Track record matched by Hot Steam

Fraser Downs track record has been equalled. Last Saturday afternoon (Nov. 3rd) with a fast track and almost perfect conditions, Carl Chomyc's Hot Steam paced the mile in 1:53.4 to tie the mark set by Scruffy Ben on April 9, 2000.

 Hot Steam, an eight-year-old gelding by Albatross out of Brets Halo, beat a strong field of winners over for his second straight win since arriving at the Downs from Alberta. Hot Steam, owned and trained by Chomyc, a resident of Calgary, and driven by Jim Burke, had fractions of 26.4, 56.2 and 1:24.4 in rolling to the victory. He has a lifetime mark of 1:53.1 set at Woodbine four years ago. He now has won more than $75,000 in 2001 and $280,000 in his career.

"He's a nice horse, a good sound horse," Chomyc said, "and he has mostly stayed sound." Chomyc bought the horse in Ontario four years ago after the horse's Quebec owner decided to ship three race horses (he turned to breeding only) for sale.

Chomyc got into harness racing in 1979 when he and Keith Quinlan, now director of racing at the Downs, brought about 30 horses from the East to Alberta. Quinlan shortly thereafter moved to B.C. Chomyc has had such top horses as Sugar Crisp, Riviera Hanover and Cape Escape.

"At times he (Hot Steam) can be a funny horse," Chomyc said. "He needs a good driver, one he can respect and then he just needs to be urged on. He also knows when is is in the race bike. I have a hard time getting him to go faster than 2:20 in the jogging bike."

What about Hot Steam's future? "When he's not an invite horse any more I will find him a nice pasture.".......

JOCK VS TRAINER: The great Hastings Park Challenge is on. It's not about thoroughbred racing as one might expect but rather who is the better harness racing driver -- the trainer or the jockey. Does it sound like one of those things when the guys are sitting around with nothing better to do? Yes, but it also means Fraser Downs patrons will get a bonus race on Sunday. Five horses will lead two jockeys (Frank Fuentes and Pedro Alvarado), two trainers (Dino Condilerios and Henry Miller, Jr. and a former jockey and now trainer (Dan Brock) around to settle the issue.

"It's a fun thing but there's also a challenge," said Miller who is most responsible for setting up the event. Miller might have an advantage, he now has been in the harness racing business for a couple of months. He co-owns Big Shot Franco with trainer/driver Rod Therres.

"I've wanted to get a standardbred for a long time," added Miller who at 37 has been in thoroughbred racing for 25 years and this past season had one of the best at Hastings in I'm Free. "I talked to Rod awhile ago and nothing panned out. Then recently I checked with Charlene (his wife) and she (who has become a new harness fan since getting Franco) said sure."

Unlike another of Therres' co-owners, Miller has already been to the winner's enclosure with Big Shot and couldn't hide his pleasure what between I'm Free's big year and Franco's quick return.

"We're actually going to be able to take a holiday," he said. Meanwhile, he added that his close circle of buddies who have become once-a-week patrons of the Downs will have about 30 Hastings Park associates on hand on Sunday to watch the big challenge....

CHEW ON THIS: One of the topperformances on the track last weekend was that of Chewy Hanover a a five-year-old mare by Cams Card Shark out of Chocolate Kiss. Despite odds of 40-1 Chewy won in 1:57.3 for owner Calvin Nyuli, trainer Heather Sifert and driver Carl Sibiga, her first win in 20 starts in 2001. Two races later the story was similar when Tierra Revo, a six-year-old gelding owned by Michael Jary, trained by Katherine Jary and driven by Rick White, won in a new lifetime mark of 1:58. He paid 42.20, his initial win of the year in his 26th start....

DAVIS AND BROWN, BROWN AND DAVIS: Bill Davis, who leads with the top driving percentage, also led the way in last weekend's four days of racing with nine wins. Tim Brown, who leads the meet in wins with 39, had seven victories as did Jim Burke. The order is reversed in the trainer derby where Brown leads in percentage but Davis, who had seven training triumphs last weekend, leads with 17 for the meet. WIN WAS A SHOE-IN: Randy Rutledge, who has nailed down one job at Fraser Downs as a respected shoer (as in smithy), picked up his first driving win of the meet last weekend with Dell Ridge Fame. "It's been about four or five years since my last win," he said with a smile, also stating that he has an ownership share in the three-year-old colt.

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