Careers

TOUGH PLATE FINAL EXPECTED

How would one describe parity in harness racing? 

One way might be a difference of one-fifth of a second in three elimination races in a Stakes event. 

That's what happened last Friday in the $5,750 Sandown Plate eliminations for three-year-old colts and geldings at Fraser Downs. The top three in each elim qualified for this Saturdayís $36,000 final. 

Two wins came by horses trained and driven by Serge Masse and the other from the Al Anderson stable, which has been dominant in Stakes events over the last number of months. 

Winter Bliss, a son of Blissfull Hall-Weeko, owned by Langley's Jim Vinnell, went gate to wire in the first elim in a quick clocking of 1:56.1. 

Vinnell and Masse also found their way to the winner's circle in the second heat, this time with co-owner Myron Yurko of Edmonton, when Sergeirachpaninoff, a son of The Firepan-Take A Pander, extended his win streak to three in a new life mark of 1:56.2. Both Masse charges were odds-on favorites. 

The final elimination was a mild upset as driver Bill Davis won with Namedbyfreaks, a son of Kents On Nuke-Zenobia, who used a final quarter of 29.1 en route to the one length margin in 1:56.2, also a new life clocking. J J J Stables of Aldergrove and Anderson of Willows, Cal. own the B.C.-bred, who registered his first win of the season. 

Winter Bliss had the lead on the outside at the quarter and cleared just after. He never relented and tacked on a 29.1 final quarter en route to posting a half-length decision over the fast-closing Lunar Tko with J J Jís Wild Rumour third. 

The win improved Winter Bliss' 2005 record to 5-4-1 in 10 starts and boosted his season earnings to $17,075. 

Sergeirachpaninoff roared gate to wire for a 5 3/4-length romp, coming the last quarter in 28.3 seconds. Whaturmoneybought, a 41-1 shot, was second and Dal Reo Stewart third. Sergeirachpaninoff has fashioned an impressive 4-2-0 record in seven starts this season in addition to pocketing $12,675. 

Namedbyfreaks, an 8-5 second choice, was fourth early and followed cover down the backstretch to move into contention. He grabbed the lead in the lane and held off the 4-5 favoured Red Star Senator (part of an entry) in the final strides. Namedbyfreaks travelled the last quarter in 28.4 while Senator, who started from well back, came home in 28.3. C C Maxim was third. 

Namedbyfreaks will have to do it the hard way in Saturday's final as he drew the outside eight. Winter Bliss got the trailing nine hole while Sergeirachpaninoff will start from the six. The rest of the field with their post includes Whaturmoneybought one, Stewart two, Tko three, Maxim four, Senator five and Wild Rumour seven. 

BETTER STILL BEST: Betterfrombehind just seems to be getting better and better. That makes her the best -- still unbeaten, nine starts, nine wins. 

The latest victory for the daughter of Kents On Nukes was last Saturday when she captured the $33,000 Delta Pace for three-year-old fillies at the Downs. 

Co-winner of the B.C. two-year-old filly pacer of the year in 2004, Betterfrombehind keeps chalking up stakes win after stakes win. In her short career she had already won the Sandown Breeders, the B.C. Breeders and the Sales Stakes, and the elimination legs that may have accompanied those events. 

In her short career she has already won $84,384. 

In last Saturday's triumph as the 4-5 favorite, she again went gate-to-wire although she had to battle early with Jimmy Jams Jubilee before clearing to the rail with the lead just after the quarter.  

With top driver Bill Davis in the sulky, Better quickly took a 11/2-length lead and held that to the head of the stretch. Then she turned it on for a 30.2 second last quarter, a mile of 1:57.3 and a 3 1/4-length margin of victory. 

For the second week in a row, Concrete Angel, a 7-1 third choice, came from well off the pace to grab second while Jimmy Jams Jubilee, part of the 8-5 second choice entry, was third and Alldressedinvelvet fourth. 

Even with that performance, Davis admitted in the winner's enclosure that Betterfrombehind had him a little concerned early. 

"I thought maybe she was a bit off," he said. "She usually grabs on to the bit but she didn't today and was even a little lazy. But she got the job done." 

Beneficiaries of the win and wearing the smiles were owners J J J Stables (Rick Mowles) and Alan and Mark Anderson. Al Anderson also trains the young star. 

Betterfrombehind is now aimed at the Stallion Stakes, which takes place on April 30 at the Downs. The purse will be a nifty $100,000 plus, and the win streak will likely still be intact. 

It was a double smile day for J J J and the Andersons - two stakes victories in the same day. 

Armbro Bolton, from their barn, had a big win in Saturdayís $39,900 final of the Borden Park Stake at Northlands Park. 

With trainer Larry Micallef handling the reins, the four-year-old son of Matts Scooter was odds-on winner in Saturdayís 1:57 performance. The gelding was parked through the opening quarter but took charge when he found the rail enroute to the 11/4 length decision over Allamerican Dakota with Close The Deal third. 

