Record place payoff recorded

There was a record return on a $2 place wager at Fraser Downs when 126-1 choice Ketchum Friday almost did (catch ’em) on Saturday.

Ketchum Friday, owned, trained and driven by Richard Davies, came on late to finish a neck behind Calgary Cutie in a non-winners of two event. Ketchum Friday returned $141.50 for a place wager.

DAVIS: Bill Davis again was at the top of the pack last week in the driver and trainer derbies. Davis led all drivers with six wins to push him past 200 for the meet lead.

Tim Brown used a hat-trick Saturday for a two-day total of four victories. He was followed by Larry Micallef at three while Rick White and Dave Hudon had two each.

Davis picked up three wins, along with Micallef, to pace all trainers. Brown, Hudon and Ken Harris had two apiece.

SIGGIE BACK: Ron Sigurdson, the starter in the car for Fraser Downs, was back on the job last weekend after suffering a heart attack about two months ago.

Sigurdson underwent surgery – and still faces a tune-up – but drove the car for a couple of weeks before returning to the starter’s role. Larry Clark, who filled in for Sigurdson, is back driving the car – as well as “shoeing” – and track superintendent Darcy Perdue is concentrating on the blazing quick track.

WHITE WINS: Bruce White of Surrey has won the inaugural King of the Hill handicapping challenge in only four weeks.

Battling against three other competitors -- Chris Carr, Joe Sotelo and Bob Kosolofski -- on Monday, White chose the eight horse in the second race at Mohawk. The favourite drove-on to victory while the other three competitors’ horses did not win their respective races.

White wins the $500 grand prize and bragging rights over the other 150-plus contestants.
The foursome was the only ones to survive after week two and all advanced again in week three.

It started March 22 when the more than 150 entrants submitted a pick of what horse they thought would win on the Woodbine (later Mohawk) Monday night card. If the handicapper was astute and his horse won he moved on to the next week. Lose and they were gone, out, kaput.

TIGERS GALORE: The largest field ever for a Fraser Downs golf tournament is set to tee off Monday at Guildford Golf Club.

More than 80 golfers are set to battle in an event, which has the best list of prizes – and fun – thanks to many generous sponsors.

MAX FOURTH: Maxamillenium was fourth in an elimination leg of the Sunwapta Stake at Northlands in Edmonton last Saturday. Maxamillenium, owned by Warrior Stable and Gord Steckler of B.C., was 8 ¾ lengths behind Rango who blazed the mile in 1:53.2.

Red Star Emerson was a strong second in a $65-90,000 claimer at Mohawk last Saturday. Emerson, owned by Robert Murphy (driven by top Ontario driver Randy Waples) was 1¾ lengths behind the winner who went in 1:52.2.

Rich Cam, owned by the Sunbury Stable of Aldergrove, started in the eight-hole and could not overcome the post, finishing seventh at Mohawk in a race which went in 1:52.3.

Proberts Punch, owned by Maximracingstableinc of Squamish, and now in the hands of trainer Mark Harder, raced last Tuesday at Mohawk and on March 29 at Woodbine.

Last Tuesday with Downs’driver/trainer Jim Burke flying to Ontario to do the driving, Punch was seventh in the $22,000 purse, five-year-old and younger, non-winners three or $71,000 lifetime race. Proberts Punch struggled early in the race, which went in 1:54.2.

On the 29th he finished fourth in a non-winners three or $60,000 lifetime or $7,000 last six. Punch roared home in 27.4 in the last quarter in the race, which went in 1:53.4.

HASTINGS SALE FINALIZED: The sale of Hastings Park last month reportedly closed on April 8, and according to releases the value of the sale was worth more than $20.1 million.

The asking price for the thoroughbred operation was not forthcoming when the sale was announced, however an industry official estimated its value between $6 million and $11 million, according to the Vancouver Sun at the time.

Hastings Entertainment estimated in February that the track would be able to generate between $80 million and $120 million annually if slot machines and other forms of gambling were allowed.

For the year-ended Dec. 31, 2002, on-track wagering at Woodbine, Mohawk and Hastings Park totaled approximately $424.25 million, including $75.36 million on live and simulcast racing at Hastings.

Wall Financial Corp., a real estate company in Vancouver, will reportedly acquire a 40 per cent interest in the Great Canadian Gaming subsidiary that is buying Hastings.
Peter Wall has been heavily involved as an owner and breeder on the thoroughbred side, although he is also registered with Standardbred Canada and previously owned a standardbred named Just Duke in the early ‘80s.

TRACK CHRISTENED: Albertiynstiyn now holds the distinction of being the first horse to ever pace over the racecourse at the new Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ont.

The five-year-old racehorse is owned by Grand River Raceway track designer Paul Kurtz and his wife Joan, of Ariss, Ont. Kurtz trained Albertiynstiyn over the half-mile oval in the early afternoon of April 9, 17 days prior to the season opener on April 26.

"As a virgin track, the track is in excellent shape, as of now," said Kurtz following the training session.

In early February, Grand River Raceway management announced that it would delay the starting date for its first harness racing meet. The opener changed from April 12 to April 26. Crews used the date extension to install extra drains in the track surface, to eliminate areas of excessive moisture that appeared after the heavy rains of November 2003.

"We still have two weeks of letting the track mature," Kurtz explained. "Like any new construction, we’ll likely go through an entire race season before we can realize full maturity, and determine if we’ve resolved all of the ground water problems."

The first qualifying races will be staged on April 19 at 5 p.m. With no permanent stabling onsite, the track has designated Tuesdays and Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. as training days. The training schedule will be effective beginning April 27.

MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: In shock from hitting the board in three straight races, including Georgia K winning on April 2 and paying $30.40, the Moonshot was lost in space and missed last weekend. Hopefully back on earth, the Shot will try Thisbudsarose, a 12-1 morning line selection in the third race Saturday.

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