Action hot at Sandown

It’s fast times at Sandown Park.


However, it’s not rebellious high school students leading the way but young – OK and some older – horses taking advantage of a new track surface and ideal weather conditions.


Last weekend, the second at the present Sandown harness racing meet, the track record was not broken but it shuddered twice. Over the two days nine horses registered new lifetime marks and two others equaled their previous best.


Leading the way time-wise was Robert Murphy’s Mortified. Making his first start in B.C. after being claimed in Alberta from Keith Clark on May 10, the five-year-old son of As Promised covered the mile in 1:54.3. Using a powerful third quarter mark of 27.1 seconds he won by 1 3/4 lengths for trainer/driver Bill Davis.


His race time was just three-fifths of a second off the track mark set by then three-year-old filly Fast Lane Cruizin on Sept. 3, 2000.


Mortified was forced to share some of the spotlight with young horses prepping for this weekend’s Oak Tree and Arbutus Stakes finals for three-year-olds.


Another Murphy/Davis horse had a big day. Competing in the third of three Arbutus elimination legs, Red Star Rockaway, a three-year-old daughter of Pacific Rocket, paced the mile in 1:55, knocking a fifth of a second off her lifetime mark.

The times of Mortified and Rockaway illustrate how fast the Sandown track is as they are right on par with those turned in at Edmonton’s Northlands Park, which many consider the fastest 5/8 mile track in Western Canada.


Rockaway’s showing makes her a heavy favorite for Sunday’s final.  Lo N Jo, trained and driven by Dave Jungquist and Red Star Sapphire, trained and driven by Rene Goulet, were winners of the other legs, both in 1:58.3.


Others in the field are Called To The Bar, second by 2 ˝ lengths to Rockaway and part of a Dave Hudon entry with Kiss Me Jate, Go Go Lynette, Taylor Factor and Eternal Gift.


While Rockaway looks best in the filly final, the battle for honors in the Oak Tree for colts should be tighter.


Holding the top morning line odds of 2-1 for Saturday’s final is Qucarachee, trained by Bill Young. The big son of Dal Reo Hop Sing has quickly risen to the ranks of the top contenders. After not racing since his second start as a two-year-old on Oct. 11, Qucarachee won a qualifier in June by 12 lengths in under two minutes. In two starts at Sandown he has lowered his lifetime mark to 1:56.1, winning last week’s elimination leg with driver Terry Kaufman.


But Red Star Turbulent, a leg winner in 1:57.1; Mad Thunder, second to Qucarachee, and part of a Rick White entry with This Show Is Over; Lennix Lewes, second to Turbulent, and Time Deal, winner of the third leg; will all get consideration. Long-shot chances are Showtime Eddy and Red Star Spitfire.



ISLAND DOMINATOR: While some new blood has stolen the spotlight on the equine side at Sandown, a familiar face has been at the top of the human performance chart.


Davis, long-time leading driver and trainer in B.C., has had a red-hot start at the North Saanich layout. Davis had five victories as a driver last Sunday to give him eight for the weekend and 12 for the meet. Rick White has six.


On the conditioner side, Davis has 10 visits to the winner’s enclosure. Chris Adamson and Wayne Isbister have four each.



BEV THE BATTLER: Bev Mohorich, office manager for the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society, is recovering at home from surgery at Delta Hospital. Bev does her duties in fine fashion but also rises above the call with her help in recalling names and dates of many significant harness racing occurrences. (Or not so significant at times).


Bev is not happy being scratched and promises to be back at work soon.


Another in the game who has battled health problems recently includes owner/trainer Charles Dillen (heart attack) but he is back on the scene.


One who may be sidelined a little longer is trainer Mike Bourgeois. Mike was kicked in a leg by a young horse right after it had returned to shed row from a workout. Bourgeois’ leg was broken near the knee and a plate was inserted.



TRACK WORK: Men and machines will be on the scene in late July to begin track work at Fraser Downs. The object is to try to make the turn near the three-quarter pole not quite such the adventure as it has been since the track was lengthened from a half mile to 5/8 in 1996. Coons and Sons will be project managers and Mainroad Construction the contractor.