North Saanich residents are strongly on board.


Last Saturday North Saanich citizens voted in a non-binding referendum and a majority were in favor of slot machines being added to Sandown Park Raceway.


The vote was 56 per cent to 44 per cent yes on the simple question: "Are you in favor of the operation of 150 to 200 slot machines at Sandown Park Raceway?"


In a remarkable turnout, 47 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots with 2,102 in favor and 1,641 against.   


The matter will now go before North Saanich Council.


"Obviously, we're thrilled with the result. What we find especially gratifying is in winning so decisively and with such a large turnout," said Sandown General Manager Chuck Keeling.


 "A lot of North Saanich residents worked hard to help us win and I want to thank them," Keeling continued. "I also want to say that we respect the concerns of those who voted against our proposal. Our challenge now is to convince them that the redevelopment of Sandown Park benefits all the residents of North Saanich."


Orangeville Raceway, the operator of Sandown Park, is proposing to completely redevelop Sandown Park. Highlights of the proposal include investment of $2 to $4 million dollars. The addition of electronic gaming machines at Sandown Park could generate an estimated $1 million annually for the District of North Saanich.


The vote could save Sandown and ensure the continuation of harness racing at the track. 


SALUTE THE ADMIRAL: The horse built like an aircraft carrier but who moves like a coast guard cutter is back.


Red Star Admiral, owned by Robert Murphy and trained by Bob Merschback, is a former track record holder at Fraser Downs. However, in 2004 he had struggled, largely due to health and injury problems, and had only two wins by mid October.


In his first start at the present Downs meet on Oct. 8 (he previously last raced June 18 in Calgary) he made a break. After a qualifier on Oct. 18, he was entered in the non-winners of $6,500 last six class on Oct. 22 and was second by a neck in a respectable 1:57.4. On Oct. 29, again at that level, he won, roaring to a 61/4-length verdict in 1:56 with Rod Therres in the sulky.


Last Friday the same combination was back in the Invite and, you guessed it, they triumphed.


Admiral won in a furious stretch battle to win by a neck over 3-5 favorite Infinite Dreams, the winner of the last two Invites.


Spider M and Haras Colta Cola had set the pace (56.1) to the half. Admiral and Dreams, who had been assigned the outside seven hole, were fifth (4 1/2 back) and seventh (seven back) respectively. Admiral was first up, with Infinite Dreams following, and had gained the lead on the outside by the three-quarter pole. Admiral held on, digging in down the stretch as Dreams kept inching closer.


Red Star Admiral has now won more than $250,000 in his career.


Meanwhile, Keep Spinning keeps winning.


The five-year-old gelded son of Western Hanover is on some kind of a roll with five wins in a row including a victory Sunday in a $10,000 claiming event. He has captured eight of his last 11 starts (with two seconds and a fifth).


Owned by Laurie Davis and Myrna Green and trained and driven by Bill Davis, Keep Spinning has raced from the $8,000 to $20,000 claiming levels  in those 11 races. 


DAVIS AGAIN: Bill Davis continued his busy, and successful, ways in the driver derby at Fraser Downs.


The many-time top driver, who has more than 25 times more starts than any other driver, has plenty of air between him and top contender Dave Hudon in wins.


Last weekend, the first with three days of racing, Davis led all with six victories. Hudon and Gord Abbott shared second at five wins while Jim Burke had four, Jim Marino three and Tim Brown and Rod Therres two each.


The trainer results were a little more crowded. Ann Cooper, Mike Glover, Davis and Hudon led the way with three visits to the winner’s enclosure. Bob Merschback, Bill Young, Laurie Powell and Brown had two each.


Davis now leads the meet with 41 wins as a driver while Hudon is next at 29. In the tight trainer battle, Hudon leads with 15 victories, Davis has 14 and Brown 13. 


HAPPY HOWALD: Dripping wet and smiling broadly, Darren Howald was the centre of attention after the last race Friday.


Making the 15th start of his career, Howald captured his first victory as a driver, piloting Sim City Central to the decision.


"It's very cool," Howald said after, referring to getting his first win – and not to his being soaked by several buckets of water both in the winner’s enclosure and his return to the backstretch.


"It's awesome," he continued. "I knew it had to come sometime but I didn't know it would come this way."


Howald was probably thinking that Sim City Central, a 34-1 shot, was not a likely choice.

But he “wanted to get clear (of early front-end traffic)” and pulled from the three-hole to take the lead as they passed the grandstand for the first time.


He won by a length and three-quarters over the fast-closing C D Legacy, an 18-1 choice. When Dal Reo Deputy, a 13-1 selection, was third the resulting triactor was a whopping $7,557.50.


A personal congratulation to Darren, who has worked hard lately to get to that winner's enclosure. 


NEW TRACK FOR CALGARY: Our good friend Doug Abraham reports that a new $80-million horse racetrack, complete with hotel and casino to be located north of the city of Calgary, has cleared its final hurdle.


Abraham said in the Calgary Herald that the Calgary-based United Horsemen of Alberta was granted a 10-year horse racing licence for the complex, to open in the spring of 2007, just outside city limits.


The new complex will feature a one-mile thoroughbred track surrounding a seven-furlong standardbred oval. It will feature 1,200 barn stalls, seating for 7,850 race fans, a simulcast room for 500 people and 500 slot machines.


The $80-million price tag will be covered by a commitment of $25 million from UHA board members, while Gateway Casinos Inc. will contribute $15 million, and Calvent, LLC, owners of Emerald Downs near Seattle will invest another $10 million. The final $30 million will be borrowed.


Construction on the 103-hectare parcel of land is expected to begin next spring and wrap up by January 2007. Building permits are in place, and the group doesn't foresee a problem in securing a gaming licence.


Stampede Park, site of horse racing for more than 100 years, holds the 2005 racing licence and will be needed to bridge the action through 2006. 


SALE SET: Bill Pambrum, president of the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society has returned from the Harrisburg (Pa.) horse sale with five broodmares.

Once again the BCSBS will offer the mares, which are in foal, at its B.C. yearling sale on Tuesday, Nov. 16.


The five are No Dukes, a 14-year-old by No Nukes and in foal to Dragon Again; Faro Hanover, an eight-year-old by Cams Card Shark and in foal to Astreos; Smile Away, a nine-year-old by Die Laughing and in foal to Life Sign; Property Damage, a 13-year-old by Tyler B and in foal to Real Artist and Madonna Undersky, a 10-year-old by Robust Hanover and in foal to Camotion.


The sale, which also includes 115 yearlings, gets under way at 2 p.m. at the Agriplex.

Once again the BCSBS will be selling credit vouchers with two chances to win – a $2,500 credit and $1,500 credit – which are transferable.  The vouchers are $20.  The draw will take place a half hour before the start of the yearling sale. 


DRENNAN LEADS HANDICAPPERS: John Drennan leads the Autumn Classic handicapping contest after week one.


Drennan won a total of $172.90 in the event which has contestants handicapping thoroughbred races from six tracks.  There are weekly prizes but the grand prize is $2,500 cash and the right to represent Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino at the World Series of Handicapping in Las Vegas.


Louis Neering is second with $160.60 while Jerome Lee is third at $154.90.

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