What a great time at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino this past Sunday! It would be the annual Mid-Summer Classic Day event with the Brad Gunn and Ralph Klein Stake Finals headlining an excellent card of racing put together by Race Secretary Jackson Wittup.
With a $70,000 purse on the line in Race 10, for the Brad Gunn Final, it would be BLUE STAR JET (Mike Hennessy) pushing the gate right on out of there and from that point it was lights out, for the rest of the field, as the 3YO gelded son of BLUE BURNER would coast along through soft early fractions and when it came time to take off - this JET would indeed fly.
"I didn't know if I would get away that easy, but the way he felt behind the gate and the way he looked, I was thinking the other guys saw what was going down," said Mike of his decision to leave. "I choked him off last time -- I let someone go in the [Plainsman] final -- so there was going to be nobody getting let go when he was pulling like that today. They were getting hung if they were leaving, that's just the way it was going to happen."
"J.F. (Gagne) tipped (with race fave OUTLAW TURN N BURN) and I was kind of surprised he tipped there, but it was my other entry-mate (BLUE STAR MAVERICK) coming first up so he may have got a little nervous," Mike continued. "Once he was out and I opened up a little on them, I knew the horse that was behind me that was following him wasn't going to have a lot left anymore. And you know, this horse, he can throw :28 for a piece at the end even when he goes that much in the third quarter, and I think that was the mistake last week: we slowed down a little more and let J.F. get a little brave. This horse can suck the guts out of one if they want to try to follow sometimes."
A notable program change to BLUE STAR JET, for the Final, would be the addition of lasix... I'm thinking sharp veteran trainer Rod Hennessy would have trained him up once, with the lasix, prior to Sunday in hopes that the 'first time' angle would pay off.
"We've had a problem with him. He's a very nervous horse and first time lasix calmed him down a little bit and made him more controllable for Mike," said Rod. "He wasn't a complete runaway -- like this horse can run away even if you don't leave with him, he gets pretty excited. Going in front of the grandstand the first time, I said, 'Mike slow it up, they won't catch you when you move him' and that was true. I wasn't worried one bit," he added. "This horse is on his game and if he couldn't get home off of those fractions, well then something's wrong with him. No, he was good."
BLUE STAR JET now lays claim to the fastest mile, by a 3YO gelding, ever paced at Century Downs with his 1:54 win. He also holds down the 2YO gelding mark, as well, with a 1:56 score last August. Bred by William 'The Blue Star Man' Zaretsky - the victory now pushes the sophmore's earnings to over $110,000 for owners Lorne Duffield and Rod Hennessy.
"It's very special," said Rod of the Mid-Summer Classic Day victory. "He's a horse that I picked out from the (ASHA) yearling sale for 10 or 12 thousand. He's been a great yearling for us, he's got a great family and it was great to see Mike win with him."
Brad Gunn order of finish... Blue Star Jet, Outlaw Turn N Burn, Wrangler Cash, Its Eds Idea, Make It Big, Blue Star Maverick, Duke It Out and Appellate.
No Mistakes For Monstrous
After a troubled beginning in her elimination heat, last weekend, MONSTROUS (Ed Hensley) was free of any mistakes in her $70,000 Ralph Klein Final win.
"She had been a little bit temperamental behind the gate lately so the rail was a nice spot and she was much better tonight," commented Hensley after the victory. "I got her away nice and, when a couple left on the outside, it was nice to have Trav (Cullen) leave and I was able to follow him and then flush him kind of early. I just stalked him and then he cleared up the back and she did the rest."
"The first time I drove her, she had a serious gear and she's been good every start that I drove her," added Hensley.
Owned and bred by Sherwood Park's Warren Fuller the ALLAMERICAN NAVAJO miss would be joined in the winner's circle by a large group of supporters - including her conditioner Darryl Cutting.
"I was pretty confident in her. She's a real special filly and she tries every time she goes out," said Cutting. "I was just a little concerned about Ed saying she's been temperamental behind the gate. She's been a real handful to get launched the last few starts so I was just leaving it in Ed's hands and I told him if we didn't get there it was going to be his fault," he laughed, adding, "I know Ed from way back when I grew up in Fraser Downs. He drove for Al Anderson and he won tonnes of races. He was the guy I was looking for when I was looking for a driver this year."
Ralph Klein order of finish... Monstrous, Outlawsurshotshark, Cenalta Artistry, Senga Naptha, Brighten Your Life, Jet Blue Burner, Divas Dragonfly and Somewhere A Place.
Haining Has Career Day
Trainer Harold Haining would have a career day, at Century Downs, going 3 for 3 with his starters on the afternoon - which included a pair of Alberta Sires Stakes 2YO victories.
Haining would begin the day in Race 2 with WEDDING DANCE (Gerry Hudon) as the MYSTERY CHASE 2YO miss would cruise to an under wraps 1:57.2 Alberta Starlet victory for owner Don Richardson and breeder Meridian Farms... Race 4 saw TRIPLE THICK SHAKE (Gerry Hudon) - another 2YO daughter of MYSTERY CHASE bred by Meridian Farms and owned by Don Richardson - recover from a late miscue for an Alberta Starlet upset win in 2:00 flat... Haining would complete his career day driving LITTLE BIT FASTER to an unchallenged 1:56.4 gate-to-wire romp for his daughter Kaitlin Haining.
Other 2YO Alberta Starlet winners included fillies OUTLAW FIREBALL (JF Gagne for Marjorie Dumont) in 1:56.1 - to tie the 2YO filly track record and LIL BIT O JINGLE (Travis Cullen) in 1:58.1.
2YO Rising Star winners were colts IMA DUDE (Brandon Campbell) in 1:57.3, SENGA NITRO (Ryan Grundy) in 1:57.1 and RETROS MYSTERY (Ed Hensley for Rod Starkewski) in 1:57.1.
WESTERN FORTUNE (Dave Kelly) was the highest priced winner on the day returning $23.80 on the win ticket, while STERLING COOPER (Brandon Campbell) would take the final leg on the PICK 4 that paid out the 'pool price' of $9,732.80 to one lucky horse player!
Total wager, on the day, was $142,305.
Mike Hennessy and Sugar trackside on Sunday