The very best of Alberta’s 3 year old homebreds put on quite a show on the weekend as the Race to the Super Finals got underway at Century Downs.
On Saturday, the fillies got their turn with Wedding Dance, owned by Don Richardson of Cochrane, Cardinal Rule, owned by Ross Sharp of Campbell River BC, Outlaw Fireball, owned by J-F Gagne, Peter van Seggelin, Carl Warnaar, & Tapron Holdings, and Stylomilohos, owned by Ray Soh of Delta BC winning the four eliminations of the Alberta Princess Stakes. They’ll be joined in Saturday’s $59,600 final by the runners-up in each elimination: Steady Breeze (Kelly Hoerdt, Bill Andrew & Blair Corbeil), Cenalta Cougar (Gordon, Helen & Myrna Empey), Nightime Chase (Keith Clark & John Hind), and Sideline Secrets (Allan Goertzen). The four horses which finished third in the eliminations, Shesamysterytome, JK Ellem Enoh, Legs Like Tina and Grinandchaseit, will go into a draw on Wednesday morning. One of them will be picked as the ninth starter in Saturday’s final.
Of note is the fact that Jim Marino picked up four catch drives in the Princess and won with three of them. He led wire to wire with Wedding Dance. He won the next elimination with Cardinal Rule, which won for the second straight week from post position 8. And in the final elimination, Marino scored with 16-1 longshot, Stylomilohos, directing the horse to a new lifetime mark of 1:57.1 in the process. It was a terrific finish in this race with first and eighth places being separated by about two lengths. The slowest winning time was that of Stylomilohos. The quickest mile was turned in by Wedding Dance in a new lifetime mark of 1:55.2. So, it promises to be a great finale to the Alberta Princess on Saturday afternoon.
The 3 year old colts will chase a total purse of #55,400 in Sunday’s final of the Alberta Plainsman. Eighteen colts lined up in the two eliminations on Sunday afternoon with the top four finishers advancing to next Sunday’s final. In the first qualifier, Outlaw Blue Ice (Lorne Duffield & Rod Hennessy), Getup Gideon (Rod Starkewski), Retros Mystery (Robert James) and Senga Nitro (Kenneth Gunn) finished in the top four. It was a fast pace and a real scramble for position in the stretch with the winner stopping the timer in 1:54.2. That turned out to be a new lifetime mark for Outlaw Blue Ice by nearly four seconds.
The second elimination was won by Mateo, which led from wire to wire under the guidance of Phil Giesbrecht and crossed the line in 1:54.1 for owners Christine Cutting of Airdrie and Jim Marino of Surrey BC. Marino was supposed to drive but was shaken up in a fall a bit earlier and booked off his final drives. Ima Dude (Jodi Loftus, Tim Kane & George Rogers), Mr Peterman (Rod Starkewski & Wayne Stecyk), and Coz And Effect (Gary Clark) are the other qualifiers for Sunday’s finale. Latestngreatest and Tahuya Rico will draw for the final post position in the nine horse field.
Sunday will be a busy day for Rod Starkewski. He’ll have three colts in the final, Getup Gideon, Retros Mystery, and Mr Peterman. And it’s great to see that Gary Clark, who runs a small stable and does all of the work himself, will be able to chase a big purse with Coz And Effect. It’s a similar story with Allan Goertzen and Sideline Secrets on Saturday in the Princess finale. Goertzen bred, owns, and trains the filly pacer and, like Clark, doesn’t have any help in the backstretch.
“I’ve had a few good horses in the 46 years I’ve been doing this,” he told me recently. “Big Moe Bandy once finished second to On The Road Again in the Primary Stake. I had Bootleggin which set the track record in Winnipeg. I won several stakes races with him before I sold him to Robert McIntosh in Ontario. I remember being at old Greenwood Racetrack in Toronto about 3 years after I sold the horse. I was walking past a truck in the backstretch when I heard a horse nicker. It turned out to be Bootleggin.”
