Keeling: Nice, not naughty
Each year, Stan Gutkowski of
Timesite.com puts out, as befits the season, a look at the
“Naughty and Nice” of the season. This year his list
includes -- on the nice side – our own Chuck Keeling. Here
is what Gutkowski had to say about the Downs’ general
“If anyone wants a role model for a
racetrack executive, look no further. This self-deprecating
gentleman defines his needs, set his goals, then works
overtime to achieve them. Take, for example, Fraser Downs'
recent success with securing the local Town Council's
approval for slots. It only took three years of concerted
effort, never-ending, untiring work to accomplish the goal.
But, he and his support staff can point to the result.
His love of racing is only exceeded by
his ability (and willingness) to help others solve their
problems. He has approached the mayor of a local community
about the possibility of starting up a "fair" to conduct
racing in his town. Though last seen two years ago, the idea
has not vanished. Rather, he pursues it along with his other
dreams to expand racing and increase its audience. If more
executives had his hands-on approach to problems, more would
get done. And, oh yeah, he returns phone calls too.”
COLA SPARKLES: Haras Colta Cola
stole the show from the “big” boys last Saturday in the
Invite at the Downs.
The four-year-old gelded son of Armbro
Operative, went gate-to-wire, to win by 4¼ lengths in a time
of 1:56.2 over a sloppy track. It was his four win of 2003
and his second in less than a month in the Invite. Owned by
Off Track Stable, trained by Paul Harrison and driven by
Rick White, Colta Cola now has won earned more than $58,000
this year and more than $110,000 in his career.
“We got away with a cheap half,” said
White in the winner’s enclosure. “Bre X (first-up
challenger) never got up to me and then when I asked him
(Cola) to open up on the last turn he did.”
Bre X, who has been dominant in the
Invites this year and a co-track record holder, stayed third
throughout the race. Red Star Admiral, winner a week
earlier, was forced to the back from his outside post and
then was interfered with just before the half.
Infinite Dreams, who came on to finish
second, was charged with the interference and placed sixth
by the judges.
Bre X was moved to second and Hesanine
NOMINATE, NOMINATE: Nominations
are in short supply for the annual B.C. Standardbred
Awards cannot be made on the BCSA side
unless a horse, or human, is nominated. The closing date for
nominations is Monday, Jan. 5. If you have a favorite get
your nomination in now.
and the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society annual industry
awards banquet is set for Feb. 14. It will be held at
Northview Golf Course on 168th
Street. Tickets, which are again $40, are on sale at the
BCSA and BCSBS office.
VINNELL HORSE SIZZLES: Smoke N
Sizzle, owned by James Vinnell of Langley along with Blair
Corbeil of Beaumont and Myron Yurko of Edmonton, Alta.,
popped out of the two-hole before the three-quarter pole and
drew off win by a length and a quarter in the $67,570 Oil
Burner Series final last Saturday at the Meadowlands.
David Miller tipped Smoke N Sizzle on
the turn for home and sent the three-year-old Rustler
Hanover gelding on to his tenth win along with eight seconds
and two thirds from 24 starts this year.
“It worked out just perfectly,” said
Miller. “I thought there would be a lot of speed but there
wasn't. I just paced around the breaker [Cosmic Dreamer] and
got the two-hole trip.”
Jacksbrotherjoe got up for second and
it was seven and a half lengths to Worlds Apart in third.
“He raced great,” said Mark Silva, the
trainer of Smoke N Sizzle. “I didn't really think he would
win. But he had the perfect trip. The two-hole trip worked
out perfectly for him. We had worked on his front feet and
ankles, and he seemed to respond to that well. He's going
into the Clyde Hirt Series, and we're not going to change
OUR KIND OF MADNESS: Boxing Day
is usually a big day at Fraser Downs and 2003 was no
exception. A large crowd was on hand in all areas of the
Clubhouse and Grandstand.
This year, total wagering handle for
the day was $714,000 versus $602,000 last year.
However, a comparison of the two years
may be somewhat deceiving. This year the Downs had 13 races
versus 11 last year. As well, California came in for two
races this year, for a total of $89,000, versus just one
race last year, for a total of $47,000.
Another significant partner in 2003 was
the WEG (Woodbine) network where last year, they
collectively wagered $119,000, but this year they piled in
DAVIS, BUT JUST: Bill Davis once
again led the driver/trainer derby last weekend at the Downs
but he had plenty nipping at his heels.
Davis won five times in the sulky, one
ahead of Scott Knight and Rick White and two more than Jim
Wiggins, Tim Brown, Jim Burke, Carl Sibiga and Jim Marino.
Davis trained four winners, one more
than Wiggins, Heather Sifert, Mike Glover and White. Four
more had two victories each.
Gord Abbott, back driving at the Downs
after several years in Ontario, got his first two wins of
the meet. Trainer Sharon Graham picked up her first training
win of 2003.
HOLLINGSWORTH HURT: While the
drivers named above had good weekends, it was not one to
remember for Grant Hollingsworth.
The veteran, who has been having a
strong meet, was involved in a spill Saturday in the second
race with Red Star Kassi.
While making a strong stretch drive,
Hollingsworth and Kassi tried to go inside pacesetter
Arturos Choice. They got outside the pylons and Kassi went
down just as they crossed the line with Hollingsworth going
over the top.
Hollingsworth got up quickly to keep
Kassi quiet on the ground until they could get her untangled
from the harness and bike.
Both walked away. However, it was later
determined that Hollingsworth suffered a separated shoulder
with damage to ligaments, a painful injury. He will likely
be sidelined for months.
Kassi had to be humanely destroyed
after returning to the barns. She suffered internal injuries
DREAMER NO. 1: Ken Compton of
Surrey is the first week’s winner of the California Dreamin
handicapping contest at the Downs.
Compton won $739 last Saturday and then
survived a series of tie-breaking criteria, to get the nod
over Jim Senties of Langley who had the same total. Both had
two winners on the day.
The winner – and guest – of the CDHC,
of course, gets to go to the Santa Anita Derby on April 3,
courtesy of Fraser Downs.
In the CDHC, which runs weekly until
Feb. 28, contestants are asked to handicap a series of races
from Santa Anita.
The contest is based on six races from
the Santa Anita card, races three through eight, and on
which entrants will handicap three. For each of the three
horses chosen, a mythical $20 win, place, show bet is
placed. At the end of each contest day, scores will be
tallied and the entrant with the highest total will receive
the weekly $250 prize – and be crowned a finalist.
Compton is the first of 10 finalists
who will battle head-to-head in the CDHC on Saturday, March
6 in the Homestretch Party Zone. The ultimate winner will be
surfing – the racing program – on Derby Day.
Entry ballots are available at the
Welcome Centre the morning of each contest day. They must be
returned before the scheduled post of the second race at
CANCUN CALLING: Do you still
thirst for a trip to Cancun, Mexico? You have to Jan. 11 to
do something about it.
All that is required is to order a
blended fruit (umbrella) drink at Margaritaville (the Downs)
and receive an entry form for a chance to win the trip to
The draw for the March (Spring Break)
trip to sunny Meckiko will be held Jan. 16 in the winner’s
enclosure at the Downs.
MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: Last week we
selected Jomars Nagano but the 10-1 choice finished sixth.
This week we will try Tierra Revo, a 10-1 morning line shot,
in the seventh race on Saturday.