It was a weekend to celebrate the achievements of some of the smaller stables at Century Downs. Yes, Kelly Hoerdt won the Alberta Diamond final on Saturday afternoon with Hot Kiss. And it was an impressive performance as Hot Kiss cut out the mile in :27.3, :56.4, 1:26, and finished in 1:54.3.
“That third quarter was particularly hard on all of the horses,” Hoerdt told me. “It was right into the teeth of a very strong breeze. I was really pleased with how my filly handled it and that she had enough left to hold off all challengers in the stretch.”
The win was worth $22,850 to owners Kelly Hoerdt and Bill Andrew. Hot Kiss takes over third spot in the qualifying for Super Finals with the Alberta Marquis Stake still to come in late October.
My Day finished second, which brings us to the story of one of the smaller stables on the grounds. Steve and Shannon Crump have just five horses. This one is their pride and joy. Both have been around the racing game for forty years. They used to breed a few mares when they started out together in the early 1970’s but got out of that business in 1992. They first came to Alberta that same year and, for a time, owned a small farm near Standard AB. They sold the farm a couple of years ago. By 2005 they were back into buying the odd brood mare. They now keep the mares at their son’s farm near Cluny, AB.
My Day only had a third place finish in five outings as a 2 year old. But she has come on strong in 2018 with a win, three seconds, and a third in ten starts. A $3,000 buy, out of a Meridian consignment to the 2016 ASHA yearling sale, she’s now earned more than $19,000 after Saturday’s showing. And she’s moved into fourth place in the standings to qualify for Super Finals, Nov. 17th.
A day after the big race, the Crumps were still off the ground with excitement. “We try not to look too far ahead,” Steve Crump told me. “We’ve both been in this business a long time and we’ve had our share of ups and downs. But that was pretty exciting (yesterday). I think folks could hear us all over the grounds.”
Neither Hot Kiss nor My Day are nominated to the Gord & Illa Rumpel Memorial Stake, an Open stake for 3 year old fillies. Eliminations for that one are set for this Saturday afternoon. It’ll be interesting to see if the interests of either filly will pay the supplemental fee to enter the race. The horses aren’t machines and they need a rest from time to time, especially after a difficult mile. On the other hand, if they came out of the race well and are healthy, it would be tough to turn down a chance at a lucrative payday. There’s the little matter of $4,250 to supplement and $750 to start, however.
As I go through the thirty fillies which are nominated to the Rumpel, a few names jump out. Neither Roaring Home nor Bearcat Josi made the Alberta Diamond final. They’ll be looking to get back on a winning streak. I think Ginger Beer (Keith Clark), Maid in Alberta (Harold Haining), Nice Aint My Color (Jamie Gray), Noisy Nora (Jim Marino), True Horizon (Gerry Hudon), and You Talk Too Much (Keith Clark) will find their names in the entry box on Wednesday morning. The other name that will be there is Scardy Cat, which has been running at Running Aces in Minnesota but which shipped in to Century Downs late last week. She’s won once in five outings this year but has paced in 1:55.4. She’s owned by JJJ Stables of Prince George BC which means she’ll likely be coming out of Jim Marino’s shed row.
The question will be whether more than nine horses are entered for the eliminations when the box closes on Wednesday morning. If there are nine or fewer starters, the race will go straight to a final on the holiday Monday, August 6th.
Two more smaller stables were spotlighted Sunday in the final of the Alberta Plainsman for 3 year old colts and geldings. William and Diane Neish’s Freedoms Rescue was the winner, followed by Screen Test, which races for Dan Sifert and Bill Andrew. Dave Kelly drove the winner through fractions of :27.3, :56.4 and 1:26. As was the case on Saturday, the pacers had to deal with a very difficult back straight into the teeth of a brisk breeze. The final time of 1:54.4 equaled Freedoms Rescue’s lifetime mark and was worth $22,850. The :28.3 last quarter was noteworthy after the effort expended to lead the field through the third panel. The pacer has pushed his career earnings past the $78,000 mark.
“I was a little concerned when there was a recall at the start,” trainer, Glen Lutz, told me. “But he handled it just fine. Dave (Kelly) did a good job with him to keep him settled and focused for the re-start. Then he tapped him once on the left flank down the back stretch to keep him off the rail where the footing was a little better. He had lots left for the finish.”
“Right now, we’re planning to run him in the Ralph Klein on August 6th,” William Neish told me. “That’ll be an interesting day with both the eliminations and the finals on the same day. But he’s shown he’s good enough to deserve a shot.”
