Veronica starts new streak

Robert Murphy's barn has begun another Stakes winning streak.

After recently winning the Langley Pace to end a string of 16 Stakes races without a win, the powerful Murphy barn made it two straight by capturing the Miss Valentine for four-year-old mares on Friday, Feb. 14.

Red Star Veronica, part of a Murphy entry that went to the post as a 6-5 favourite, paced to victory over a full field of nine to take the mile in 1:58 and the winner's share of the $31,000 purse.

The victory was the first of 2003 and fourth career for the daughter by Village Jiffy out of R Wayout WestLo and pushed her career earnings to slightly less than $60,000. 
Trained by Bill Davis and driven by Dave McKellar, Veronica, who started from the five hole, stalked the early pace set by Marissa Seelster (Camluck-Moving Along), an even-odds second choice. Seelster, who started from the outside eight hole, got the lead by the quarter although not getting to the pylons until just past the quarter.

Dealmeahos, a 9-1 fourth choice, was first up to challenge and actually slipped into second outside before making a break at the 3/4 pole. Red Star Veronica made a move on the last turn and used a 29.4 seconds last quarter to catch Seelster and driver Tim Brown and win by three quarters of a length.

Blue Star Promise, the other half of the Murphy entry driven by Davis, finished third.

"I might have got carried along a little," McKellar told Downs' simulcast director Dan Jukich after the race, "but mine (Veronica) was good today.

"You always know with Billy's (Davis) horses that they are always ready and you have to take advantage of that. I'll take it."
Interestingly, such horses as Dal Reo Damsel, Holy Doodle and I Wish I Might (all nominated for B.C. 2002 three-year-old filly awards) and Papas Reflection, a former Stakes winner, were eligible for the Miss Valentine but did not compete.
JUST FINE THANKS: Samantha Square is alive and quite well.

The now five-year-old hard-hitting daughter of Albert Albert campaigned much of 2002 in Ontario against the best open fillies and mares. Late in the year Downs driver/trainer Rick White, who shares ownership with June and John Kauffman, brought her back to B.C. for some R and R.

"She was tired when she came home," White said recently. ""Maybe we raced her a month too long . . . hindsight is 20-20."
But White says now, "She is well rested. She may have lost a little weight but she is doing fine."

As for rumours of her competing at the Downs in the Miss Cloverdale stake event on March 14, White said, "I didn't pay her up, she wouldn't be ready in time," and also admitted, "I just said that to get a couple of guys going."

White said Samantha Square would likely head back to Ontario around April 1 but before that "we may qualify her here a couple of times."

Samantha Square has career earnings of more than $460,000.
39 HORSES MOVE BARNS: Total sales for the second annual B.C. Standardbred Breeders Society mixed sale Monday, Feb. 10 at the Cloverdale Agriplex was $75,750.

Thirty-nine of the 56 horses that went through the ring changed hands as the broodmares brought in from Pennsylvania stole the show.

As it has done the last few years for the yearling sale in November, the BCSBS brought in four broodmares from sales in the East. The four proved to be the hottest commodity, especially with Garden Gate Stables of Victoria.

The Island stable, owned by Ken Unger and Larry Pashak, purchased all four for a total of $27,400.

Leading the way was Lyn Hanover, a four-year-old daughter of Big Towner. She is a full or half sister to nine in 1:59, including Eicarls W A G, who paced in 1:52.3 and she is in foal to strong pacing sire No Nukes. She drew a purchase price of $12,500.
The others included  La Creme, a 13-year-old daughter of On The Road Again and in foal to top Canadian stallion Albert Albert, $7,000; Faded Tan, a nine-year-old daughter of Beach Towel and  in foal to Big Towner, $3,700 and GV's Bunny, a 14-year-old daughter of B.G.'s Bunny and in foal to Cam's Destiny, $4,200.

Other than the broodmares, the top price paid for a horse changing hands was $7,500 for Red Star Master, a four-year-old gelding, who was consigned by Robert Murphy. George Emsland of Edmonton bought Master and will likely race him in Alberta when racing resumes in Edmonton.

Major breeder/owner Robert Murphy had 32 horses in the sale but bought back 11 including three -- Musical Journey, Red Star Salway and Storm King -- for $2,500 each.
 KEELING INVASION: Woodbine Entertainment and Magna, big names in the world of horse racing, are likely not worried but they should be aware -- the Keelings are spreading.

Fraser Downs patrons are well aware of the leadership qualities of Chuck Keeling, the general manager of the 60th Ave. emporium.
Now Chuck has family company in the world of race track management -- Al Keeling, who is the general business manager of Hanover Raceway in Ontario.

Chuck was in Toronto recently at the O'Brien awards and harness racing meetings and that's where he learned about Al. Chuck admitted earlier he has not kept up well with family news since moving to B.C. as an eight-year-old. But Al knows, at least he thinks, they are second cousins.

"I'm pretty sure Chuck and I are related. I believe we are second cousins," Al said he in an e-mail after he was asked if they are related.

He was also asked -- tongue in cheek -- if  they are taking over, the harness racing world that is.

"Don't worry, there's no conspiracy for world harness racing domination by us.......yet," was his reply.
A HAND FOR DAVIS: Driver Bill Davis was in the spotlight again last weekend at Fraser Downs, winning seven races, including -- for the second straight week --  five races on the Saturday card.

He had two victories Friday and came up with a rare shutout Sunday and now has 132 for the meet. Bobby Clark, Tim Brown and Dave Jungquist had four wins each.

On the trainer side Davis had five victories, two more than Dave Hudon and Wayne Isbister.