Classic headlines harness season

Surrey, August 28, 2002 -- Fraser Downs plans plenty of action — on and off the track — throughout the 2002-2003 harness racing meet with the highlight again to be Breeders Classic Day. The 86-day meet will open Sept. 6 with the scheduled get-away day on April 25.

Despite the loss of some driver/trainer/owners and some top horses — Fast Lane Cruizin and Samantha Square in particular — the Downs promises top-flight racing.

Still on hand are driver/trainers Tim Brown, Jim Burke, Dave Hudon, Rick White, Rod Therres, Jim Marino, etc. and trainers Wayne Isbister, Ken Dorman, Rene Goulet, Greg Beneen and many more.

Top B.C. competitors Bill Davis, Dave Jungquist, Sten Ericsson, Scott Knight and Carl Sibiga are expected back soon from Alberta and Ontario.

Downs general manager Chuck Keeling remains upbeat despite ongoing battles to make the B.C. scene competitive with the rest of the country.

“The biggest accomplishment this past year has been the establishment of a year-round racing circuit in this province between Fraser Downs and Sandown Park,” Keeling said. “It is certainly our desire to continue this trend well into next year.

"If so, the big winners will be our horsemen and horsewomen, who will no longer have to rely on racing elsewhere to race year-round, and our race fans.”

Keeling did indicate local racing continues to plead its case — the need for a level playing field with Ontario and Alberta in particular — with the provincial government.

“We are somewhat concerned that our provincial government refuses to grant us the opportunity to compete with other racing jurisdictions,” he said. “Obviously, this market holds untold potential for horse racing if that were to ever occur. In the meantime, we are putting the final touches on the facility and our marketing plans in anticipation of the upcoming meet.”

Which brings us back to Breeders Classic Day set for Saturday, Nov. 9 when a powerful card of racing will be topped by the Breeders Stakes.

The semi main events will be the Stakes races for two-year-old fillies and their colt and gelding counterparts which will carry purses of $45,000. The main events will be the comparable races for the three-year-olds but this time they will be after the winner’s share of $100,000.

There will be Stakes consolation races, a pair of open events and some top claiming races as part of the day.

Broadway Time heads sophomore colts division

Early excitement on the three-year-old colt side is Heather Sifert and Carl Sibiga’s Broadway Time who is expected to return as favourite from Ontario and Alberta campaigning.

Top trainer Bill Davis will return from Alberta with owner Robert Murphy’s Red Star Camelot. Some others are El Rosal, Brother Brass, Just Invincible, Quarter Crack and Millbanks PI.

Papas Reflection leads the sophomore fillies

Dave Hudon’s Papas Reflection and Rod Therres’ Dal Reo Damsel have shared most of the Stakes wins on the three-year-old filly side and will be top contenders again while Murphy may bring Red Star Veronica in from Ontario.

The Downs also has tentatively scheduled another Western Challenge Weekend drivers challenge. Last year’s highly popular inaugural event included three drivers from Ontario and three from Alberta taking on three Downs favourites for the championship belt.

The WCW, employing the same format, is planned for some time in February. “We’d like to get similar representation from Ontario (specifically Mike Saftic to defend his “belt”), as well as Alberta,” Keeling said. “However, I’m going to go to work again on Ed Hensley — former Downs driver/trainer now campaigning in California — as a ‘guest star’ for the B.C. team.”

As well, Keeling is working on two other drivers’ challenges, involving two drivers in separate competitions. “I can’t reveal specifics right now, but the potential is very exciting because it would be a first time for both.”

Some of the bigger promotion days at the Downs include:

  • the Keno Mystery Color Coupon Nights in September
  • Breeders Crown harness racing from Woodbine on Oct. 19
  • Breeders Cup World Championship simulcast on Oct. 26
  • Celebration of the Standardbred Art Show and Sale (Nov. 8-10)
  • Surrey (Chamber of Commerce) Cup on Nov. 29
  • Ladies Day, Feb. 9
  • Cloverdale Chamber and Business Improvement Association Day At The Races (Miss Cloverdale Stake), March 14
  • Men’s Day, March 15.

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