Cruiser heads to Big M

Seven Seas Cruiser roared away from the gate in last Friday's Invite at Fraser Downs, never was headed in winning by 11/4 lengths, and just kept rolling on his way to the Meadowlands. 

The powerful three-year-old son of Scruffy Hanover out of the mare Nonukesisgoodnukes has been a dominant force in his division and now will get a shot at the big boys at what some call the Mecca of harness racing. 

"There's not a lot of big races for him here now," trainer/driver Tim Brown explained before Friday's race. "The owner (John Heras) thought it would be nice to give him a chance in the east. 

"There's a series of races starting Jan. 14," Brown continued. "I don't think he'll embarrass himself." 

Friday's result added to his resume.  

Starting from post two in a field of seven, Cruiser, a 6-5 favorite, battled early to get the front with rail-sitter Haras Cola Cola. He did and had a 11/2 length lead at that point. The order of the race never changed as each call had no change and Cola finished second with Infinite Dreams third. 

"He was good again," Brown said. "It was a nice way to head out." 

And head out this week was what Brown and Cruiser did. They were to truck and trailer to Oakland, CA where Cruiser would board an aircraft for the flight to New Jersey. 

Friday's victory gave Cruiser nine wins, five seconds and two thirds in 19 starts in 2004. He has won more than $129,000 this year and more than $153,000 in his short career.

He has captured the Sandown Plate, a division of the Sandown Breeders and the B.C. Breeders Stakes in 2004.  

WITH HEART AND STYLE: Despite starting from the outside of the short, five-horse field, Heart And Style did the job in style in winning the fillies and mares open last Saturday. 

Heart And Style, a five-year-old daughter of Make A Deal, covered the mile in 1:57.1 in prevailing by 3/4 of a length. It was the fourth win in 19 starts in 2004 for the mare owned by Mike Rathje and Lance Goshko and trained and driven by Rick White. She now has career earnings of more than $160,000. 

Heart And Style, 5-1 third choice in the field, was fourth at the quarter pole but had worked up nicely to be second after three quarters and have the lead turning for home.

Outlaw Cantcatchme was second and Dal Reo Tantrum third.

Carson Jane, the 1-2 favorite, went off stride after the start and fell well back. 

BROWN AND DAVIS LEAD WAY: Tim Brown and Bill Davis shared top spot in the driver derby at Fraser Downs last weekend. 

The duo each picked up a handful to lead the way while Rick White and Jim Marino each had four. Brad Watt and Dave Hudon were next with three apiece and Doug Moore had two. 

Davis, top trainer and driver for the meet, was tops among the conditioners with five victories, one more than White. Brown had three and Marino and Ray Gemmill two apiece. 

Trainer/driver - and owner - Craig Senay has returned to the Fraser Downs races after competing doe several months in Alberta. Trainer/driver Larry Micallef is also back after competing in the recent Edmonton Northlands meet. 

Regular Alberta trainer/driver Don Monkman, Jr. is also expected to land in the Lower Mainland soon. He is expected to bring six horses to join the fray. 

RACE FOIR FOOD: The horsemen in the Fraser Downs backstretch are in another race, this time a competition to collect the most food for the Langley Food Bank. 

It will be a battle of the barns with collection boxes for each barn located in the Horsemen's Cafeteria. (To make it fair, barns A and F will be combined.) Not to be left out, those who ship-in for Downs races will also have a "barn box." Backstretch people not connected to any one barn can also contribute either to their favorite barn, or chip in for each barn.  

The competition will end on Dec.31. The barn contributing the most items will win a pizza party but, of course, the big winners in this race will be the people using the Langley Food Bank.  

HEAVY WIN WARNING: Heavy Rain Warning, who captured the Sales Stakes at the Downs on Dec. 11, continued his impressive winning ways last weekend. In a Sires Stakes race at CalExpo in Sacramento, Heavy Rain Warning, one of the stars from the J J J Stable-Anderson ownership combination, won in 1:52.1, a track record for three-year-old colts and geldings. 

MIXED SALE SET: The B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society's annual mixed sale will be held Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Fairgrounds Show Barn. The entry fee is $100 and a five per cent commission will be charged on all sales and buy backs.  

The deadline for catalogued entries is Friday, Jan. 21. Supplemental entries will be accepted until Friday, Jan. 28.  

Entry forms will be available at the Breeders office by Dec.14. A downloadable PDF will also be made available on the harnessbc web site.  

DANCE ALERT: The 2004 Standardbred Industry Awards Gala is scheduled for Saturday, Feb.19. 

The event, sponsored by the B.C. Standardbred Association, the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society and Fraser Downs, and promised to be the biggest and best yet, 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. 

AHOY HANDICAPPERS: Two of Fraser Downs more popular handicapping events are set to start soon. 

The KENO Harness Pool will be held Jan. 7 to Feb. 27 and the California Dreamin' Handicapping Contest is set for each Saturday from Jan. 8 to Feb. 26. 

The KENO Harness Poll will offer $10,000 in prize money. 

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

Two trades will be allowed, one on Jan. 21 and the other Feb. 11 (the contest will NOT have two halves this year). 

Selection sheets are now available at the Downs, Sandown Park, Hastings Racecourse and any TBC Race Centre.  

Dreamers, meanwhile, will be after the top prize of a trip for two to the Santa Anita Derby. Each Saturday for eight weeks contestants can win $250 and the winner will qualify for the final, set for March 5. 

NO NEW POOL WAGERING YET: After meeting with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, Woodbine Entertainment says Canadians won't be free to wager directly into U.S. pools until next year. 

According to a story by the Daily Racing Form, WEG met with the CPMA after federal legislation in the U.S. abolished the 30 per cent withholding tax on foreign wagering, and there are concerns over some regulatory issues and the minimum wager of $1 for some exotic wagers. When converted, the Canadian dollar would not meet that requirement. 

"I suspect it will be well into 2005 before we get this rolling," Steve Mitchell, vice president of wagering operations for Woodbine, told the DRF. "But that doesn't change our resolve. We're obviously committed to getting this done. We just didn't know how slow the road was going to be."

Mitchell added that raising the minimum bet to $2 in Canada in order to solve the problem of the minimum wager requirement is not a viable option.  

"That would be a major change and I don't think our customers would benefit," he said. "The States are going to have to accept the fact that we're going to stick to $1 Canadian bets."

(With files from the DRF)