Cruiser to battle tonight

Seven Seas Cruiser did not embarrass himself in his debut last Friday at The Meadowlands. 

The powerful four-year-old son of Scruffy Hanover out of the mare Nonukesisgoodnukes made his first start at the New Jersey emporium and, although not in the money, showed enough to take another shot tonight. 

Forced to start from the outside of the eight-horse field, Cruiser actually took the lead on the outside just at the quarter. He was second at the half and third at the 3/4 pole but the first half of 56 seconds set it up for late closers. 

He finished 4¾ lengths behind winner Three Quarter Cam, who covered the mile in 1:52. Cruiser was clocked in 1:53 with a 27.2 last quarter. 

The race was a $20,000 leg of the Complex Series and there were three divisions.

Another leg will be held tonight and Tim Brown, Cruiser’s trainer here in B.C. said they would give him another shot. He will still from the inside rail post. 

“We were not disappointed in him,” Brown said the day after the race. “He left pretty hard and had to take back a little and it’s tough to get back in it where they come home in 26.” 

(My Buddy Bob, which finished fourth, actually came home in 25.3.) 

Mark Harder, now Cruiser’s trainer in the U.S., reported that he came out of the race in good shape and it’s felt he could be better with the start under his belt. 

Cruiser, owned by John Heras of Delta, was an 11-1 shot with driver David Miller in the bike. 

COLA KEEPS SIZZLING: Mr. Consistency was back at it again. 

Haras Colta Cola, who starts the Invite with very few weeks off, also is never far from the front – at the end. The six-year-old gelded son of Armbro Operative captured the Invite last Sunday over a field of seven, overcoming early and late challenges. 

He covered the mile on the sloppy track in 1:57.2, winning by ¾ of a length over Red Star Admiral, who was slowly closing ground. 

Cola, the 7-5 favorite, had raced to the front early from his two-post but had to relinquish to newcomer Duke Is Duke. The latter came from the outside seven hole but did not clear until in front of the clubhouse.  

Admiral came first-up, flushing Cola who regained the lead on the final turn. Nuclear Dew, a 25-1 shot, was a late-closing third. 

Haras Colta Cola, owned by the Off Track Stable, and trained and driven by Paul Harrison, now has four wins, three seconds and three thirds in his last 10 races, all in the Invite. 

JANE LOOKS GOOD: OK, Carson Jane is just good. 

The former good girl, bad girl form appears to be gone as the five-year-old daughter of Cambest made it three straight victories in the fillies and mares open at Fraser Downs. 

Last Saturday, despite being handicapped to the outside six hole, Carson Jane rolled to the win. She did it with a different strategy too as driver/trainer Dave Hudon stayed well back (fifth) until just past the half. 

Then a powerful move down the backstretch pushed the 1-5 favorite past the field and she went on to a 2¼-length margin. She covered the mile on the frozen track in 1:57.1.

Dealmeahos was second and 20-1 shot Sharons Pass was third. 

Owned by Bill Boden, Carson Jane now has won five times in seven starts since arriving at the Downs in November. The mare, who has a lifetime best of 1:53 set at the Meadowlands, has (now had) been plagued with breaking stride. 

DAVIS ON TOP: Bill Davis was back on top of the driver stats last weekend at the Downs. The leading campaigner had six wins for the three days, two more than newcomer Serge Masse. 

Glenn White and Jim Marino each had three victories while Dave McKellar, Larry Micallef, Paul Harrison, Rick White, Scott Knight, Gord Abbott, Tim Brown and John Hudon were a big pack at two. 

Rick White led all trainers with four trips to the winner’s enclosure. Masse, Davis and Dave Hudon had three apiece and those at two included Harrison, Micallef, Rod Therres and Wayne Isbister. 

PEGURA DREAMER TWO: Don Pegura of Coquitlam captured the second week’s honors and $250 in the California Dreamin Handicapping Contest. 

Pegura had a total of $691 in the three races – entrants handicap races three through eight at Santa Anita Racecourse – to lead Roy Yip by $30. 

Fred Sheppard and Ray McMillan shared third with $585 while Molly Ziola was fifth at $550. Wray Jones was next with $533 followed by Sheldon Burwassh at $493 and Josef Eppel at $475. 

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. Lance Beveridge won the first weekly title. 

JOHNSON WAXES ALL: Lloyd Johnson has charged into the lead after week two of the KENO Harness Pool. 

Johnson picked up 14 points for the second straight week and now has 28 for a two-point margin atop the standings. 

First-week lead Rick Jensen was able to gather eight points in week two to stay in the hunt – tied for second with 26 points. Morris Karpuk got 10 second-week points to join Jensen. Hiro Yodogawa was the big mover and shaker, amassing 18 points to jump into a tie for fourth at 25 points. Eugene Ohara and Rob McElhinney also have 25. Tied at 24 are Ben Olafson, who had 15 in week two, Hans Cyzpull, Joe Howald, Derek Johannson, Stephen Stelnicki, Karen Parker and Dave Kennedy. 

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 today and the other Feb. 11 (the contest will NOT have two halves this year). 

SERIES MARATHON SATURDAY: Red Star Leam and Flyin Ambro won the second legs of the Iron Horse Claiming Series last Saturday. The legs, with purses of $4,000, were for horses to be claimed for $6,000. 

Leam captured the first division by 1¼ lengths over the mile in 1:58 while Ambro prevailed by the same distance in 1:58.2. Gold Cole was second to Leam, the 1-5 favorite who had won the previous week in one of the first legs. BJs Touch Down was second to Flyin Ambro, a 5-2 choice. 

This year 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 first legs were over a distance of 11/16 of a mile, the second legs over the traditional mile and today’s final will be a long and rugged mile and 5/16. The purse will be $16,500. 

Leam and Red Star Buck were claimed out of the first race last Saturday while five, yes, five, claims were made in the second race: Blackbelt Champ, Sporty Mr Grace, Flyin Ambro, BJs Touch Down and Fox Valley Riddler. 

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

Meanwhile, Langley’s Lois Hannah, a horse breeder (Canadians) and artist of note, will have a display of her sculpture, The Iron Horse, on hand today at the Downs.  

WOLSKI HONORED: Tom Wolski, producer of Sport Of Kings on Citytv Vancouver, is the winner of the 2004 Broadcasters Awards competition. 

The award is co-sponsored by the United States Trotting Association and the United States Harness Writers’ Association. Award winners will receive $500 from standardbred owner Sanford Goldfarb, who has underwritten the $3,400 in prize money for this year’s competitions. 

Wolski was named the winner in the Broadcasters Awards for his feature on trainer/driver Andy and his wife Brenda Arsenault. Wolski was selected by Tom Dawson, horse racing producer for ESPN, who was the judge of the Broadcasters Awards. 

"I was interested from the opening shots and wanted to know more," said Dawson. "I'm a believer in using well placed voice over bridges to connect the dots in a story line, but this feature did a nice job of piecing together first person accounts in a cogent manner. While not fancy, the production values were enough to make me feel like I knew something about the participants. This is a good example of finding a story, getting those involved to tell it properly and shooting what b-roll you can to enhance the story. Substance over style." 

The winners will be honored at the awards banquet conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, to be held Sunday, Feb.13 at Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The banquet annually honors the top people and equines from the past season of harness racing.