A large Northlands crowd witnessed four 1-mile Stake races on Saturday — The Spangled Jimmy, The John Patrick, The R. K. (Red) Smith, and The Ky Alta. Purses offered for these stakes totaled $200,000.
In the Spangled Jimmy, Blue Dancer made a case for being the best older horse currently in training when he led every step of the way besting 2015 Horse of the Year, Killin Me Smalls by a half-length at the wire. The Kentuky bred son of Bluegrass Cat, who currently stands in California for an advertised fee of $7,500, has quality being a winner of 9 of 12 lifetime starts. Racing fans may remember that Blue Dancer raced in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint for 2 year olds held at Santa Anita which offered a purse of $2 million. In a field that included the best two year olds in the world at the time, he went to the front and led for over 6 furlongs before fading in the stretch. A great effort for a horse whose credentials at the time were a win in a Maiden race and the Juvenile at Northlands, the Winnipeg Futurity and the Ascot Graduation at Hastings.
Trainer Joan Petrowski sprang a mild upset when her Quality Lane added the John Patrick to her lifetime record. Overlooked in the wagering at 9/1, this mare has recorded 10/12 top three finishes including capturing the 2015 Northlands Oaks. Her only subpar start was in last year’s Canadian Derby where she was tacking the boys for the first time and of course the super filly Academic who invaded from Woodbine.
Three HBPA Directors received most of the purse money in the R. K. Smith as Onestartatatime owned by Landry, Danard and Highfield Stock Farm jogged home nearly 9 lengths in front of Riversedge’s Bootlegger’s Wife with Don Danard’s highly regarded C U At Eau Claire taking the show money. The latter was bet down to 4/5 but could not best her stablemate Onestartatatime on the front end. On paper it looks like she may prefer the 6 ½ furlong sprints more than the longer races.
The top three finishers in the Ky Alta stamped their ticket to the Canadian Derby trail for 3 year olds. Ready Intaglio, Hold The Giant and Autumn Song were separated by 2 noses in a thrilling stretch drive. All look like they can get the Canadian Derby distance of 1 3/8 mile. Next start for these three assuming all came back well from this trip will be the July 16 Count Lathum which will be contested at a mile and 1/16.
Despite reports of “huge” crowds at Northlands this past weekend, it does not appear that increased attendance is translating into additional wagering. There is no doubt that the demographics have changed at Northlands with a much younger and livelier crowd attending the races. It can only be assumed that these new fans have yet to grasp the rather complex wagering platform offered. On a go forward basis it will be important for all involved in the industry to provide the required guidance to assist these new customers place wagers.
For the first nineteen (19) days of the 2016 meet, total wagering on the live product amounted to $4,891,213 ($257,432/day) compared to $5,070,822 ($266,885/day) in 2015. For the first time in the 2016 race meet, 2015 wagering outpaced this year’s results. It should be noted, however, that this year we have carded nine (9) less races.
Under the Wintering Incentive Program introduced by the HBPA last fall rewarding owners of lower claiming horses returning to race at Northlands in 2016, a total of $69,300 has been now paid to 111 horses making their initial start as well as those making their third start of the meet. This program appears to have been a success thus far.
Finally, we strongly encourage all of our customers and fans to participate in this Wednesday’s (June 22) Race 8 High Five wager where one must select the top five finishers in the race in order. Thecarryover of over $65,000 will be added to the actual wagering on this race. The way the wager on this exotic bet works it is that one-half of the amount in the pool is carried over to the next race day if there is more than one winner of the High 5. It will continue to be carried over allowing the poll to grow until a single ticket claims the entire pool. As an example the Pick 6 carryover at Gulfstream Park in Florida in 2014 reached $10 million+ prior to being paid out. The High 5 wager is fun wager that requires very little investment for a chance at the big prize! You can place a wager anywhere in Alberta through the tracks or an Off Track Betting (OTB) location or through the internet if you have an HPI account. If you need to sign up for an account you can do that at www.hpibet.com.