Before we get down to the detail, there were great crowds on the weekend at Northlands. We are still not sure if the young patrons who are attending the races these days all decked out in fancy attire are there for the racing or it’s the in place to socialize and be seen. Now that we have these folks here we need to get them engaged in the wagering aspect of the sport. Make no mistake, the newbies are welcomed as they appear to be having a great time and certainly add color to the surroundings!
Six stakes were offered on Saturday with total purses of $300,000. With the exception of the Count Lathum for 3 year olds prepping for the Canadian Derby and the Fred Jones for older males, the field sizes were disappointing. Seems like it’s way too early to run 2 year old stakes races on July 16 as witnessed by the fact that a field of five 2 year olds fillies in the Princess Margret scratched down to 3 runners. The Canadian Juvenile for two year old colts had six entries with only 5 runners going to the gate. The stakes schedule was compromised this year when it looked like racing at Northlands would end on August 20 resulting in jamming the stakes program into a tighter window.
Horses trained by Greg Tracy won four (4) of the Stake races winning by a combined wow factor of 30 lengths. Three of the winners (Onestartatatime, Ruffenuff and Fall At Last) are owned by the partnership of HBPA Directors Don Danard and Curtis Landry. The $95,000 earned on Saturday will make a big dent in recapturing the $103,953 US investment in this bloodstock. Fall At Last looks like he’s the real deal as it would appear that there won’t be many 2 year olds colts around here can match his fractions of 22.1; 44.3 and getting the 6 furlongs in 1.11.2. He again demolished the field by over 12 lengths. Indications are that this horse can be purchased but the price just went up from the initial offers received.
Real Intaglio owned by Robbin Martens stamped himself as the local Canadian Derby favorite by running down a relatively competitive field of three year olds in the mile and 1/16 Count Lathum. His pedigree and running style is such that he should get the 1 3/8 mile Canadian Derby distance. One will expect a number of outsiders shipping in for the Derby which will be run on August 20.
Our view that Blue Dancer is the best older horse in training was reaffirmed on Saturday when he went wire to wire in the 1 mile and 1/16 Fred Jones Stakes and again defeated reigning horse of the year Killin Me Smalls by margin of just under 3 lengths. The rest of the field was not even close. To get a feel as to how good this horse is right now, his 1.44 time for the distance was over 2 seconds (10 lengths) faster than Real Intaglio’s winning time in the Count Lathum.
The wagering statistics for the first thirty-one (31) days of the Northlands thoroughbred meet total $8,091,232 compared to $8,700,697 for a decrease of $609,465 (7%). Since this corner does not believe in making excuses that are beyond anyone’s control like the weather and economy, we feel that the small field sizes is the primary factor in the decrease in business. This phenomena is not restricted to Northlands - it appears to be a factor in all jurisdictions which means that the reduction of annual foal crops which in recent years have been running at about half of what they used to be is problematic.
Besides winning stake races this weekend, Curtis Landry was busy hosting the many members of the Alberta Thoroughbred Racing Club who were in attendance watching 2 of their charges perform. The 2 year old Krissy Fortynine who debuted in the third race on Friday ran a respectable 5th for a first time starter. On Saturday the initial Club winner Streekin Discreet just got nipped at the wire after leading every step of the way. It is refreshing to see the many neophytes being enthusiastic and having fun in what is for the majority their introduction to the industry.
They say all good things must come to an end as is the case with the free racing program downloads that were available on the Northlands website. Equibase has the proprietary rights to the past performance charts appearing in the Program and will no longer allow sharing of the information without paying a price. Efforts by Northlands, HBPA, and HRA to arrive at an accommodation proved fruitless. Northlands continues to look for alternatives.
Finally, this sounds like a broken record but the High 5 wager again was not taken down by a single winner thus the carryover pool going into Wednesday, July 20 Race 8 is $123,842. If not tagged by a single ticket the entire pool will have to be ultimately paid out by the end of the meet.
Full article available at the HBPA website