For literally years now perennial leading Alberta trainer, Dale “The Colonel” Saunders has threatened this will be “his last year of training”. Ordinarily it would be reasonable to believe that it may be time to hang it up considering his career has spanned over forty-seven (47) years since starting a public Alberta stable in 1969. Horses under his care have amassed earnings of almost $16 million and most of the money has been won here at home. If the last three race days at Northlands are an indication, he would certainly be leaving at the top of his game since he is winning at clip as good as or better than other times in his career. However, the sixty-four thousand dollar question is - if he retires now what exactly would he do to occupy his time? Can’t see him lying on the couch at the Bowden homestead fading into the sunset. If memory serves, this retirement talk started many moons ago but the rhetoric certainly heated up around the same time as Stampede Park left the racing business. He contends to this day that he was treated very well there by the staff and management – maybe even like royalty.
So for a guy that maintains that he has no “live stock” to speak of, consider that in the last three (3) race days he started 10 horses resulting in 6 wins; 2 seconds; and one third. Notwithstanding that that in a couple of races he had two starters who logically could do no better than one, two unless they dead heated for the win. Only one starter ran out of the money. Not to be lost in the detail was the fact he took down the money in the $50,000 3 & 4 year old Sales Stakes. How can it possibly get any better than that? Also keep in mind that he excels annually at the upcoming Alberta Fall Classic Day in September, where his charges generally win 2 or 3 of these stakes and are usually homebreds. Ready to retire – we would think not for the foreseeable future!
Around The Horn
Once again it should be abundantly clear that Jockey Rico Walcott is one of the, if not the premier rider in Western Canada. He trekked over the mountains on Canada Day and won with the 3 yo. filly Snuggles in The Supernatural Stakes. The win came at the expense of local owner Don Danard who could do no better than second with C U at Eau Claire. As a consolation, Rico can back to win on Danard’s Western Heritage in the night cap. We are reminded of an interview a couple of years back where the ultimate compliment was paid to Rico by Trainer David Forster who said that the last Jockey he gave a leg up to with as much talent as Rico was Laffit Pincay.
Speaking of Hastings, Strate Remark first time starter for Riversedge Racing Stable won a 3 ½ furlong Maiden Allowance dash race for two year olds. Not only did he win by a head but had to survive a jockey claim of foul which was disallowed.
We noted somewhat of an anomaly with the distribution of the purses monies at Hastings. The winner share is currently 55% rather than the 60% in Alberta and nearly all other North American jurisdictions. Furthermore, for whatever reason no BC bred bonus was paid to the winning owner. Thus the winner share of the $18,000 purse was $9,900 and there is no question that the competition is somewhat tougher at the coast than locally. A 3 ½ furlong Maiden Allowance race at Northlands has a purse of $14,000 with $8,400 going to the winner. If the winner is an Alberta bred, an extra 37% ($3,108) is added to the winner’s share in real time making the total earnings $11,508. As the advertising goes – “it pays to own an Alberta bred”.
Wagering continues to disappoint with short fields playing a major factor in the daily results. For the first twenty-five (25) days of the meet, wagering on the live product totaled $6,491,178 compared to $6,784,620 for the same period last year which represents a $293,442 (4.3%) decrease. The amount of the decrease is not alarming however, the goal was to build on the positive start to the meet which has not materialized to date.
Once again the High 5 exotic wager was not hit by a single ticket over the last three days meaning that going into Wednesday’s action the carryover in the Pool now totals $93,010. We can’t quite understand why there is not more play on this wager since a significant chunk of change awaits some lucky customer. Opportunity awaits in a nine horse field carded in the 7th race on Wednesday July 6.