B. C. horses only to battle for big purse 

Saturday's first leg of The Clash of the Pacific at Fraser Downs has attracted a top-flight field -- all from stables already competing at the Downs. 

Thirteen horses have entered the fray, which means two divisions with purses of $10,000 each. A second leg will be next Saturday with $20,000 in purses and the  $60,000 purse final on Feb. 19. 

A total of 21 horses nominated for the first-time event including horses from California, Alberta and Ontario. But one by one they indicated they would not enter with the last phoning Fraser Downs' director of racing Keith Quinlan minutes before last Tuesday's draw was to start. 

Such familiar Downs competitors as track record holder Infinite Dreams, Invite star Haras Colta Colta, other Invite regulars Spider M, Red Star Admiral, Red Star Justice and C Lec Machine and youngsters The Bruster, Armbro Blacktie, Dale Reo, Red Star Sammy and Armbro Bach are ready to go. 

Also in the field are Broadway Time and Duke Is Duke, a newcomer trained by Serge Masse. 

Some of the no-shows from California include the Richard Plano trained Jersey Bouncer, who set a lifetime mark of 1:51 in 2004 as a seven-year-old (Infinite Dreams' track record at the Downs is 1:52.3) and the Matias Ruiz-trained Leavona Jateplane, who won at 1:52.2 last year as a four-year-old. 

Among the nominations was a familiar trainer name - Casie Coleman. The former Downs competitor had nominated Our Lucky Killean for Alberta owner Mac Nichol. However, Lucky raced last weekend at Woodbine in Toronto. 

HUSSY BRINGS MOST MONEY: Twenty horses passed through the ring with 15 changing ownership at B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society Mixed Sale last Tuesday at the Cloverdale Show Barn. 

The open section of the sale brought an average price of only $750 while the BCSBS broodmares fared much better.  

The sale topper in the broodmare section was Gorgeous Hussy, by Albatross and in foal to Life Sign, who was purchased by SW Farms for $5,700. 

The broodmares brought an average of more than $4,000 each with SW also purchasing Sizzle And Switch, in foal to Matts Scooter, for $5,500. Others who purchased mares were Fred Zaitsoff, Crimson Stable and Lil Dude Ranch.  

The highest price in the open section with a change of ownership was $1,700 paid for Emery Flight. The 11-year-old, who continues to race but who also has stood at stud, was bought by Katie Currie from consignor Robert Murphy.

Murphy also bought back Red Star Blaze, a five-year-old horse, for $2,900. 

FLYING AMBRO IRON HORSE: There is little doubt who is the Iron Horse. 

Flying Ambro was the boss of last Friday's $16,900 Iron Horse Claiming Series final, winning by an astounding 141/2 lengths. The seven-year-old gelded son of Armbro Moscow out of Shesavigilante left little doubt as to who could best handle the marathon distance of one and 5/16 mile. 

This year the series had a flashy new name and an intriguing twist to the format -- legs (and the final) to be raced over varying distances. The first legs were 11/16 of a mile, the second legs over the traditional mile and the final the rugged mile and 5/16.  

Flying Ambro's domination was so clear that all others are calling for an end to the new format. Not really, but no one would blame them. 

Ambro, who was claimed twice during the series, has had an interesting short stay at Fraser Downs. Since his arrival from Alberta he has made eight starts - five of them wins. The other finishes were seventh, eighth and ninth. 

Jim Burke drove for his win Friday for new owner Robert Murphy and trainer Gord Abbott. The time was 2:37.2. 

Flying Ambro started from the trailing nine hole and was fourth at the 1/4 pole. He fell to fifth at the midway point but started to work it up and was fourth outside behind entry-mate Time Step. Dancing around him, Ambro then just kept going, passing Sporty Mr Garce and then early pacesetter BJs Touch Down. He led by six at the head of the stretch and lost sight of the others as he crossed the wire. 

Kaiser Black closed late and strong for second and Gold Cole was third. 

COYOTE HOWLS: The Invite (winners over) event at Fraser Downs has been dominated by a small, select few for quite a long time. Between Infinite Dreams, Haras Colta Cola, Red Star Admiral and the sidelined Bre X one could likely find the winner. 

The element of surprise was absent - until last Sunday. 

Coyote Hanover used a powerful last quarter in the slop to win by one length in a nifty 1:56.4. The five-year-old gelded son of Western Hanover out of Cloudy Day paid - get this -- $137.70 for a $2 win ticket. 

Longest shot in the field of nine, Coyote Hanover started from the four-hole and slipped to sixth where he still was at the half, seven lengths from the lead. He was still fifth at the head of the stetch, five lengths back. 

Nuclear Dew, who sat in the two-hole early but assumed the lead by the head of the stretch, finished second while Red Star Apache was third all the way. Haras Colta Cola, even-money favorite, and winner of the last Invite, led from the gate to the stretch but slipped to fourth at the line. 

