It didn’t take long for Dave Lamont to be smitten by Outlaw Aceofspades. A few pictures and one qualifying race line were all it took to pique the harness trainer’s interest in the three-year-old who figures to be very tough in one of Sunday’s two elimination legs of the Maverick at Century Mile. “He just keeps getting better and better; it looks like he’s just getting there,” Lamont said. “He’s a very nice colt.”
Outlaw Aceofspades showed that in, er, spades when he won his last start - a non-winners of six - in 1:52 3/5 with his by now patented come-from-behind rush to win going away. It was Outlaw Aceofspades sixth win in 17 career starts.
“Some lady posted some pictures of him and I really liked what I saw. Then I saw his qualifying line back in March at Century Downs and I liked that too. I didn’t even see the qualifying race but together with the pictures it was enough,” said Lamont, who is enjoying a very solid season - leading the winning percentage trainer standings at Century Mile for any trainer with at least 15 starts.
Lamont has sent out 16 horses at the new track and has come away with five wins, a second and four thirds. “I bought him off that qualifier from Connie Kolthammer’s Outlaw Stable for $15,000 and he’s already won close to $30,000 so we’re already ahead of the game.
“I asked Connie if she wanted to sell him. She did and it’s been straight ahead ever since I put the bridle on him. When opportunity knocks open the door. We’re always looking for good horses,” said Lamont, who trains his stable at his farm just east of Airdrie where he has a training track and then ships to Edmonton. “If we find something we like we buy them.”
Lamont had some steering issues with Outlaw Aceofspades. But he believes he’s got it figured out now. “He was getting on one line. It wasn’t health issues. It was more like a habit. We put head poles on him, took the head poles off, put the head poles back on and then in his last start - that win in 1:52 3/5 - we switched to a running martingale (bridle) and a different bit.”
The result was sensational. “I think we’ve got him going forward now. I’m excited for the rest of the year. He can go fast and fast is good. It’s what we’re all looking for. He’s very handy. He can come from anywhere but he likes to come from off the pace so hopefully we get a good, fast first half. We drew a nice post (post 3) and I expect him to do good. The goal is to get him enough money and points so that I can race him in the November 2nd $75,000 Super Finals."
“From what he’s shown me I’m pretty sure he will get there,” he said of the colt who, like all of his horses, is owned by himself and his wife Donna Wyse. “I don’t train any horses that I don’t own,” he said of his stable of six which are all racing and all racing well.”
Outlaw Aceofspades’s main opposition has all drawn outside of him. Jewels Dragon, who won his elimination leg of the Western Canada Pacing Derby before finishing third in the $125,000 Final, drew post 6; Outlawgrabbingears, who won the other elimination the Pacing Derby before finishing third in the Final as the favourite, got post 7 and Outlaw Gunsablzin, second in the Derby Final, ended up with post 8. The first elimination of the Maverick is wide open.
Outlaw Aceofspades isn’t Lamont and Wyse’s only stable star. Their barn also includes Miss Itunes who won her first two starts - including the Starburst stake in her career debut - before finishing an excuse-filled last in her most recent appearance.
“Nathan (driver Sobey) said he figures he choked her down last time at the gate. She also might have been a little sick. That sounds reasonable. Something happened because she’s better than that. She got a little jammy behind the gate so we’ll put ear plugs in to help calm her down. Hopefully that helps because she shouldn’t have gotten beat."
“After she won the stake in her first start she won wire-to-wire out of the eight-hole in 1:56 and change. A first quarter in :28 4/5 seconds and a last quarter in :28 4/5. I like her a lot. She’s the best two-year-old filly I’ve ever had and I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” Lamont said of Miss Itunes, who he bought privately, who will race Friday and then head to the Stardust on Oct. 12. Hopefully she makes it to the Super Finals too. With Miss Itunes there’s only one way to go and that’s up.”
As well as Miss Itunes and Outlaw Aceofspades, Lamont also trains a couple of hard-knocking claiming mares: Take On Da Boys and Blink And Gone. “Like Miss Itunes and Outlaw Aceofspades I bought Take On Da Boys privately. I’ve had her for a year and a half and she’s put $50,000 into the bank. From June of last year to June of this year she never missed a cheque,” Lamont said of the seven-year-old who has career winnings of over $226,000 and who has eight wins this year.
“Blink And Gone I got at the mixed sale last spring for $2,000. She’s made about $48,000 in the year and I’ve had her and has won three of her last five starts. What’s wrong with that?” he said of a question that needed no answer. “They’re both very consistent claimers.”
Lamont raced Blink And Gone and Take On Da Boys in the same race last weekend at Lacombe’s Track On 2. “They finished noses a part. It was so close I couldn’t tell which one won and I didn’t care,” he said of the race where it was Blink and Gone that won the photo.
Lamont, 65, who grew up in Prince Edward Island, got his first standardbred in 1970. “I raced that horse on the ice in quarter mile dashes. They even had parimutuel betting. True story. They sold a sheet for 10 cents that didn’t have any performance lines on it. It was really just an overnight sheet. My dad also was into harness racing a little bit. He raced a few horses. I guess that’s where I got my taste of standardbred racing.”
In 1971 Lamont left P.E.I. “I came west - and north. I wasn’t looking to being in the horse business. I came here to be in the oil business,” said Lamont, who first went to the Arctic spending 10 years in Inuvik. “When the oil business went south I took a job in Calgary in 1988 driving truck for a grocery distributer. In 2015 I had enough of that job."
“I’d owned at least one harness horse for 40 years and Century Downs was just opening up. That’s when I got into harness racing full time. I was hanging around the track in the summer months and by then Donna and I had our own place in Airdrie. That’s when I got into harness racing full time. It was just a natural evolvement. It’s worked out pretty well. I was a senior and I couldn’t get into trouble anywhere else."
“It’s hard work. You have to be dedicated. I’m often in the barn until 9 or 10 at night. Soaking horse’s feet, playing around with the horses or something else. It never ends. You can work 24/7 if you wanted to. But we’re having fun and as long as it continues to be fun and we’re winning a few races we’ll continue to do it. Right now we’re winning a few races and it’s fun."
“I’m not the kind of guy to sit around. I like to be doing something and that’s this is what I’m doing right now. If you play your cards right you can make a buck. But you have to use your head. You have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. You’ve got to pay attention. You don’t want to drop the ball or you’ll be in trouble. We mind our business. We count our pennies and we look after the horses."
“There’s nothing easy about it. And it also helps to have some luck.”
In addition to Sunday’s two Maverick divisions for three-year-old colts on Friday there are two legs of the Marquis for three-year-old fillies Rockin Mystery who was disqualified for being ahead of the starting gate after what looked like an easy win in the $125,000 Don Byrne Memorial looks to be by herself in the first elimination.
Like the Maverick, the second elimination is wide open.
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