While Century Mile took this past weekend off, Kneedeep N Custard easily won the Nov. 11 $100,000 Robert Murphy Memorial Breeders Stakes at B.C.’s Fraser Downs setting up a most-interesting discussion. Is Kneedeep N Custard now the favourite to win both Alberta and B.C.’s Three-Year-Old Championships? Perhaps even Horse of the Year in both provinces? Or will he even win one of the provincial awards?
That’s how wide the argument stretches. Both? Or nothing? Because the Alberta balloting is based solely on how a horse did in Alberta - “It is ‘Alberta’ Champions,” said Fred Gillis, executive director of the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association - some people are wondering if Kneedeep in Custard did enough in either province. It says here, yes.
Consider: Kneedeep N Custard won eight of his nine starts in B.C. In Alberta he won six of his 13 appearances. In total he won $202,000 and 14 of 22 starts - the money almost exactly split in half at the two tracks. At Fraser Downs Kneedeep N Custard, who is Alberta-sired but was foaled in B.C. giving him dual ‘citizenship,’ won the aforementioned Robert Murphy Final after sweeping the four legs. In Alberta he won the richest three-year-old race - the $125,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby at Century Mile - as well as the $50,000 Brad Gunn at Calgary’s Century Downs.
Owned by Beaumont’s Blair Corbeil, Alberta trainer/driver Kelly Hoerdt and Brandon, Manitoba’s Fred Gilbert, Kneedeep N Custard’s fastest race was 1:51 2/5 set in an elimination heat of the Derby. Kneedeep N Custard’s main opposition in Alberta for three-year-old colt or gelding of the year is definitely Outlawgrabbingears, who had a very nice season too.
Outlawgrabbingears won nine of 18 starts and $142,170 including a sweep of the Maverick Series at Century Mile and a leg of both the Ralph Klein and the Marksman stakes. Earlier this year Outlawgrabbingears also won the elimination leg and Final of the Plainsman and the elimination and Final of the Keith Linton - the latter at Fraser Downs.
Owned by Alberta trainer/driver Paul Davies, Nicole Davies and Deborah Pinel, his fastest mile was also 1:51 2/5. That came in the $45,000 Maverick Final which he won with plenty of gas left in the tank and could have easily gone faster if he would have had to have been pushed.
In head-to-head matches Kneedeep N Custard defeated Outlawgrabbingears in the Pacing Derby and in the Brad Gunn where Kneedeep N Custard set a three-year-old gelding track record of 1:52 1/5. Outlawgrabbingears defeated Kneedeep N Custard in the Plainsman and was second in the Marksman while Kneedeep N Custard finished last when he obviously wasn’t 100 per cent.
“Kneedeep N Custard won more money in Western Canada this year than any three-year-old boy or girl,” said Hoerdt. “He made a lot at Fraser Downs and he won a lot in Alberta. Did he make enough money in both places to get Horse of the Year? Who knows? I guess that’s up to the voters but he definitely deserves some kind of an award. The way Alberta does their award system format seems to change every year or so.”
Kneedeep N Custard’s win on Monday in the Robert Murphy Memorial Final was nothing but dominating. Leaving from post six, Rockin N Talkin also left from post seven. For a moment Hoerdt considered letting Rockin N Talkin go. “I had thoughts of it. I have a lot of respect for (Rockin N Talkin). I contemplated situating myself behind him. But then (Rockin N Talkin) got rough on the first turn and I elected to drive on,” said Hoerdt who took them to the first quarter in a quick :26 2/5.
Hoerdt was able to get a nice :30 second second quarter breather but when Thankyouverymuch was the first to pull Hoerdt stepped on the gas and took the field to three-quarters in 1:24 4/5. That was it. Kneedeep N Custard, the 1-5 favourite, cruised down the lane to win by a length and a quarter over Spiderdman in 1:52 4/5.
“It was all power,” said Hoerdt, who is far and away the leading trainer and driver at Fraser Downs. “He was ready to roll and there was no stopping him. “He was well within himself. There was never a point when I had to chase him. There’s not many like him that come along,” said Hoerdt, who picked Kneedeep N Custard out of the Alberta Yearling Sale for $27,000.
“He was tall and lanky and he comes from a real good family,” said Hoerdt, who bought Kneedeep N Custard’s full brother last month at the B.C. Yearling Sale for $47,000. “He’s not built quite the same as Kneedeep N Custard,” Hoerdt said of the yearling. “He’s more stockier and muscular.”
As it turned out Kneedeep N Custard’s full sister, Nice Aint My Color, also won on Monday taking a conditioned pace. “Kneedeep N Custard didn’t race as a two-year-old,” said Hoerdt. “In hindsight that was a good thing.”
Hoerdt could have raced Kneedeep N Custard in both the Nov. 2 Super Final and the Nov. 11 Robert Murphy Final but he said he didn’t want to get ‘greedy.’ “It was kind of a bird in the hand situation because I got another real nice horse to drive in the Super Final at Century Mile so it worked out good,” Hoerdt said of winning the Super Final with the Christopher Lancaster trained Jewels Dragon.
“Kneedeep N Custard is a horse that needs a lot of attention. Like a lot of good horses he’s had a lot of different issues along the way. He’s taken up a lot of time with my staff. He’s had three different grooms and they’ve all done a fantastic job. The entire staff has spent countless hours on this horse. Thanks to them he’s been in shape for all the big races.
What’s next for Kneedeep N Custard? “Rest,” said Hoerdt quickly. “I’ll give him a month or so off. There’s a four-year-old Open stake at Fraser Downs in the new year and that’s where I’ll point him towards. As far as further down the line taking him out of Alberta and B.C. is also “always an option,” said Hoerdt. “That’s something I’ll have to discuss with my partners. He’s here for now.”
STOCK REPORT - Mrs Suhwiggins, who won the three-year-old fillies Super Finals at Century Mile, also won on Monday taking the $100,000 Mary Murphy Breeders’ Stake. Trained by first-year trainer Amy Henry for the JJJ Stables of Prince George B.C., Mrs Suhwiggins took the lead in a pressed :26 3/5 seconds, let Hottieonthehorizon take over through a half in :57 seconds.
Staying in the pocket, Brandon Campbell was then able to take advantage slipping through in the passing lane to win in a photo over Ocean Wind, who had raced first-over. The $50,000 cheque gives Mrs Suhwiggins earnings of $138,750 on the season. In 24 lifetime starts, the ultra-consistent Mrs Suhwiggins has been in the top three 18 times.
Century Mile will now race Fridays and Saturdays with a 7:15 p.m. post time for the next five weeks.
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