The 2 year old class of 2016 takes over the spotlight at Century Downs this weekend. Saturday, it’ll be the Emerald Filly Pace for the girls. Sunday afternoon it will be the Century Bet for the colts and geldings.
“We’ll see what we get, but I’m betting on 3 divisions of fillies and 2 divisions of colts,” racing secretary, Jackson Wittup, was saying Sunday. “We’ve had a lot of 2 year olds qualify and a lot of them are fillies for some reason.”
Those trainers with sophomores that are ready will likely take a run at these Open Stakes, even if they feel their best chances for success will come in the Alberta Sire 2 year old stakes which begin with the Alberta Starlet and the Alberta Rising Star on August 7th & 8th.
Certainly one to watch this weekend, though, will be Da Magician from Serge Masse’s shedrow. The 2 year old son of Dragon Again from the Real Desire mare, Hottie Hanover, was an $18,000 buy at the Lexington Select sale last fall. On Sunday afternoon in just his third lifetime start, Da Magician cut out the first ¾ of a mile in 28.4, 58.3 and 1:28.1. He was passed on the final turn by the eventual winner, the 4 year old Smoke Eater. But Da Magician fought off Secrets Mystery in deep stretch and cruised to a well earned runner-up share.
“He did very well,” said Masse. “He’s a fighter and he’s shown a willingness to compete. So, he’ll go in the Century Bet next Sunday. And I’ve got a filly by Dragon Again called Last Time to Play which won on Saturday. So, she’ll go in the Emerald Filly and we’ll see what happens.”
By my unofficial count, there have been at least eight sophomore winners so far this summer at Century Downs. Keith Clark has a Camystic son called Beer Bridge for which he paid $37,000 at last fall’s Alberta yearling sale. He also has a son of American Ideal called Charge and Go, a $45,000 buy at last year’s Harrisburg yearling sale. That one, however, has just a runner-up share in two starts. Nightime Chase has a win and a second in 3 outings.
“I get excited when I know what I’ve got,” Clark told me. “And at this point, I don’t know what I’ve got.”
Trainer Harold Haining expects to have three fillies in the Emerald field on Saturday. Badlands Palace, Triple Thick Shake, and Wedding Bands are owned by Cochrane AB businessman, Don Richardson. Badlands Palace is a BC bred while Wedding Bands and Triple Trick Shake, are both eligible for the Alberta Sire Stakes series. Haining also has a couple of 2 year olds of his own. The filly Cenalta Shade and a colt, Taros Tricky Flight, are both Alberta Sire Stakes eligible and might not be ready to tackle the Open class just yet.
Speaking of 2 Year Olds…
Outlaw Stables proprietor, Connie Kolthammer, was on hand Sunday with about 50 family and friends to present the cooler to Retros Mystery and driver-trainer, Rod Starkewsky. The occasion was the James Rogers Memorial Feature, honouring Connie’s long time partner, Jim Rogers, whom we lost in May at the age of 86.
“I think he was looking down on us and keeping watch,” Connie told me. “I know how much he loved to work with the 2 year olds, so he would have been really happy that Jackson (Wittup) put his name on a 2 year old race. And I was happy that Rod won it. He’s been a great supporter and a good friend to both Jim and me. We even had the blanket done in blue and white which are Rod’s colours. It must have been karma.”
“Retro did really well,” said Starkewsky, who took the trip himself with the youngster. “He wanted the lead and when Brandon (Campbell) cut across with Fescue, he didn’t bat an eye and just stuck to his job. It’s only his second lifetime start, so that’s a good sign.”
In keeping with her tendency to sell off 2 year olds in training, Connie also posted a couple of sales this week. Outlaw Imahotvixen was picked up by trainer, Joe Ratchford. Outlaw Fireball went to driver-trainer, Jean Francois Gagne. Both 2 year olds are fillies. Both are by Outlaw Stables’ sire, Blue Burner, and both are eligible for the Emerald Filly Pace on Saturday.
In the Claiming Box…
Starkewsky lost a stable favourite, however, when trainer Sanford Campbell haltered Blue Eyed Cowboy out of the 4th race for new owner, Ray Henry.
“We bought that horse as a yearling for $1,700,” Starkewsky told me. “He won 12 races and made about $215,000 for us, so we certainly got good value for him.”
Also claimed on Sunday was Jet Hot Stuff out of the Ashleigh Hensley stable by Keith Clark. The 7 year old son of Jeremes out of the Matts Scooter mare, Jet Bunting, has a 2-4-3 log in 18 starts this season.
Meanwhile at the Meadowlands…
Brooks veterinarian, Dr Fred Kruszelnicki, has long played the breeders game at the elite level. He must have been proud of the efforts of Control The Moment Saturday night at The Meadowlands.
“I wasn’t there, but I certainly watched,” he told me of the 3 year old which won the Meadowlands Pace in a new lifetime mark of 1:48.2. “I still own the mare, Lifeslitltreasure. She’s in Kentucky where Control the Moment was foaled.”
The now 3 year old pacer went through the Lexington Select Sale in 2014 where a syndicate from Philadelphia paid $47,000 for the youngster. Control the Moment won the Metro Pace at Mohawk at 2. He was third in the North America Cup on June 18th as a 3 year old before adding the Meadowlands Pace to his resume. Control the Moment cut out fractions of :26.3, 53.2, 1:21.2 and finished in 1:48.2.
“I still have a horse or two with Bob Sabourin in Alberta,” the good Doctor told me. “In fact, we just qualified Best Advice, who’s by the same sire as Control the Moment. We’re hoping Best Advice will make his first lifetime start in the Century Bet next Sunday. At the moment, I’m planning to be on hand to watch.”