Tuesday, 27 September 2016 02:05

Loaded For Bear

Written by Norm Castiglione
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We needed to look beyond the local surroundings this week since action at the Park was slow due in part to a virus hitting the young horses at Northlands resulting in a number of scratches on the weekend card.

Bonnyville Alberta’s favorite son Dany Dion was loaded for bear specifically with Noholdingbackbear in the $300,000 6 furlong G3 Gallant Bob contested at PARX on Saturday. He did not disappoint as chalk besting his nearest of 10 rivals by a length and ¼ at the wire. The $180,000 winner’s share now boosts his bankroll to $505,000 in a career thus far that sees him running in the top three 10/11 times.. We see a Breeders Cup race in his future where Dany has previous experience. In the 2008 Sprint, his Fatal Bullet (already named thus no Bear) made all the running with ridiculously fast fractions only to fall short at the wire by 1 ½ lengths to winner Midnight Lute in a final time of 1.07 for the 6 furlongs – that’s very fast.

When once asked by a Bloodhorse reporter where this “Bear” thing comes from, Dany supposedly replied that when he was a young lad working in a Quebec logging camp he would growl like a bear every time he threw logs around! As we previously indicated every yearling or weanling he buys or raises is stamped with the name “Bear” – it’s Bear this and Bear that. A few years ago he must have thought he would end up owning more horses than there were words in the English language so to pay tribute to a couple of original Bears, there was an add on resulting in Bear Character Two and Bear Holiday Too being brought to life. Not such a good thing since the original Bear Character was a multiple stakes winner of almost $266,000 whereas #2 could not break his maiden in 24 starts. The first Bear Holiday was also a multiple Stakes winner, winning all 3 lifetime starts accumulating $162,000 in earnings whereas Too went on to an undistinguished career of 2 for 15 earning only $39,000. This phase of add on naming quickly disappeared.

Most people involved in the Alberta oil patch know that Dany has been a great economic driver in the Ft. McMurray region during the oil sands development era. For those who don’t know he also provided the Alberta thoroughbred industry great stimulus by breeding and purchasing many, many horses here. Let’s not also forget the contributions through the mutuals over the years at the Ft. Mac teletheatre. Truly one of the great characters in the horse business – we sure miss his participation here.

There were two other significant Stake races at PARX on Saturday. Songbird continues her domination as the best 3 y o filly in the land by winning the $1 million G1 Cotillion. She is a perfect 11/11 in her 2 year career. Since no 3 y o male has stepped to the forefront except maybe for Arrogate who blew the Travers field away, this year she could very well be the best 3 year old period. Interesting options her connections have as to what Breeders Cup race she should surface in, which would be a good problem for the rest of us to have.

Speaking of 3 year old males, Ky. Derby winner Nyquist could fare no better than 6th in the $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby. Preakness winner Exaggerator was a well beaten 7th confirming his desire for only an off track. Belmont winner Creator did not contest the Pennsylvania Derby and has not done anything since winning the Belmont. The race winner was Connect who was still eligible for a NW3xMC and was previously beaten 21 lengths in the Travers. We would think this is not a new rising star.

We note that for Saturday’s 12 race card at PARX purses totaled $3.227 million. This would equate to about 35% of the entire purse pool for the Northlands thoroughbred meet. We can only assume that the slots at PARX are great performs as well as there does not appear to be any sharing requirements with other breeds. It should be noted that the total PARX handle on their Derby day event totaled $9,614,169 – offer quality and high purses and they will come to race and bet.

Having followed and being involved in the business for a great number of years we should have figured this out before now. As reported last time, there were a total of 39 nominations for the G3 Oklahoma Derby, however, only 11 actually were entered to race. Seems that everyone nominates for this race since no nomination fee is required. Three of the first four finishers of the Canadian Derby - Ready Intaglio, Solve and Inside Straight went to the gate. Again let’s bring back last week’s comment on the potential field:

“In 2013 Broadway Empire captured the Oklahoma Derby after winning the Canadian Derby but this corner is of the view that none of the locals have anywhere near the talent that Broadway had. There are at least five horses nominated – Cupid, Dalmore, Fish Trappe Road, Gun Runner and Texas Chrome that if they enter to run it would be advisable for most of the others to remain in the barn and seek friendlier foes.”

Of the five horses we tagged as potential winners only Texas Chrome and Fish Trappe Road contested the OK Derby finishing first and third respectively. Solve finished 7th at odds of 74/1; Inside Straight 9th (59/1) and Canadian Derby winner Ready Intaglio 10th (46/1). The saying goes – “keep yourself in the best of company and your horses in the worst”.


It seems like this year no Yearling Sale is immune from the downward trend recorded everywhere else. The elite sale of the year – Keeneland September recorded 2,792 sold for$272,890,500 compared to 2,745 selling last year for proceeds of $281,496,000 which reflect a 3% decrease in business. The $97,740 average is 4.9% lower than last year, however this year’s median of $40,000 is a drop of 20% from last year’s $50,000.

A review of the Keeneland Sales results pertaining to purchases made by Albertans (not official by any means) indicates that excluding purchases made by Jim & Susan Hill a total of 29 yearlings went to: Doug Blair, Dave Rowbotham, Randy Howg, Vic Kleparchuk, Rob Chabot, Jerry Antoniuk, Ted Graling, Tim Rollingson, and Riversedge Racing. We understand from Trainer Diodoro that the 10 purchases made by his Alberta clients will race in the US.  Dave Rowbotham has raced in Ontario for some time now and Riversedge’s 4 yearlings will be begin their ground work in Florida prior to determining where they will race.

For the first fifty-nine (59) days of the meet, wagering on our live thoroughbred product totaled $16,309,002 compared to $17,484,152 for the same period last year for a decrease of $1,175,150 (6.7%).

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