North Saanich council voted Nov. 15 to approve Orangeville Raceways Ltd's redevelopment plan for Sandown Park racetrack. The council nod quickly followed the Nov. 6 referendum in which 47 per cent of eligible voters turned out to vote with 56 per cent supporting the proposal, which includes up to 200 slot machines.  

Future racing at Sandown was in doubt. A development schedule for the project has not yet been finalized but the result will bring changes to the Vancouver Island track probably as soon as next year.  

Orangeville Raceway, the operator of Sandown Park, is proposing to completely redevelop Sandown Park while maintaining the rural atmosphere. Highlights of the proposal include investment of $2 to $4 million dollars. The addition of electronic gaming machines at Sandown could generate an estimated $1 million annually for the District of North Saanich.  

Chuck Keeling, general manager of Sandown, said that he is particularly pleased the sport will now have the chance to flourish at Sandown again and that the rural/agricultural nature of the community will be preserved.  

EGILSON TO VEGAS: Jim Egilson of Surrey has won the 2004 Autumn Handicapping Classic at Fraser Downs. 

Egilson amassed $257.50 to capture the highly-coveted top prize. He will be going to

Las Vegas where he will represent the Downs at the World Series of Handicapping, Jan. 27-29. In addition, he will be bolstered by a $2,500 cash prize.  

Egilson was the top survivor of two days, a grueling 30 races, of handicapping. 

One hundred contestants started Nov. 6 and returned last Saturday. On each contest day, there were eight designated races and seven open races. The only stipulations for the open races were that the race chosen must be from a thoroughbred track selected for the contest (and not a mandatory race) and the start of the race must be before the 5 p.m. deadline. On each horse chosen, a mythical $2 win/place wager was placed using Canadian odds.  

Overall runner-up was Louis Neering of Nanaimo with $242, which won him $2,000.

Third overall was John Drennan of Coquitlam with $242 for $1,500 cash , fourth Jerome Lee of Port Coquitlam with $212.10 and $1,000 cash and fifth Mark Patzer of Coquitlam at $179.20 and $500 cash. 

There were also daily prizes of $1,000 (won the first week by Drennan), $500 and $250. Second-week winners were Egilson with $179.60, Patzer $179.20 and Norman Forbes $105.80. 

COLA SHARP FROM OFF PACE: Haras Colta Cola, always considered one of the best in B.C. in getting to the front, showed his versatility and his best last Thursday in the special Invite on B.C. Breeders Classic Day. 

Owned by Off Track Stable of Aldergrove, and trained and driven by Paul Harrison, the five-year-old gelded son of Armbro Operative, came from well back to win by a half length in 1:55.2. 

Cola, who started from the trailing nine-hole, was sixth at the quarter (although only 31/2 lengths back). He was fifth at the head of the stretch although that was deceptive as he had already started a powerful charge around the last turn. 

Under persistent urging from Harrison, Cola roared passed the four in front in the stretch, covering the last quarter in 28.2 seconds. 

There was a photo for second with Spider M, who had led from the gate, edging Red Star Admiral, who was second from the three-quarter pole until the wire. Admiral was the winner in the previous Invite. 

Haras Colta Cola has now won six times (along with seven seconds and three thirds) in 25 starts in 2004 and has accumulated more than $57,000 in season earnings.

Meanwhile, this is a recording, Keep Spinning keeps winning. 

The five-year-old gelded son of Western Hanover made it six wins in a row with a victory Saturday in a $9,000-10,000 claiming event. He has captured nine of his last 12 starts (with two seconds and a fifth). 

Owned by Laurie Davis and Myrna Green and trained and driven by Bill Davis, Keep Spinning has raced from the $8,000 to $20,000 claiming levels in those 12 races.

DAVIS SECTION: Bill Davis may have been blanked last Sunday but it still did not stop him from being top Fraser Downs driver and trainer in wins for the weekend. 

Davis had seven victories as a driver and six as a trainer to top all. 

Rick White and Jim Marino shared second in the driver derby with five wins each. Tim Brown had four while Clint Warrington, Scott Knight, Larry Micallef and Dave Hudon tied with three each. 

White was next to Davis as top conditioner with five while Ann Cooper, Paul Harrison, Gary Durbano, Wayne Isbister and Warrington had two triumphs apiece. 

Driver/trainer Doug Moore has arrived from Alberta with two horses and is expected to be here for a while. Fellow Albertans - sister Dawn, a trainer, and brother Darren, a driver/trainer - were/are also here at the Downs. Dawn has returned to Edmonton where their winter meet gets under way Friday while Darren will continue to battle the locals. 

USHER BUSIEST: Usher Hanover, who stands at John Zahara's Aldergrove farm and Village Jiffy, at Juan Samper's Veterinary Reproductive Services of Langley, led B.C. stallions in serving the more mares in the 2004 breeding season. 

Usher Hanover covered 31 mares and Village Jiffy 30. 

The complete list of matings for the Canadian stallions was provided by Standardbred Canada and lists all stallions that served 20 mares or more in 2004. 

Alberta-based pacing stallion As Promised repeated as the country's busiest stallion in the year.  

The 15-year-old son of Abercrombie is credited with 267 mares giving him with a healthy margin over Ontario's Astreos, who bred 244, with first year sire Cammibest coming in with 207.  

Sky West Farms of Calgary stands As Promised who commands a $2,500 service fee. In 2003 the horse served 281 mares.

WHAT A SALE!: A sales record and a sharp rise in the average price paid highlighted the recent B.C. Breeders Yearling Sale.The record for the top price was set when Scruffy Hanover filly Dal Reo Desire, consigned by Fred Zaitsoff, attracted $43,000 from Crimson Stable. The average price on actual sales rose from $5,750 to $12,521.