three wins, if he keeps at this racing thing he may just get the hang of it . . . Nellie Pigeau giving a thumbs up under her winning horse's neck as she and Birdzillas Charm headed for the test barn . . . There's a litter of skunks making their home at the base of the Tote Board . . . The large crowd Sunday enjoyed some exciting racing with more than one photo needed . . . After three weekends of racing Lyle Magnuson continues to be the cream of the training crop with 10 wins, with Riley Rycroft and William Leech next in line with five apiece . . . Larris Allen is the leading rider with 15 victories, followed by Trevor Simpson with 11 wins . . . Next racing at Whoop-Up Downs is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday with post times 6 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. respectively.