Meekos Trucker warmed up for Friday’s Mr Vancouver stake race by winning last Saturday. 

The four-year-old son of Storm Compensation won a non-winners of $7,000 in last six starts or non-winners of nine lifetime (where he fit) for a $10,000 purse. He beat a field of eight with a time of 1:58.4. 

Armbro Bach warmed up for the Mr Van by finishing second in the open event for $13,000. Bach, a son of Village Jiffy, was 1˝ lengths behind winner Duke Is Duke and went the mile himself in 1:55.2. 

What does all that mean? Not a lot except tonight’s race for four-year horses and geldings for a purse of $38,700 should be interesting. 

A field of nine is set. Four – Bach, Sail The Sevenseas, Armbro Blacktie and Armbro Bolton – competed in last week’s open and three – Trucker, Hi Time Ascot and Art D Trumpet – battled head-on. 

Two from the Lil Dude Ranch: Lil Dude Starrbuck and Lildudeskickinash, did not race last weekend. Two weeks ago the former made his first start at the Downs in several months after competing in eastern Canada where he won a race in 1:49.3. 

Bach, who won this year at Stampede Park in 1:52.2, will get plenty of backing from the Downs handicappers as he also drew the rail. But if Starrbuck is really back (he drew the six), if Meeko is healthy (he got the three), if Bolton draws inside (not bad at five), if . . . one gets the picture. 

DUKE ROLLS AGAIN: Duke Is Duke is still king in the open event at the Downs. 

The seven-year-old son of Jennas Beach Boy made it three wins in a row (two in the open) as he beat a strong field of eight last Saturday.  

Duke Is Duke, owned by Joe Lin of Edmonton and trained and driven by Serge Masse, won by 1˝ lengths in 1:55.1 on a track only rated as good. It was his eighth win of the year and pushed his earnings for 2005 to more than $57,000. 

Duke Is Duke, the 3-1 second choice went gate to wire, holding off a determined bid by the 3-5 favorite Armbro Bach. The latter stalked the pace with the two-hole trip but still could not get past the Duke. 

Armbro Blacktie, a 20-1 choice, came from fifth at the half to get third. 

Carson Jane, part of a 6-5 favored entry, matched Duke’s feat by winning her second successive fillies and mares open last Saturday. 

The five-year-old daughter of Cambest has won three of her last four starts for trainer/driver Dave Hudon and owner Bill Boden. It was her ninth win of 2005 and increased her winnings for the year to more than $52,000. 

Red Star Ginny, a three-year-old taking on the track’s big girls, moved to the fromnt early from her five post on the gate, Jane, who had the rail, was second but took the lead after the quarter. 

Make Some Noise, Ginny’s stablemate, then attacked on the backstretch and pulled alongside on the final turn. The duo battled into the stretch but Carson Jane had another gear and pulled away for a 2˝-length verdict in a time of 1:58.2.   

Ivys Wine, the other half of the Hudon/Boden entry, was third. 

ROCKETTE AND ROLLS: Despite an off track, Lil Dudes Rockette set a lifetime mark of 2:00.2 on Saturday and in the process got her first win (in six starts) of the year.  

Owned by the Lil Dude Ranch and trained and driven by Tim Brown, the three-year-old daughter of Pacific Rocket also paid $197.30 on a $2 win wager. 

In the next race on the card, Celtic Taran got his second win of the year in a lifetime mark of 2:01.3 The three-year-old son of Albert Albert is owned by Bill Boden and trained and driven by Dave Hudon. 

Thisisbliss, a three-year-old son of Blissfull Hall, was impressive in rattling off a 1:56.3 mile last Saturday in winning for the third time in his last four starts. The 4-5 favorite, owned by Robert Murphy, trained by Wayne Isbister and driven by Gord Abbott, now has won more than $24,000 this year. 

Last Sunday Cucomunga’s winning streak reached three, the latest after a fair jump in class. The three-year-old son of D M Dilinger won two in a row at the $6,000 claiming non-winner of two level then was bumped to the straight now-winners two with allowances and won again. He is owned by Georges and Elevtherios Georgeopoulos and is trained and driven by Rick White. 

Cameezy also made it three straight wins (and five of seven at the meet) last Sunday. Owned by Claudine and Melissa Masse, trained and driven by Serge Masse, Cameezy is a three-year-old daughter of Cambest. 

