Chute Again is the MarketPlace IGA horse of the month for December. 

The seven-year-old daughter of Witsend Fiddle out of Our Alba won three times and was second (by a nose) in four starts in the month. She was claimed out of the $4,000 claiming ranks on Nov. 28, moved to the mares $8,000 claiming and paced to her fine December. In her last win of the month she set a lifetime mark of 1:57.1. 

Chute Again was owned (she was claimed on Jan. 1) by Barry MacFarlane of Langley, trained and driven by Rick White and bred by Sky West Farms of Calgary. 

Rob Neufeld, owner/operator of MarketPlace IGA in Cloverdale will present the horse of the month blanket to the winning connections. 

SINBAD SURPRISES: The Invite and fillies and mares open races did not fill for last weekend so the spotlight fell to the $20,000 claimers and company on Sunday’s card. 

The winner, Speedy Sinbad, was a bit of a surprise, especially on the board where the seven-year-old son of Denali, left from the gate at 19-1. But the win was the third in his last six starts as he covered the mile in 1:56.1 on the track rated good. 

Speedy Sinbad is owned and trained by Jim Richards and was driven by Dave Jungquist. Janstar Master Ib was second and Broadway Time third. 

Another big winner was Spider M who sped around the track in a new life mark of 1:55.4 to beat a field of seven in the $15,000 claimer crew.  

Spider M, a five-year old son of Deamons Bell, is owned by Ken Dorman and Janice Wheeler, trained by Dorman and was driven by Larry Micallef. 

Red Star Blaze was second and Lo Siento third. 

NORM! AND TERRY: A couple of trainers from Alberta have arrived at Fraser Downs to join the fray while there’s a hiatus in their province. 

Norm Daniel, a 61-year-old from Edmonton, who has returned recently to the sport, is one hand with a handful of horses including a familiar name in Tierra Revo, One Lifetime and Nealies Deal. 

Terry Grant is a 37-year-old from Okotoks who had 26 wins in 148 starts and a .319 universal rating in 2003. Among his horses are Outlaw Entrapment and Freedom Fortytwo. 

Downs’ patrons may have noticed a new driver two weekends ago when Ryan Grundy participated in a couple of races. Ryan, 22, is from a long-time racing family on the Prairies (nephew of Brent and Glenn Grundy) and was here to drive for another relative, trainer Sabrina Shaw. 

BROWN DA MAN: Sparked by a four-bagger on Sunday, Tim Brown led the driver derby last weekend at the Downs. Brown had a total of seven victories on the four-day, 37-race cards. 

Scott Knight continued his hot reinsmanship, picking up five wins (nine in two weeks) to tie meet leader Bill Davis.  Larry Micallef had four and Jim Marino three. 

Knight was the leading trainer, with four visits to the winners’ enclosure, one more than Mike Glover and Ray Gemmill. Dave Hudon, Davis and Micallef had two each. 

MIXED SALE: The B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society Mixed Sale date has been changed to Feb.17 from Feb. 10, because of a mix up in the Cloverdale Fair Board office. The first horse will enter the ring in the Agriplex at 6 p.m. sharp. The entry deadline of Jan. 30 still applies. 

Broodmares will once again be brought from eastern climes to be added to the sale. 

KARA THE SECOND: Kara Cromwell of Vancouver is the second week’s winner of the California Dreamin handicapping contest at the Downs. 

Cromwell won the mythical total of $1,083 last Saturday to edge Deanna Stevens of Langley by $47. Cromwell won money on all of her three selections including a nifty $1,015 on her choice in race six. Stevens also had that pick as did John Massingham of Richmond, Lori Wain of Langley and Dennis Matsalla of Langley. (It was the only money-winning pick for the latter three). 

The reason dreams are involved is that the winner of the CDHC, of course, gets to go – with a guest -- to the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, courtesy of Fraser Downs. 

In the CDHC, which runs weekly until Feb. 28, contestants are asked to handicap a series of races from Santa Anita. The contest is based on six races, three through eight, and on which entrants will handicap three. For each of the three horses chosen, a mythical $20 win, place, show bet is placed. At the end of each contest day, scores will be tallied and the entrant with the highest total will receive the weekly $250 prize – and be crowned a finalist. 

Cromwell joins Ken Compton as two of 10 finalists who will battle head-to-head in the CDHC on Saturday, March 6 in the Homestretch Party Zone. The ultimate winner will be surfing – the racing program – on Derby Day. 

Entry ballots are available at the Welcome Centre the morning of each contest day. They must be returned before the scheduled post of the second race at Santa Anita. 

LAST CALL: Do you still thirst for a trip to Cancun, Mexico? You have just this weekend to do something about it. 

All that is required is to order a blended fruit (umbrella) drink at Margaritaville (the Downs) and receive an entry form for a chance to win the trip to Cancun. 

The draw for the March (Spring Break) trip to sunny Mexico will be held Jan. 16 in the winner’s enclosure at the Downs. 

SHOW WAGERING BACK: Pompano Park harness track, the first major horse racing facility in North America to ever drop show wagering from its schedule, brought it back Jan. 2 because of public demand.  

The track dropped show wagering in October when live racing began at the track. 

“We are listening to our patrons and they want show wagering,” said Dick Feinberg, general manager at Pompano Park. “Despite the fact that less than 1.5 per cent of our total handle last year was wagered on the show pool, we have heard from many patrons not only at Pompano Park but across the nation that have called, written letters and sent emails wanting to have show wagering on our races, so we have brought it back.”

INGRASSIA GETS NO. 1,000: Driver Jacqueline Ingrassia became the second woman to win 1,000 harness races, guiding 4-year-old trotter Southwind Pepper to victory at Freehold Raceway on Dec. 31. 

Bea Farber, who retired in 1995, leads all female drivers with 1,801 and $9,094,479 in purses.  

"It's not something I set out to do," said 56-year-old Ingrassia in an Associated Press report last Wednesday. Ingrassia is a native of the United Kingdom but currently resides in Allentown, N.J.  

"Bea Farber was very unique and a great driver. She deserved everything she got. I'll never break her record. But I'm not out to break records. We just want to pay the bills."  

Owned by Arden Homestead Stable and trained by Ingrassia's husband, Frank, Southwind Pepper was sent off at odds of 39-1 and paid US$81.40 to win.  

Mary Clare MacDonald, from Antigonish, N.S., is the closest Canadian woman to that mark with 777 lifetime wins. The 42-year-old last raced on Dec. 23 at Truro Raceway.  

MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: Last week we went with Tierra Revo, who, at 10-1, finished seventh. This week we will turn to Gift Of Art, a 12-1 morning line choice in the seventh race Saturday.

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