Lots to talk about this go around which will start off by repeating Horse Racing Alberta’s Announcement of September 19, 2016 indicating that Century Casinos has been selected by the HRA Board of Directors to build and operate an “A” racetrack Facility in the Edmonton area. The Licensing process is the next phase of the Project. As future developments with respect to this matter occur they will be posted on the HBPA website as well as these regular columns on the HRA website. We are cautiously optimistic that a deal can be struck with Northlands to continue with horse racing at their Facility during the transition phase. The HBPA has had a long standing business relationship with Northlands and would hope this will continue until the new facility is up and running.
As everyone knows it’s tough to predict the weather in Alberta. Whereas the forecast was for bright skies for Fall Classic Day it started out rainy and dreary but our good fortune was that by post time there was marked improvement with no complaints after that. We fell a bit short of our self-imposed wagering target of $500,000 coming in at $445,682 compared to $483,164 last year.
Our handicapping skills turned out much better than the role of weatherman. Onestaratatime is definitely a STAR defeating runner-up Leena with the greatest of ease in the Oaks. Although we tagged the Exacta for our readers we are embarrassed that you had to wager $2 for a $2.40 return. Mortal locks or not, you will no longer get selections that return peanuts which in our mind is not worthy of the investment risk.
Ted Graling’s Xtreme Denigray went from last to first in the Red Diamond Express at odds of 7/1. Best we could do was pick the second place finisher Keene on Demand. Ted was loaded for “bear” at the Yearling Sale next day and was in the hunt or under bidder on many of the high priced babies but could do no better than purchase one that was inexpensive.
As indicated any horse that the “Colonel” sends out on Fall Classic Day has to be respected. True to form his Blameitontheknight came through in the Distaff and returned $5.20 with the 3 y o Smart Fix (who did not want to face Onestaratatime) rounding out the Exacta.
In the Beaufort for those who think we actually know what we are doing you would have cashed a $56.50 Exacta as we were right on the money hitting it cold with Northernlocomotive and Victory Day even though from Riversedge’s standpoint a reversal of the top two would have been preferred!
The believers were rewarded with the top five finishers in the Sturgeon River, albeit it was left up to you to sort out how these fillies would be selected in your wagers. It looks like race winner Saveitforarainyday is establishing that she is one of the top two year old fillies on the grounds.
In the Alberta Breeders, For Cash finally returned to form halting a six race losing streak by besting Water Wagon. Once again our recommendation if boxed would have produced a $10.10 Exacta – not much but better than ripping up tickets.
It is not our intention to break our arm patting ourselves on the back but we were most pleased when last year’s Yearling Sales topper Norm’s Big Bucks ran to all the hype and fanfare by winning the Premier’s by 2 ½ lengths @ odds of 1/5 over 72/1 longshot Captain Will. It was interesting though on the backstretch when the two horses whose purchase prices were $94,000 apart raced head and head and for a moment looked like it could remain that way to the end. Special Kiss put in a game effort but tired to finish third. This result coupled with Hold the Giant’s win in the fifth race is why we buy racehorses and come back for more. Presenting the trophy to the connections of the winner of the Premier’s was the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry the Honourable Oneil Carlier. The Minister and his wife Michele were very engaging with Horsemen and Racing officials the entire day in the Sky Paddock Suite. It is obvious that the Minister enjoys horseracing but if the truth be known it’s Michele who has been a big fan of the sport over the years and has a family history in racing. The Minister and his wife graciously accepted an invitation to visit Riversedge Farm to experience firsthand an operating thoroughbred farm.
Following the lead established in the Ontario and BC yearling sales, the Alberta sale could not reverse the downward trend. In Ontario this year’s average totaled $19,236 vs $20,815 in 2015; in BC $14,130 vs $17,170 last year and here $8,253 vs $11,370 in 2015.
Preliminary numbers for the Sunday sale held at Northlands where 101 potential future stars were offered had 63 finding new homes. It’s not a good sign when the buyback rate is over 15% - 20%. The rate this year was 38% indicating the Consigners were not willing to part with their equine stock at the level the buyers were willing to pay. There was action at or near the top end of the Catalogue culminating with a total of 20 yearlings purchased by Buyers – Curtis Landry; Riversedge Racing; clients of Dale Saunders; and Tim Rollingson. These guys stepped up to the plate spending in total $317,000 or 62% of the gross sale receipts. The leading Buyer was Riversedge who added 9 youngsters to their horse portfolio which if we took an inventory would probably now number close to one hundred - give or take.
Jean Kruse and her CTHS Team are to be commended for once again putting in the hard work required to make the logistics for Fall Classic and the annual Sale fall into place.
Elsewhere & Other
It is interesting to note that Edmontonian Jerry Antoniuk is down in Keeneland buying yearlings which we can only assume are pointed for the Alberta racing landscape. Normally Alberta buyers start showing up at the September sale at the start of Book 5 or 6 but not Jerry he’s there for Book 3! A quick scan of the results to date indicate that Jerry has purchased four (4) yearlings by some high powered sires (2015 Stud Fee in parentheses) followed by the purchase price:
|HIP #2021 Filly by Congrats ($20,000)||$2,000|
|HIP #2055 Colt by Lemon Drop Kid ($40,000)||$5,000|
|HIP #2150 Colt by Eskendereya (Private – Japan)||$2,500|
|HIP #2370 Colt by Fort Larned ($7,500)||$2,000|
Maybe Jerry has found the key as to what it takes to get a runner – pay very little for it. He must be relying on previous experience where he supposedly bot 2016 Canadian Derby winner Ready Intaglio for his personal Trainer Rico Martens.
Taking an entirely different approach, Calgarians Jim & Susan Hill have purchased 13 yearlings so far at the Keeneland sale for a total of just slightly more than $1,900,000. The Hills race in Ontario and the Eastern Seaboard. Reports from Trainer Robertino Diodoro indicate that Randy Howg owner of Inside Straight who won this year’s running of the Manitoba Derby before finishing a troubled forth in the Canadian Derby has purchased two yearlings for $75,000 and $50,000. Furthermore clients Wayne Dehr and Tim Rollingson have purchased 2 for $12,000 and $3,500. It is reported that these horses will remain in the US to race.
A total of 39 three year olds have been nominated for the $400,000 Grade III Oklahoma Derby to be contested at Remington Park on Sunday September 25. Included in the nominations are the winner, 2nd & 4th place runners who contested this year’s Canadian Derby - Ready Intaglio, Solve, and Inside Straight. Diodoro has also nomination Mercedes Stable’ Way Striking. In 2013 Broadway Empire captured the Oklahoma Derby after winning the Canadian Derby but this corner is of the view that none of the locals have anywhere near the talent that Broadway had. There are at least five horse nominated – Cupid, Dalmore, Fish Trappe Road, Gun Runner and Texas Chrome that if they enter to run it would be advisable for most of the others to remain in the barn and seek friendlier foes.
For the first fifty-six (56) days of the meet, wagering on our live thoroughbred product totaled $15,644,484 compared to $16,802,595 for the same period last year for a decrease of $1,158,111 (6.9%).