Yeah Norton, Kootenay Ice draw first blood

Yeah Norton has quickly -- in more ways than one -- moved into the Stakes scene.

The son of Scruffy Hanover out of Dal Reo Cando rolled to victory last Saturday at Fraser Downs in one of the two elimination legs of the Stallion Stakes for three-year-old colts.

Starting for only the fifth time in his career, Yeah Norton, the 1-2 favourite, covered the mile in a new lifetime mark of 2:01.3, winning, gate to wire, by 7 3/4 lengths.

Yeah Norton is owned by Wes Waardenburg of Abbotsford, trained by Carol St Amand and was driven by Daniel St Amand. Making his first start as recently as Dec. 8, the colt has now two wins, two seconds and a third in five starts. He drew the rail for Saturday's win but his draws previously had been 8, 8, 6, 9.

Finishing second in the field of five was Pleasure Cruise with Red Star Tyler third.

The winner of the other elimination, also in a field of five and also in a new lifetime of 2:01.3 was Kootenay Ice.

Also a son of Scruffy Hanover, out of Natural Success, Kootenay Ice is a virtual veteran compared to Yeah Norton, with this his second victory in 10 starts. One of those triumphs was in the B.C. Sales Stakes on Dec. 13.

Kootenay Ice is owned by Robert Chadwick of Surrey with trainer Dave McKellar also doing the driving.

Kootenay Ice, the 3-2 second choice, got in an early battle for the lead with 3-2 favourite Mad Thunder who then made a break just before the quarter. Mad Thunder was quickly back pacing but would never catch the winner. Red Star Dexter finished third.

The final is set for Sunday, Jan. 19.

(Rich Cam, the powerful three-year-old owned by Sunbury Stables who won the big Breeders Stakes as a two-year-old, is not eligible for the Stallion Stakes with his sire, Camluck, standing in Ontario.)

Meanwhile, the fillies and mares only had nine declare for their division of the Stallion Stakes so they all advance to the final on Jan. 18. Set to battle are Lil Dudes Dewette, winner of the Sales Stake in December, Aint Funny Magee, Called To The Bar, Millenium Money, Nurse Nellie, Red Star Finalee, Red Star Sandy, Raging Granny and Siferts Dream.

Another Stakes race is looming on the horizon with The Langley, for four-year-old horses and geldings for a $30,000-plus purse, on Friday, Jan. 24.

Seventeen have indicated they will battle so elimination legs on Friday, Jan. 17 will be necessary.

In addition to big, the field is good. Such previous Stakes winners as Haras Colta Cola, Brother Brass, Millbanks P I and Red Star Camelot are just some who will have to be considered by the handicappers.

Their past glories, however, are not stopping other trainers from entering the rest: The Phantom Menace, Spider M, Freddybgood, El Rosal, Southside Royal, Carons Grand Prix, Just Invincible, Mattevil Moss, Raggidy Andy, Tahuya Squire and three more Red Stars, Bigosh, Apache and Ritzi.
ANDY'S BACK WITH WIN: Driver Andy Arsensault made a quicker return to action than expected when he drove in two races Sunday. Arsenault suffered injuries including a broken leg in a spill at Sandown in August.

Sunday he showed he's more than capable when he piloted Red Star Buck to victory in the sixth race. Red Star Buck, a five-year-old gelding is trained by Andy and owned by Brenda Arsenault and Ellen Deglan.
The first week of 2003 looked much like 2002 in the driver/trainer derbies. With four days of racing last week, Bill Davis again led the way with eight driving victories, four more than Dave Hudon. Davis had seven trips to the winner's enclosure as a trainer, five ahead of a handful of others.
BELLS CHIME MERRILY: Last Saturday rung happily for the Bells of Burnaby. Sid and wife Irene, Fraser Downs regulars, had quite a day as they took part in a couple of Downs contests. Sid won the draw for the trip to Reno for two courtesy of Sovereign Tours and Irene was the top handicapper for the day in the California Dreamin' Contest. Irene was the best handicapper of three races from Santa Anita and won $250. Also, she becomes one of nine contestants for the final on March 1 when the winner will receive air fare, a two-night hotel stay, reserved seating and $500 mad money for the Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
NICE TRI, SUPER SUPER: There were a couple of fine pool wagering payoffs last weekend. On Saturday, the combination of Quasimoto (6-1), X L B Janelle (60) and Pacen Packer (9-5) resulted in a triactor of $2,083.40 in the third race. On Sunday, it was a $9,900.50 superfecta payout on a $1 wager when Lunar Discovery (14-1), Speedy Return (65), Red Star Gotcha (1) and Dal Reo Clipper (5-2) crossed the line in that order in the fifth race.
CRUIZIN THIRD AT WOODBINE: Fast Lane Cruizin was third at Woodbine last Friday in a non winners of $34,000 last six starts for fillies and mares for a purse of $36,000. Sent off as a slight favourite the B.C.-bred six-year-old mare led from her one-post position to the head of the stretch but was caught by winner Shes A Looker and Northern Rose.
Time for the mile in the cold (-1) and snow was 1:55.2.