Ready to end his association with -- or pull the plug --
that is when it came to Ricardo Hall.
Murphy, of course, is the head honcho of the powerful
Murphy Stable and Red Star Farms and he and his horses are
well known on the Fraser Downs racing scene.
Murphy purchased Ricardo Hall for $140,000 in the United
States. The price, obviously, is big when compared to B.C.
figures, but even the locals would drool at a chance to
get a No Nukes foal out of the Cambest mare Raetta Hall.
Murphy turned his purchase over to trainer Mark Harder and
the young colt made his first start as a two-year-old at
the Meadowlands. He had one huge race, a Stakes event when
he finished second, covering the mile in 1:53.3.
But there were no wins and late in the season he came to
Mohawk in Ontario and made one start in November. Now
three, his next start was in January, 2002, a stakes
elimination in which he was third. Five races later he got
his first victory.
But 2002 for Ricardo did not turn into a huge success
story. Seven starts for Harder with one win.
Then he went to the barn of Joe Hudon, highly successful
and well-known name in B.C. harness racing circles, and
first raced for Joe on June 1. He last raced for Hudon on
Jan. 27, 2003.
Including those two races he started 14 times -- with but
one win -- and in his last six starts did not collect any
Murphy likely came close to pulling the plug then but
decided to bring Ricardo Hall to B.C. under trainer Bill
Davis. Who knows, maybe B.C.'s leading handler could get
Ricardo straightened away.
Little did Murphy know that "pulling the plug" would be
Davis' key to the results turned in by the four-year old
gelding since he started racing at the Downs.
Fraser Downs patrons are already well aware of Ricardo's
love affair with B.C. Four starts -- four wins with
margins of 7 1/2, 16, 3 1/2 and 11 lengths. His last
start last Sunday came with a new lifetime mark of 1:55.4
(a better time than stablemate Red Star Admiral had in the
winners over race). He has won $10,250 in those starts.
But success came with a twist -- of the wrist and a
pulling of the plug.
"We had worked him a few times and we had trouble putting
his bridle on," Davis explained.
"One day he was particularly bad, he was really throwing
his head and did not want us touching him near the ears. I
had Bert (groom McNamee) hold his (Ricardo's) head and I
put my hand in his ear," Davis continued.
"I got some puss on my hand. So, I told Bert to hold him
tight and I stuck my hand in as far as I could. I felt
something and gave it a good pull. Out came an ear plug."
Davis does not know how long it was there but said, "It
may go a long way back because if I remember, I don't
think Joe (Hudon) liked using ear plugs."
McNamee added that improved results with Ricardo Hall were
almost instantaneous, "He was better the next time on the
Unfortunately, because his results were not all that
great, payments for Stakes races were not kept up (the
Sunwapta in Edmonton for example).
Davis plans to take Ricardo Hall to Edmonton in mid April.
"He's getting better but there are some little things I
will do before we go," Davis said. "But his day (with the
big boys) will come."
DELTA FAVOURITES ROLL:
Favourites were the order of the day in the elimination
legs of the Delta Pace last Friday.
Outlawcantcatchme, a 1-5 choice, and Red Star Rockaway,
part of a 1-6 favoured entry, were the best in the $6,000
purse legs. They'll get a chance to square off Saturday in
the $32,600 final in the event for three-year-old fillies.
Outlawcantcatchme, by Freedoms Pass out of Armbro Ornate,
is owned by the Wild Dunes Stable of Delta and trained by
Sten Ericsson. Driven by Grant Hollingsworth, Outlaw paced
the mile in 2:00.2 in winning by three lengths over Bo
Raggidy Ann had the lead by the first quarter but Called
To The Bar and Outlawcantcatchme pulled first and Outlaw
went right on and passed all to take the lead by the half.
She is appropriately named as she couldn't be . . . with
Bo Magnolia and driver Glenn White making the biggest
effort for second. Raggidy Ann, with Tim Brown in tow,
came back for third but was 8 1/2 back.
Outlaw has now won twice in 2003 in six starts for $9,135
in earnings. She has never been out of the money in those
Red Star Rockaway, owned by Robert Murphy of White Rock,
also continues to impress in 2003. Her victory made it
three-for-three in the year for earnings of $7,350.