Dan Sifert was delighted with Screen Test’s work under the guidance of pilot, Brandon Campbell. Screen Test finished four and a half lengths behind the winner but added $11,425 to his bankroll. He’s now earned more than $44,000 at the races which is a nice return on a $10,500 investment at the 2016 ASHA yearling sale. This pacer is eligible for the Klein as well, so Sifert will have a decision to make. Racing in the Alberta Sire Stakes is one thing. Racing against the open pacers like Cheddar Jack is another challenge altogether. And that challenge is magnified by having to race twice on August 6th if the horse makes it into the final. The assumption, of course, is that more than nine pacers enter the Klein which would mean a couple of eliminations early on that day’s card.
Results from the weekend leave Freedoms Rescue, Exit Smiling, Custards Laststand, Yankee Up, Mortgage My Villa, Outlaw True Grit, Spikes Revenge and Screen Test as the top eight for the Super Finals. The Alberta Maverick the last week in October will be the final chance to qualify. In For The Chase is the next best, 9th overall. There’ll be a $15,000 consolation race for this class on Nov. 17th once the final standings are determined.
On the filly side, Roaring Home did not make it to the Alberta Diamond final. But she still leads the fillies’ standings after two rounds with $24,725 earned. Custard Lite is next followed by Diamond winner, Hot Kiss and then My Day. Bearcat Josi, which didn’t qualify for the Diamond final either, True Horizon, Born A Dragon and Nice Aint My Color complete the top eight. Ginger Beer is ninth at the moment but that could change in late October.
Brent Bodor’s Strong July…
A 14-horse stable doesn’t exactly qualify as “small.” But when you own a piece of each horse, and you have a couple of helpers but do a lot of the work yourself, and you have a little success, it should be noted. Of the 14 horses he has, Bodor has had 12 of them earn cheques this month. He’s been able to add a little more strength to his stable, and he’s been able to coax some stronger performances out of some of the horses he’s had for awhile.
“I just claimed Town Speaker a couple of weeks ago,” Bodor told me. “His first start wasn’t great but I changed some of his equipment and he was better, finishing second a week ago. We’ll see if he can sustain that. I just bought Flash Your Lights from Rod Hennessy so we’ll see if we can get him going” (Flash Your Lights finished 7th against non-winners of 2 on Sunday afternoon). That won’t bother Bodor, who likes a challenge and believes that Flash Your Lights can be better than he’s shown to this point.
“Right now, I’ve got four guys who own horses with me, Bryan Buchanan, Hugh Jackson, Mike Dicks, and Paul Saunders. I’ve got some feelers out to see if I can find some more horses. I’m hoping to be at twenty by the time the Fraser Downs meet starts in late October.”
What’s impressive as well about this story is that Bodor has been doing the job with condition claimers. Don’t Be A Glenda has been the only horse he’s started in a stakes race this year and the pacer was well back in its elimination of the Alberta Diamond. Getting each horse in the race where it has the best chance to be a winner is the way to keep those cheques coming in. Brent Bodor has had a pretty good run of doing that this month.
A New Face on the Alberta Scene…
I spent a delightful hour in the clubhouse on Saturday visiting with Chris and Tara Lambie and their family. The couple has been introduced to the sport of harness racing by Dr. Jordan Cooke, who is one of the veterinarians working the backstretch at Century Downs. Among her own clients, she also takes care of the Lambie’s needs and stables her own horse, Greek Ruler, at their farm, east of Airdrie.
The Lambie’s have been into breeding warm bloods, principally Hanovarians, for twenty years. Tara has taken the lead in this enterprise while Chris has been focused on his day job as a gas marketer.
“I’m the one that decides what we’re doing in terms of breeding Hanovarians,” Tara told me. “We usually breed about five mares a year. The process is closely supervised from Germany which sends people over every year to make sure we are doing everything required to protect the integrity of the breed. We’ve been fortunate to produce horses which have won national honours.”
A year or so ago, Chris met harness racing trainer, Chris Lancaster. One thing led to another and Chris Lambie decided he’d like to see if he could start a standardbred breeding operation.
“We’ve been building slowly and we’re paying particular attention to the dam side,” he told me. “Tara and I are learning a lot about this. It’s a different breed than what we’re used to but tracing the dam side back three or four generations is what has worked for us with warmbloods. So we’ll apply those rules for now and adjust if we need to.”
