O-fer horse takes Miss Cloverdale, BC mare notches first Ontario win & more

THE RIGHT DECISION: Strengthandhonour is another living example of the "you never know" factor inherent in harness racing.

The four-year-old daughter of Scruffy Hanover out of Rolling Acres Rose was a supplemented entrant to the Miss Cloverdale Classic final last Friday. That meant owner Jim Findlay had to pay $2,000 to get her entered in the race for fillies and mares. He took the chance and paid his money despite the fact that heavily-favoured Fast Lane Cruizin was expected to make her last start at Fraser Downs before heading to Ontario. It was also a chance because S and H had not won in eight starts in 2002.

But Friday morning dawned with only four entries in the $35,000 purse battle. Then Cruizin was scratched.

You probably have guessed by now. Strengthandhonour, driven by Rick White, used a big stretch run to win by 1 1/4 lengths over now-favoured Millbanks Award with Cabo Girl third. The time over the sloppy track was 2:00.4.

Adding to the cleverness of Findlay and trainer Mike Glover was officials' decision to add the fourth and fifth place money usually awarded to the winner's share. The result was $22,050 to Findlay.

Meanwhile, B.C.'s Monster Mare Fast Lane Cruizin was scratched because of a lingering throat, hence breathing, problem. She now faces surgery in early April when Dr. Hugh Llewellyn, an Ontario veterinarian, will come to B.C.

"She has been coming back from her workouts roaring," said Linda Coleman, Cruizin's caretaker explained on Friday. "She's always had the problem but it has become a little worse. So we decided not to take a chance tonight."

GOOD START FOR SAMANTHA: A few weeks ago Samantha Square was also expected to challenge Fast Lane Cruizin. But part owner and trainer Rick White also made a good decision.

White and fellow owners June and John Kaufmann shipped Samantha, a four-year-old daughter of Albert Albert, to Ontario. She had been bred locally, setting a record in 2001 for most money ever won by a B.C. bred three-year-old filly.

She made her debut on Friday, winning a conditioned fillies and mares race for a purse of $28,000. The third betting choice at 6-1, she set a lifetime mark of 1:54.1 in winning by 1 1/2 lengths under the handling of driver Keith Oliver and the training of Joe Stutzman.

Shaking his head at the toughness of his mare, White said, "She raced good -- again."

TOP STUDENT: Bill Davis was back at the head of the class last weekend with a fine showing in the driver and trainer derbies. The meet's leader in both disciples had 10 wins as a driver and seven as a trainer. Jim Burke had six driving victories and Rick White five while Dave Hudon and Mike Glover each had three visits to the winner's enclosure as a trainer.

HANDY ANDY: Andy MacLeod of Victoria captured the $5,000 top prize with 145 points in the B.C. Lottery $15,000 Club KENO Harness Pool, just seven clear of Brian Goshko of Nanaimo at 138 points. Goshko won $1,000. Melody Hill of Surrey roared into third place with 133 points and picked up $500 while winning $400 each with 132 points were Darren Gray, Alice Lee, Steve Stelnicki and Keith Matsalla.

MacLeod, who entered at the Cherry Bank Hotel in Victoria, said his win was "totally unexpected. I have entered once or twice before but "never did any good. I like this format because it is more based on luck (one does not have to be a huge expert)."

MacLeod was always close to the lead ("I was in the two-hole," he explained. "The turning point was when I traded for C Lec Freedom and then when Mr. Easy Money won in the last week it was like real easy money."

Ken Hopkins, with 84 points, led the second half (six weeks) of the pool. MacLeod was second with 78 and Diane Edson, Bryan Fenton and Goshko each had 76 and Lauren Seebaren had 75.

Hopkins was the top second half player who did not win a first half prize for point total, and takes home the Sony TV, courtesy of the B.C. Lottery Corporation. Edson wins a Sony CD Walkman and Fenton wins a Sony Radio. Edson and Fenton were part of a three-way tie for the second and third spots and came out on top in a draw. Players who won prizes for being in the top-tree in the first half were ineligible for top-three prizes in the second half.

Matt Jordan one of the money winners donated part of his prize to PACE, the Downs' charity raising arm.

WAY TO GO SHIRLEY: Congratulations to Shirley Hedgecoe who has been named the IGA Market Place Groom of the Week. Shirley works as a freelance groom.

PACE HELPS ANGIE: PACE, the charity fund-raising arm at Fraser Downs, has again lived up to its name (People Always Caring Enough). Led by Debbie Harris, PACE has decided to give $500 to help Angie Campbell. Angie is the 14-year-old girl who suffered serious burns three weeks ago trying to save her younger brother and sister in a fire in their home. On Saturday, March 9 Angie Campbell Night was held at Georgian Downs in Barrie Ont. PACE held a 50/50 draw at the recent BCSA Mixed Sale and raised $700, of which $500 will be sent to help Angie Campbell.

FIRST WIN A THRILL: Obviously winning your first race as a driver is something to remember. Just ask Eric Goyette.

"I was excited and nervous when I took the lead on the backstretch," he explained. "I think it was Jim Burke who came at me and then once he started to fade I knew I had a chance to win the race. At the top of the lane and in the stretch run I tried to keep my wits about me and keep calm and cool, I was trying to get home nice and safe. And I ended up winning.

"I can't tell you how elated I was after winning. It was an experience and a half that will never come again."

Goyette picked up his first-ever driving win, driving three-year-old filly Candisc to victory on Friday, March 8. Prior to the win Goyette had two seconds and a third in 15 starts in 2002. The 35-year-old also trains horses at the Downs and stands Sam Letona at stud at Meadow Creek Training centre for Bluridge Stable.

Eric proved how much he liked it by winning again last Saturday with Timu N.

SUCCESSFUL SALE: The March Mixed sale held by the B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society on March 12 has stood the test and will likely be back again. Tried for the first time in many years, the sale attracted 31 horses into the ring. There were only eight buy backs (consignors buying back their horses) in the sale which attracted three mares in foal, yearlings, two-year-olds and horses presently racing. The sales totalled $47,700 with the top price paid being $11,750. David Maxim bought yearling Dragonski by Dragons Lair out of Kii Woman from Crimson Racing Stable.

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