Thursday, 15 September 2016 09:24

Of Yearlings and Stake Races

Written by Norm Castiglione
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The presses were put on hold for this week’s story pending two (2) happenings - the BC Yearling Sale and entries for the September 17, 2016 20th renewal of the annual Fall Classic Day.

In Lotus land, a total of 57 yearlings of the 87 offered found new owners for total gross receipts of $798,900. This compares with 61 sold last year for gross receipts of $1,043,000 or a decrease of $244,100 (23.4%). This year’s average was $14,000 compared to $17,100 last year. There may have been less buyers overall in attendance at the sale but once again the usual suspects from Alberta made significant purchases. The Landry/Danard/Tracy group purchased 7 in total for $130,600. Riversedge Racing made it known before the sale that they would buy a maximum of 2, however once the bidding starts you never end up sticking to your guns. A total of 4 yearlings were purchased for $141,000. Thus two Alberta buyers were responsible for about 34% of the gross sales receipts of the BC Sale.

Also noteworthy was the three (3) yearling consignment offered by transplanted Saskatchewan native Cal Britton whose career has consisted mostly of being the Farm Manger to the Stars. It’s curious though that all the Farms where he has plied his trade started with the letter “H” i.e.  Horizon Farm, Highfield Stock Farm, Hill’s Farm (Jim and Susan) and then back toHighfield. It is possible that there were no TB farms left in Alberta starting with the letter “H” triggering Cal to retool by offering bloodstock services as well as early education and training for young horses? He sold 2 of his 3 offerings – HIP #11 and #22 for a total of $30,000. If you do the math it looks like he produced a profit as well as having one that he will race which now has a zero cost base.

It’s time to gear up for the 2016 Alberta Thoroughbred Sale to be held Sunday September 17 at Hall A, Northlands Park Expo Center with the first lot going under the hammer at 1:00 pm. There are 105 yearlings offered and we have “smoked” the catalogue and have come up with these horses that look interesting on “paper”:

Hip # 4, 6, 8, 10, 29, 33, 35, 40, 44, 49, 52, 61,63, 70, 73, 75, 77, 80, 84, 86, 87, 90, 96, 97, 98, 100, 104, 105.

The above may look good on paper but to pass the final test they have to look the part, be nicely conformed and have athletic attributes. Also bear in mind that you never know where runners are going to come from so in no way are we suggesting that the other 87 that did not make our short list will not turn out to be runners. Any positive news released prior to the sale about the future of racing in the Edmonton area will have a very positive affect on results. It is hoped there will be plenty of buyers to actively bid on the consigners’ offerings.

The day prior to the Sale, will feature the 20th annual renewal of Alberta Fall Classic Day which will offer an 11 race TB card with seven (7) being $50,000 Stake races restricted to Alberta bred horses. It should be noted that the seven Stake races are funded through the Breed Improvement Fund and not the Northlands purse account. From a wagering prospective, in the past this day has been second only to the Northlands marquee event of the year – The Canadian Derby. With the weather promising to cooperate and the expectation of a great crowd there is no reason that we cannot hit $500,000 in total wagering on the card. With the exception of the Alberta Oaks that has drawn a field of four (4), the remaining 10 TB races have good field sizes that are competitive.

In the Oaks, it could be assumed that Onestaratatime has scared off the competition having won the last three Filly Stake races be a combined 21 lengths. The only other legitimate Stake horse in the field is Leena. If there was ever a mortal lock in a race, this is it. The return will not be high, but a one way Exacta (forget boxing these) – Onestaratatime/Leena should get the day off to a good start.

The Red Diamond Express, looks very competitive on paper. It could come down to this-  Our Dandy’s Boy leads every step of the way with closers Keen on Demand and R. Valentino chasing at the end.

In the Distaff Trainer Jerri Robertson has entered a 3 year old Filly and 2 older mares which means she has a 43% chance of winning the race. It appears that Jerri wants no part of Onestaratatime today so she has chosen to try Smart Fix against the older mares. The stablemate Smile Again Theta would be our preferred choice. The wily veteran Dale “Colonel” Saunders has Blameitonthekinght in this one and she cannot be dismissed as it customary for Colonel to win anywhere between 2-4 of these stake races on Fall Classic Day.

The Beaufort for 3 year old colts and geldings has drawn a competitive field of 8 runners. We don’t know what happened to Northernlocomotive in the Canadian Derby but he should find this spot easier. Victory Day has recently had a form reversal so could be up to the task if he gets the 1 1/16 mile distance. The other Riversedge runner – Candy Trader has the credentials but has never gone this distance. We like the name Resolve With Wine but in good conscious cannot recommend him on his form. Watch out for the”Colonel’s” charge – Go Wild – as we stated before the Trainer seems to point for this Day.

A full field of ten 2 year old Fillies go to the post for the Sturgeon River. This is a wide open affair since it’s the first time that six of the fillies will go 61/2 furlongs and with a full field a good trip is of utmost importance. Those who have shown some jam so far in their young careers are: Quivira, Passover G, Saveitforarainyday, Parcam Cowgirl and Tidal Mist. You are on your own in this one since it is strictly a toss-up!

A field of 7 goes to the post in the 1 1/16 mile Alberta Breeders. For Cash is the class of the race but has not won a race in over a year. The only other contenders are Water Wagon and Barfly’s Survivor. We would pick either one of these overFar Cash since in most cases it is not wise to back a horse that has been off form for as long as he has.

The final race of the day is the Premier’s Futurity where nine 2 year old colts will chase the undefeated 2015 CTHS Alberta Sales topper - Norm’s Big Bucks. All things being equal the son of Exhi is strictly the one to beat in here. Special Kisses has chased him twice so far but could get no closer than 71/2 lengths at the wire. He looks like an improving colt but in the end may have to settle for second yet again. Other to consider are: Made For Saturday and Max Flatter.

We would think that most owners horses winning or placing in these Stake races will in all probability reinvest most or a significant portion their earnings in new bloodstock the next day at the Yearling Sale.

This and That

There was a significant Alberta presence last Saturday for BC Derby Day at Hastings Park. It was noted that for nine race card wagering totaled $834,457 vs. $1,166,075 bet on our 11 race Canadian Derby card. Daily wagering is normally significantly higher at Hastings compared to Northlands but our marquee event almost always outperforms theirs.

With respect to the racing itself, Hero’s Amour could do no better than 7th as second favorite in the Delta Coleen. C U at Eau Claire ended up 6th in BC Oaks, however, was not beaten by her arch nemeses Snuggles. It was Victress who got the job done. Betting favorite Killin Me Smalls looked like a winner turning for home in the W. Randall Plate but backed up to 5th. Moon King and The Accuser finished 5th and 6th in the Derby itself. Leave it to HBPA Director Don Danard to save the day for the Albertans when his Western Heritage won the $50,000 Starters Handicap by 5 ½ lengths.

For the first 53 days of the meet, wagering on the live product totaled $14,696,904 compared to $15,995,447 for the similar period last year. Wagering continues to trend downward with year to date numbers being down $1,298,543 or 8.11%.

Next week we will report on the Sale and the Fall Classic Day results. See you this weekend!

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