Connie Kolthammer and Blue Burner were nowhere to be seen last weekend. But their influence was very much in evidence as the 2017 Alberta Sire Stakes program crowned its first two stakes champions of the season.
Saturday, Outlaw Fireball got the job done in the final of the Alberta Princess for 3 year old fillies. The daughter of Blue Burner from the As Promised mare, Watchasgirlsgoby, was a long way back at the ¾ pole before driver and co-owner, Jean-Francois Gagne, turned her loose. She came home in 1:55.1. I watched the replay with another of Fireball’s owners, Peter Van Seggelen.
“Now watch,” he called as the replay came up on the infield screen. “Right….there! Just about the ¾ pole. She was 7th at that point and went 3 or 4 wide coming around the final turn. Just cruised down the lane. Beautiful!”
The next morning I ran into Gagne in the backstretch and got a little more on Alberta’s champion 2 year old filly from last season, who looks like she’ll be a contender for 3 year old honours in 2017.
“I’ve always liked the family she comes from,” Gagne told me. “She’s a granddaughter of Keeping Watch and of As Promised.” (That’s like royalty in Alberta Standardbred racing. As Promised finished with nearly $670,000 in career earnings before embarking on a stallion career. Keeping Watch was the dominant filly on the Alberta circuit in her day, winning 22 times in 84 lifetime starts and collecting more than $210,000 in career earnings.) “I’ve got Tajmeallover from that family. She’s a daughter of As Promised and Watch Over Me, who, in turn, came from Keeping Watch. My other aged mare, Watch My Luck, is also out of Watch Over Me. And I’ve just struck a deal with Connie to buy Outlaw Hawaiifiveo who was born last year and will be broken this fall. She’s out of Watchasgirlsgoby which is a daughter of Keeping Watch.”
“I went out to Connie’s place and drove 3 or 4 prospects. But the breeding, and the fact I like the family and have done well with that line, really made the decision an easy one.”
“So far as Fireball is concerned, the schedule lays out nicely for the rest of the summer and into the fall. We’ll try and keep her ready for both the Open 3 year old filly and the Alberta Sire Stakes for her class. We didn’t buy her to race her every week but she’ll be busy enough if we can keep her healthy.”
Sunday’s Alberta Plainsman final went to Mateo with co-owner, Jim Marino, at the controls in 1:52.2. That’s a new track record for 3 year old colts, beating the old mark of 1:52.3 set by First Class Horse and Keith Clark 2 years ago. Mateo is a son of Blue Burner out of the Western Ideal mare, Mater Deo. Breeder Kathleen Coonfer had a tear in her eye after stepping out of the winner’s circle.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for this horse,” she told me. “He was born with vision in just one eye, and we decided not to put him through the sale. I phoned Jim Marino and asked him to have a look at the horse. The dam was a two-time stakes winner in Ontario before we bought her to use as a broodmare. One of her daughters, Rodeo Blues, broke the track record at CalExpo in Sacramento. Mater Deo has had two Blue Burner foals and two Custard The Dragon foals. One of those is a promising 2 year old, Nogardeo. Another one is the yearling, Go Nine O, which will be in the ASHA Sale on Sept. 10th in Olds. Mater Deo is in foal to Sunshine Beach this year.”
Outlaw Fireball and Mateo take the lead in the respective 3 year old filly and colt categories as the qualifying for the Super Finals gets underway. The fillies still have the Alberta Diamond (July 8th & July 15th) and the Alberta Marquis (Oct. 13th & Oct 20th) to qualify for Super Finals which this year will be at Northlands Park in Edmonton on Oct. 28th. The colts now are pointed to the Alberta Marksman (July 9th & July 16th) and the Alberta Maverick (Oct. 14th & Oct. 21st). The top 8 horses by earnings over the three stakes will go to the championship race worth $80,000 for each class on Oct. 28th. The next eight will be in the consolation final that same day.
Around the barns…
After giving his horses some time off following an active winter meet at Fraser Downs, Serge Masse qualified Da Magician, Its Eds Idea and Last Time To Play this past Sunday at Century Downs. Da Magician had a sterling campaign at Fraser, winning 3 times in 5 starts and earning $47,671. He’ll likely be taking aim at the Brad Gunn Breeders Stake, an open 3 year old colt competition with a $15,000 elimination coming up on June 24th and a $60,000 final as the centerpiece of the Canada Day program on July 1st. I would guess that Last Time To Play would be looking at the Meridien Farms Breeders on the same two weekends. Its Eds Idea, a 4 year old gelding, put up a 1:53.1 mile during the winter and will be a welcome addition to the open pacer races.
Pacing Under Saddle
Parade marshall, Janice Lea, has once again taken on the task of organizing the Pacing Under Saddle event. “We’re hoping for two fields of six entries in each race,” she told me. The eliminations will be August 19th & 20th and the top riders will come back in the final on August 26th. All the girls raise money for a favourite charity. Last year we raised more than $10,000. The horses are all former Standardbred racehorses who are now being ridden. It’s been a fun event for everybody. It’s raised some money for good causes. And it shows that there is life after racing for these horses.”
Mosk in Memory
There was a special moment in Race 2 on Sunday afternoon’s card. Mosk, a 3 year old Camystic son, owned by Monica Hudon and Don McDougall, made his racing debut. The former Shades of Mystic has been re-named in memory of Monica’s cousin, former Calgary Hitmen player, Darrell Moskaluk, who was lost last year at the age of 31.
“We were really touched that Monica and Don would do that in Darrell’s memory,” Moskaluk’s mother, Angie, told me. “We’re going to be having a golf tournament to celebrate Darrell’s life on June 18th at The Legends in Edmonton. It’s nearly sold out. Last time I checked we had 135 registered players and I think the most we could take is 144 golfers. I was working an Edmonton Oil Kings game last year and came across a group called the Rainbow Society. It’s a volunteer-driven agency that grants wishes to terminally ill or critically ill children. Darrell always took time for youngsters when he ran into them at the rink. So I think he’d be pleased that whatever we raise at the golf tournament will be going to that cause.”
Monkman Going Back to School
Century Downs track superintendent, Don Monkman, is looking forward to going back to school next week. He’ll be attending the NTRA Conference at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, June 11th – 13th.
“It’s a big conference that brings together track superintendents from all over North America,” Monkman told me. “While I’m there, I’m hoping to slip over to Running Aces, which runs Standardbred racing during the summer. The superintendent there, John Betts, is one of the best guys around at grooming a similar kind of limestone racing surface that we have here at Century Downs. I’ve been talking to him a bit about what he does at Running Aces and he’s been really helpful. He told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call. So I think I’ll make the effort to get over there and see what they do.”
With this racing surface, the limestone pellets break down on the top to form a granular kind of powder. The trick is to keep it watered and packed down. Early unofficial analysis suggests it’s easier on horses. And judging by the number of personal bests and track records being posted this spring, it’s a surface the punters like it as well.
remember that this Sunday, Kelly Hoerdt and the folks at Bedrock Stables are playing host to a big event to benefit the Stollery Children’s Hospital of Edmonton. The fun starts about 10 o’clock and there’ll be lots of things to see and do for the whole family. Bedrock is at 50268 Range Road 240 near Beaumont. You can check the web site for directions. 780-986-5073 is the phone number.