It was great to see injured driver, Ed Hensley, standing in his shedrow last Saturday at Century Downs. The veteran horseman was hurt 2 weeks ago in a racing accident and suffered 3 broken ribs. He still can’t do much. He tried jogging a horse late last week but the pain was a little too much.
“I’m bored,” he told me. “I’m used to doing my own work and being busy but I know I have to be a little bit careful and let the ribs heal.”
The work is still being done, and done well. Brother-in-law, Travis Cullen, is taking care of the shoeing. Ed’s wife, Ashleigh, is doing the heavy lifting, sending out 11 horses on the weekend and rushing over to the winner’s circle to get her picture taken on Saturday with Drake (1:55.4) and on Sunday with Audreys Dream (1:52.4). And Hensley’s good friend, Jim Marino, has flown in from BC each week to drive the Hensley horses while Ed recovers. Marino is headed to Minnesota for its meet starting May 18thalthough he will be back at Century Downs on June 26thto represent Fraser Downs in the regional drivers challenge.
Meanwhile, the Hensley stable will be represented in this weekend’s eliminations for the Bev Sears and the As Promised Stakes. The 2 events are Open Stakes for 3 and 4 year olds in 2016, which have not won $35,000 lifetime as of December 31st, 2015. Balinska Hanover and P L Impressive tuned up for the Bev Sears on the weekend. Balinska Hanover was 6thon Saturday but wasn’t pushed hard and is likely to be more of a factor this coming Saturday. She had won each of her 5 starts this season prior to last Saturday. P L Impressive finished third in her most recent start on the Saturday program, leading into the stretch before fading to a huge finish by the winner, Outlawsurshotshark, in 1:57.
The Hensley’s are also planning to send out Counter Strike and, maybe Stutz, for Sunday’s eliminations of the As Promised series. Counter Strike, who’s won 9 of 10 starts this season, couldn’t find a spot last weekend and was turned out for a couple of days rest before returning to training. Stutz couldn’t handle a group of non-winners of 6 on Sunday and wound up 8th, so that may change the thinking in the Hensley shedrow. The winner of that race, Royal Renegade, was impressive in 1:55.1 and will almost certainly carry Rod Hennessey’s colours into the As Promised eliminations this coming Sunday afternoon.
Vernon Sifert’s Big Magick is likely to be another challenger. The 4 year old son of Mister Big, chased Counter Strike home in 1:55 a week ago but driver, Travis Bowman, thinks he’s figured out a way to challenge Travis Cullen in the As Promised. “We’ll see about the draw, but my horse likes to have a target,” Bowman told me. “If we draw in against Counter Strike, he’ll have someone to chase and maybe we can catch him.”
For his part, even Cullen is impressed with what Counter Strike has done this spring at Century Downs. “I thought he’d be good, but I didn’t think he would be this good,” Cullen told me. “I bought out Jerry Hagenaars’ partner at the end of the Northlands Park meet last December. If we can keep him healthy, I think he can have a good year.”
The 4 year old Alberta-bred son of Camystic has already had a good year, adding $47,508 and 9 wins to Cullen’s track leading totals.
Another interesting story for the Bev Sears involves veteran Manitoba horseman, Greg Manning. He’s been in and out of the business over the years, but is back in now and is building a modest 6-horse stable. Last Saturday, he and Airdrie’s Jody Earle, bought Yellow Mustang a 4 year old daughter of Sportswriter from the Pro Bon Best mare, Best Tussle.
“She’s well bred,” says Manning, who noted that the filly went through the Harrisburg yearling sale and brought a price of $23,000. “She moved north to race and won last year in Ontario. I really like the fact the dam has 3 brothers who all paced better than 1:50. She’s lightly raced this year (only 3 starts) but she qualified Saturday in 1:57. So we’ll likely put her in the Bev Sears and see what she can do.”
Century Downs will add an 8-race card to its schedule beginning on Friday afternoon at 5:45 PM. The Sears eliminations are set for Saturday and the As Promised eliminations will be featured on Sunday. Post times both days at 1:10 PM.
Briefly noted…the Fun for Fans filly, Outlawburntpopcorn, will compete for a number of charities starting this Saturday. The idea was launched 6 years ago by ASHA executive director, Fred Gillis, as a way of introducing new fans to the sport.
“All we ask of the charities is that they come to the track and cheer her on,” says Gillis. “We had a group on hand last Saturday and she finished second in a nice tuneup for this week. So far, we’ve lined up Boys & Girls Club of Airdrie (May), Rockyview Volunteer Fire Department (June), the Olds 50+ social group (July), Perky in Pink breast cancer survivors from Lacombe (August) and Ronald McDonald House of southern Alberta (September) to be the recipients. Whatever Outlawburntpopcorn makes each month, 75% will go to that charity.”