After a weekend of no stakes racing, the added money events resume this coming weekend with 4 different stakes to be staged at Century Downs. Fifty-four fillies and 34 colts and geldings are nominated in the 2 year old events to be staged on Saturday. Sunday’s 3 year old races have 33 colts and 35 fillies nominated.
Blue Star Jet and Blue Star Maverick give the Hennessy barn a powerful one-two combination. Each won a division of the Gord Rumpul Stake on June 12th. Jet also won an elimination of the Alberta Plainsman on Canada Day. And he won the Brad Gunn on August 1st. Wrangler Cash from Kelly Hoerdt’s barn won the Plainsman final on July 10th and he’s also nominated for the ASHA 3 Year old Colt Stake. Keep Coming is coming off a 1:55.3 score in Sunday’s 7th race for non-winners of 2 and he’s nominated as well.
The fillies are led by Monstrous, which has as impressive a resume this season as any horse on the grounds. Among her credits are the Bev Sears, a division of the Wild Rose, and an elimination of the Alberta Princess. Most recently, she won the Ralph Klein on August 1st. She’s earned better than $82,500 so far this season for owner, Warren Fuller, of Sherwood Park. Outlawsurshotshark, Jet Blue Burner, and Divas Dragonfly are other members of this class which have been to the winner’s circle in stakes action this year. And the supporting cast is certainly good enough to produce an upset.
So far as the 2 year olds are concerned, it’s early. A lot have raced a bit; more are still growing into their bodies and learning what to do behind the starting gate. In the filly division, Last Time to Play, Outlaw Fireball and Nightime Chase each won divisions of the Emerald Filly on July 23rd. Fireball came back to win a division of the Alberta Starlet on August 7th. They’re all nominated for the ASHA 2 year old filly stake. So are Lil Bit O Jingle and Triple Thick Shake which won divisions of the Starlet. So this promises to be a competitive class.
On the colts side, Ima Dude, Senga Nitro and Retros Mystery won divisions of the Alberta Rising Star on August 7th Senga Nitro is the only one nominated for the ASHA 2 year old colt stake out of that trio. But Da Magician has been a force for driver-trainer, Serge Masse. And Charge and Go got up to get past Fanchastic in a maiden mile on Sunday afternoon in 1:59.1 for Keith Clark. So you can add those two to the mix, depending on what happens when the entry box closes on Wednesday morning.
Charity is the Big Winner
A very unofficial total of just over $4,000 was generated for three worthy charities Sunday afternoon under the banner of Pacing for Charity at Century Downs. Ontario drivers Jack Moiseyev (breast cancer), Jody Jamieson (autism) and James McDonald (juvenile diabetes) donated their fees to the respective causes. Those contributions were matched by HRA CEO, Shirley McLellan, Meridien Farms, and Edmonton harness owner, Lorne Duffield, respectively. Add in various contributions from other drivers and it adds up to a tidy number.
As well, the Pacing Under Saddle event, in which riders compete aboard retired standardbred racehorses, promises to add even more funds to some well deserving programs. Alina MacLeod (Armbro Blacktie), Kelly Kay (Nut Brown Hare), Shirley Hanna (Dragonwyck), Janice Lea (MJG Phanatasie), Jaline Munkholm (Rays Crown Royal), Amber Lynn Fawcett (Demons B Gone), Kaylea Hepburn (Meadowlark Appache), and Amanda Barron (Super Sunrise), each qualified to come back for the final to be staged on August 27th. Each of the ladies has raised funds for a particular charity and Century Downs will kick in a bonus to the charities of the top 3 finishers in the final.
“What a great day,” said Joanne Colville, who took over as Chair of the Standardbred Canada board in February of this year. “One of my goals as Chair is to see our industry more involved in the community. This is a perfect example.”
Joanne’s thoughts were echoed by Dan Gall, now four weeks into his term as President of Standardbred Canada.
“I’ve been very impressed with what I have seen today at Century Downs,” he told me. “The races drew a really good crowd and I was struck by the diversity: male and female, young and old, and everything in between. This is a very positive story for the industry and it’s a story that deserves and needs to be told. This charity day is Exhibit A when it comes to engaging the community.”
Joanne was hardly off the plane before ASHA executive director, Fred Gillis, had her on horseback, acting as a parade marshall for the post parade. “I loved it,” she told me. We’ve been really well treated here today and it’s been a lot of fun.
When she first took the job, Joanne’s first task was to lead the search for a new President. That’s now been accomplished with Dan Gall joining the organization. His previous work was in developing and leading various casino operations in Ontario, something that should dovetail nicely with his new role.
“We want to be big on customer service,” he told me. “And we want to talk to our members and to listen to them, to find out what they need and want. If we can facilitate conversations among jurisdictions and, perhaps, help those who need some help in some way, we’re prepared to do that. And after what I’ve seen here today with the charity event, I think we have to look hard at what we can do locally and across the country to be more of a factor in this area.”
“And next year is the 150th anniversary of Canada and the 250th anniversary of the first horse race ever held in this country. That took place on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.” When I asked him if he was making plans to re-enact that event he looked at me for a moment and then said “where would I start with that?” I replied that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Melanie Joly, might be a good place to start.
Jack Moiseyev and James McDonald both drove at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday evening. Jody Jamieson made the hop to Northfield in Ohio to drive Saturday evening and returned to Toronto aboard a private plane immediately following the races. Sunday morning, they flew to Calgary. Monday, Moiseyev and McDonald return to Toronto. Jamieson is headed to Charlottetown to drive on Monday evening in the trials for the Cup & Saucer Stake. He’ll go home to Guelph for a couple of days before flying back to Charlottetown for the Cup & Saucer final, part of Old Home Week at Red Shores, which is one of the biggest events of the summer season in the Maritimes… Travis Cullen is headed to Charlottetown as well to drive one of the newest members of his stable. Papparazzi Hanover was a $52,000 buy at the Meadowlands Summer Sale a couple of weeks ago and is nominated to the Cup & Saucer. The other buy that day was Darcee N, a 6 year old son of Bettors Delight which finished third in its Century Downs debut on Sunday afternoon.
New Rules for Horsemen
Judges called a horsemen’s meeting on Sunday morning to run over new rules related to the use of a whip in a race and to outline details of a new retention barn which will come into effect on August 19th. The whipping rule changes are designed to maintain control of the horse while still allowing the driver to use the whip on the handles of the bike or on the saddlepad to keep the horse focused on the job at hand. The retention barn will be used for weekend races only, to start. At the discretion of the judges, some combination of races or a trainer’s entries will be stabled 24 hours before they race. Only one person per stable will be permitted to enter for purposes of feeding and that person will be escorted. No veterinarians will be allowed in the retention barn.