By Pacific Rocket out of the Albatross mare Rockaway
Hanover, she won by 3 1/2 lengths over stablemate Red Star
Finalee in a time of 1:58.4. Despite only eight lifetime
starts Rockaway has a lifetime best mark of 1:57.3.
Rockaway is trained by Bill Davis, who also handled the
reins. Davis let Finalee take the lead to the first
quarter -- with Stallion Stakes' winner Lil Dudes Dewette
second -- but he was first up, took the lead, and the
entry was never to be headed after that point. Breeders
Stakes winner, Yumyum Candy, with Glenn White, came on for
There is a full field of nine for Saturday's final. Others
who will challenge, in addition to the top three finishers
in each leg are: Dewette, Norma Norma and Called To The
The Murphy entry has been installed as 4-5 morning line
favourite with Rockaway expected to grab top honours. She
will be driven by Davis from the three-hole while Outlaw,
the 4-1 second choice, will start from the six.
DAVIS AGAIN: Bill Davis waited awhile but did the
usual, dominating last weekend's races with seven driving
Davis, restricted to Stakes-only races Friday, got one
victory, added another Saturday, and then picked up the
pace, winning a handful Sunday. Three of the wins came
behind horses he trained.
There was quite a scramble behind Davis for driving
decisions. Grant Hollingsworth moved into the top 10 for
the meet, winning four times, and now has 31. Tim Brown,
also had four while Jim Marino had three and Terry
Kaufman, Andy Arsenault, Dave McKellar, Glenn White, Rod
Therres and Scott Knight had two each.
Davis also led in trainer visits to the winner's
enclosure, with five. Wayne Isbister was the closest to
Davis with three (two driven by Davis) while Ken Dorman,
Jeff Waltenburgh, Ken Harris and Sten Ericsson had two
WIN SOME, WIN BIG: Nifty payouts were prevalent --
although not the order of the day -- last Friday at the
In the fifth race 55-1 shot Kays Barbara, owned and
trained by Ed Tracey, won for a $122.40 return on a $2 win
ticket. The five-year-old mare, winless in 12 starts in
2002, combined with 11-1 Haras Eve for a $696.50 exactor
and was part of a $5,776.85 return on a $1 superfecta
wager. Also, in the seventh race, 19-1 pacing Odessey
combined with 31-1 Pennyforyourthouts and 6-1 Carolyn
Holmes N for a $3485.80 triactor.
But there were exactor payouts of $5.60, $6.80 and $5.20.
NOT REALLY BARN NOTES BUT A LONG OF HAY: Last week
we wrote that father still knows best -- just. He did but
it was a friendly rivalry.
We refer to the contest-ending battle between father Alex
McDougall and son Ryan in the $10,000 KENO Harness Pool at
Fraser Downs. It went right down to the last day before
dad won, capturing the contest by one -- the same way they
came into the final three days (the last weekend) of the
Alex had won the first half of the 12-week event and Ryan
the second half. The final totals were 132-131 which meant
that dad was able to claim $2,500 first-place money while
Ryan had to settle for $1,500.
"Yeah, a little bit," Alex said when asked if there was a
rivalry over the last few weeks, but he also admitted that
they had worked together before the contest started.
Alex was entered in the Harness Pool contest for the first
time but Ryan said he had been in twice before.
Dad, who is semi-retired, said he will "pay a few bills"
with his winnings while student Ryan agreed there was a
good chance the money would go to tuition fees.
Alex comes to Fraser Downs on occasion while Ryan is more
of a regular. Dad has a brother Ray who has thoroughbreds
racing at Hastings Park and has been around tracks since
his dad took him to Squamish when there was harness racing
there, to old Patterson Park in Ladner and to Hastings
when it was Exhibition Park.
He likes the horses but also admits he is a "gambler, a
The McDougalls along with third-place Mike Wagstaff
($1,000) were on hand to received their money last Sunday.
The Keno Harness Pool worked just like a sports pool with
participants picking a team of horses from a supplied list
and earning points based on their performances.
The top 40 players (including ties) in the Pool -- both
halves combined-- won cash and there were also prizes for
the top three in the second half.
Anyone in the top 40 can pick up their cheque (top 10) or
voucher at the Welcome Centre.