Apache ends stable dry spell

When someone waits 15 years for a Stakes win then a wait of a few months should seem like nothing.

But then again when you have the success ratio of Red Star Stables and Robert Murphy, when 16 Stakes races pass without a victory, eyebrows may be raised.

Two weeks ago Abbotsford's Wes Waardenburg watched as his Yeah Norton won the Stallion Stakes. It had never happened previously to Wes in 15 years in the harness racing business.

Last Friday, Murphy's Red Star Apache raced to victory in a thrilling Langley Pace Stakes final.

The last time a Red Star horse captured a Stakes final (not counting division wins in the Sandown Breeders Stakes in October) was Red Star Camelot pacing to victory in the Sandown Plate on April 13. That's nine months.

Friday, Apache and Camelot were stable entry mates in the Langley and went to the post as 1-5 favourites. The battle was expected to come from Off Track Stables' Haras Colta Cola, a 2-1 choice.

It did.

Colta Cola, with Rod Therres in the bike, had the rail and took the lead from the start, setting fractions of 27.3, 58.3 and 1:27.1 in leading to the three-quarter pole. Apache had settled into the two-hole and Camelot was third. The latter made a move on the backstretch and attacked Colta Cola on the outside to the three quarters.

At that point Camelot slipped back and Apache made a big move outside and into the lead by 1 1/2 lengths at the head of the stretch. Colta Cola came back on the inside but fell short by half a length with Camelot third in the 1:57.3 mile.

Apache, a son of Safe N Rich out of Precious Paloma, is trained and was driven by meet leader Bill Davis.

The result left him a happy man.
"It was a good mile and a good race. . . . have to be happy with a first and third. He is a high speed horse and it was a good win for him," Davis said, adding that he thought his horse may have hung for a second in the early stretch drive.
Apache now has 12 wins in 24 lifetime starts and earnings of $53,303.

"He will stay here for a short while (race in the winners over) and then he will go to Edmonton where he is eligible for the Sunwapta Stakes in April," said Davis.

Apache started in trainer Rene Goulet's barn and then went to Alberta where he was handled by Paul Arsenault. He set a lifetime mark of 1:54.1 at Stampede Park while being driven by one of the top drivers in the world, Michel Lachance, who was competing in the drivers' challenge.

"He said he (Apache) was a nice horse, nice gaited," said Davis of Lachance's comments after the new mark.

Apache then came to Davis' barn to battle in Stakes races but got sick and lost around 100 pounds.
"We had him quit racing for a while to get the weight back on and I think that was a key to him doing well (in the Langley)," Davis said.

Paul Harrison, the trainer of Colta Cola (doesn't his name make you want to call him Coke but then again that might get the judges all excited), was upbeat, although disappointed, after the race.

When it was suggested he raced very well, Harrison jokingly said he liked the term "huge."

"It took two to beat us," Therres said, with a grin, after the big battle.

Harrison said he too will point Colta Cola at the winners over.

The Langley Pace was co-sponsored by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Langley Advance News.