2006 DOWNS RACE
Fraser Downs will have
a total of 101 days of racing in the 2006 calendar year.
At the present meet
there will be racing until Saturday, May 13. Then the
2006-07 meet will return with live racing on Friday, Sept.
15. (Patrons will remember that weekend was to be the
opening for 2005-06 but construction delays set the starting
date back into October.)
On the first weekend
in September 06 there will also be night racing on Saturday,
Sept. 16. The next week there will be three days with a
return to Thursday nights. The format of Thursday through
Saturday will continue until Dec.1 when the Downs will
return to the Friday night, Saturday and Sunday afternoons
Park will open April 14 and race two days a week until June
9 when Friday night racing returns. The Fridays will be
raced until Sept. 6. The final day of thoroughbred racing at
Hastings will be Nov. 25.
The season is shared
in Greater Vancouver by a home market agreement whereby the
standardbred “traditional” meet starts on the third Monday
in October and ends when the thoroughbred season starts on
the second Monday in April. This sharing of the season, or
“overlap” has developed over the years and is felt to the
benefit both breeds.
At present Orangeville
Racing Ltd has applied for 16 days at Sandown Park on
Vancouver Island from July 1 to Aug. 30. This number will
change depending on what happens with the slot development
proposal. If the machines are in place early next year, more
days might be added. If the proposal fails, there may be no
more racing a Sandown.
LARSEN STEPS DOWN:
Tim Larsen has resigned as executive director of the
B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society and the B.C. Standardbred
The end of his
seven-year tenure will come March 1. Larsen said a
replacement is expected to be named in the coming weeks but
that he would remain on hand on a month-to-month basis in
early 2006 if necessary.
“It's just time to
move on,” Larsen explained. “I have an opportunity to do a
newsletter for 4-H B.C.”
That organization has
recently moved its headquarters to Enderby in the Northern
Okanagan and Larsen said he and wife Mary are seriously
contemplating a move in that area.
“Mary is retiring
from teaching and Cody (younger brother to Harley) is now in
Grade 12. We discussed it and it seemed a good decision. We
wanted to move out of the Fraser Valley (Langley) and toward
the Okanagan area.
“I will continue on
with the Greener Pastures (Standardbred adoption) program,”
said Larsen of the organization, which has become a labor of
love for him and Mary.
Larsen was involved in
many facets of the B.C. racing industry including the
staging of the annual yearling sale each November.
DUKE KEEPS ROLLING:
Duke Is Duke just seems to be getting better.
The oldest in the
field of six in the open last Saturday, the Duke, at 7,
raced to his fourth successive win – and third straight in
the open. He now has 20 lifetime victories and more than
$165,000 lifetime in earnings for owner Joe Lin of Edmonton.
Despite starting from
the five hole, driver/trainer Serge Masse got Duke to the
front – albeit with some degree of work – before the
quarter. >From there he was never headed as he won by 1¾
lengths in 1:55.2.
Haras Colta Cola, a
25-1 shot (Duke was 3-5), challenged the winner early from
the four hole and settled for the pocket trip two hole.
Driver/trainer Paul Harrison pulled at the head of the
stretch, and although not catching the Duke, he came up with
his best showing of the meet.
Red Star Senator, part
of a 9-5 entry, closed well for third.
MARY MARY QUITE:
Midnight Mary proved she’s only six years old as she set
a lifetime mark last Saturday in winning the eighth race of
her life. The daughter of Deamons Bell, owned and trained by
Ken Dorman, blasted into the sub-two-minute range with a
Magic Pal, a
seven-year-old son of Cams Magic Trick, won a $20,000
claimer last Saturday and his $5,000 share of the $10,000
purse pushed his career earnings to more that $250,000 for
owners Jarm Investments and trainer Serge Masse.
The big grin last
Saturday belonged to owner/trainer/driver Tim (TJ) Jacobson
as Rockridge Winston, his five-year-old son of Flicker
Hanover, won for the first time in 27 starts in 2005.
Sunalta Brodsky, a
seven-year son of Doctor Brodsky, only waited 22 starts to
get his first win of the year for trainer Wally Slopianka.
Sunalta Brodsky, driven by Rod Therres, did it the hard way
– parked the mile.
extended her win streak to five (and seven of nine at the
meet) last Sunday. Cameezy, owned by Claudine and Melissa
Masse, and trained and driven by Serge Masse, is a
three-year-old daughter of Cambest. She now has 10 wins in
32 starts in 2005.
