Grand Opening Saturday, April 25th
With just a few days away from the “Grand Opening” race day at Century Downs Racetrack & Casino you can certainly feel the excitement and buzz surrounding the Harness Industry here in Alberta. Drivers, Trainers, Owners and Breeders have waited a very long time for this day to come...in fact seven long years. The strength and perseverance that the Alberta horsemen have showed during these struggling past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. The Alberta Harness horseman will now make Century Downs Racetrack home for the next seven months.
The Opening Race Weekend will be filled with many fun and exciting events at this new state of the art facility. Janette Ahrens the Century Downs Marketing Manager says opening day will have a Festival type feel to it. Local Country Artist Shannon Smith will be in attendance to sing our National Anthem. Joining her will be our very proud Harness drivers and trainers for the Opening Ceremony. There will be bleachers seating over 700 people outside on the tarmac including 100 tables and over 550 chairs. In addition, there will be food trucks and barbecue stations set up along with Bar stands. Due to the anticipated large numbers there will be reservations only for the MidCity Grill restaurant and lounge. A total of 15 mutual tellers and 25 betting machines will be available along with the new MBet. To kick off Saturday there will be a Press Conference starting at 8:30am followed by a spectacular afternoon of racing. Post time for both Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th will be 2:00pm.
To celebrate the occasion, The I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club will be on site for both Saturday and Sunday racing. Standardbred Canada’s Manager of Industry Marketing Kathy Wade Vlaar will be in attendance. There will be a Fan Club booth set up for the fans. Stop by the booth after 1:00pm on Saturday and meet some of Alberta’s top drivers. Take a selfie with one of the drivers and enter the FC’s Zoom Photo contest! The Fans Club newest Face of Racing is Alberta’s own Kelly Hoerdt and he will be on hand to greet racing fans and autograph photos. Joining Hoerdt will be top Drivers Travis Cullen and Gerry Hudon. The first 100 people to join the Fan Club will receive a FREE gift and everyone who signs up will have a chance to win some great prizes! Fan Club merchandise will be for sale and copies of the April issue of TROT magazine and TROT 4Kids activity books will be given out. Activities will include draws and swag and betting vouchers. In addition there will be an on-line Handicapping Contest for Fan Club members for the Saturday, April 25th card of racing.
The 2015 ASHA “NAME THAT FOAL” Contest will launch this Saturday at Century Downs as well. The Contest forms will be available for participants.
Top veteran horseman Kelly Hoerdt says the new Century Downs Racetrack has put a breath of life into the Alberta racing industry. It has put our sport in the spot light and it is our (the horseman’s) job to step up our game and embrace it with the highest level of professionalism says Hoerdt. It will give us new opportunities that we have never seen here in Alberta.
Hoerdt has been busy training a full stable of 40 horses for the up-coming meet at Century Downs. Training back nicely amongst his stable stars is the 2014 Champion 3-yr-old Colt and the 2014 Western Canada Pacing Champion Outlaw Gunpowder. Joining Gunpowder will be stable-mate Ghost Pine. Hoerdt is very happy with his group of 3yr-olds. I have the highest hopes for four of my 3yr-old students says Hoerdt. Those include stable star Cool Cowboy (2014 Champion Two-Yr-Old Colt), True Rock (Champion Two-Yr-Old Filly), Nostalgia (a Sportswriter filly) and a very talented 3yr-old Dragon Again colt. In addition, Hoerdt is also training down 10 promising 2yr-olds and his old campaigners Greek Ruler and Hilldrop Shady will both return and line up behind the gate at Century Downs.
There is no doubt that one Driver’s face you will often see is the 2013 O’Brien Rising Star recipient Travis Cullen. Cullen earned the Top Driver and Trainer in Alberta for the past two years at both Northlands Park and Alberta Downs. I have committed to racing here in Alberta and I’m pretty excited to race at our new track says Cullen. I chose to stay in Alberta and it appears now that this was a very good decision. I’ve recently purchased a home in Airdrie which is just a few minutes away from Century Downs Racetrack.
Cullen trains a stable of 19 here in southern Alberta and has 8 young horses training with his parents in Manitoba. He’s recently purchased a few new horses from the east. I like to bring in new fresh horses to my stable states Cullen. His super star and 2014 “Horse of the Year” Who Doesnt will stay here in Alberta and continue to race under Cullen’s care.
Gerry Hudon will be showing up to do battle. Leading Hudon’s camp will be the 2012 “Horse Of The Year” Timberline Court and top Open mare American Passion. Hudon is currently training 31 horses. All are doing very well and ready to race.
Century Downs is the best thing that has every happened here in Alberta says Hudon. I’m very excited and look forward to racing at the new racetrack continues Hudon. My plans are to make the move my stable to Century Downs when the second barn is built and when we can stable there.
We can also look forward to the return of Champion 3yr-old Colt Blue Eyed Cowboy and the 2013 “Horse Of The Year” Crackers Hot Shot from the Rod Starkewski Stable.
The long journey to get to the very first “official post parade” this Saturday will have certainly been worth it. Congratulations to all the driving forces behind this very much anticipated racetrack and entertainment centre. There will be a huge sense of pride and accomplishment in finally watching the “dream” of Alberta’s newest racetrack a reality.