There was a combination of excitement and nervous energy in the air as Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie kicked off their opening weekend. The weekend went off without a hitch, as customers, trainers and riders all stayed within the health restrictions set out by Alberta Health.
As unusual as it seemed to see riders and trainers wearing maskes, there were no complaints, as everyone just seemed thrilled to be back doing what they love, which of course is the wonderful world of horse racing.
The handle activity was excellent with local betters as well as H.P.I., and next weekend Xpressbet will be added to the equation. Sunday's handle was bordering sixty thousand dollars for the seven races that were ran, which is up considerably from last year's opening weekend.
There were two Alberta Bred Stakes races sponsored by A.C.T.R.A. On Saturday the fillies and mares showed off their stuff with, " Lady Amelia", carrying on where she left off last year."Lady Amelia",was clearly the dominant mare in the race and was ridden perfectly by Blandford Stewart and trained by Garry Marks. Godfrey Weaslehead's, "Gayshan", ridden by Oral Bennet, was a game second.
The colts and geldings stakes for colts and geldings featuring rider Blandford Stewart, once again as he parlayed a perfect trip for, "Why Not Live", trained by Nellie Pigeau to victory. "Captain Will", trained by Jim Depew and ridden by Juan Apango, was a game second.
A familiar name and face at Evergreen Park is that of Cathy McNally. Cathy began in the horse racing world in 1976, working with her family in the horse-racing business. A few years later, she went out on her own as a trainer and has had tremendous success over the years. She has also raced in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Lethbridge, but her heart has always been with Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie, her home town.
One of Cathy's greatest thrills came with a hat trick day, capped off by her home bred, "Cathy talks too much", which she laughingly suggests a friend named for her. Cathy is quick to give credit to her barn staff, who she says are invaluable to her. Cathy will be racing eight horses this year at Evergreen Park and will do whatever she can to support horse racing at Evergreen Park, as she is an ardent supporter of the track. As she says, Evergreen Park is probably one of the nicest race tracks in western Canada for horses and she loves racing there.
Post time for next weekend is 1:15, Saturday and Sunday, and should feature some excellent horse racing action again.