Bigshoestofill, the sequel

Bigshoestofill is quickly going about changing the explanation of her name. 

The five-year-old daughter of As Promised out of More Class was bred in Alberta and drew her name because of an older sister. That big sister was Rons Girl, who went on to dominate the Alberta scene as a rookie and then traveled to Canada's big time and won a Breeders Crown race. 

Along came the foal in 2000 and her Alberta connections named her Bigshoestofill.

The baby has grown showing flashes of her sister's form. Those flashes are becoming bigger, and closer together, and last Friday night at Fraser Downs there was more lightning. Bigshoestofill made it five straight victories, capturing the $32,500 Miss Cloverdale Classic. 

Despite starting from the rail, Bigshoestofill and driver Jim Burke were content to take the two-hole. Part of a 2-5 favored entry, Bigshoestofill followed Rustle For It, the 5-2 second-choice, who went to the front from the four hole on the gate. Bigshoes was 11/2 lengths back before starting to attack late on the backstretch. She pulled within a neck on the outside at the three-quarter pole and then won a two-horse race to the wire. 

Bigshoestofill won by 11/4 lengths in 1:55.1, equaling her lifetime best mark. 

Princess Jessica, a 24-1 shot, was third and Dal Reo Millee, a 21-1 shot, fourth. 

Bigshoestofill is owned by Robert Murphy, trained by Bob Merschback and the win was her fifth of 2005 along with a second and a third in nine starts. She has earnings of more than $35,000 for the year and more than $168,000 for her career. 

"She's a great mare," said Merschback, with obvious delight. "She likes to leave with cover but all Jim had to do today was show her the whip. 

"Jamie (Alberta trainer Gray, who had her before Merschback) liked her," Merschback explained. "But when we first got her she had a virus and a high temperature. When we got her healthy she was as good as we thought she would be. 

"She's also great to have around," Merschback said, "both on and off then track. She does everything right." 

Unfortunately, Merschback and Murphy have now sent her back to Gray. 

Murphy claimed her for $37,500 on Nov. 27 from owner/trainer/breeder Keith Clark and she raced three times for Gray before coming to Merschback at the Downs. 

And about that explanation of her name. Any future siblings of Bigshoestofill now will learn the heavy expectations - Bigshoestofill2. 

DEW TOO HOT: The morning dew may have been gone by race time but Nuclear Dew then appeared and covered a lot of ground in a hurry. 

Nuclear Dew is a nine-year-old New Zealand-bred by Nuclear Canyon out of Dewis Delight who picked up his third win of 2005 last Sunday at Fraser Downs. It came against the big boys in the winners over feature. 

The win was Dew's first ever in the weekly Downs' feature but he has been showing signs that such a result would not be a fluke. He was a close fourth last week and third the week before while showing his ability to race up front or come from behind. 

Last Sunday, he used a cool two-hole trip to get the job done. Despite starting from the rail, Dew and driver Jim Burke, let Duke Is Duke take the front. Nuclear Dew slipped to third at the half as horses on the outside moved up but was closest after three quarters.  

Unfazed by the blistering 1:24.4 three-quarter pace, he closed to within a length at the head of the stretch, passed Duke Is Duke and then held off the fast-closing The Bruster.

Nuclear Dew's margin of victory was a neck in a fine time of 1:54.2 as he covered the last quarter in 29.2. 

It was the third win, along with two seconds and two thirds in the year for Nuclear Dew, who is owned by Dale Bonner of Grande Prairie, Alta and trained by Heather Burke. He now has earned more than $21,000 in 2005. 

"He is a good horse," Jim Burke told Dan Jukich in the winner's enclosure. "He sometimes is tough to handle behind the gate but he is racing super and his owner is real happy." 

Bonner claimed Nuclear Dew from Robert Murphy last October for $20,000.

Red Star Admiral, despite being parked for the mile was third and Duke Is Duke, the previous week's winner, fourth. 

DAVIS STILL AROUND: Bill Davis refuses to relinquish his domination atop the driver standings at the Downs. 

The perennial leader has watched Jim Marino steal much of the spotlight in 2005 but he has not gone away and led last weekend’s results with a handful of wins. 

