Sucha Smooth Deal made one of his now patented late moves, and continued the run of the "little guy" in stakes events at Fraser Downs, by capturing last Saturday's $33,200 final of the Pat Brennan Memorial Stake.

The son of sire Make A Deal came from off the pace to grab the victory by a length over long-shot Yankee Money, also a son of Make A Deal, in a lifetime best 1:55.1.

Sucha is owned by Walter Vis of Custer, Wash., and trained by Walter's wife, Renee, another of the small stables at the Downs now with a claim to one of its stakes wins. In recent months "small" owners and trainers such as Helmut Ratz, Jason Smith and Greg Beneen, and Robert and Kyle Chadwick have claimed stakes triumphs.

Sucha Smooth Deal now has five wins, a second and a third in seven starts this year - all with driver Bob Baxter -- for season's earnings of nearly $30,000. Lifetime, he has made more than $46,000.

In the five wins he was never better than fifth at the half and was never leading at the head of the stretch, coming from as far back as three lengths in the Brennan. A 5-2 betting second choice, Sucha Smooth Deal was fifth at the half Saturday but used a 56.4 second last half to edge Yankee Money.

The latter was a 47-1 shot, longest in the field of nine, and came from even farther back (seventh at the half) while Maxamillenium was third. Even-money favorite Proberts Punch led from before the half to the stretch but tired to seventh.

THE GRINNING GROOMS: Eight grooms shared the$1,000 cash prize in the fourth annual Fraser Downs Grooms' Challenge last weekend.

Grabbing $125 each were: Donna Scrannage, Northern Colors; Ashley Destobel, Kaiser Black; Dave Bilyk, Red Star Master; Sandra Roberts, I C Q; Crystal McKay, Georgia K; Janine Therres, Papas Reflection; Dan Desko, Lil Dudes Keeper and Alex Fisher, Red Star Suesue.

The challenge was sponsored by the B.C. Standardbred Association, along with the Downs and MarketPlace IGA Cloverdale.

Thirty grooms entered the challenge in which he/she was to pick one horse in his or her barn that raced on the weekend. If it won they got a share of the $1,000.

All grooms in the event also received "goodie bags" from Market Place IGA-Cloverdale while Fraser Downs gave a golf shirt to all winners and a food coupon to all participants.
The cheques and shirts will be presented at the Grooms Days dinner and dance this Saturday.

The dance climaxes Groom Appreciation Week in which there were daily draws in the
kitchen, hot drinks and hot dogs in the paddock on race nights/days. Horse owner Gar Campbell has donated a prime pair of Canucks tickets to be given away at the dance.

MACHINE CLICKS ON ALL CYLINDERS: C Lec Machine was one last Sunday as he raced to an impressive victory in the feature race of the day.

Machine, a 5-1 second choice, went gate-to-wire in a lifetime mark of 1:56.1 to win over a field of six. Owned and trained by Ed Lechner, and driven by Gord Abbott, Machine, a five-year-old son of C Lechthor now has three wins, a second and a third in eight starts in 2004.

Im Taylor Made was a fast-closing second while Witching Hour was third and 1-5 favorite, Red Star Admiral, dropping down out of the Invite, was fourth.

Machine's lifetime mark was one of five on the card.

Mt Kilipanjaro made it four wins in a row by capturing the $12,500 claimer etc on Saturday's card.

The Bill Boden-owned, Dave Hudon-trained, Jim Burke-driven five-year-old son of Artsplace traveled the mile in 1:57.1 to become a perfect four-for-four in 2004. A fast-closing Woodmere Windrop was just a neck back in second.

In a top mares race on Saturday, four-year-old Dal Reo Millee made it two straight, winning by a half length over Red Star Veronica. Millee, who won the Miss Valentine the week before, covered the mile in 1:57.2 for owner/trainer Helmut Ratz and driver Tim Brown.

There was neither an Invite nor fillies and mares open last weekend.

MR. FEBRUARY: Dave Hudon finished as Mr. February despite being on a family holiday last weekend.

Horses trained by him (the coughing you hear in the background is by assistant trainer Joe Gray) made four trips to the winner's enclosure. Hudon has xx training wins for the month.

Bill Davis had three wins (all on Friday) as a trainer while Larry Micallef, Randy Rutledge and Ken Dorman had two each.

Tim Brown also stayed hot, rolling to seven victories behind the sulky. Jim Marino was next with four while Davis, Micallef, Brad Watt, Jim Burke and Gord Abbott got three each.

MINCKLER STRONG: Red Star Minckler, the fastest B.C. bred ever, was back in action at Woodbine last Saturday and finished second in a purse $28,000, D-claiming handicap 40,000 to $48,000.

Minckler, an eight-year-old son of Scruffy Hanover out of Precious Paloma, started sixth for driver/trainer Mike Vanderkemp and finished three quarters of a length behind Youre Going Down, who covered the mile in 1:52.4. Minckler was a 14-1 post time choice.

