Ashleigh Hensley continues to send well-trained horses to the racetrack and continues to bring them back to the barn with pay cheques. The Manitoba native has found the racing scene at Century Downs very much to her liking. She’s fashioned a 20-14-13 log from 92 starters through Sunday’s race card and piled up $112,792 in earnings. That translates into a .349 UDRS percentage. She sent out 9 starters over 3 days of racing on the weekend and four of them made it to the winner’s circle. The Hensley barn swept both divisions of the Bev Sears eliminations on Saturday with Balinska Hanover (1:55.3) and P L Impressive (1:56.2) getting the job done under the guidance of Ashleigh’s brother, leading driver, Travis Cullen.
“She’s done on a phenomenal job,” her husband, Ed Hensley, said proudly. “Even while I’ve been laid up, the work is still getting done, and, obviously, done well.”
Ed Hensley is still awaiting doctor’s clearance to return to the racing bike after being involved in an accident 3 weeks ago. He was feeling well enough to jog a couple of horses on the weekend. Long time friend, Jim Marino, had some in to drive the Hensley horses the past couple of weeks, but with Marino now racing his own stable in Minnesota, Travis Cullen was pressed into service.
The only fly in the ointment is the performance of Stutz. “We bought him in the off-season with this stakes series in mind,” Hensley told me. “But he just hasn’t performed the way we thought he would and we’re not sure why.”
Stutz was sixth in his elimination of the As Promised series for 3 and 4 year old colts and geldings which had not won $35,000 lifetime as of Dec. 31st, 2015. He was in the tougher of the two eliminations but was no match for Counter Strike (1:56.3) which won his ninth straight for the Travis Cullen Stable.
While the Hensley and Cullen stables continue to set the pace in the early going at Century Downs, once in awhile one of the smaller stables gets a share of the spotlight. Lacombe’s Devann Crick only has 2 horses of her own. She spends a lot of her time working for trainer, Rod Starkewsky. But on Sunday, Cowboys Dirtyboots spotted the field a head start through the first half mile and then rushed up on the outside to claim the lead en route to a 1:57 clocking and a first place finish in the second As Promised elimination.
“He hugged the rail through the first half and then went three-wide down the backstretch,” said veteran driver, Bill Tainsh, who got the drive because regular teamster, Ryan Grundy, had his own horse, Archie Bunker, in the same race. Bunker finished 4th to qualify for next Sunday’s $30,000 final.
Cowboys Dirtyboots had not won in 8 starts going into Sunday’s race. Devann’s sisters and her grandfather were on hand to catch the fun. The horse had made $5,506 so far this season. He earned $3,000 for his work Sunday and now gets a spot in the final.
“I only jogged him 3 times in hobbles last week to get him ready,” said Crick. “He’s been racing in tougher company this year and has been second twice and third twice. But I thought I would put him in the stake and see how he would do. Obviously it worked out pretty good.”
The competition will be a little tougher in the final, however. While post position will be determined on Thursday morning, the field is set to include Counter Strike (Travis Cullen), Royal Renegade (Rod Hennessey), Duke It Out (Cathy Reid), Big Magick (Vernon Sifert), Cowboys Dirtyboots, Man of Many Arts (Dave Lamont), Eh Senor (Keith Clark), and Archie Bunker (Ryan Grundy).
Post positions for the Bev Sears final to be run on Saturday afternoon, will be set on Wednesday morning. That field will include Balinska Hanover and P L Impressive (Ashleigh Hensley), Monstrous (Daryl Cutting), You Name It (Michel Roy), Credit the Shark (Keith Clark), Cenalta Artistry (Rene Goulet), Mozelle Hanover (Glen Lutz) and Yellow Mustang (Greg Manning).
Briefly noted… the last 5 races on Sunday’s card were won by the horse that had PP 1: Icy Blue Scooter in the 7th (2:00), Lightening Legs in the 8th (1:57.2), Nobettorplacetobe in the 9th (1:54.1), Incognito Cowboy in the 10th (1:55) and Raging Fingers in the 11th (1:55.4)……Travis Cullen already has 95 wins from 205 starters as a driver in 2016. His horses have earned nearly $400,000 and his UDRS has moved back up to .602…….Century Downs reported Monday that pari-mutuel handle is up 35% over last year after 25 days of racing and that much of the increase is coming from off-track sources. “The product is getting more exposure in the United States,” says General Manager, Paul Rynevald……harness racing will continue at Century Downs until Nov. 6th pending finalization of racing plans for Northlands Park in Edmonton. That means the Super Series finals, originally scheduled for Northland Park,will now be at Century Downs on Oct. 29th.