After one of his Alberta Downs track records fell, four-year-old pacer Smooth Criminal went out and upset Sunday afternoon's $8,500 Open in wire-to-wire fashion just two races later.
The Big Heist earned his first career win in 1:55.3 to shave one-fifth of a second off Smooth Criminal's track record for two-year-old geldings that was set almost two years ago on Sept. 3, 2011 in an Alberta Sires Stakes event. The homebred son of No Pan Intended sprinted home from the backfield in :28.3 to steal the victory from favourite Jet Tracker by a neck and post a 15-1 upset. Rene Goulet trains and drives Alberta Downs' newest record holder for owners Kathleen and Clifford Coonfer of Olds, Alta.
Sent postward as the longest shot on the board at odds of 7-1 in the featured pace, Smooth Criminal made sure to keep his name in the headlines as he marched to the lead from the outside post five and carved out fractions of :28.2, :58.2, and 1:25.4 en route to a two length victory in 1:53.2. Flak Jacket and Mr Saratoga rounded out the top three finishers.
The win was Smooth Criminal's first of the Alberta Downs meet and third this year in 14 starts. The Blue Burner gelding was driven by Bill Tainsh Jr. for trainer Doug Stout and owners Willie Wychopen of St. Paul, Alta. and Edmonton's Walter Moroz.
Off the track, horsemen and women gathered for a farewell ceremony during the card for Alberta track announcer Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle as he will head to London, Ont. to take over race-calling duties at The Raceway at the Western Fair District.
Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca