It’s been a great start to 2018 for owner and breeder, Diane Bertrand, of Edmonton. She and her racing partner, Robert Gilhespy, picked up a couple of wins with Burn My Villa and with Burntisland Billy on Opening Day at Century Downs. Then, on Friday night at Fraser Downs, the 3 year old filly, No Mo For Jo scored a 1:54.2 clocking to win an elimination of the Penny Bath Memorial Stake and qualify for the $75,000 this Friday night. Burn My Villa won again Sunday at Century Downs while Burntisland Billy picked up a runnerup share in condition paces.
Bertrand is also the architect of the move by Outrageous Art into its new role as an Alberta stallion. In partnership with Karen Sobey, she reacquired the now 11 year old son of Artsplace and moved him to Moore Equine in Okotoks.
I’ve always loved the Artsplace line,” she told me. I had Outrageous Art as a yearling and he raced well for me in Ontario with Mark Steacy. I sold him in 2013 but always thought he’d have potential to be a good sire. And we don’t have a lot of the Artsplace bloodlines in Alberta breeding at the moment. Now that the industry is showing signs of new life in the province, it’s a little better time to make this investment.”
Of course, a stallion by itself, is not enough to establish a breeding line.
“Karen and I have bought a few mares and we’re looking for some more,” Bertrand told me. “The horse has been checked out and looks like he’ll be a capable stallion. I think we’ll get some traffic to him as the spring goes along. A lot of mares haven’t foaled yet, perhaps because of the late winter. I’m hoping that some of the owners will take a look at the bloodline and realize that perhaps there’s a good match to be made.”
“And, of course, we’ve lost Blue Burner. I liked that stallion a lot and bred several of my mares to him. Burn My Villa and Burntisland Billy are both his. Karen and I are hoping that, perhaps, Outrageous Art can help fill the void left by Blue Burner’s passing.”
Bertrand is away on vacation this week but told me she’ll let her name stand for re-election as a director at the ASHA general meeting which is set for Saturday afternoon at Century Downs.
Meanwhile, the Century Downs Racing Club has 93 members to start the season, the same number as last year. Nakkertok, a 3 year old filly, and Northern Titan, a 4 year old gelding, will race in the club’s name this season. Both are maidens.
“We found Northern Titan through Standardbred Canada’s horses for sale site, club administrator, Shelley Hastie, told me. “Don Monkman had had one of the other members of the same family during his time as a trainer and recommended the horse to us. He had been the sales topper, a $78,000 purchase out of the 2015 Canadian yearling sale. He’s by Mach Three out of the Camluck mare, Southwind Madonna. So, he’s well bred. He’s got two third place finishes from seven lifetime starts, all as a 3 year old.”
“Nakkertok is a 3 year old filly by Custard the Dragon out of the Fit For Life mare, Livin The Goodlife. She had been racing in California for Peter Besselink of Okotoks. When he decided on a dispersal sale, we were able to acquire her. She’s finished second twice in eight lifetime starts. Carl Archibald will take care of her while Shelley Arsenault has Northern Titan.”
Archibald has been doing a fair bit of experimenting with Nakkertok since the filly moved into his shed row.
“We managed to get her qualified last week but I’ve been trying different things with equipment and shoes to see what fits her best,” he told me. “We’ve shortened the hobbles on her and she seems to have responded well to that. She’s lightly raced and just needs some experience. Jamie Gray will be driving her. He and I have worked well together in the past so I’ll be able to trust what he tells me about her on the track.”
This will be the third year of the Racing Club. The first year, the two horses were Southwind Luna and Warrawee Rap. Luna is now a broodmare at Meridian Farms in High River and has a foal by her side. That foal is the object of the “name that foal” contest which is now underway. Warrawee Rap is due in May and is expecting a foal by Mystery Chase.
Last year, the Club horses were Make Some Smiles and Outlaw Blue By You. Both are back at the races this spring, Make Some Smiles for owner-trainer, Carl Archibald, and Outlaw Blue By You for trainer Darryl Cutting and owner, Melinda Smith.
The four horses were all in action Sunday at Century Downs. Outlaw Blue By You finished 5th against non-winners of $26,000 pacers. Make Some Smiles also finished 5th for Jamie Gray against non-winners of $22,000. Gray drove Nakkertok to a 5th place finish. Northern Titan was 8th. All of them will benefit from more training, warmer weather, and more racing experience, particularly for the two newest additions to the Racing Club.
Also of note, the performance of another four-legged athlete who missed several months last year because of injury. Dblk Oadie, owned by Greg Manning and Jody Earle of Airdrie, has come back well this spring and added a second victory of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Watch for an announcement on Tuesday from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. This year’s list of nominees includes longtime owner and breeder, Bill Andrew. It would be very appropriate if he is finally selected. He has been a huge supporter of several different promotions and charities both here in Alberta, and in the Maritimes. His two breeding operations in Prince Edward Island and in Alberta, have contributed significantly to the horse populations in both locales.