Also at Woodbine, in a purse $18,000, nw $10,500 last six starts, AE: nw $55,000 in 2003-2004, Rich Cam was sixth. The son of Camluck, driven by Tony Kerwood, made a break just before the quarter and fell well back. He managed to close to within 7 lengths of winner Fox Valley Sting with a 28.3 last quarter. The mile went in 1:53.

Rich Cam is owned by Sunbury Stables of Aldergrove.

Dad got the better of daughter last Sunday when Oileigh Cam, trained by Phil Coleman, finished second in a claiming $20-25,000 event at Flamboro. The Hoe Train, trained by daughter Casie Coleman, faded to finish seventh.

The horses, the favorite and second choice respectively, were one-two at the three-quarter mark. Oileigh Cam is co-owned by Jerry Blanchet of Surrey and Linda Coleman

DIRECTORS ELECTED: British Columbia Standardbred Breeders Society directors Mary Austin, Sue Currie and Wes Waardenburg all received another term during the election on Feb. 25.

Challengers Gar Campbell and Ken Heinbuch were edged in close voting.

According to a release put out by the BCSBS, more than half of the ballots mailed out were returned, proving to be one of the highest voter turnouts in years.

The newly-elected directors joined the board at its next meeting on March 2. Every year three people are elected to serve three-year terms on the board of nine directors.

CHATZIPIROS JOINS FINAL: Bill Chatzipiros of Surrey is the 10th and final week's winner of the California Dreamin handicapping contest at the Downs.

Chatzispiros had all three of his picks become winners to get the mythical total of $834.
Tosh Kariya of Richmond and Frank Gibson of Delta each had two of those winners and finished tied for second with $696 while Ron Smith of Langley (already a weekly winner) was next with two winners and $666.

Chatzipiros joins Wray Jones, Fred Pirgheibi, Ken Dunn, Josef Eppel, Don Thompson, Kara Cromwell, Ken Compton, Ron Smith and Lorrie McKay as the 10 finalists who will battle head-to-head in the CDHC this Saturday in the Homestretch Party Zone.

The CDHC champion will attend the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, courtesy of Fraser Downs.

Contestants were asked to handicap a series of races from Santa Anita. The contest was based on six races, three through eight, and on which entrants handicapped three. For each of the three horses chosen, a mythical $20 win, place, show bet was placed. At the end of each contest day, scores were tallied and the entrant with the highest total received the weekly $250 prize - and was crowned a finalist.

SAM FIRST: Samuel Cherniak has taken the lead after the first week of the second half in the $10,000 KENO Harness Pool at Fraser Downs.

Cherniak picked up a whopping 19 points to take a one-point lead over Luciano
Giurrsevich, Brian Heard and Bill McCallum. Brian Johnson and Paula Lutley are next at 17 while Iona Huhtala, Terry Kaila, George Klashinsky, Eugene Ohara, Werner Tittle, Hiro Yodogawa and Oscar Young all have 16.

The Harness Pool has contestants pick a stable of horses and each contestant earns points based on their performance (five for win, three for place and one for show).

At the end of each half, the top three contestants win prize money. The second half concludes on April 4.

During each half, contestants are permitted one trade. The second half trading forms will be available on March 12 and the second half deadline is on March 19.

At the end of the contest, both halves will be added and the top 40 players, including ties, will share in the $10,000 prize pool.

They will receive prizes as follows: first $2,500, second $1,500, third $1000, fourth to 10th $250 and 11th to 40th $75. Prizes will be awarded to the top three players in the first half and second half as follows: first $250, second $150 and third $100. Winners of first half top-three prizes are not eligible for second half top-three prizes.

WFR PURSES CUT: Purses at Western Fair Raceway will be reduced by 10 per cent effective March 5, the London, Ont. track announced Feb. 25.

The reduction comes as a result of declining pari-mutuel handles and lower than expected slot revenues.
Track officials are blaming the situation on this winter's harsh weather conditions, saying they've kept patrons away from the track.

Rob Wilding, senior manager of racing and gaming at Western Fair, told TROT Insider that London's no-smoking by-law has also slowed growth.

Wilding says he doesn't believe the purse drop will affect the entry box at the half-mile track.

"We're still planning on running 12 races most nights," he said.

Western Fair Raceway will review its purse structure again in May.

MAINMAN'S MOONSHOT: The loyal follower of the Moonshot has probably noticed a definite drought over the last number of weeks. That's OK, NASA had trouble with the Mars rovers initially so there is always hope. So, after last week when we tried Tinkers Magic who got tied up in traffic and finished sixth, we will try nothing stronger than tea. Take a chance with Rooibos Tea, a 10-1 morning line shot in the eighth race Saturday.

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