“This filly trains beautifully, but she’s been hard to handle on post parade for some reason.” Tyler Redwood didn’t seem to have any trouble with her though, as he guided her through the elimination of the Alberta Princess.
Youth Will Be Served
Horse Racing Alberta is teaming up with Alberta 4-H to celebrate the centennial of this really importance youth in agriculture program.
“We’re going to have a couple of major events this year,” Leah Jones, head of the 4-H Foundation of Alberta told me. “We’ve got 355 clubs and about 5,500 members spread across the province. Our 4-H Fever event will be August 4th-6th at the Olds Agriplex. We’ll have a huge showcase of what our members are doing in agriculture. And we’re excited to have HRA as our title sponsor because a lot of the Standardbred horses and trainers that race here at Century Downs are stabled at Olds. It’ll give our members a chance to take a more active interest in Standardbred racing.”
Our other big event this year will be “Paint the Park Green” at Northlands Park in Edmonton on August 26th. Again, it’ll be a showcase of the work our members do in their clubs. “Learn to do by doing” is the theme of 4-H and that will be very much on display at these events.”
HRA backstretch co-ordinator, Teresa Sealy, was on hand for the announcement. “I grew up in 4-H in Manitoba,” she told me. “A lot of what is taught in 4-H is something that is part of the curricula for students in the groom school program at Olds College. In fact, we’ve got two 4-H graduates graduating from the groom school program this spring. And I’m pleased to see that three current 4-H members are working with Standardbred yearlings getting them ready for the Alberta Standardbred yearling sale to be held in Olds on Sept. 10th.”
Speaking of youth being served, I ran across a story on Sunday afternoon at Century Downs. Longtime owner, Norm Kennedy, has invested a few dollars in a 3 year old Alberta filly named Kavola. The daughter of Test Flight just hasn’t been able to find her stride in five lifetime starts.
“I said to Jackson (racing secretary Jackson Wittup), I’m getting tired of paying the training bills on her,” Kennedy told me. “Do you think you can find a home for her?” It turns out that 15 year old Jacob Cutting, son of trainer, Darryl Cutting and Melinda Smith, was looking for a project. Wittup put the two of them together.
“I’d never met the young man,” said Kennedy as we stood and watched Kavola compete in the eighth race on Sunday afternoon. “I sat down with him and we struck a deal. He told me he’s in the midst of studying for his trainer’s license and that he was prepared to put in the time and effort to see what he could make of the filly. We spent an hour together. I was really impressed. We came to an agreement and we’ll see what he does with her. We need to attract more young people to the industry and maybe this will be a way to do that.”
Jacob is finishing up Grade 10 as a home student. He’s focused enough to get his schoolwork done and keep his marks at an acceptable level, even while he spends time in his father’s shed row.
“I’ve stayed out of the conversation he had with Norm,” his father told me. “I gave him a couple of pointers and I’m here for him if he needs any help. But I wanted him to handle things on his own. It’s how he’ll learn the business. He’s studying for his license and he’s jogging horses for me. Now he’s got one of his own for which he’s responsible.”
Kavola was a respectable fourth against non-winners of 2 in Sunday’s eighth race for her new trainer. “She raced good,” driver Mike Hennessy, told me.
What’s New In The Shed Rows?
Veteran Manitoba conditioner, Richard Remillard, is getting back into the racing game. He claimed Emmas Big Girl from Dave Kelly on Sunday afternoon. The 4 year old mare finished second in the ninth and final race on the card. He’s also claimed Julerica off the Ontario circuit for partners Valerie Emerson of Gladstone, MB, and Dr. Larry Hansen and Jim Wilson from Regina.
