Ed Hensley has been targeting this race since last year. The impressive horseman, who is presently based in Florida, is still recovering from an injury he suffered in a racing accident two weeks ago but his stable should have plenty to say about this weekend’s eliminations for the Bev Sears Stakes at Century Downs.
The Bev Sears for the girls and the As Promised for the boys are both open stakes for three- and four-year-olds in 2016 which have not won $35,000 lifetime as of December 31, 2015. Both eliminations for these two stakes go for a $6,000 purse, with the $30,000 finals slated for next weekend.
The victory path in the first division of the Bev Sears Stakes looks like it has to go through Balinska Hanover. The four-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was riding a superb winning streak -- having won five straight races -- before seeing her win streak come to an end at the hands of older foes last week. However, health issues may have played a part in that performance.
“Balinska Hanover has been very good to us. I’m kind of disappointed in her sixth place finish last week but she had an excuse as she had a throat infection,” advised owner/trainer/driver Hensley. “We have been treating her and she should be ready to go.
“When we bought her at the Ohio sale last December for $19,000 we had this stake race in mind. We gave her some time off, brought her up here and she has done everything we have asked of her,” added Hensley.
With Hensley still recovering from broken ribs, his brother-in-law and leading trainer-driver Travis Cullen will be in the driver’s seat for the Hensley barn. “I guess that definitely is not a bad thing,” chuckled Hensley.
In the second division, P L Impressive will start from post four again with Cullen calling the shots in the bike. The four-year-old daughter of Sportswriter finished third last Saturday after leading going into the stretch before fading to the eventual winner, Outlawsurshotshark, in 1:57.
“She is an alright horse and should be close, but she is no Balinska Hanover,” advised Hensley. “We will see what happens.”
Mozelle Hanover (Jamie Gray) drew the inside post two, and may be the controlling speed in this division. Cenalta Artistry (Rene Goulet) also has serious step and looks to be an early pace factor.
Veteran Manitoba horseman Greg Manning could very well have found himself a surprise package just in time for the Bev Sears Stakes. Along with his partner Jody Earle, they picked up Yellow Mustang, a well-bred lightly-raced four-year-old daughter of Sportswriter just last week.
“She’s definitely well-bred and went through the Harrisburg sale for $23,000,” says Manning. “I was looking to buying her late last year but she was shipped to Ontario where she won. Her full-brother sold for $100,000 last year at the Harrisburg yearling sale and three siblings to the dam have placed in sizzling times of 1:47, 1:48 and 1:49. I believe she will make a good broodmare later on.”
Manning, however, has a bit of work ahead to prepare for this stakes race.
“She is a nervous type and has not been eating, which I believe is the result of a different barn and surroundings. But we have been working on this issue. We will see what she can do this weekend.”
Turning to the boys on Sunday, Cullen’s Counter Strike is the obvious choice to win the first division of the As Promised Stakes. Currently on an eight-race win streak and boasting $48,000 in earnings this year, the four-year-old son of Camystic has drawn post four and looks deadly again.
Vernon Sifert’s Big Magick figures to be a top challenger. The four-year-old son of Mister Big, owned by trainer Vernon & Earla Sifert and Insight Strategies of Aldergrove, B.C., chased Counter Strike home in 1:55 a week ago. Travis Bowman will be doing the driving again this weekend, looking to turn the tables and topple the likely favourite.
Keep an eye out for Royal Renegade, who drew post two. The four-year-old son of JK Royal Flush scored a bombshell win over his favoured stablemate Blue Star Jet last week and may be peaking at the right time.
The second division will feature the David Lamont trainee Man Of Many Arts, who drew post seven. He has been great since shipping in from Ontario and has been chasing Counter Strike in his last couple starts. With Counter Strike in the other division, this four-year-old son of Major In Art will get the lion’s share of the action at the mutuels. Eh Senor (Keith Clark) drew post four and has talent but has been going off stride lately. He could be a huge factor if he behaves on Sunday.
Century Downs Racetrack and Casino will feature nine races this Friday with a post time of 5:45 p.m. and nine dashes set for Saturday, with eleven races set for Sunday’s card. First race post time of 1:10 p.m. is scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday.
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)