Davis now has a leading 124 for the meet. 

Serge Masse was next best with four victories while Marino, Dave McKellar, Tim Brown and Scott Knight had three each. Tied at two were John Hudon, Dave Hudon, Jim Burke and Gord Abbott. 

Davis and Masse led all conditioners with four visits each to the winner's enclosure. Wayne Isbister picked up three wins while Gary Durbano had two. 

IN GOOD SPIRITS: One of the strongest performances of the meet came last Sunday when Spirits Y To K captured the fifth race. 

The five-year-old son of Hy Class Spirit, owned and trained by Diana Davie, and driven by John Hudon, surprised most as he paid $84.10 for a $2 win ticket. But that was only part of the story. 

Making his sixth start of 2005, Hy Class Spirit paced to victory in a new life mark of 1:57.2 (the old mark was 2:02.3) while parked the mile. The victory came in a non-winners of two races or $4,500 lifetime with his only other win coming on Feb. 4.

In the race five horses finished within 2˝ lengths of the winner, just one of several races with blanket finishes.  

ALBERTA AWARDS: B.C. interests were able to take a couple of awards at last Saturday's annual Alberta harness awards event. 

Lil Dude Starrbuck, owned by the Lil Dude Ranch of Surrey, was named three-year-old colt of the year. Starrbuck captured the 2004 Western Canada Pacing Derby at Edmonton. 

Patriot Dream, owned by Vancouver's Bill Boden and trainer Gerry Hudon of Edmonton, was a double winner, as she swept both categories for two-year-old fillies, losing just once in seven races in 2004.  

Meanwhile, Keith Clark is still the top dog on the Alberta circuit. For a record-setting fourth consecutive year, Clark won the prized horseperson of the year honour. The Clark stable won a staggering eight awards for the 2004 season and no horseman won more harness races in Alberta last year than Clark, illustrating why he was also named trainer of the year and driver of the year.  

Disagreement was named horse of the year after earning $205,612 in 21 races last season. The daughter of sire As Promised also won the champion aged mare category and the Alberta-sired four-year-old mare title.

A former B.C-owned horse, Meant To Do That, another Clark pacer, was claimer of the year.  

BACH STREAK ENDS: Armbro Bach's winning streak has come to an end. 

The four-year-old son of Village Jiffy, trained by Ray Gemmill, had built an impressive 6-0-0 record in seven starts but finished ninth in the winners over feature race last Saturday at Northlands Park in Edmonton. 

Bach had the outside eight-hole and raced off the gate to get the lead on the outside at the quarter. He still led at the half but the 57.2 pace took its toll and he fell back to fourth at the three-quarter pole and driver Don Monkman, Jr. eased him home. 

Armbro Bach had recently won the Clash of the Pacific at Fraser Downs and is owned by Gemmill, Ian Moyes of Surrey and Ron Waples of Guelph, ON. 

Alberta Sires Stakes star, Dudes Leaving Town, was well back early but came home in 28 seconds to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:55.1. Armbro Bolton, owned by J J J Stables of Aldergrove and Al and Mark Anderson and recent winner of the Pat Brennan Memorial at the Downs, rounded out the top three. 

CHIP FANS BLUE: Gallo Blue Chip, the richest pacer of all-time, is hanging up his harness. 

Trainer Mark Ford and owner Martin Scharf of Lawrence, N.Y., made the decision after the eight-year-old gelding finished seventh in a non-winners of $10,000 condition pace  last Saturday (March 12) at Freehold. 

Gallo Blue Chip is the richest pacer of all time with earnings of $4,260,959. 

"I want it to be known that physically he is fine," said Ford. "He is just older, lost a few steps. We don't want to do anything to cheapen him." 

Gallo Blue Chip, a gelded son of Magical Mike, retires with a stable full of honors and accomplishments. He was the 2000 Horse of the Year and won a pair of million-dollar stakes that year, the North American Cup and the Meadowlands Pace. 

Gallo Blue Chip wraps up his racing career with 53 wins, 19 seconds and nine thirds from 133 starts and a 1:48.4 lifetime best. His last win was in his final start at the Meadowlands on Feb. 26, 2005.

(Courtesy of the Big M)