“Outlawgrabbingears is a skinny, ugly horse,” said trainer/driver Paul Davies. “His confirmation is bad. He’s toed out; his hips stick out. It’s hard to keep weight on him. People can’t believe the way he looks and what he’s done. To look at him you wouldn’t think he was much.”
But he is and that’s all that really matters because, despite his looks, Outlawgrabbinggears does two things really well: he wins and he’s fast.
The three-year-old Smart Shark gelding showed that again last weekend winning as much the best in the second elimination of the Maverick stakes and it’s why he’ll be double tough in Sunday’s $40,000 Final of the Maverick at Century Mile.
Leaving from post seven - the same position he will start from on Sunday - Outlawgrabbingears settled into fourth-position after an opening quarter in 28 1/5. But he didn’t stay there long. First on the move, Davies had his charge on the move and took over the lead down the backstretch through another quarter in 28 1/5.
That was it. The rest was like watching a lion eat. Outlawgrabbinggears was all by himself from there opening up four lengths at the top of the stretch through three-quarters of a mile in 1:24 1/5 and then winning by an eased-up five and a half lengths in 1:52 2/5.
“There was lots left,” said Davies. “He probably could have gone in 1:51 and a bit. I like only having to go what I have to go. I shut him down the last half of the stretch.”
The win was the 15th in 24 lifetime starts for Outlawgrabbingears, who was last year’s Two-Year-Old champion when he won seven of his nine outings - all stakes - and banked $103,625. In his other two starts he finished second. This year has pretty much been more of the same as he has won eight of his 15 starts.
After a four-month break, Outlawgrabbinggears picked up where he left off winning the Keith Linton elimination and March 29 Final at B.C.’s Fraser Downs - the latter in a still-personal best of 1:52 1/5.
It was just the beginning. Outlawgrabbingears then won the elimination and Final of the Plainsman at Calgary’s Century Downs before finishing third - by a length - in the $50,000 Final of the Brad Gunn and winning a leg of both the Marksman and the Ralph Klein.
After winning his leg of the Western Canada Pacing Derby, Outlawgrabbingears finished a disappointing fourth - as the favourite - in the $125,000 Final.
“There was a virus that went through the barn and everything I had came up flat,” said Davies explaining his colt’s performance in the Pacing Derby Final when he tired down the lane after setting all of the early fractions.
“Last week was more like it,” said Davies, who bought Outlawgrabbingears privately off of Connie Kolthammer for $22,500 last spring.
“If I didn’t see him train I would never have looked at him. Like I said it wasn’t his confirmation that attracted me. He was really good gaited and at a high speed. He was running away from Connie the day I watched him train at Century Downs. He did it so easily.
“I asked if he was for sale. Connie said yes; I bought him that day and away we went,” said Davies, who now owns the three-year-old sensation with Deborah Pinel.
“He wasn’t qualified or anything. I had him for six weeks before he qualified and put the finishing work on him. He’s always been good. Right from the start.”
Second in his debut after he got away eighth and last - trailing by some 18 lengths - Outlawgrabbingears showed his stuff charging down the lane to miss by just a neck. In his next start he won the Century Stake by five and a quarter lengths. The unveiling of the future was just getting started.
As for Sunday’s Maverick Final, Davies said “Ooh… I think it’s wide open. “Grabbingears looks the best but Crackle N Burn figures to be tough. He almost always shows up,” he said of Rod Starkewski’s entry, who finished second in the other division of the Maverick, drifting down the stretch to allow 50-1 longshot Scorcher to get through along the rail and post the huge upset.
“Then there’s the other two ‘Outlaw’ horses: Outlaw Gunsablazin and Outlaw Aceofspades, who finished second and third to Grabbingears this past Sunday. There’s quite a few in contention.”
This weekend, in addition to the Maverick, there is also the $40,000 Final of the Marquis for three-year-old fillies on Friday night plus eliminations legs of the Stardust and and Shooting Star for two-year-olds. Davies is also represented in Friday's Marquis with Outlawspotliteonme, who won her division of the eliminations in 1:56 3/5.
Like Outlawgrabbingears, Outlawspotliteonme was much the best. Leaving from post seven, Outlawspotliteonme went right to the top, got a nice second-quarter breather and never looked back winning by a very easy two and three-quarter lengths with a stern last quarter in 27 4/5 seconds.
“There was lots left in her tank too. Gin Twist finished second but she never got to my wheel. I thought (Gin Twist) would be tougher. Outlawspotliteonme is just the opposite of Outlawgrabbingears as far as looks go. She’s gorgeous,” he said of the three-year-old filly, he also owns with Pinel and who is also a son of Smart Shark.
“Outlawspotliteonme is a bit green and just coming around,” Davies said of the filly he also bought from Kolthammer - this one for $15,000.
“I watched her qualify. She came her back half in about 57 seconds and change. I bought her that day too. She didn’t make it at two. She just wasn’t ready. It took her a while to get her brain in the right place. But I think she’s figured it out,” Davies said of the filly who has now won three straight starts - all very easily. She’s paid for herself already. She’s going to make a nice race horse."
“She’s a full sister to five other horses and they’ve all got speed. It’s a good family. Outlawstandndelivr has won over $70,000,” he said of the five-year-old, who has been first, second or third 31 out of 75 trips. Outlawfryreyesonly is a two-year-old who won the Rising Star stakes. And I’ve got a yearling and a yearling with the same breeding.”
While Davies believes there is plenty of opposition for Outlawgrabbingears in the Maverick, he knows for sure who the horse to beat is in the Marquis.
“Rockin Mystery. Definitely. She’s a freak of nature,” Davies said of the Chris Lancaster trained filly who won her Marquis elimination by three and three-quarter very easy lengths in 1:55 2/5 - more than a full second faster than Outlawspotliteonme went - and who was disqualified from what was an easy 1:52 2/5 win in the $125,000 Don Byrne Memorial for being ahead of the starting gate.
Rockin Mystery drew post six; Outlawspotliteonme got post four. Davies said Summer Fantasy, who will start from the trailing 9 spot, also scares him. “Summer Fantasy raced pretty good to finish second to Rockin Mystery last week.”
Davies, 29, who started his racing career in Ontario working for some of the province’s top trainers, got his trainer’s license when he was 17 and his driver’s license three years later. “I was raised into harness racing. Both of my parents owned horses and my dad later became a harness judge. I first came to Alberta in 2010 when I worked the summer for Rod Hennessy. I took a couple of years away from horse racing and went into construction for a while.”
Asked why he got back into harness racing, Davies was succinct. “Stupidy,” he laughed. “I guess having holidays and weekends off wasn’t fun. Now I get to work every day. I couldn’t shake the horse bug. I was born into it and now I can’t get out.”
Not that he wants to anymore. “I’ve got 14 head to train - the biggest stable I’ve had,” said Davies, who had to take some time off driving after an accident in B.C. in April.
“I got catapulted when a horse I was driving, who had never broke stride, made a break. I landed hard. And then a horse ran over me from behind. I separated my shoulder and hurt my pelvis, tail bone and right elbow. I couldn’t even pick up a cup of coffee. My left shoulder and my elbow still bug me. But it could have been worse. I was able to walk away with some assistance and the horse was fine. And now I’m having a career year.”
STOCK REPORT - Keith Clark’s Snow Shark figures to be very tough in the first division of Friday’s Stardust for two-year-old fillies; Blue Star Dreaming and Miss Itunes are the ones to beat in the second division.
There are three divisions in Sunday’s Shooting Star for two-year-old colts. Davies is represented by Outlawfryreyesonly in the first division and Outlaw Stateofmind in the second.
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