Monday, 27 March 2017 07:02

Hoofprints - March 26th

Written by Peter Watts
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Justabitcrazy has been anything but since driver-trainer, Ryan Grundy, acquired him in January of 2016.

“I’d been leasing him from Cory Vicker for the first summer at Century Downs,” Grundy told me Sunday morning. “Cory works for Gerry Hudon and couldn’t make it down to the races very often. I was looking for another pacer for my stable so we struck a deal on a lease. I bought him out in January of last year.”

Since then, Justabitcrazy has been climbing steadily through the claiming ranks. He was at the $4,000 claiming level when Grundy acquired him. He spent most of last summer at the $10,000 level and then moved up to the $20,000 level for the Edmonton winter meet. Five wins and a couple of seconds showed he could handle the pace. The now 7 year old earned $25,000 during the Edmonton meet and has nearly $160,000 on his lifetime card. So he’s more than covered the investment Grundy made in him.

Disappointedly on Sunday afternoon, he had one of those days that every athlete has once in awhile, finishing sixth in a $20,000 claiming race, pacing against the likes of Getthereovernight, which won on this day, and Metajka Road, both of whom he has beaten in the past. The race went in 1:55.1, an indication that the new limestone surface is rounding into form.

“I’ll probably take him with me to Fraser Downs next month for a week or two out there,” Grundy told me. “I’ve got my two 3 year olds, Senga Nitro and Shesamysterytome in to qualify in the next week or two. Senga’s eligible for the Keith Linton Memorial elimination at Fraser Downs on April 14th. Shesamysterytome goes in the Penny Bath Memorial elimination the next day and the finals in both stakes are a week later. They’re both $75,000 purses so I’m hoping with the rest they’ve had and the training they’re getting that they’ll be ready to do well.”

Senga Nitro won six of eight starts and nearly $95,000 as a 2 year old. Shesamysterytome earned more than $31,000 for a 2-4-1 log in 8 starts at two. Not bad for a $2,700 investment at the ASHA yearling sale in September, 2015.

Hennessy Hot

The Hennessy Stable is off to a good start at Century Downs. Four wins on Opening Day, March 18th, three more on Saturday and four on Sunday add up to eleven driving wins for Mike Hennessy. Father Rod has sent out most of the winners, including Blue Star Maverick and Royal Renegade on Sunday afternoon. As horses get fitter and the track settles in, the times are getting faster.

Elsewhere in the backstretch, trainer Carl Archibald reports that two his stable’s stars, Diva’s Dragonfly and Real Buzz have been racing out of Paul Davies’ stable at Fraser Downs since early February.

“Diva’s been pacing at the 1:55 level so I’m quite pleased with that,” Archibald told me. I want to keep her in racing this year although I probably won’t race her as much as I did as a 2 and as a 3 year old. And I’m starting to think about what stallion to breed with her. We may do that next year.”

The daughter of Mystery Chase out of the Dragon Again mare, Midnight Diva was dominant in her class as a 2 year old. She had some tough racing luck during her 3 year old season. Still, she has amassed $132,288 in earnings from 35 lifetime starts. Not bad for a homebred.

Meanwhile, Real Buzz has paced in a new lifetime mark of 1:56 during his time in Cloverdale and has added just over $10,500 to his bank account. 

“I’m hoping to get them back here in the next couple of weeks,” Archibald told me, “as soon as I can find a truck that’s heading this way.”

As well, another 19 horses were successful in qualifying on the weekend and more are likely to be in the qualifier entry box next weekend. So it’ll make it a little easier for racing secretary, Jackson Wittup, to fill out full racing cards. The list of Saturday qualifiers included Warrawee Rap which will once again compete on behalf of the Century Downs Racing Club, now 80 members strong. A number of stables including those led by John Chappel and Jim Marino are expected from Fraser Downs later in April and there are at least 3 stables currently racing at Cal Expo in Sacramento which will be returning for the summer to Century Downs. By the first part of May when the racing calendar expands to three days a week, I expect the barns will be full.

In checking the Standardbred Canada web site, I see we have 30, 3 year old fillies eligible for the Lady Luck Stakes on August 7thand 18, 3 year old colts eligible for the Ralph Klein that same day. Ima Dude from Brandon Campbell’s barn and Getup Gideon from Rod Starkewsky’s shed row are not eligible at the moment for the Ralph Klein. Neither is American Dreamer, a January buy which now resides in Kelly Hoerdt’s barn. He won Sunday’s non-winners of 2 race in 1L57.2. However, any one of them could be supplemented to the stakes race depending on performance between now and then.

Festival of Racing Week

If you don’t live in the Calgary area but you enjoy good harness racing, you might wish to plan a holiday for August 6th to 12thand make plans to celebrate the Festival of Racing Week at Century Downs. It all begins on the Civic Holiday, Monday, August 6th, with four stakes races scheduled: the Lady Luck for 3 year old fillies, the Ralph Klein for 3 year old colts and geldings, the Emerald Filly for 2 year old fillies and the Century Bets for 2 year old colts and geldings. There’s also a charity golf tournament to benefit Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources). That event is scheduled for Thursday at Woodside Golf Club in Airdrie. The aim is to establish a women’s shelter in Airdrie for women who need to leave an abusive environment. The gala on Friday night precedes the World Driver’s Challenge which begins a cross Canada series starting at Century Downs on Saturday, August 12th. Twelve drivers from eleven nations will be taking part in the first of 5 series of races. Brandon Campbell will represent Canada.

Contact Century Downs to reserve seats, tee times, and sponsorship opportunities.

What is Max Gibb Up To?

I hadn’t seen Max for awhile so it was entertaining, as usual, to run into him at Century Downs on Sunday afternoon. The irrepressible racing promotor and operator of Rocky Mountain Turf Club had a few things to say.

“We had a lot of snow in Lethbridge this winter but we should be ready to open the racetrack for training by April 1st,” he told me. “It looks like we’ll have more horses than stalls which is a good problem to have. I expect we’ll be starting racing on Kentucky Derby Day which is Saturday, May 5th. Our season will end in mid October. And I’ve assured Paul Ryneveld that we’ll be doing all we can to help make sure he has a solid horse supply when thoroughbred racing returns to the Calgary market on September 23rd.”

I had spent several hours over the weekend doing data entry on a thoroughbred racing project to commemorate the 250thanniversary of horse racing in Canada, and the roughly 125 year history of horse racing in Alberta. In the course of that exercise, I had come across the names of Teagues Fight and She’s Italian, both of which competed with distinction out of Gibb’s thoroughbred racing stable.

“Teague’s Fight is now a riding horse,” Gibb told me. “She’s Italian is a producing mare. She’s had six foals, all of who have made it to the races. Several of them have won stakes events for me in Lethbridge. She made $380,000 during her own racing career and her youngsters have added to that total. So the genes are being passed along. I’ve been very fortunate with her.”

“Now all I want to do is win the Kentucky Derby,” he told me as a parting shot. “Yeah, there’s about as much chance of that happening as you winning the Stockman’s Race at the Millarville Races on Canada Day,” I fired back. Gibb has been trying to win that particular feature for about 40 years. Second on a half dozen locations is as close as he’s gotten. We both left the conversation laughing!

 

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