It’s all about the horses this week. The horse supply is edging toward the 200 mark, just in time for the start of the 3 day racing week this coming weekend. Racing Secretary, Jackson Wittup will be busy on Wednesday morning when the entry box opens. He’ll be trying to write 24 races for the 3 days and fit all the available horses into the fields. Saturday and Sunday first posts will remain at 1:10 PM. Monday will be the first day of an interesting experiment. Will the simulcast community take some interest in Alberta racing with a 4:10 PM post time? That’s 6:10 in the evening in the eastern time zones and 3:10 PM on the west coast and there aren’t many racetracks open at that hour, especially on a Monday. The hope is that there will be an audience that will be interested and that can be grown in size and in pari-mutuel handle.
Among the qualifiers on the weekend were Badlands Palace, Steady Breeze, Ima Dude, Outlawintriguedbyu, Pickles on Top, and Burn my Villa. Badlands Palace, owned by Don Richardson of Cochrane and trained by Harold Haining, is one of 3 fillies from the Haining stable being pointed towards the Moore’s Mile for 3 year olds. It’s the first stakes event of the season and it’s set for Saturday, April 29th. Steady Breeze, which is owned by Kelly Hoerdt, Bill Andrew, and Blair Corbeil, made nearly $30,000 as a 2 year old. The daughter of Camystic out of the Astreos mare, Stelle Nel Cielo, was a $17,000 purchase out of the ASHA yearling sale in 2015.
Hoerdt, along with Kyle Anderson and Peter Giannakopoulos of Edmonton, also have Alexis Princess, which finished second in the eliminations of the Penny Bath Memorial on Saturday afternoon at Fraser Downs. She paced the mile in 1:56.1. Shesamysterytome outdueled 2 others in the other elimination of the same stake, pacing the mile in 1:57.1 with driver-trainer, Ryan Grundy at the controls. Both of the Alberta based fillies qualified for the final this coming weekend , and both are likely to be starters in the Moore Mile on April 29th at Century Downs. The Moore Mile will be run in divisions, so you’ll see all of the top 3 year old fillies on the same day.
Other possibilities for the Moore’s Mile include Grinandchaseit (Carl Archibald), Nighttime Chase (Keith Clark), Pickles on Top (Nathan Sobey for the Don Byrne Stable), Little Bit o Jingle, Singleminded (Hoerdt), Imahotvixen (Joe Ratchford), and Queen of Thrones (Rod Starkewsky). Grinandchaseit has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 8 starts this year. Yet another possible starter is Burn My Villa, owned by Diane Bertrand and Robert Gilhespy of Edmonton. Burn My Villa is in the care of driver-trainer, Phil Giesbrecht. She’s a full sister to My Villa’s on Fire which earned more than $141,000 in 36 lifetime starts before dying of colic last year. If Burn My Villa has inherited the talent, perhaps she can be a worthy legacy for her older sister.
There could well be some other fillies eligible but with the Easter holiday, the final eligibility list won’t be available until later this week.
It was a good trip to Fraser Downs for Grundy. Friday night he drove Senga Nitro to victory in 1:56.3 in the second elimination of the Keith Linton Memorial for 3 year old colts. American Dreamer finished second to Da Magician in the first elimination. American Dreamer is out of the Hoerdt stable and after next weekend’s Linton final, he’ll be back to compete in the Gord Rumpel Memorial for 3 year old colts and geldings. That’s set to be run in divisions on Sunday, April 30th. As well, Grundy claimed Friday night’s finale at Fraser Downs with Flak Jacket. The mile went in 1:55.3 for bottom claimers. And on Saturday, Grundy also won the final race of the day with Justabitcrazy in a sparkling 1:53. So, while Grundy went primarily for the two stakes events, the other two horses combined for $5,850 in earnings. And they may each get another start there, before the truck comes back to Century Downs.
Senga Nitro (Grundy), American Dreamer and Wabash Cannonball (Hoerdt), Ima Dude (Brandon Campbell), Getup Gideon, Retro’s Myster, and possibly Mr. Peterman (Rod Starkewsky), and Mateo, which is owned in part by Christine Cutting, are other possibilities for the Rumpul. Mateo picked up a third place finish in a division of the Keith Linton Memorial at Fraser Downs last Friday night and should be on to the final. We’ll see what else is eligible when Standardbred Canada releases the list later this week.
Nathan Sobey’s Barn Grows in Numbers and in Talent
It’s been over a week now since the Don Byrne stable took up residence in Nathan Sobey’s shedrow. The list of horses includes Pickles on Top which compiled a 3-4-1 log from 11 starts as a 2 year old and earned $45,255. Not bad for a filly haltered out of the 2015 ASHA yearling sale by other owners for $24,500. She has yet to start this year but qualified well on Saturday and will race in another qualifier this week before taking on the top 3 year old fillies on the grounds in the Moore’s Mile.
Further along the shedrow are Heated Exchange along with 4 unraced 2 year olds which are now in training. Heated Exchange finished second in the Super Finals consolation last October and has not raced since. She’ll be brought back slowly and Sobey says it might be a couple of months before she’s ready to race.
“She’s done a lot of growing since last fall, so we’re going to be careful with her,” Sobey told me. “ I’m really pleased to be training the Byrne horses and I want to do right by them. They’re all good animals and the Byrnes’ have shown some confidence in me. I appreciate that very much and I want to do a good job for them.”
There’s also a 5 year old mare, Wild Chic which has earned more than $48,000 in 57 lifetime starts after being bought out of the 2013 ASHA yearling sale for $4,200. She has yet to start this season.
Tajmeallover returned to the races after some time off last Saturday afternoon. It was like she’d never been away. The 6 year old mare handled a field of 5 challengers in 1:57.3 including a :28.3 final quarter. She’s now won 30 races and more than $215,000 in 54 lifetime starts for owners Jean-Francois Gagne of Wetaskiwin, Peter van Seggelen of Foothills, Joe Tinelli of Sturgeon County and Carl Warnaar of Kelowna BC. Of course, her mother, Watch Over Me, who raced the Alberta circuit years ago, piled up more than $281,000 in earnings in 33 lifetime starts for owners Robert and Debbie Marsh of Beaumont. So Taj still has some work to do to catch up to momma. Her dad wasn’t bad either: Tajma Hall earned more than $764,000 at the races… Outlawburntpopcorn did it again on Sunday afternoon. The 4 year old filly, which is owned by Fun For Fans stable and leased to trainer, Devann Crick, beat off 7 challengers and won a photo finish over Outlawtriggerhappy and Wedding Dance in 1:57.2. Nathan Sobey was at the controls.
Name That Foal Contest
have your youngsters check out the ASHA web site for entry forms for Meridien Farms “Name That Foal” contest. One of the many philanthropic activities of Meridien owner, Bill Andrew, this year’s entry is a filly by Mystician out of the mare, Hare Canada. Prizes will be awarded for Best Name, Best Letter (explaining why the participant picked the name for the foal), and Best Art (a picture drawn by the participant). There are two age groups for entrants: 8 years old and under, and 9-16 year olds. Contest rules state that the name must be a maximum of 18 letters (including spaces) and may contain only letters (no numbers, graphics, etc.). All entries must be received in the ASHA office via mail, fax, or e-mail by April 28th, 2017. That’s a week from Friday. The winners will be announced on May 14th in the winner’s circle at Century Downs. www.asha.ab.ca is the ASHA website.