“We were looking for a mare and wound up with a 5 year old gelding,” laughed Remillard, as he told the story. “Larry’s into the breeding side (he’s a regular consignor to the ASHA yearling sale) so we were looking for something for him. But we couldn’t find anything in our price range. Julerica’s been racing in the $11-13,000 claiming level in Ontario and I knew his trainer. He hasn’t been worse than fourth since early March. I got him qualified in 1:55.1 with a last quarter in :28.1 on Saturday. So, I guess we’ll put him in the Open pace and see what he can do.”
Julerica has earned more than $145,000 in 67 lifetime starts and has a 12-9-8 record at the races.
Meanwhile, we have yet to see Kelly Hoerdt’s recent acquisition, Town Speaker, acquired last month out of a sale at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
“He’s doing fine,” Hoerdt told me. “He’s training at the farm. I’ll probably qualify him in a couple of weeks and give him a start before the Brad Gunn Breeders Stakes in late June. That’s what I’ve been planning for since I acquired him.”
“And now, I’ve got a 4 year old mare named Senseless Beauty, which I just picked up on the weekend out of a sale at The Meadows. She’s a daughter of the Ontario sire, Vintage Master. I wanted something to take on those two mares of J-F Gagne, Tajmeallover and Watch My Luck. I think Senseless Beauty will be up to the task. And she’ll be a candidate to become a broodmare at some point. We’ve got to start growing that side of the business, especially with Century Mile set to open in Edmonton next year.”
Bedrock Stables Set for the Stollery Fund Raiser
This will be the 4th year that Kelly Hoerdt has invited the public to see what goes on behind the scenes at his farm in Beaumont. It’s set for Sunday, June 11th starting at 10 AM.
“My son was a patient at the Hospital and one of my partners, Peter Giannakopoulos, had a niece who was a patient there as well” Hoerdt told me. “We’ve both become big advocates of the good work done at the Stollery. Peter said to me, why don’t we host a barbeque for the Hospital and maybe raise a few dollars. That’s how it started. Last year we had about 1,000 people and we raised about $12,000. We’re hoping to double that this year. We ask everybody for a $10 donation. All the food is catered and donated by Pizza Pizza. We get a lot of help from ASHA, from HRA and from Standardbred Canada. We’ve got some outstanding silent auction items including several signed jerseys from the Edmonton Oilers.”
“We’ll have a couple of double jog carts to take youngsters around the track. Everybody that does a mile will get a certificate. The kids will get a bowl of carrots so they can feed the horses. And we always hope for at least a few of the young patients from the Stollery will be able to join us.”
50268 Range Road 240 is the address. 780-986-5073 is the phone number if you get lost.
ASHA executive director, Fred Gillis, who runs the Fun For Fans Stable, presented a cheque for $2,169 to the Airdrie Boys & Girls Club on Saturday. The money comes from the stable’s earnings for the month of May. Outlaw Blue By You has been the main performer for the stable this spring. Breast Cancer will be the charity of choice for the month of June… a fine day Sunday for trainer Shelly Arsenault. She got a win with first time starter, Navajo Jack, in the 4th race and followed that with another score with Exclusive in the 8th race. It’s her first two wins from 12 starters this season… a milestone is coming for Hall of Fame driver-trainer, Keith Clark. He’s got 6,493 lifetime wins including a snappy 1:53.4 mile with Blue Eyed Cowboy in Monday’s 10th race at Century Downs… Monday’s handle was $122,818, the best number so far since Monday racing began a month ago. The number is noteworthy because a number of US tracks were open for the Memorial Day holiday… we welcome Darrell Bauder, the new executive director of the Alberta HBPA. He succeeds Mat Monaco who has served in various capacities with the HBPA, including the last 12 years as executive director. Mr. Bauder has already met informally with Paul Ryneveld at Century Downs and with ASHA executive director, Fred Gillis. He starts his new job this week. He’s been a director of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Alberta group and owns and operates Red Hawk Ranch in the province. He bred Heart to Heart, the 2014 Sovereign Award winner in the 3 year old colt category.