Cruiser sets track record for three-year olds

Topping the 16 lifetime marks set last weekend at Fraser Downs was a blistering track record for three-year-old colts and geldings by Seven Seas Cruiser on Sunday. 

A son of Scruffy Hanover out of Nonukesisgoodnukes, Seven Seas Cruiser picked up his first win (along with four seconds and a third in seven starts) of 2004 in rolling over the mile in 1:54.2. 

The former record was 1:55, jointly held by Nazko Promise, set Nov. 3, 2001 and Dale Reo, recorded Oct. 25, 2003. 

Owned by John Heras of Delta and trained and driven by Tim Brown, Cruiser watched as Soarnbrace slid into the lead on the first turn. However, Brown brushed into the lead just past the quarter and held a 1½-length lead at the half. A last half of 56.2, including a 28-second third quarter, was too much for his opponents as Cruiser won by 2¾ lengths over Soarnbrace. Lil Dude Starrbuck, another three-year-old, was just beaten for second. 

Seven Seas Cruiser had shown plenty of promise. He was fifth in the recent Pat Brennan Memorial Stakes, second in the B.C. Stallion Stakes on Jan. 18 and second in the B.C. Breeders (two-year-olds) on Nov. 8, 2003. 

“He went a big mile,” Brown said modestly. “He is a nice colt, I always thought that he was one of the best three-year-olds here. 

“He was sick for awhile and that set him back a little,” Brown added. “He has some ability and in the Brennan he got caught in behind. 

“There is one more Stake to come so I thought I would blow him out,” Brown said with a smile in explaining the record proportions. 

Oddly enough, Sucha Smooth Deal, winner of the recent Pat Brennan, won the ninth race on the Sunday card, setting a life mark of 1:55 and edging Red Star Admiral by a neck. 

In the sixth race Sunday, Lunar Chipmunk, again out of the Brown barn, knocked more than four seconds off his previous life mark in blazing to a 1:56 clocking. The four-year-old is a son of Atomic Force. 

“It was a nice claim (on March 7),” Brown said. “We noticed some little things and did some vet work and made some equipment changes. I had his mother (Willow Countess) once and had a soft spot for her.” 

Also among the eight new marks Sunday was a 1:56.3 by three-year-old Hi Time Ascot who won for the third time in that many career starts and a 1:58.4 by Dal Reo Maxim, a four-year-old mare who won her fourth in a row. 

On Saturday when there were five new marks, T K Domi raced to a 1:56.4 clocking, in racing to a dead heat with Titans Revenge. 

BCSA BOARD: Joining the B.C. Standardbred Association board of directors will be newcomers Scott Knight, Rob Linford and Bill Pambrun. They were elected to two-year terms, along with incumbents Jim Vinnell and David Woolley, in the recent voting.

There were 12 people running for five seats on the board. A total of 186 of the 569 ballots mailed out were returned for a return rate of 37 per cent.  

The five new directors assumed office at the annual general meeting on March 23. They joined Gar Campbell, Paul Harrison, Rod Therres, Wendell Smith and Fred Zaitsoff, all of whom are starting the second year of their two-year terms.  

HUDON TOUCH: Maybe it’s driver Dave Hudon that has the magic touch. 

For weeks (it started on Jan. 24) we have been writing about the success of trainer Dave Hudon in the Invite event at Fraser Downs. Horses – specifically Infinite Dreams and Red Star Justice – trained by Hudon have won the Invite six times from Jan. 24. 

Driver Dave has won five of those six and he did it again last Saturday, when he switched from Justice to Dreams and won in a field of seven. 

Infinite Dreams, part of a 1-5 favored entry with Justice, started in the five-hole and was in now rush early. He was still fifth at the quarter (six back), moved to fourth at the half and was third at the three-quarter pole. 

Meanwhile, Haras Colta Cola, with Rick White in the bike, chased closely by Red Star Justice with driver Jim Marino, moved to the front from the two spot on the gate. Cola, a 7-2 second choice, stayed in the lead until, well, just about the wire, as Infinite Dreams slipped past to win by a neck. 

C Lec Machine, a 23-1 choice, closed strongly for third and Justice was fourth. 

Infinite Dreams, a five-year-old son of Artsplace, covered the mile in 1:55.2 in his fourth win of 2004. He also has three seconds in eight starts and has won $28,000. 

Infinite Dreams is owned by Bill Boden and Justice by Kelly Hudon. 

Expert handicappers have surely noticed that Infinite Dreams has won alternate weeks since Jan. 24.  

BROWN CONNECTS: Thanks to a grand slam last Sunday, Tim Brown led the way in the Downs’ driver derby last weekend. Brown started with one on Friday and added two Saturday to build his total of seven. He is now just five short of 100 wins for the meet. 

“It was a good weekend,” Brown said. “In our barn alone we had four wins and a second. It was a good driving weekend and a good training weekend.” 

Dave Hudon was next with six victories, Bill Davis five and Jim Marino and Rod Therres four each. Picking up a pair were Larry Micallef, Dave McKellar, Jim Burke and Rick White. 

Hudon continued his run in the trainer chase, rolling to five triumphs last weekend. Brown had four while Mike Glover, Therres and Davis had three each and Ray Gemmill, White and Micallef two apiece. 

