Da Lil Dudett a good student

Da Lil Dudett went to school for the first three weeks in March and last Saturday she proved she is a good student. The daughter of Apaches Fame out of South Ferry, was impressive in winning the $34,200 Delta Pace for three-year-old fillies at Fraser Downs. 

With trainer Larry Micallef in the bike, Dudett started from the five-hole in the field of six. She was in no hurry early, moving to fourth at the quarter -- and half  -- before pulling out second over. 

Miss St Labush and Red Star Suesue set the early fractions, the half in 59.3, and Red Star Marianne was moved first up. Dudette was third (two back) at the three-quarters but was rolled three wide to take over. 

Her 29.1 last quarter allowed the 4-5 favorite to pull away to a three-length verdict in a lifetime best 1:58.1.  

Red Star Marianne followed her home for second and Celtic Rayne, the Sales Stakes winner in December, was last at the half but came on for third. 

Miss St Labush, winner of the Stallion Stakes for three-year olds on Jan. 17, slipped to last in the field of six after her early lead. Red Star Suesue, the other half of the Robert Murphy 2-1, second-choice entry, was fourth and 30-1 shot Rooibos Tea fifth. 

The win for Da Lil Dudett, owned by Lil Dude Ranch of Surrey, was her first in four starts so far this season. Last year, the filly won five races in seven starts, including the $46,355 B.C. Breeders Stake, which helped her being named B.C.’s two-year-old filly of the year in 2003. 

She now has more than $19,000 in earnings in 2004 and more than $58,000 for her career. 

A quick check of her form shows that her winning ways in 2003 all came with her firing off the gate and going gate-to-wire. 

Micallef said after the race that three prep races in March against older horses were used “to get her to learn to race from off the pace.” 

She was fifth, second and third in those races with her personal race times competitive.

“We knew there were lots of leavers in this race,” Micallef continued. “We changed bridles and opened her up to try and get her to relax.” 

It worked. 

“She has been good (in her learning races) and she raced good here,” Micallef agreed.

Now Da Lil Dudett will likely get a chance to move along a trail of Stakes that would take her out of B.C. 

“She will get a little time off and then she will compete in the Compass Rose in Edmonton,” Micallef said. (The Rose elims are May 14 and the $60,000 final May 21). 

“If she’s any good there she will go on. She is eligible for the OSS (Ontario Sires Series) so if she does well in Alberta she even could go on to there.” 

COLA SHARP: On a day where driver/trainer Dave Hudon had the strong consolation of four wins (in each category), he had to relinquish his Invite magic touch. 

This day the spotlight shone brightly on Haras Colta Cola who came up with a sparkling performance to capture the Invite in a tough field of eight. 

Haras Colta Cola, known for tremendous gate speed, rolled to the win from off the pace to win in a lifetime mark of 1:53.4, just two-fifths of a second off the track record.  

Owned by Off Track Stable of Aldergrove, trained by Paul Harrison and driven by Rick White, Haras Colta Cola started from the five hole on the gate. At the quarter pole he was still fifth (7½ lengths back) and at the three-quarter pole, he was again still fifth (5½ back). A brisk last quarter of 27.3 gave Cola a ¼ length win over Red Star Admiral, who was second all the way. Sucha Smooth Deal finished third, two lengths back. 

Haras Colta Cola, a five-year-old gelded son of Armbro Operative out of Celes Lady, added last weekend’s win to a narrow neck-loss the week before. After a February where he was a little off, he now has three wins and two seconds in nine starts in 2004. 

Hudon, who had won the Invite six times since Jan. 24, rested Infinite Dreams last weekend but he drove co-track record holder Red Star Justice. However, after leading most of the way the 8-5 favorites had to settle for fourth. 

HUDON HUMMIN’: After a virtual night off Friday, when he had only two drives – and no wins – Dave Hudon got busier, and highly successful, the rest of the weekend. 

Hudon got a four-bagger (grand slam) each day and his total of eight gave him driver bragging rights for the week and pushed him to 82 wins for the meet and 56 for the year. 

Jim Marino, who also has been making noise in 2004, picked up five for 39 in the year. Leading meet driver Bill Davis had four while Gord Abbott, Rick White, Scott Knight, Larry Micallef and Jim Burke had three each. Newcomer Clint Warrington had two. 

Hudon was also top trainer with six victories. Micallef had five and Davis three. With a deuce each were White, Sten Ericsson, Paul Harrison, Rick Lancaster and Mike Glover. 

GCGC, WALL AFTER HASTINGS: A subsidiary of Richmond’s Great Canadian Gaming Corp., backed by Vancouver developer Peter Wall, has announced its winning bid for financially troubled Hastings Park racetrack. 