Cameezy was racing in
the claiming handicap $15,000-$20,000 event last weekend
after starting the meet at the Downs in a $6,000 claimer on
Close races were
prevalent this weekend, particularly on Friday. Just some on
Friday went like this: fourth race, Princess Jessica wins by
a neck with the first five horses finishing within 3½
lengths; fifth, Major Lees Crude wins by a neck with six
horses within 5¾ lengths; seventh, Red Star Bigosh beats
Mighty Killean by a nose with Red Star Dewy third by a neck
and seven horses within 3½ lengths; eighth, Meekos Trucker
wins by ¾, there is a dead heat for second and five horses
within two lengths and ninth, five horses within 1¾ lengths
and seven within 4¼.
in Edmonton finished their winter meet last Saturday but one
of the highlights (for Barb Mainman, Ann Cooper and Dal Reo
Farms at least) occurred on the last Wednesday. It was the
fifth-place finish of Dal Reo Burner. Not startling in
itself but it was enough to give the seven-year-old son of
Safe N Rich more than $100,000 for his career. He also has
31 career wins.
Northlands will start
its spring meet on Friday, March 4.
PERFECT START FOR
MAIN: A new trainer grabbed the spotlight a week ago at
Trainer Alana Main got
her first win of her career when Hf Percy, a five-year-old
mare she co-owns with John Abbott, won her first of the year
and 10th of her career. Main got her trainer’s licence two
months ago, as did Abbott, and this was her first entry. Her
1.000 percentage leads all.
“It was very
exciting,” Alana said of her win. Of her horse which she
jogged a couple of years ago and described at the time as a
nutcase, “She was great and she showed a lot of heart.”
Main, a 22-year-old
native of B.C., had worked as a groom since 2000 (she was
once B.C. groom of the year) but decided recently to step
out on her own as a trainer.
Bill Davis has vaulted into a familiar position.
The perennial leading
driver at Fraser Downs shared honors as top driver last
weekend – six along with Gord Abbott – and now has 42 for
Serge Masse and Jim
Marino, who each had three victories on the weekend, now
have 39 and 38 respectively for the meet.
The red-hot Jim Burke
climbed into fourth place with 31 after grabbing a handful
on the weekend. Abbott’s six bumped his total to 25, good
for sixth behind Tim Brown who has 27.
Brown and Dave Hudon,
who has 23, have been attending yearling sales in Mexico.
Rod Therres was among
the weekend leaders with four triumphs while Scott Knight
and Barry Treen had two each.
Davis moved into
second for the meet among trainers, picking up five and
sending his total to 24, 10 behind Masse who had two on the
Bob Merschback and Ken
Dorman deadlocked with three wins while John Currie and
Abbott had two each.
500 FOR MARINO:
Jim Marino continues to make an impression as a driver at
Fraser Downs and Sunday he added to his resume.
Marino, who turned 30
on Aug. 2, registered the 500th driving victory of his
career when he piloted Kg Meister across the finish line
first in the 13th race.
Marino attended high
school on the hill – Lord Tweedsmuir – and used to come down
to the backstretch to find out all he could about harness
racing. Over a period of time he went through the learning
process, getting his groom, driver and trainer’s licences.
His first driving
victory came at the Downs in January 1999 with a horse
called Glenedens Spirit.
His first few years
were a learning curve but he has been making rapid strides
of late. In 2005 he has 126 victories as a driver putting
him right on the tail of top pilot Bill Davis.
Two weekends ago he
had two driving wins in Stakes races with one a win aboard
Jimmy Jams Jubilee who he also trains.
“It’s nice,” Marino
said of win No. 500. “But to put it in perspective it’s
nothing like Davis who has around 4,500. That’s a lot of
races to win.”
HANDICAPPERS: So you think you are the best harness race
handicapper in B.C. The chance to prove it is here.
On Feb. 4, Fraser
Downs Racetrack & Casino will hold the first Harness
Handicapping Challenge. In addition to bragging rights, the
top two competitors will represent the Downs in the National
Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands on
This contest is
similar to many of other Downs’ handicapping contests and
will replace the KENO Harness Pool.
The entry fee into the
2006 Harness Handicapping Challenge is $45 that includes all
applicable harness programs and dinner after the Fraser
Downs live racing card.
Each contestant will
be assigned a contest account with a mythical $40 balance.
He/she will then have to make a series of 10 $2 win/place
wagers with a contest account card. Of the10 wagers, four
will be mandatory wagers from Fraser Downs and the other six
will be player choice races from tracks such as Woodbine and
The contest will begin
at approximately 2:30 p.m. and will conclude at 7:30 p.m.
The top five contestants will receive cash and prizes with
the top two receiving airfare to Newark, New Jersey,
accommodations for two nights in Rutherford, New Jersey and
the National Harness
At the NHHC, the grand
prize will be $50,000 U.S.
Entries for the Downs’
contest have begun and will continue to be taken until
Sunday, Jan.15. Double entries will be made available on
Monday, Jan.2 if the contest has not reached the maximum of
To sign up for, or
receive more information on, the 2006 Harness Handicapping
Challenge, visit the HPI Centre or call 604-576-9141.