They started out last fall, acquiring the filly Lady Neigh Neigh for $16,000 at the London Select yearling sale in Ontario. Lady Neigh Neigh is part of what looks to be an extensive group of 2 year old fillies that have been qualifying in Alberta over the past couple of weeks. She was an excellent third in her first pari-mutuel start on July 14th. Then in January, they got Southwind Piay, a now 13 year old Artsplace mare which had earned just over $282,000 during her racing career and which paced in 1:51.2 at Mohawk Raceway in Ontario. She has had an Artspeak foal in June. They also acquired That’s Extra in March. She made $167,000 at the races before being retired last fall. She’s now in foal to the Washington-based stallion, Rock N Roll Heaven. That stud made $2.7 million during his racing career.
“Now we’ve got Lissoy which we bought privately from Justin Currie,” Chris Lancaster told me. Obviously she’s still racing (she won the 8th race on Saturday afternoon. We’ve got Yourlipstogodsears which we acquired in May. She’s a 4 year old by Art Major out the Matts Scooter mare, Role Reversal. And we’ve got a 2 year old filly named Somewhere Ideal. She’s a daughter of American Ideal out of the Somebeachsomewhere mare, Somewhereinheaven. We’ve turned her out for now, but we’re hopeful she’ll be a racehorse. And, down the trail, we hope she’ll be a good producer.”
Dr. Fred Stopped By…
In the course of the conversation, I was able to introduce them to Brooks veterinarian, Dr. Fred Kruszelnicki, who had stopped in to Century Downs to watch one of his horses. The Good Doctor plays the breeding game at an elite level and keeps his half dozen mares at Kentuckiana Farms, just outside Lexington, Ky. One of his mares, Lifesliltreasure, has been a solid producer. Among her offspring is Control The Moment which won the Meadowlands Pace two years ago.
“I’ll have five yearlings in the Lexington Sale Oct. 2nd-6th this year,” he told me. “Two of them are by Captain Treasurer who is perhaps the hottest young sire in the business right now. Two more are by the Ohio based stallion, Well Said. The other is by the trotting sire, Muscle Hill.”
“I was particularly pleased to watch the races on Friday evening at The Meadowlands. Two of Captain Treasurer’s 2 year olds were in and both paced in the 1:51 range. So that’s a good indication that he’s passing along his own excellence to his sons and daughters. I have high hopes for both of the yearlings going to the Lexington sale in the fall.”
Packwood Grand Event this Saturday…
It looks like there’ll be a good crowd for Saturday’s racing card at Century Downs. The Packwood Grand event is on again and that is really something to see and to be seen!
“We’re hoping for 2,000 this year, co-founder, Tyler Rygus told me. “As always, we expect a great looking crowd representing some of the city’s finest. For a number of our guests, this will be their first time taking in live horse racing. For many more, it will be their annual trek out to wager on the ponies. We remain devoted to growing awareness and spectators for horse racing in the province. We understand the value of equine sport in Alberta and are delighted to be part of its success at all levels with the people and families involved in horse racing.”
The group will be set up in the infield with food, beverage, port-a-potties and betting stations all provided in that location. There will be traffic back and forth across the racetrack near the finish line, so as usual, safety will be key to an enjoyable day for all.
“We haven’t committed to doing anything for the thoroughbred calendar this fall at Century Downs. However, we are looking at expanding into the Edmonton market for next year when Century Mile opens in Leduc.”
Any of us who are old enough to remember the colour and pageantry of Canadian Derbies past, would be delighted to hear that some of that colour might be part of a renewed racing scene in Edmonton in 2019.
The first 2 year old winner of the season turned out to be Maxsamian, which won the third race on Saturday afternoon. Owned now by Morinne Kennedy, the Mystery Chase filly was bred by Morinne’s late husband, Norm, who was a fixture on the Alberta Standardbred scene for many years before we lost him last September. Norm named the filly after his three grandsons, Max, Sam, and Ian. I couldn’t help but smile as Dave Kelly steered the pacer around the final turn and into the stretch with the lead. A crack of thunder accompanied the final strides and I knew Norm was looking down and urging Kelly and Maxsamian to the finish line. They wouldn’t have dared not pay attention!... Brandon Campbell drove 3 winners on the Monday card to move into a tie for third place in dash wins. Phil Giesbrecht leads the way with 42 winners followed by Jamie Gray with 40 and then Campbell and Paul Davies with 36 wins apiece. Dave Kelly has 35 victories to round out the top five… among trainers, Sanford Campbell had a good week and has opened up a 7 win lead over Rod Hennessy and Kelly Hoerdt – 31-24. Gerry Hudon and Nathan Sobey share 4th place with 22 wins apiece… Racing as usual this weekend – Saturday and Sunday at 1:15 PM and next Monday at 4:25. The one suggestion for Saturday would be to get to the track early because with the Packwood Grand crowd in attendance, parking will be at a premium.