The first stakes races of the Fraser Downs meet take place Saturday with the Sandown B.C. Breeders Stakes for two-year-olds. 

One hundred fillies and 97 colts and geldings were eligible for the races but, as usual, in the early days of the meet a somewhat smaller number has qualified. Twenty-three fillies and 24 colts or geldings are ready to do battle on the weekend with each separated by draw into three divisions with purses of slightly more than $7,000. There is no final. 

On the filly side, Anything Anytime, trained by Rod Therres has drawn into a division that will go prior to the first regular race as a non-wagering race (6:20 p.m.). Anything Anytime, by Jeremys Gambit, captured a recent race in a nifty 1:58.4, the best by a two-year-old to date. 

Red Star Ginny, trained by Brent Beelby, has also won a race and has drawn in to a division where Wild Dunes Diamond, Fourwoofr and Freedom Whisper should be the main challengers. 

The other heat has probably drawn the toughest field with Jimmy Jams Jubilee, Lil Dudes Rockette, Hy On Freedom, Red Star Dreamglo and Mcmoney among the contenders. 

Rick White’s Better Days, Mattswhereitsat, trained by Randy Webster and Double D Rustler, trained by Sten Ericsson, all have registered victories to date on the colt and gelding side. 

Others among those who will get consideration are Proudsonofscotland, Red Star Senator, Fast Lane Fusion, Dal Reo Rebel, CC Maxim, Named byfreaks, Dancelikeahos and Luckys Lil Dude. 

The three-year olds will battle the following weekend. 

CATCH COLA IF YOU CAN: Haras Colta Cola would do well in greyhound racing – as the hare. 

The five-year old gelded son of Armbro Operative out of Celes Lady raced gate-to-wire Friday, Oct. 1 at the Downs to win the featured Invite in 1:55.1.  

Owned by Off Track Stable of Aldergrove, bred by Janet Harrison and trained and driven by Paul Harrison, Cola roared to the front from the five-hole. He covered the half in 57.3 seconds and still had enough left to come the last quarter in 29.2 and win by a length and three quarters. 

Two of the greyhounds – Spider M, who won the invite a week earlier in a new lifetime mark of 1:54, and Sucha Smooth Deal -- had to deal with some traffic along the way and their patented late rushes were not enough. Spider M, the 4-5 favorite, was second and Sucha was another 1¾ lengths behind in third. 

With Bre X, winner of the Invite on opening day, scratched due to illness, Colta Cola was able to best the field of seven and pick up his fifth win of 2004. He pushed his 2004 earnings to more than $42,000 and his career cash to more than $152,000. 

HELLO GARY: Another newcomer from Ontario has joined the ranks of the driver/trainer colony at Fraser Downs. 

Gary Durbano, born in Toronto, but most recently living and competing in Barrie (Georgian Downs), is assisting driver/trainer Larry Micallef with the large Lil Dude Stable. 

“I am good friends with Larry,” Durbano explained, “and I have come out to give him a hand through the busy early stakes races.” 

Durbano, 52, and a 37-year veteran of the harness racing industry, said he will be helping for three months and then will reassess the situation. His wife and three children, one in Grade 12 and two little ones three and four years old remain in Barrie. 

It is the first visit to B.C. and Western Canada for Durbano and so far things have been “good. 

“I am still getting used to the fog but after the terrible summer we had at home it is nice to be here. There are good horses in this stable and the racing is good and competitive.” 

Durbano picked up a pair of training wins on the Oct. 1-2 weekend with Keep Spinning and Lil Dudes Keeper. He has 73 lifetime victories as a trainer and 128 as a driver in a career which has taken him to reaches as far away as Italy and Florida. 

A highlight of his career was working for trainer Norm Clement when he had the legendary Cam Fella at Roosevelt Raceway. 

“I remember they had 10,000 buttons to give away to fans and they were gone in one night.” 

WATCH FOR IRON HORSES: The Claiming Series at Fraser Downs has undergone some tweaking including a new name. 

The series will now be called the Iron Horse Claiming Series with the name illustrating the most significant change. The series will again be held over three weeks, Jan. 8, 15 and 22, but each week the length of the race will increase. The first race will be 11/16 of a mile, the second one mile and the third a grueling 1 and 5/16 mile. 

The claiming tag will be $5,000 in the first race and $6,000 in the second with purses of $4,000. The purse for the final, which will also have a $6,000 claimer tag, is an estimated $15,000. 

A tentative list of races for B.C. Breeders Classic Day on Nov. 11 has also been announced. The featured races (four) will again be for the two and three-year-olds and will have purses, which will total more than $300,000. 

The card will also include consolations for each of those stakes as well as a couple of $5,000 claimer races and a non-winner of $6,500 last six (preference to B.C. breds) with $5,000 added to the usual purses. 

YEARLING SALE LOOMS: The B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society has released the entry list for the 2004 Yearling Sale. A total of 117 horses will enter the sales ring.  

The sale will be Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Agriplex. 

A complimentary barbecue will precede the sale at 12 noon in the Horsemen’s cafeteria.

A list of the entries can be seen by clicking on the sales link on the BCSBS web site at Pedigree pages will be linked to the horses when they are available.  

DAVIS BACK: A familiar name led the way atop the driver statistics after three weekends of action. 

Perennial top gun Bill Davis picked up five wins over the two days of week three and had 10 for the young meet. Rick White collected a single win and stood at nine and Gord Abbott had eight. 

White had seven wins as a trainer to lead that category.

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