Coyote Hanover, recently purchased by Robert and Arlene Ross of Virden, Man., was trained and driven to victory by Doug Moore (his first win of 2005). Coyote, whose last win was in September, had three wins and five seconds in 24 starts in 2004. He now has more than $81,000 in career earnings. 

RUSTLE HUSTLES: Rustle For It, making her first start in the fillies and mares open was much the best in winning her third straight race last Saturday. 

The four-year-old daughter of Rustler Hanover out of Ask For It was making her second start for owner Niele Jiwan who purchased the scrappy mare from Richard Craig. 

The 3-1 third choice in the betting was third in the early going but used a backstretch move to move in to second on the outside at the 3/4 pole. She closed with a rush under the handling of top driver Bill Davis to win by 21/2 lengths for trainer Rick White. 

Princess Jessica, always close to the front, finished second while Dealmeahos was third. Bigshoestofill, the 3-2 favorite, led from the gate to the head of the stretch but slipped to fifth. 

Rustle For It, who finished in the top three in 15 of 19 starts in 2004, now has more than $41,000 in career earnings. 

MARINO THE BEST: Jim Marino was the man on fire last weekend in dominating the Downs' driver derby. 

Marino totalled nine wins with multiple victories on each day, three Friday, four Saturday and two Sunday. His total was more than double the four of runners-up Jim Burke and Bill Davis with four apiece. 

Gord Abbott and Serge Masse had three each while Clint Warrington and Dave McKellar tied at two. 

Mike Glover continued his winning ways, leading all trainers with four triumphs on the weekend. 

Masse, Davis, Abbott and Dave Hudon were deadlocked at three while Warrington, Rick White and Ray Gemmill had two each. 

REMEMBER WHEN: Each week Harness Racing Communications in the U.S. puts out a feature called This Week in History. The following item was included in a recent list:

January 27, 1979 - Keith Linton wins six consecutive races at Cloverdale Raceway in Surrey, British Columbia, falling one win shy of Augustine Ratchford's record for most dash victories on a card. 

ABGRALL TOPS DREAMERS: Ray Abgrall of Surrey won the fourth week's honors and $250 in the California Dreamin Handicapping Contest. 

Abgrall had the whopping total of $1,072 in the three races - entrants handicap races three through eight at Santa Anita Racecourse. 

C Day was second with $872 while three Dreamers - Kelly Lee, Bill Veevers and Brad Hamanishi -- tied for third with $757 each.  

Douglas Kirk was next with $736 followed by Phil Rowe at $648. 

Dreamers are after the top prize of a trip for two to the Santa Anita Derby in April. 

Each Saturday for eight weeks contestants can win $250 and the day's winner qualifies for the final, set for March 5. Lance Beveridge, Don Pegura and Doug Robertson won the first three weekly titles. 

MCELHINNEY NEW POOL LEADER: Rob McElhinney has vaulted into the KENO Harness Pool lead after four weeks. 

McElhinney picked up 13 points in week four (week three was cancelled along with the race cards) and now has 38 points. 

First- week leader Rick Jensen is still well in the thick of things, one point behind the leader. 

Kevin Clark, Joe Howald, Patrick Jordan and Dave Kennedy are deadlocked at 36 points while John Gonie, Lloyd Johnson and Allan Lester, who led the way for the week with 15 points, each have 35. At 34 are Henry Gonie, Kevin Hoffman, Stephen Stelnicki and Hiro Yodowaga. 

More than 350 entrants are after the $10,000 available in prize money. The Pool runs until Feb. 27. 

The Pool works like a sports pool where contestants pick a team of six horses, one from each box of six horses. Points are awarded for top three finishes and the top 40 players will receive prizes -- $3,000 for finishing first.

One more trade will be allowed on Feb. 11. 

DON'T FORGET: The 2004 Standardbred Industry Awards Gala is scheduled for Saturday, Feb.19. 

Organizers promise that the event, sponsored by the B.C. Standardbred Association, the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society and Fraser Downs, will be the biggest and best yet. It will be held in the Atrium of the Newlands Golf and Country Club (48th Avenue in Langley). 

Accomplishments of the industry will be celebrated with a dinner, awards and a dance.

Tickets are available for $40 through the Standardbred office at 604-574-5558. 

STAPLES PASSES AWAY: Owner, breeder and former B.C. Standardbred Association director Gordon Staples passed away on Jan. 30 at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock. 

Staples had been struggling with high blood pressure and diabetes for some time and had suffered several strokes.  

Gordon had a strong interest in his horses to the end including coming to Fraser Downs last fall to watch Hi Time Ascot, a horse he and wife Terry bred, race.

At his request, there will be no service. Condolences from the Fraser Downs family go out to the Staples family.