Trainer/driver Dave Hudon may not have achieved his Dogwood Cup double at Sandown Park last weekend (on Aug. 7-8) but he did get a race to remember. 

Favored Meekos Trucker just missed the board in the colts and geldings division on the Saturday but Keystone Romola, also a favorite, came up with a stunning performance the next day to win the stake for fillies and mares. 

Romola, a daughter of Western Hanover bred in Pennsylvania, owned by Bill Boden and Gerry Hudon and trained and driven by Dave, set a lifetime mark of 1:55.2 in winning the $22,100 final. 

But it’s how she won that tells a story.  

Starting from the six-hole (on the seven-hole gate) she gunned away, hoping for a hole, which never came. She raced on the outside, third by three at the quarter and second by one at the half, before clearing into the lead late on the backstretch.

With quick fractions of 27.4 and 56.3 – and Red Star Finalee getting a garden-spot trip, things did not look good. 

But you probably would have guessed. She went on from third-quarter lead of two to win by 3½ lengths over Finalee with Red Star Cowgirl third, 11½ lengths behind. 

“She raced great, she’s a real nice horse,” said Hudon, still beaming a couple of hours later. 

It was Dave’s intuitiveness and inquisitiveness that led to Romola even being in the Dogwood. 

Let nice-guy owner Boden tell the story. 

“I bought her at the mixed sale at the Meadowlands in January with the intention of racing her in the Spring Series stake in Edmonton,” an also-beaming Boden explained. “But she had raced in Canada and the U.S. and I had forgotten to make the currency conversions. She had made just too much to be eligible for the series.” 

“When Dave, Gerry (Dave’s brother and Boden’s trainer in Alberta) and I were talking near the end of the Edmonton meet,” Boden said, “Dave asked if we had any non-winners of five (therefore Dogwood eligible) and (after some thinking) we realized she (Romola) fit with only four wins.” 

“It shows the value of teamwork,” Dave added later as he also admitted that Romola would now be headed back to Alberta.

“She was so skinny when we first got her,” Boden said. “But we fattened her up. She is well bred, a sister to Keystone Raider, and she has so much heart. She raced against good horses in Ontario and today she just dug in.” 

Trucker, part of a 6-5 favored Hudon entry, also had the six hole and also was outside early. Unfortunately for him a 57.3 half proved too much in the late stages. 

With Theonethatgotaway, Sail On Saylor and Prince of Hearts in the half dual, Trucker did not get to the rail until after the quarter and that was in fourth. He moved to second by the three-quarter mark and was there at the head of the stretch.

But Sail The Sevenseas and Yankee Money, seventh and sixth respectively at three quarters, closed strongly to grab the top shares of the $22,200 purse. Red Star Golfer was third. 

A 9-1 shot, Sail The Sevenseas, owned by John Heras and trained and driven by Tim Brown, covered the mile in a lifetime mark of 1:58 in winning by a neck. It was only the third lifetime win for the three-year-old son of Scruffy Hanover. 

“He raced really well,” said Brown right after the race. “He has been getting a little better every race. Last week (third place fourth) was not his fault. He doesn’t like to be hit and I hit him and surprised him. He is real green but he is showing signs of versatility. 

“We made a couple of equipment changes and they seemed to help and the half in 57 didn’t hurt either.”

Brown said Sail The Sevenseas, a brother to Red Star Whistler, would get a couple of weeks off before getting ready for the start of the Fraser Downs meet on Sept. 17. 

Brown also admitted with a smile, “We should have a good entry” as he also has another stake winner Seven Seas Cruiser returning to action. 

HUDON DOMINATES: The Hudonator dominated the driver and trainer ledgers at Sandown’s short but sweet summer meet. 

Dave Hudon led the way on the final weekend, winning three times, to run his total to 13 for the meet. Scott Knight and Rod Therres tied for second at the meet with 10 victories apiece while Tim Brown had nine and Jim Marino eight. Knight, Therres, Brown and Marino each had two triumphs on the final weekend. 

Hudon also was the top trainer on the final weekend with three visits to the winner’s enclosure, leading to his meet top total of 10, two ahead of Knight who had two wins to close the meet. Rick White and Bob Merschback finished with six victories. 

Driver/trainer Brad Watt has gone to Alberta during the break, vowing to return no later than when the stake race program starts in October. 

NOT SO BLUE: Blue Valentine likes Vancouver Island and Sandown Park in particular. 

After starting 13 times in 2004 with only one win the eight-year-old Signed N Sealed mare made the trip to the Island. Her first start there was inauspicious but since she rolled to four straight wins, the last on Aug. 8. It was the 25th career win for the mare, owned by Garden Gate Stables, trained by Chris Phillips and driven by Jim Wiggins. 

Also on the weekend, another regular streaking to his fourth straight victory at Sandown was six-year-old M M Scotty. The son of Creva Dickie picked up his seventh win of 2004 for owners Kim and Richard Knight and trainer/driver Scott Knight.

Meanwhile, the outside post didn’t help as Keep Spinning’s streak of making the board ended. The five-year-old Western Hanover gelding owned by Ming Siu of Richmond had a six-win, two-seconds record in his last eight starts in 2004 but last Sunday he finished fifth. 

After being shut out in her first 23 starts of 2004, Better Bet Her made it to the winner’s enclosure Sunday in capturing the Jim Keeling Sr. Memorial at Sandown. The Safe N Rich five-year-old mare is owned by Simone Urquhart and trained and driven by Simone’s husband Paul. 

Whispers, a four-year-old son of Mattduff, won in his 21st start of 2004, for owner David Baldwin, trainer Don Tracey and driver Brad Watt. 

CHICK PICK: The fifth race at Sandown on Saturday resulted in an unusual occurrence when no patron had a $2 wager on the exactor combination of Chloe G and Hippie Chick. There was a $1 wager winner who took home the nifty and hefty sum of $1,045.75. What were we all thinking? Chloe was quite likely a hippie chick.