Samantha best of December, grooms get award, big payout, Package Tour nothces win #70 and more

SAMANTHA TOPS DECEMBER: Samantha Square has added to her many accomplishments by being named IGA Market Place horse of the month for December. The brilliant and tough three-year-old filly by Albert Albert out of Gracie Square won four races in four starts in the month. Owned by June and John Kauffman of Woodinville, Wash. and Rick White of Surrey, and trained and driven by White, Samantha did not have a winning margin less than 3 1/4 lengths in those wins. Her slowest time of 1:58.2 came over a sloppy track on Dec. 15 when she captured the Sales Stakes for three-year-old fillies by 12 lengths. Her earnings for the month were $27,460, a big part of a year that saw her break the record for highest earnings ever in a year by a B.C. bred filly with slightly less than $175,000. Representing the sponsor was Rob Neufeld, owner/operator of the Cloverdale IGA Market Place.

GOOD GROOMING GROCERIES: Congratulations to Jean Goulet and Joey Gray for being named as the latest IGA Market Place groom(s) of the week. Jean works for the Rene Goulet stable and Joey works for the Wayne Isbister Stable.

SUPER SUPERFECTA: The largest Superfecta in Fraser Downs history was recorded Sunday when a combination of 3 Plain Legal (10-1), 9 John A (7-1) , 6 Ruler Two (27-1) and 5 Dukes Cigar (2-1) amounted to $48,459.90. There was only one winning ticket, a $1 purchase at Edmonton's Northlands Park.

SALUTING PROMISE AND THE ADMIRAL: Nazko Promise, Sunbury Stables' fine three-year-old colt, finished 2001 on another high note Sunday at the Downs. After sitting out a week, the son of As Promised out of Bawita, beat a field of seven for his fifth victory in a row. Trained and driven by Dave Jungquist, Nazko Promise covered the mile in 1:57.4 on a good track. He won $3,950 on the day to run his 2001 earnings, which included a couple of big Stakes wins, to more than $127,000 . . . Red Star Admiral, also on a roll these days, started 2002 strongly with his sixth win in succession. Owned by Robert Murphy, the son of Storm Prince raced from the outside post in a field of five to take the lead by the first turn and went on to win in 1:59.1 on the sloppy track. He was driven by Tim Brown, replacing the injured Bill Davis, who still gets the training victory.

DEVELOPING STORY: This question was presented by a diligent backstretcher recently. What horse won a race on Boxing Day to add to his laurels as the winningest active contestant at the Downs? The victory for the 10-year-old gelding was the seventh of the year and 63rd of his career, most of it at Fraser Downs. The son of Pack Leader is owned by Deborra Harris, one of a number of owners he has had in his fine career. If you said Package Tour, you are . . . . right and wrong. You guessed the right horse but later on the same card WL Develops League, a recent 13-year-old arrival from Alberta, won the 70th race of his career .

AND SANTA TOO: The recent annual Backstretch (at Fraser Downs) Christmas party for children was definitely the biggest (a record 40 kids) and perhaps the best ever. Under the fine organizational guidance of Mary Austin, the party had such highlights as a big tree (donated and decorated by Bill Turner), Donovan the Magician who even managed to have one of his pigeons land on the head of Bill Pambrun and Greg (Santa) Beneen. The organizers want to thank Turner of the Winners Foundation for his efforts in selling 50/50 tickets, Jackie Beelby, who won the draw and promptly donated $100 to the party funds, and especially Winston Lopez who donated $500 to the event.

HARDER WORK PAYS OFF: Former Fraser Downs trainer Mark Harder made 2001 a career year as his stable passed the $2 million mark in seasonal earnings split between Canada and the United States. The 40-year-old New Zealand native utilizes the Stephenson Training Centre near Copetown, Ont. for his Canadian base and from there won more than $1.1 million in Canada. The highlight of his season came when Pleasure Chest won the Jugette. He also conditions Free-For-All pacers Rair Earth who banked $489,000 and Camcracker who earned $272,000. Harder left B.C.and moved to New Jersey where he served as assistant trainer for Ross Croghan.

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