Under the purchase agreement, Great Canadian, which runs seven B.C. casinos, will buy all outstanding shares from Hastings Entertainment Inc., owned by Toronto’s Woodbine Entertainment Group. 

Wall Financial Corp. will acquire 40 per cent of Great Canadian’s subsidiary after the sale.

The sale is subject to approval by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of the provincial government and is scheduled to close on April 8.

WEG, through its wholly owned subsidiary HEI, acquired Hastings from the Pacific Racing Association on May 1, 2002. Since that time, declining trends have been reversed and wagering and attendance levels at the racecourse have increased.  

LET’S GET TOGETHER: Amalgamation of the B.C. Standardbred Association and the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society is being considered once again. 

The idea was explored several years ago, and based on a 90 per cent survey support from both memberships, the amalgamation process was started. By-laws were drafted with the help of a lawyer and were presented for consideration at the BCSBS annual general meeting in 2001. However, the idea was narrowly defeated by those in attendance. 

Survey work since has indicated that the memberships still support the notion of the two groups becoming one.  

The BCSA and BCSBS have formed committees to re-evaluate the idea of amalgamation.

They have met twice and have discussed the proposed bylaws and their effect on the memberships of the two groups.  

The boards of both groups have agreed to send the proposed by-laws for an amalgamated society to both memberships for consideration. 

MATALLA STILL ON TOP: Dennis Matsalla has held on to his lead after the fifth week of the second half in the $10,000 KENO Harness Pool at Fraser Downs. 

Matsalla picked up four points last weekend and now has 68 for the five weeks. He widened his lead to four points. Vladislav Vipler moved into second with 10 points for the week and has a total of 66, one ahead of Nobby Mori. 

Koji Kariya and Allan Lester are next at 63 apiece while tied at 62 are Matt Jordan and Bud Ketcheson. Ian Barrie has 61, Inga McDougall 60 and Michael Copeland and Neale Fraser each have 59. 

Mori leads the overall standings with 108 points and Vipler has moved into second with 99. Pamela Percy-Bell, Matsalla, and McDougall each have 97. 

The Harness Pool had 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 this weekend. 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. 

At the end of each half, the top three contestants will win prize money: first  $250, second $150 and third $100.  

IMPRESSIVE: A number of horses familiar to Downs’ race fans, were in action last weekend, particularly at Northlands and Woodbine. 

Two four-year-olds with Stakes titles at the Downs, had impressive, although not quite winning, performances at the Ontario race course. Red Star Emerson, owned by Robert Murphy, and Rich Cam, owned by Sunbury Stables, each finished second, using powerful last quarters to catch some attention.  

Emerson, a son of Armbro Emerson, was second by a half length, in a non-winners of $16,500 last six or $100,000 lifetime. He covered the last quarter in 27.1 seconds in the race, which went in 1:52 for the mile. 

Rich Cam, a son of Camluck, was two lengths from winning in a $33,000 claimer, but roared home in 26.4 seconds. The mile went in 1:52.2. 

Also at Woodbine last Saturday, Red Star Minckler, the fastest B.C.-bred ever with a 1:49.2, was sixth in a $50-60,000 claimer. Minckler, now trained by Kevin McMaster, came home in 27.1 in the race, which was covered in 1:52.3. 

Yankee Money, owned by Cam Gardner of Surrey, was second in the $36,800 Borden Park Stake for three-and four-year old colts, last weekend at Northlands in Edmonton. 

The Fisco Kid, sold recently to Alberta interests, won by nine lengths over Robert Murphy’s Red Star Gracie in a non-winners four. The Kid traveled the mile in 1:57.4. 

In a non-winners five, Showtime Eddy, also now owned by Albertans, was second while Maxamillenium, owned by Gordon Strickler and Warrior Stables of Coquitlam, was sixth. The winner was Fort Apache, just returned from Woodbine, in 1:58. 

Among others racing at Northlands were Gold Cole, Jimster and Rainbow Shark (a winner). 

KING ME: After week one, 19 contestants were still alive in the Fraser Downs’ King of the Hill handicapping contest. 

It started March 22 when entrants submitted a pick of what horse they thought would win on the Woodbine Monday night card. (Entries must be in by 4:30 p.m. Monday). 

If the handicapper is astute and his/her horse wins he/she moves on to the next week. Lose and it’s gone, out, kaput. 

The last person handicapping is King of the Hill – and will also be $500 richer thanks to the Downs. 

MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: Last week Kings Song was sweet music, placing second and paying $10.50 to place. This time we will try Georgia K, a 10-1 morning line choice, in the ninth race Friday.