Downs' track passes first test
The revamped track at Fraser Downs has
earned early passing grades.
The Downs opened with two nights of
live harness racing last weekend and the track – with some
alterations to turns and a new surface – brought some fast
times and kind words.
It started with the first race Friday
when some of the best horses on the grounds met. Bre X had a
tough battle with Lo Siento as they both covered the last
quarter in a nifty 27.4 seconds with Bre X winning by
three-quarters of a length. The winning time was 1:54.3,
just 4/5 of a second off the track record.
“Good, I liked it,” said driver Tim
Brown when asked how he found the new track.
“I think it should be a big
improvement,” added Brown who had three wins in the two
days. “Sinful Sally, who used to have troubles on the turns,
never lost an inch on that last turn,” said Brown, using of
one of the horses he drove to victory, as a prime example.
“Horses that were going in flat-footed
before seemed to steer much better.”
Brown also praised the new surface – a
The work took about eight days in
August and the biggest change made was the banking in the
first turn where the grades were set from about six per cent
to exactly 13 per cent.
MARINO LEADS: Jim Marino led the
driver brigade on the opening weekend at the Downs.
Marino had a pair of wins on each day (Friday and Saturday)
and his total was one better than Dave Hudon, Tim Brown, Rod
Therres and Larry Micallef, who each had three.
Hudon was the top trainer with three
victories, all on Friday. Sharing a pair of triumphs were
Rick Lancaster, Wayne Isbister, Micallef and Therres.
No one wants to put a damper on good
times but the smiles will be put to the test with this
week’s arrival of perennial top driver/trainer Bill Davis
from Calgary where he has been competing at Stampede Park.
DELIGHTFUL BID: Bill Boden of
Vancouver, an owner with some of top horses at the Downs,
made the biggest splash at the Alberta Standardbred Horse
Association’s Yearling Sale on Saturday, Aug. 30.
A bid by Boden of $52,000 topped the
sale when he liked a daughter of As Promised-City Dreams by
the name of Blue Star Delight.
The auction sold a total of 130 horses,
good for gross sales of $948,200. The average per horse
stood at $7,293.85. The numbers were much improved over last
year’s figures. While an additional 30 horses were sold in
2002, the gross sales were nearly $100,000 less and the
average price per horse was 37 per cent lower.
FAST TIMES AT: There were
several new lifetime marks set by horses last weekend in
addition to the aforementioned Bre X in the opener Friday.
Just a couple were Kiss Me Jate, who knocked more than two
seconds off her mark and nine-year-old Kootenay Thunder, who
was clocked at 1:56, lowering his previous best, set in
1999, by a second.
BIG BETTORS: The Edmonton
Journal and the Edmonton Sun reported last week that
Edmonton experiences and generates more gambling per capita
than any other city in Canada.
According to the Journal, the city’s
gambling opportunities include four casinos (with two more
in the works), 17 bingo halls, 1,181 VLTs (in 243
locations), 2,352 slot machines (in five locations), 492
lottery ticket terminals and one racetrack.
The largest concerns voiced amongst
researchers and city officials appear to revolve around
problem gambling and the reputation of the city; issues that
are countered with the fact that the provincial government
received $1.2 billion in revenue from legal gambling, not to
mention the number of people the various casinos, bingo
halls and Northlands Park employ.
MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: Deadline
woes ended Mainman’s Moonshot appearance in the Surrey Now
but due to popular demand here it is in Barn Notes.
Beginner’s luck last week brought a $46.70 payoff on Spider
M. This week the Shot will be with Pocket Class N, a 10-1
morning line choice, in the fifth race Saturday.