Still faster and faster

Dan Coons, it appears, was right. The man in charge of the alterations made to the Downs track said the objective was to make the track safer and more competitive. It is hard to argue against that case. And he also said the emphasis on faster times was too intense.

He was probably right there too but the fact is his track work has led to a continuing list of fast times.

One veteran track campaigner feels the track is now at least two seconds faster and the number of new lifetime marks backs that up. Last weekend there were nine lifetime marks on Friday and four Saturday.

One of course was Bre X’s new track record 1:53.3. Another was eight-year-old Alcars Perfect Ty’s 1:54.4, a second lower than his former mark, and Kissmymonygoodbye’s 1:57.4, almost three seconds faster that his previous best.

Sixteen two-year-olds were in action Saturday, including eight clashing in one race. Eight were making their first-ever start. Seven Seas Cruiser, trained by Tim Brown, and Red Star Sammy, trained by Brent Beelby, were both winners in their first start, Cruiser in 1:58.1 and Sammy a second slower.

Many of the freshmen will be in action this Saturday in the Sandown Breeders Stakes as they continue to get ready for the big paydays set for Breeders Classic Day on Nov. 8.

STILL BETTER AND BEST: For the second successive weekend, Bill Davis was the story of the two-legged performers on the Fraser Downs track.

Davis chalked up eight wins as a driver and six as a trainer to extend his domination in both categories. Tim Brown was closest in the sulky with three victories while Dave Hudon, Serge Rodrigue, Brad Watt and Glenn White had two each. Next best on the conditioner side were Sabrina Shaw, Ken Dorman and Wayne Isbister.

ART MAJOR RETIRES: Art Major, a four-year-old pacer with nearly $3 million in lifetime earnings, has been retired.

He was scratched from the recent $225,000 American-National at Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill. and, according to his trainer, Bill Robinson, the winner of $2.72 million lifetime, had been sick recently and owners Blue Chip Bloodstock, Art Major Stable and James W. Simpson didn't want to take any chances with the horse.

"He hasn't eaten in a couple of days and that's not him; he's always been so perfect," Robinson said. "Even if he's at 90 per cent, we're not going to take any chances. He needs to be a hundred per cent. He's the best horse I ever hooked, no doubt about it. This is too bad."

Art Major's wins this season included the Breeders Crown, the Canadian Pacing Derby, and the U.S. Pacing Championship. He won eight of 11 starts (with three second-place finishes) and earned $1.08 million this year. For his career, Art Major won 32 of 49 starts and his career earnings rank 10th among all pacers in harness racing history. He was the 2002 Dan Patch Award winner for three-year-old pacing colt of the year.

CRUIZIN TIRES BUT CLOSE: Fast Lane Cruizin, after chasing the pace for much of the race, finished sixth in a race for preferred fillies and mares Friday at Mohawk in Ontario. Cruizin, owned by Jerry Blanchet of Surrey and trainer Phil Coleman, was 4 ¼ lengths behind the winner Artaffection, who blazed to the win in 1:51.4. She is entered this Friday in the same class.

DID YOU KNOW?: That on Sept. 23, 1988, Matt's Scooter, driven by Mike Lachance, sets the pacing world record by finishing a time trial in 1:48.2 at The Red Mile in Lexington, Ky.

MAINMAN’S MOONSHOT: Last week’s pick, Dal Reo Riverdance, came in a strong third, paying $38.55. This time let’s try Advanced Formula, a 15-1 shot in Friday’s 11th race.