Festival of Racing ends with a flourish
I’ve always liked to watch a big lucrative pot get spread around among a variety of interests at the races. It’s a reward for those who have invested time and money in the industry. It’s a way of collecting cheques and winner’s circle photos and a whole bunch of memories and stories. And when it can be conducted under a warm sun with a gentle breeze to take the sting out of the heat, it’s about as good as racing gets.
Such was the case on Monday afternoon as Century Downs staged its Mid-Summer Classic. Eight stakes races dotted the ten race card. A total of $375,100 was won by the top two and three year olds on the grounds. Five of the eight winners were sired by Alberta based stallions. Custard The Dragon had three of them: I AMA Rocket in an elimination of the Century Bets for two year old colts; Custards Laststand in the first elimination of the Ralph Klein; and Mrs Suhwiggins in a division of the Emerald Filly for 2 year olds. The other two Alberta sired winners were Outlawgrabbingears, sired by Smart Shark, which won the second division of the Century Bets for 2 year olds; and Hot Kiss, winner of the Gord & Illa Rumpul for 3 year old fillies. Her daddy is Vertical Horizon.
I counted sixteen different shed rows represented among the top five finishers in the eight stakes races. No doubt the big winner was Paul Davies. The 28 year old pilot led the way among drivers with three victories. He co-owns, trains, and drove Outlawgrabbingears, which he bought this spring from Connie Kolthammer at Outlaw Stables. He was at the controls when Mrs Suhwiggins won the 8th race, a division of the Emerald Filly. And he got Cheddar Jack to the winner’s circle in the final of the Ralph Klein Memorial for 3 year olds, although it took a claim of foul which went against Serge Masse and Better Watch Out, to complete the hattrick.
“Cheddar Jack is a big, strong horse,” he told us in the winner’s circle. “In the elimination we caused a re-start because of an equipment problem. He still managed to finish third and qualify for the final. “
“To survive a virus that’s been working its way through out barn and then to race twice in one day is pretty special,” said Rod Hennessy. “The horses were held in the retention barn for 24 hours before the race so there wasn’t a lot we could do to treat him. But he’s a big tough colt.”
A lot of these horses will be back for the Western Canada Pacing Derby, to be run at Northlands Park in Edmonton on Oct. 14th.
Kelly Hoerdt’s barn collected first and second place money in the Rumpul final when Hot Kiss and Blue Grotto finished one-two. Dave Hudon drove the winner, which turned out to be a lucrative catch-drive. “Kelly just told me to leave with her,” Hudon told us. “So I did.”
The longest shots to pay off on the day turned out to be Ready N Steady, owned by the Wild Dunes Stable of Delta, BC. Jamie Gray took him around the track in the second elimination of the Ralph Klein in 1:55.3. The winner paid $39.80 for a $2 ticket. The biggest longshot of the day turned out to be Rumpul winner, Hot Kiss. Somehow the punters let this one get off at 35-1. Hot Kiss paid $73.30 to win.
And we finally got our first track record of the meet. Outlawgrabbingears managed a 1:55.2 mile in the second elimination of the Century Bets. Senga Nitro had the old mark of 1:55.4 set on Oct. 16th, 2016. Outlawgrabbingears is now the standard bearer among 2 year old colts and geldings.
ASHA Yearling Sale
A total of 74 yearlings are on the list to be auctioned at this year’s ASHA sale, coming up on Sunday, Sept. 9th starting at 2:30 PM at the Olds Megadome. The building will open at 10 that morning and there will also be preview time on Saturday evening, Sept. 8th from 6-9 PM.
The catalogue is now available through the ASHA office in Airdrie. Pedigrees are also posted on the ASHA web site at www.asha.ab.ca.
The sale is one of the highlights of the season and gives further emphasis to owning an Alberta-bred. The $1 million Alberta Sire Stakes program is exclusive to horses sired by stallions registered with the program. There are 25 registered stallions in this year’s program. Funding comes from Horse Racing Alberta’s breed improvement program. That improvement program took another step earlier this spring when ten new racehorses/mares were purchased at an Ohio sale and re-sold to Alberta and BC owners. It’s hoped that going forward, these mares will become useful producers to help enhance breeding opportunities and racehorse development in the province.
I want to make note of three yearlings which have been raised and prepared for the sale by Alberta 4-H members. Laura Barker and Amanda Barron deserve a lot of credit for keeping this important program running. The program allows breeders to work with 4-H members, who, in turn, get a chance to learn about such things as dietary supplements, hoof-care, parasite control, and all the work that goes into raising animals. Jenna Bee, who’s from the High River area, has learned all of that and more as she has prepared Hip #21m True Towner, for the sale. Sierra Macdonald is involved in the 4-H Standardbred program for the third season. This year, her assignment is Hip #32, Blackisblackjack. And, 15 year old Dayton Rickard has been learning about the industry while he has cared for Hip #43, Rogue Shark.
It's a terrific program. The 4-H members share in the proceeds of the animals they have raised. Anyone looking for more information on the program, or who has a youngster who would like to join the fun, should contact the ASHA office in Airdrie.
a couple of new racehorses have arrived at Century Downs. Regina businessman, Rick McAllister, bought Cooltobeamach off the race-track in Ontario in mid July and turned him over to Dan Leblonc at Century Downs. The 3 year old gelding has made a couple of starts since his arrival two weeks ago. He has yet to show what his owner and trainer think he can do. He’s also one of five horses now in Leblonc’s stable. All of them are maidens at this point.
“I’ve had a few horses with Rick in the past,” Leblonc told me. “My stable also includes Outlawdancwthedevl which qualified on Sunday. And I’ve got a 2 year old and two 3 year olds which I hope to qualify next weekend. I’m hoping I can get them going and not have to rely strictly on catch-driving.”
Finally, a tip o’ the cap to ASHA President, Bill Andrew, who is in Toronto for Wednesday evening’s induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Mr. Andrew goes in as a builder. I can think of no one who has done more for harness racing in Alberta and in the Maritimes, than Bill Andrew. Congratulations.