A little layover in California obviously did not have a huge effect on Seven Seas Cruiser.

When we last left the B.C. bred champ he was in the air flying to New Jersey and ultimately on to the Meadowlands, the Mecca of harness racing. 

The powerful then-three, now-four -year-old son of Scruffy Hanover out of the mare Nonukesisgoodnukes had been a dominant force in his division in B.C, and now was to get a shot at the big boys. 

Trainer Tim Brown drove Cruiser to Oakland before Christmas but he had to wait for a number of days before being able to get a flight. He did arrive safely and last Friday showed he did not lose a step. 

In a qualifier for an upcoming Stakes series, Cruiser blasted home in 26.4 seconds over the last quarter to beat a field of eight. He had the six post, got to the front early, settled back to second for much of the race and then came on for a 11/2 length victory. He was driven by Brian Sears and covered the mile in 1:56.2. 

He will now take part tonight (Friday) in one of a trio of $20,000 Complex Series opening round divisions. He won a qualifier at the Meadowlands last Friday in 1:56.2. Seven Seas Cruiser has drawn post eight in his division, race eight.  

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

Heading to the Meadowlands, Cruiser had nine wins, five seconds and two thirds in 19 starts in 2004. He won more than $129,000 in the 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.            

 JANE GOOD AGAIN: Carson Jane threw her form out the window - and was very good again. 

Carson Jane went gate-to-wire in capturing the fillies and mares open last Friday at the Downs. It was the second straight win for the five-year-old daughter of Cambest who defeated a field of seven, winning by 13/4 lengths in 1:58.3 on the slow track. 

Owned by Bill Boden and trained and driven by Dave Hudon, Carson Jane now has won four times in six starts since arriving at the Downs in November. The mare, who has a lifetime best of 1:53 set at the Meadowlands, has been plagued with breaking stride, leaving her out of contention in what had been a pattern of every other start. 

The 2-5 favorite, who went to the front from the three post, now has 10 wins and has earned more than $75,000 in her career. 

Bigshoestofill, the 5-1 second choice, chased Jane the whole way to get second and Mandy Jaccka, a 22-1 shot, was third for the second successive week. 

MARINO LEADS WAY: New blood highlighted the driver and trainer win derbies last weekend. 

Jim Marino grabbed a six-pack, including a three-bagger Saturday, to lead the way among the drivers. Tim Brown, despite missing Sunday's action, had five victories along with Scott Knight. Bill Davis picked up four while Daniel St Amand, Dave Hudon, Larry Micallef and Carl Sibiga had two apiece. 

A hot Mike Glover topped all trainers with a handful. Davis had three and Brett Currie, Andy Arsenault, Rick White, Knight and Brown had two each. 

One more new trainer/driver made an appearance at the Downs last weekend when John Brandon Campbell, most recently at Edmonton's Northlands Park made a start. Campbell drove Distant Wind for Saskatchewan owners. 

Fellow Albertans Don Monkman, Jr. and Jerry Nelner each saw their first action. 

BIG WINNERS: Some big payoffs started the weekend by highlighting Friday's action but the real eye-opener was a record triactor on Sunday. 

It looked innocent enough when 5-1 choice Pennys Dancer captured the race. However, closer inspection revealed she was fourth pick at post time and when combined with Mellowroad, at 44-1 the longest shot in the race, and Southside Telstar, 6-1, the result was $24,451.10.

However, the only winning wager was for $1 so the lucky - and decidedly clever - ticket holder won $12,225.55. The previous highest tri was $20,334.90. 

On Friday, El Rosal, a 50-1 shot starting from the eight post, used a strong late rally to win and pay $102.80 in the eighth race. Cat Street was second and Groucho N third for a $7,990.40 triactor. 

W R Kirena Rose, a 28-1 shot, captured the 13th race and paid $57.90 to win and strangely $73,20 to place. 

FIRST DRINK TO BEVERIDGE: Lance Beveridge of White Rock captured the first week's honors, bragging rights, and $250 in the California Dreamin Handicapping Contest. 

Beveridge waited to the last three races - entrants handicap races three through eight at Santa Anita Racecourse -- and then won $509, led by a $415 payoff in race seven. 

Joe Ozorio was second, winning $493, followed by Jim Sentes $472, Barry Hunt $463 and Gerry Pegura $457. 

Dreamers are 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 day's winner qualifies for the final, set for March 5. 

JENSEN FIRST IN POOL: Rick Jensen got away from the gate fastest in the first week of the KENO Harness Pool. 

With 19 the most points available, Jensen roared away with 18 for a two-point lead.

Hans Cyzpull, Jim Dixon, Derek Johannson, Nancy Spiers and Morris Karpuk were next with 16. Tied at 15 were Brian Heard, Craig Lalonde, Allan Lester, Rob McElhinney, Barbara Payne and Shirley Setter. 

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

Once again 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. 

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

SERIES POPULAR: Red Star Leam and Red Star Buck captured the first legs of the Iron Horse Claiming Series last Saturday.  The two legs, with purses of $4,000, were for horses to be claimed for $5,000 plus allowances. 

Leam won the first division by 41/4 lengths over the 11/16-mile distance in 1:18.4. Buck actually finished second by half a length to Fox Valley Riddler in the other division but Riddler was disqualified and placed eight for causing interference.  

Fox Valley Tex, an 83-1 shot, placed second to Buck while Bjs Touch Down chased Leam to the wire. 

The series has a flashy new name and an intriguing twist to the format -- legs (and the final) to be raced over varying distances. 

The second leg - for horses to be claimed for $6,000 plus allowances - will be this Saturday and the final, with a purse of $15,000, is set for Jan. 22. The second leg will be a mile and the final will be a long and rugged mile and 5/16. 

Blackbelt Champ was claimed out of the first division while Riddler and Flying Ambro were claimed from the second. 

Interestingly, the 11/16th first race was the best bet first race of any card this year, and the sixth race was the best bet race on the day’s card.

"That was a surprise to us," Downs general manager Chuck Keeling said. "We figured players would be intrigued with the race, but we were not certain that would translate into a larger than normal amount wagered. Obviously we were wrong." 

BETTING AIDS: Tiny Tim's are now available at Fraser Downs. The TTs are another wagering device, slightly larger - more like a desktop model - than the Palm Pilots. 

Palm Pilots, introduced for the first time at any Canadian track a couple of months ago, are hand-held computers, which will allow you to make your bets throughout the Downs facilities. 

Now the Tiny Tims, which would be ideal for a group of patrons who wish to share bets, are also here. 

People must be members of HPI (in order to have an account) and must sign off on a $200 credit card deposit for the equipment. It will allow them to wander throughout the facility and wager without ever going to the mutuel windows.  

 "For those that hate line ups, this is the way to wager on a horse race," said Downs' general manager Chuck Keeling.

See Jewel Kositsky at the HPI window in the Finish Line for more information.