The win improved his record to 5-2-2 in nine starts and bumped his season earnings to $60,185. Bolton won the Pat Brennan Memorial at the Downs in February. 

CANíT CATCH COLA: When Haras Colta Cola wants to leave, let him. His trainer/driver Paul Harrison knows that and last Sunday they left and were never caught. 

Despite starting on the outside of the six-horse field, the six-year-old son of Armbro Operative out of Celes Lady, went gate to wire to capture the feature winners over event last Sunday at Fraser Downs. 

And despite, a quick 56.3 half, they didnít slow down much, winning by a length in 1:55.4. Cola, the longest shot on the board at 14-1, registered his second win in eight starts in 2005. 

The previous week he made his first start in a month and drew the outside (eight). Harrison explained that he intended to take Cola back to start. However, there was a recall and when they restarted there was no holding Cola. He strived to get the lead but he was a little short after the layoff and finished well back. 

This time he got to the front and stayed. Cola, owned by the Off Track Stable, pushed his career earnings to more than $200,000. 

Track record holder Infinite Dreams, closed strongly for second while The Bruster, the 3-5 favorite who was first or second in the last four features, had some traffic problems and had to settle for third. 

NOISY RETURN: She slipped into town quietly but it didn't take her long to be seen and heard on the track. 

She is Make Some Noise. The six-year-old daughter of Camluck made her first start last Sunday at the Downs after several months of campaigning in Alberta and streaked to victory in the fillies and mares open. 

Owned by Robert Murphy, Make Some Noise last won on Sept. 10 in Calgary and after a couple of so-so starts following close to five months off, she returned to the Downs and the barn of trainer Bob Merschback.  

With Jim Burke in the bike, the combination clicked. Starting from the outside of the six-horse race, Make Some Noise was well back early and was still fifth, outside, at the three-quarter pole. From there she flew, catching Ivys Wine who had taken the lead on the backstretch, covering the last quarter in 28.4 seconds and winning by a length in 1:56.1. 

Make Some Noise now has won more than $220,000 in her career. 

Heart And Style picked up third while slight favorite Princess Jessica was fourth. 

DAVIS ON TOP: Bill Davis is back on the beam, not that he was that far off anyway.

The perennial leading driver at Fraser Downs was the best last weekend, picking up eight wins, including four on Sunday. 

Jim Marino, who has also been on a tear in 2005, had to share the runner-up honors, capturing four victories as did Jim Burke and Barry Treen. Serge Masse and Scott Knight were deadlocked at three while Dave Hudon and Dave McKellar had two apiece. 

Barry Treen led all conditioners last weekend with four visits to the winner's enclosure. Erik Neyhart had a good weekend with three along with Davis, Masse and Bob Merschback. Hudon and Alan Anderson each had two triumphs. 

Mike Bourgeois, now a conditioner for Lil Dude Ranch's stable picked up his first win of 2005 when Lildudeskickinash raced to victory on Saturday. 

CRUISER CREDITABLE: Anyone watching races from Woodbine racetrack now knows that Seven Seas Cruiser did not return to B.C. 

The on-again, off-again return of the B.C.-bred and owned - John Heras - star did not happen. In fact he raced last Friday in a non-winners ($23,000 last six etc or optional claiming $75,000) for a $28,000 purse. 

He didn't win or place in the money but he did race not badly. With Chris Christoforou in the sulky for trainer Joe Stutzman, Cruiser finished fifth in the field of seven. He started from the rail, was third at the half, sixth at the three-quarter mark and finished 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner, No Free Parking. 

The winning mile was a quick 1:51.4, which means Cruiser's mile was 1:52.4 and he covered the last quarter in 26.4 seconds. 

An old friend, B.C-bred Rich Cam, was also in the race, and was second after starting from the outside. 

CAL FAIR GETS HARNESS: The California Horse Racing Board approved, on March 24, the 2005 harness racing dates for the Sacramento Fair in California. 

For the past 37 years, the Sacramento Fair has held a summer thoroughbred meet. 

The decision by the CHRB will allow a one-year switch to harness racing. The meet will operate at Cal Expo racetrack from July 31 through Sept. 27, with State Fair racing held Aug. 12 through Sept. 5. The new Sacramento Harness Association would assume control of the meet to run Sept. 23 through Dec. 18. 

The United States Trotting Association reports that California horseman Dave Elliott will be the director of racing for the fair meet. He said the fair session will guarantee $60,000 a night in purses over a minimum of 26 live racing dates.  

"This will allow the harness horsemen to participate in Sacramento on a year round basis," Elliott told the USTA. "It will also enable the harness people to race their horses in front of crowds, since we do one million people [in racing attendance] during state fair. We want to provide exposure of sport in the Sacramento market during fair time." 

The Cal Expo board requested the breed switch at the 2005 State Fair to help stabilize the California harness industry - which currently is based in Sacramento - and promote new operator Sacramento Harness Association, which takes over Sept. 23.  

Capitol Racing operates the present meet, which will run until July 20.

-30-

 
...