Micallef’s double came on Sunday, his 40th birthday. 

Clint Warrington, who has been doing most of his driving in Ontario, but also has competed at the Meadowlands and Yonkers among other tracks, has joined the Micallef team at Lil Dude Ranch. Warrington, a 43-year-old, has 873 career wins as a driver.

He had three drives last weekend, picking up a second, third and fourth. 

Speaking of special occasions, Saturday is the 55th anniversary for Marian, the owner, and Bill, the trainer, Young. Many who know the Youngsters have been amazed at Marian’s fantastic staying power but those close to Bill know he is really just a big teddy bear. 

Fraser Downs’ general manager Chuck Keeling celebrated his 32nd birthday last Saturday.

TAKE YOUR CHOICE: Saturday is the final of the $34,200 Delta Pace for three-year-old fillies. 

It’s only a field of six (five betting interests) but the morning line odds illustrate just how tight a battle it should be. The fourth choice is 7-2. 

Getting the favorite’s role in the overnights was Da Lil Dudett, two-year-old filly of the year in 2003 as a two-time Stakes winner, at 8-5. 

Miss St Labush, winner of the Stallion Stakes for three-year olds on Jan. 17, is at 2-1; the entry of Red Star Marianne and Red Star Suesue is at 3-1 and Celtic Rayne, Sales Stakes winner in December, is at 7-2. 

Long-shot players will get their chance with Rooibos Tea who stands at 10-1.  

MATSALLA STILL: Dennis Matsalla has maintained his lead after the fourth week of the second half in the $10,000 KENO Harness Pool at Fraser Downs. 

Matsalla picked up 14 points last weekend and now has 64 for the four weeks. He still has a two-point lead over Koji Kariya and Allan Lester, who also had 14 points, and now each has 62. 

Nobby Mori has moved into fourth with 59 while Michael Copeland and Bud Ketcheson each have 58. Fred Sheppard has 57 and tied at 56 are Dolly Lemke, Richard MacCaull, V. Vipler and Inga McDougall. 

Mori leads the overall standings with 102 points and Pamela Percy-Bell has 95 while Matsalla, Kariya and McDougall have 93. 

The Harness Pool has contestants pick a stable of horses and each contestant earns points based on their performance (five for win, three for place and one for show). 

The second half concludes on April 4 and at the end of each half, the top three contestants will win prize money. At the end of the contest, both halves will be added and the top 40 players, including ties, will share in the $10,000 prize pool. 

They will receive prizes as follows: first $2,500, second $1,500, third $1000, fourth to 10th $250 and 11th to 40th  $75. Prizes will be awarded to the top three players in each half: first  $250, second $150 and third $100. Winners of first half top-three prizes are not eligible for second half top-three prizes. 

OH MANDY: Mandys Rich, a former young star at Fraser Downs, was second last Saturday in a $10,000 claiming event at Cal Expo in Sacramento. Mandys Rich, owned by JJJ Stable of Aldergrove and trained by Mark Anderson, fourth choice at the start, lost by a neck in 1:55. 

Red Star Fiddler, also owned by JJJ, was sixth in a $16,000 claimer. 

Red Star Minckler, the fastest B.C.-bred ever, was ninth after leading at the half in a $50-60,000 claimer at Woodbine in Toronto last Saturday. Minckler, now trained by Kevin McMaster, was third choice for the race, which went in 1:53.4.

CASE DENIED: At a recent meeting of the Ohio State Racing Commission, Walter Case Jr. was denied in his bid to regain his licence to compete. In a vote of 5-0, Case failed in his request for reinstatement, however he was told that he could now request a formal hearing, which could be held as early as April 22.

"I'd die to drive a horse again," Case reportedly told the commission. "I know it won't happen today or soon, I just want a chance to train and make a living. I love horses very much."

Case, who apologized to the commission for having been placed in this situation, has not driven since last June. He surrendered his licence in Ohio after accumulating nearly six months in suspension time. He was also arrested and spent some time in jail following an altercation at Northfield Park.

Hoping to make it back to the racetrack, Case is reportedly in an anger and alcohol diagnosis program and regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

ALBERTA TV EXPOSURE: The Alberta horse industry is hoping for more television exposure of its major races this coming season reports Jonathan Huntington in the Edmonton Sun. 

Negotiations are taking place with both CTA and Global to have a total of seven live broadcasts in 2004.  

The tentative schedule would start with the Prairie Gold Stakes at Northlands on June 12, the Alberta Derby in Calgary on June 19 and Northlands’ signature event, the Western Canada Pacing Derby on June 20. Two of Northlands’ top thoroughbred events, The Canadian Derby and Alberta Fall Classic, Aug. 28 and Sept. 25 are also on the schedule.  

Stampede Park’s top standardbred event, The Nat Christie Memorial, would be aired on Aug. 29 and a $100,000 quarter-horse race from Lethbridge would round out the events likely to be broadcast. 

MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: The magic returned. OK, so that might be a little carried away but for the first time in 13 races we hit the board. Tinkers Magic, a 16-1 shot last Saturday, finished second and paid $12.20 to place. This time try Kings Song, a 10-1 morning line shot in the 10th race Saturday.

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