Harness racing returned last weekend to Northlands Park in Edmonton but fans won’t have to wait too long for stakes action.
Three-year-old pacing fillies are set to tangle in two eliminations heats (both with purses of $10,000 per) this Saturday night trying to stamp their way to next weekend’s final. The Northlands Filly Pace final will have $70,000 in purse money up for grabs.
Northlands Filly Pace (First Elimination)
Watch My Luck ships back home from B.C. along with her very impressive undefeated win streak. Her latest victory came on November 11 at Fraser Downs winning the $100,000 final of the Mary Murphy Memorial Breeders Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies in a time of 1:56.4 with J.F. Gagne in the bike. Backers of this Camluck-Watch Over Me filly made her the 3-2 favourite that day and she delivered paying $4.70 for the win that day.
Watch My Luck is now 5-for-5 to start off her three-year-old campaign and has banked just under $76,000 in earnings so far. Physical issues caused her to delay her racing career but those problems appear to be over and the best may be yet to come for this talented filly.
“She was an extremely nervous type as a two-year-old and a bit sore, so you don’t argue with those types. It was tough to keep her calm but she is coming along now. JF has been really patient with her," said trainer Marjorie Dumont.
Even though she is undefeated, the connections still feel this will be a huge test.
“I feel the three-year-olds are a bit stronger here in Alberta than B.C. Kelly Hoerdt has a triple entry which I feel will be very tough. We have to deal with a tough outside post again just like we did in the BC stake race but she seems to like to come off the pace. It is so hard to tell how we will match up with this field,” said Dumont, who trains the homebred for Gagne, Peter Van Seggelen and Carl Warnaar. “We will be racing her right off the farm as we are only about an hour away, and I hope she will like the Northlands track. She definitely was a bit nervous going to B.C., but she is extremely happy to be back home in Alberta."
Punters looking for value may also want to look at Take On Da Boys who has had a fantastic season playing the part of the giant killer and should not be taken too lightly. Trained and driven by Rod Hennessy, the daughter of JK Royal Flush-Doctor Ruth will try to yet again to play the spoiler role. After going winless in nine starts as a rookie, Take On Da Boys has been a new horse in her sophomore year notching seven wins from 25 starts while banking over $109,000 in lifetime earnings. Alberta partners Lorne Duffield of Edmonton and Diane Harries of Falun share ownership on the filly.
Of the three Hoerdt trained horses competing in the first elimination, a newcomer to Alberta is Showtime Terror, who looks to have talent along with her issues.
“We bought her at the Harrisburg sale. Casie Coleman, a veteran trainer from Ontario recommended her to us. Her main issue is not behaving so we decided to make her our project. She has a couple of 1:52 miles in her so we know the talent is there, so our mission is to get her to behave," stated Hoerdt.
This daughter of Western Terror along with Miss Hoozzitz were the only horses supplemented for the Northlands Filly Pace.
Northlands Filly Pace (Second Elimination)
In the second elimination, all eyes will be on Fire Watch (Travis Cullen) who will likely be the favourite to wrap up a spot behind the gate in the final, despite drawing the eight hole.
After a couple dismal efforts due to sickness Fire Watch was back to her old form in her last start. She looked superior in wining her latest race back on October 31 at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino. Faced with a wall of horses in front of him, Alberta's leading horseman Travis Cullen tipped Fire Watch four-wide down the lane and stormed down the stretch to take the Super Final title for three-year-old pacing fillies. Fire Watch paid $13 to win as the 5-1 third choice to the faithful backers that still believed in her.
The Camystic-Raging Red Head filly now has a 23-11-6-1 overall record with lifetime earnings of $193, 205. She was bred by William Andrew, nd Neil Malloch, and was sold for $3,000 at the ASHA Sale to Cullen, his father Ron and their partner Dwayne Taylor of Minto, Man.
A horse that may be peaking at right time is Thats Extra who will likely be a square price this weekend. The daughter of Allamerican Native-Hidden Cost had a tough go of it in her last start but the connections feel this race is a better fit.
“She had the eight post last time the aged mares and still was a respectable fifth. We are getting a better post and class relief and I think we have a big shot in here," said trainer Kelly Hoerdt. “Fire Watch and Blue Star Texas will definitely be tough.”
The aforementioned Blue Star Texas (Keith Clark) was sensational earlier this year setting the track record for three-year-old fillies at Century Downs in a sizzling 1:54.4 on June 6, and should be a major player.
No Elims Needed For Western Canada Pacing Derby
No eliminations were required for the three-year-old colts and geldings in preparation for the Western Canada Pacing Derby as eight starters will line up behind the gate next Saturday, December 5, to contest for the lion’s share of the $90,000 purse.
The field is lead by the likely favourite First Class Horse (Keith Clark) who looks like a standout. He set the three-year-old track record for his age group in the $90,000 Brad Gunn Stakes co-featured during the Mid-Summer Classic card of harness racing this summer at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in a sizzling time of 1:52.3. The Western Terror-Susurrus Hanover colt has 10 wins from 14 starts in 2015 and has amassed over $165,000 in lifetime earnings. He was nominated to a number of stakes in Ontario, including the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup, but the connections decided to keep him in Alberta. He is owned by Hall of Fame horseman Keith Clark along with Robert Jones of Slave Lake and Doris McDougall of Cochrane, Alta.
Another major player will be Cool Cowboy, the two-time Alberta Sires Stakes Super Final champion. His lifetime earnings are now over $172,000. He was a $19,000 yearling purchased from the 2013 ASHA Sale by Kelly Hoerdt and Alberta partners Blair Corbeil of Beaumont and Witsend Consulting Inc. of Calgary.
Pablos First (a son of former WCPD champ Trust The Artist) was supplemented to the Western Canada Pacing Derby after his connections paid the $3,950 fee to see him line up behind the gate for the big race.
The Friday and Saturday cards will both feature eleven dashes at Northlands Park Racetrack and Casino, with a first race post time of 6:30 p.m. each day. Northlands' 13-day winter meet concludes on December 31.
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)
re-posted from Standardbred Canada - link