We can only hope the weather will be a little more co-operative this coming weekend for the 2 year olds at Century Downs. Inclement weather and an erratic racing surface cost the track and its fans two days of live racing this past weekend. It forced the 3 year old finals in the Alberta Marquis and the Alberta Maverick series to be moved to the coming weekend as well.
“We ran the qualifier as scheduled at noon on Saturday,” racing secretary, Jackson Wittup, told me. “But the drivers reported the racetrack was inconsistent in spots with ice forming on parts of the surface. With cooling temperatures and fog rolling in, the decision was made at about 1:45 PM that we should cancel racing for Saturday and Sunday and re-schedule the three year old stakes for next weekend. They’ll go as they are currently carded. We won’t be re-drawing.”
That means that Funkmeister (Jim Marino), Glamorgal (Phil Giesbrecht), Outlawsurshotshark (Brandon Campbell), Outlawtriggerhappy (Gerry Hudon), Ba Bye Ceia Later (Mike Hennessy), Astrid The Axe (Nathan Sobey), Monstrous (Jean-francois Gagne), Divas Dragonfly (Jamie Gray), and Outlawburntpopcorn (Dave Kelly) will line up in the Alberta Marquis final for 3 year old fillies for a purse of $56,000. Senga Naptha (Ryan Grundy) is the also-eligible.
The Maverick field for 3 year old colts & geldings looks like this: Classy Artist (Gerry Hudon), Wrangler Cash (Jim Marino), Outlaw Turn N Burn (J-F Gagne), Prairie Mystic (Brad Watt), Blue Star Jet (Mike Hennessy), Flamingbluestar (Brandon Campbell), Make It Big (Rene Goulet), and Blue Star Maverick (Phil Giesbrecht). Red Tornado is the also eligible. If he was to draw in and replace someone other than Blue Star Jet or Blue Star Maverick, it would give the Hennessy stable three starters in the field which would chase a purse of $55,100.
Regardless, it’s going to be a busy weekend for Jim Marino and for Brandon Campbell. They are due to compete Friday evening in London in the National Drivers Challenge. The winner of that event will represent Canada at the worlds to be conducted in Canada next year, beginning with the opening leg of the series at Century Downs on August 12th, 2017.
Following the 3 year old races, we’ll know the makeup of the championship and consolation races for this class for Super Finals Saturday, Oct. 29th. At the moment among the fillies, Ba Bye Ceia Later, Outlawsurshotshark, Monstrous, Outlawtriggerhappy, Divas Dragonfly, Cenalta Artistry, Top It Up and Apple Blossom Time are the qualifers for the championship race with the next eight in the class going to the consolation round. Right now, Glamorgal, Funkmeister, Outlawburntpopcorn, and Astrid The Axe are outside the top eight, but any one of them could make the Super Finals champions race with a good performance in the Marquis.
Make It Big and Flamingbluestar are the two colts with a chance to crack the top eight for the 3 year old colts. Right now, they would be placed in the consolation final on Super Saturday. Red Tornado is outside, looking in, as well, but he would have to get into the Maverick final and then race really well to be included in the championship race on Oct. 29th.
In addition to the 3 year old stakes finals this coming weekend, the final qualifier for Super Finals for the 2 year old class is also set to take place. The 2 year old fillies will race in the Alberta Stardust on Saturday afternoon while the sophomore colts and geldings get their turn on Sunday. Outlaw Fireball, Wedding Dance and Lil Bit O Jingle head the list of nominees with 100 points each. Those points have been accumulated over the course of the Alberta Starlet and the Alberta Starburst series. Triple Thick Shake, Pickles on Top, Shesamysterytome, Keep on Burning and Outlaw Imahotvixen round out the top eight and would be in the champions race on Super Finals Day if the draw was to be made today. Steady Breeze is next in line.
The 2 year old colts and geldings are led by Ryan Grundy’s Senga Nitro. Ima Dude, Retros Mystery, Amysterytome, Wabash Cannonball, Mateo, Big Fantasy, and Heated Exchange round out the top eight. Getup Gideon is on the outside looking in at this point. We’ll see how that might change starting with the post position draw on Thursday morning.
What’s New in California Standardbred Racing?
On August 29th, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law AB 1786, a bill which makes changes to the California Standardbred Sire Stakes Program. The new law would broaden the eligibility of horses to race in the program. Under its terms, 2, 3, and 4 year olds sired by stallions registered to the program from Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine, and Alberta would be eligible to race in the California Sire Stakes.
“Like every other jurisdiction in North America, we’re short of horses,” California’s Ben Kenney, told me in an e-mail. “We think this will make it more attractive for horsemen from other parts of North America to look at racing in California. We don’t currently race 2 year olds in our stakes series and we have 36 stakes races scheduled between January and May. We may choose to race fillies and colts in the same events. We’ll be having a meeting of our Sires Stakes committee at the end of October to work out nomination fees for out of state stallions and foals that wish to race in the California Sire Stakes program.”
It was interesting to me that California horseman, Mark Anderson, made the trip north to the ASHA Yearling Sale last month, and came away with a daughter of Custard The Dragon. Perhaps he was already making plans. Whatever his reason, it’ll be interesting to see how breeders respond to this initiative. Yes, it will cost them some money to be involved. But for some it might be worth it. And it certainly gives the industry another option for investment and the prospect of a return on that investment, especially at a time of the year where racing might not be as active in Alberta as it is in the summer.
Keith Clark was the only Alberta horseman to make an investment in new stock at the Lexington Fall Sale which wrapped up on Saturday evening in Lexington Ky. The veteran horseman from De Winton, paid $48,000 US for the bay filly, You Talk Too Much, a daughter of Well Said from the mare, Another Hanover. The state of the Canadian dollar, I think, kept other Albertans on the sidelines, although some are making noises about heading to the Harrisburg Sale in early November to see if they can find some well-priced breeding stock… Don Richardson’s BC bred filly, Badlands Palace, won a division of the Betty Millbank Memorial on Opening Night last Thursday evening at Fraser Downs. The sophomore daughter of Badlands Hanover-Crystal Palace has a 2-3-1 log from 8 starts and is closing in on $20,000 in earnings in her 2 year old season. Harold Haining got the filly’s training underway before turning her over to Paul Davies for the BC racing season.