ACTION-PACKED TIME AT THE DOWNS
The final weekend of the 2004-05 harness racing meet at
Fraser Downs is in the record books.
The meet was somewhat frantic, particularly off track with
construction, casino, and more construction, dominating.
However, it was a good meet on track with most, not all, now
professing optimism for the future.
Perhaps the biggest story of the meet was the domination of
Stakes races by the J J J Stable/Al and Mark Anderson
ownership combination. Horses, all trained by Al Anderson,
captured 11 of the 31 feature events.
They were particularly dominant in the younger-horse events
– for two- and three-year-olds – led by three-year-old filly
The undefeated daughter – she has 12 wins in as many career
starts – of Kents On Nuke won five Stakes finals. The wins
included the $60,000 plus Breeders Stake in November as a
two-year-old and the $100,000 Stallion Stakes in April as a
She set the track record for two-year-old fillies in the
Breeders with a 1:57.1 clocking and missed the
three-year-old record by one-fifth of a second in the
Stallion final with a 1:54.3.
Speaking of track records, Red Star Senator equaled the
two-year-old colt/gelding mark of 1:56.3 and Red Star
Madeline tied the aged mare mark of 1:54.2.
Records also fell in the wagering end of things with marks
set in highest $2 win payoff ($295.20), show ($39.20,
exactor ($2,609.70) and triactor ($24,451.10).
With the renovations forcing the moving and closure of
several areas of live and simulcast wagering, the handle at
the Downs was down. However, a positive sign came in April
with an increase over the previous year.
Also, the new, state-of-the-art simulcast area (in the old
Legends Lounge) is expected to be open in late June.
Back to on-track happenings, a familiar name led the driver
and trainer standings again.
Although not at the Downs for the last weekend, Bill Davis
could not be caught in nearly every category. He paced all
drivers with 163 wins, $829,215 in earnings, a .394
universal rating and a win percentage of 24. On the trainer
side, the leading figures included 95 victories, a .442 UTRS
and a 30 per cent win factor.
Jim Marino was the closest rival to Davis in wins with 126.
Tim Brown had 95 and Jim Burke was fourth with 90.
Dave Hudon led all conditioners, who had 100 or more starts,
with more than $369,000 in earnings. Al Anderson’s totals
were so high that all computers crashed while calculating.
Rick White, Mike Glover and Wayne Isbister, while well back
of Davis, staged a tough battle for second in trainer wins.
White was second with 58 while Glover had 55 and Isbister
Many of these Fraser Downs’ competitors will be on hand when
action resumes at Sandown Park in North Saanich on Vancouver
Island. The 20-day meet starts July 2 and runs every
Saturday and Sunday afternoon until Sept. 4.
Action is expected to resume at Fraser Downs on Sept. 30.
STREAK ENDS: Betterfrombehind’s amazing winning
streak from the start of her career ended last Friday at
Northlands Park in Edmonton.
Betterfrombehind had extended her lifetime unbeaten streak
to 12 as she won by a nose in an elimination the previous
week for the Compass Rose Stake for three-year-old fillies
but 13 proved unlucky.
Betterfrombehind, owned by J J J Stable of Aldergrove and Al
and Mark Anderson of California, drew the six-hole in the
final but after a good start fell back to finish third.
Another familiar name Patriot Dream, partly owned by Bill
Boden of Vancouver, did the damage.
Betterfrombehind, with driver Bill Davis, charged to the
front and led the first quarter in 27 and the half in a
sizzling 55.2. No Idol Promises pressed that pace but
Betterfrombehind beat off the challenge. However, Guestimate
and driver Bill Tainsh Jr, came off cover to keep the heat
on the front-runner and they were close at the three quarter
pole in 1:25.
Patriot Dream and trainer/driver Gerry Hudon were in the
garden spot and on the final turn found a seam and formed a
thrilling three-wide drive to the wire.
Patriot Dream, by Freedoms Pass out of Sea Blue used the
final strides to edge Guestimate by a head while
Betterfrombehind (Kents On Nuke-Sparks Will Fly N) tired to
finish 2¾ lengths back in third.
Patriot Dream improved her 2005 record to 7-1-0 in eight
starts and the lion’s share of the purse lifted her career
bankroll to $224,369.
ONTARIO WATCHES: Rich Cam and Lil Dude Starrbuck
continue to carry B.C. colors high at Woodbine in Ontario.
Rich Cam, a B.C. bred by Camluck out of the Safe N Rich mare
Rich Jan, and a former B.C. competitor, raced over the
Woodbine course in 1:50 last week.
The win, by three lengths over Duca, came as Rich Cam roared
from well back, covering the last quarter in 26.2 seconds.
The winning share for Rich Cam, who is now owned by Francis
H Azur of Coraopolis,PA, was $14,000.
Starrbuck, owned by Lil Dude Ranch of Surrey, finished
second but was placed first last Saturday in a $35,000
Nighttime Magic was first but was charged with interference
in the stretch on Lil Dude Starrbuck. Magic had covered the
mile in a blistering 1:49.2.
Starrbuck, a four-year-old son of Threefold, trained by
Kevin McMaster and driven by Luc Ouellette, won the 2004
Western Canadian Pacing Derby in Edmonton and was a winner
of Stakes races at Fraser Downs.
Red Star Minckler holds the all-time record mile at 1:49.2
for B.C. breds.
FAST FILLY: Ill Change Your Luck was Canada’s first
two-year-old to qualify this year and she did it on
Saturday, May 14 at Fraser Downs.
Carl Sibiga drove the daughter of Albert Albert out of the
Camluck mare Allie Seelster and took her first up at the
three-quarter mark to get in front and finish first with a
half-length win in 2:04.3. Fourhoofr was second and Daringly
The time for Ill Change Your Luck, who is owned by Heather
Sifert and Jerald Carmody of Ravensdale, Wash., remains the
fastest in the country for two-year-old fillies.
A RECORD: The recent claim of Armbro Bach, the son of
Village Jiffy out of Lindwood Metra, by Robert Murphy for
$62,500 was the highest claiming price paid ever in Alberta.
Murphy claimed him from Ray Gemmill and Ian Moyes of Surrey
and Ron Waples of Guelph, Ont.
In his first race for White Rock’s Murphy, Back finished
second to Tajma Hall last Saturday in the winners over event
at Northlands. Tajma Hall won in 1:53.2.
IMPORTANT: Race fans are once again reminded that the
formal redevelopment presentation for Sandown Park will be
made Monday, June 13 in North Saanich Council chambers.
The meeting will get under way at 7 p.m. and all supporters
of harness racing and the development of Sandown are
strongly urged to attend. Anyone interested is asked to call
Jackie Ballas at 250-656-1631.