Headliner’s win streak finally came to an end Friday. The four-year-old son of Broadway Blue had rattled off five straight victories since opening weekend at the Downs. 

Headliner roared to the front in a tough field of nine but the tough pace took its toll and after leading to the head of the stretch he fell back to seventh. 

DAVIS WEEK’S BEST: A familiar name topped the top driver’s list last weekend. 

Perennial leading driver Bill Davis registered five victories on a weekend where drivers with more than one win were prevalent. 

Closest to Davis were Jim Marino, who is closing in on 500 for his career, Dave McKellar and Tim Brown who each had four wins. Meet leader Serge Masse and Dave Hudon had three apiece while the long list at two included Darren Howald, Jim Burke, Gord Abbott, Rick White and Scott Knight. 

Davis had to share top trainer honors with wily veteran Ray Gemmill with four trips to the winner’s enclosure. McKellar and Masse had three each while Wayne Isbister, Dave Hudon, Brown and Helmut Ratz had two apiece. Ratz was a perfect two for two. 

THE MIGHTY QUIN: The claim of Red Star Emerson last week for $20,000 prompted your agent to ask what is the highest claiming price ever paid at the Downs. 

The question was posed to racing secretary Keith Quinlan, always a fountain of knowledge. This time he was an absolute gusher. 

“I know,” he replied instantly, “it was me. It was about 20 years ago and I claimed a horse named Le Fella for $35,000. He came up lame and I was forced to have him operated on. 

“He was off for at least six weeks or more and when he came back they were not writing any $35,000 claimers. I had to put him in for $20,000.” 

So, he was claimed right away? 

“No, I had him for about two years and he raced not too badly and I finally made my money back,” Quinlan concluded. 

I WISH: You never know, or isn’t beginners luck beautiful. 

A male patron approached one of the Downs’ mutuel tellers last Saturday. 

“I’ve lived across the street for five years and I have never been here,” he said. “It’s quite nice.” 

After more pleasantries, he asked how he might make a bet. He was told in a quick resume that most beginners probably bet $2 to win or place or show. He spoke boldly that he then would bet $2 to win, place and show on No. 6 in the next race. 

No. 6 was Lil Dudes Rockette, a 95-1 shot, who paid $197.30, $55 and $14.90.  

CAMCRACKER BUSIEST: Camcracker, in his first year in the province, led all B.C. stallions in covering mares in 2005. 

The son of Cambest stands at the Langley breeding facility run by veterinarian Juan Samper and he had 37 coverings. Camcracker, whose lifetime mark was 1:49.3, was much the busiest as no other B.C. stallion had more than 20. 

The figure is well short of that by Sky West Farms' As Promised who covered the highest number of mares in Canada for the third consecutive year. 

The Alberta-based stallion first topped the national ranking in 2003 with 283 breedings and again led the race in 2004 with 277 mares. This year, the stallion covered 289 mares – 70 more than second place finisher Astreos. 

Only stallions with 20 or more breedings are included in the chart. 

IDEAL GETS REST: Casie Coleman's star pacer American Ideal is enjoying a well-earned break at Brittany Farms in Kentucky. 

American Ideal's last start of 2005 was in the recent $555,000 Breeders Crown final at the Meadowlands, in which he finished seventh.  

“In the Breeders Crown he definitely didn't perform 100 per cent, but he wasn't quite 100 per cent going in and he got a tough post position.” 

A bad post position is not new to American Ideal, who drew the outside post position ten in the finals for both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace.  

Even though he wasn't his best in the Breeders Crown, Coleman is still extremely proud of American Ideal's three-year-old campaign.  

“He raced his heart out every week” she told Trot Insider. “He battled nine and 10 holes too, and I just couldn't possibly ask for any more of him. He got three track records, two World Records, and Bob Heyden told me he might be the only horse to race in January and still be racing in the Breeders Crown.”  

Coleman said she isn't sure at this time whether American Ideal would return to the races next year or be retired to stand stud, but that he's getting a well-deserved break right now. 

With a little more time on her hands, Coleman has happily taken on the training of Marymatt Hanover, a three-year-old pacing colt who was previously trained by Dr. Ian Moore, who has since returned to the Maritimes. -Standardbred Canada