Day At The Track
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Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney were like coaches in danger of “losing their team.” But they saw the signs. And they made the moves. After leading Alberta to become an example for the nation and around the world when it came to COVID-19 self-isolation, social distancing and flattening the curve, it was no longer “pucks in deep”, when it came to their messaging. Basically, telling the population they’d earned their trust to proceed responsibly, when it came to sport, they effectively leap-frogged Stage 2 and went all the way to Stage 3 Tuesday. It was, overall, potentially great news for most youth sports in Alberta and for participation events not involving attendance of more than 100. While painting with a wide brush — and it’ll take days for minor sports associations to come out of hibernation to figure out — Kenney and his chief medical officer opened almost everything up. Recreation centres, arenas, gyms, pools and playing fields involving fewer than 50 participants will be allowed to open Friday. This would allow all manner of baseball, softball and soccer to open. Hockey camps will now be allowed to take place this summer. Historically, most organized youth sports comes to an end in terms of huge participation numbers when the school season ends. There hasn’t been school and all local kids’ sports had been cancelled. So this will take a while for organizers to react. When it comes to pro sports, however, there’s only one major change. And being that your correspondent announced it on one on these pages last week, it doesn’t qualify perhaps as actual news. Still, for horse racing fans, it seems that they’ve been holding their mutual tickets for forever now. Tuesday, the result was finally made official, although neither Hinshaw nor Kenney made reference to it. Horse racing has finally been given the official blessing to become the first pro sport to return from the COVID-19 shutdown in Alberta. The standardbreds will open June 14 at The Track on 2 in Lacombe and June 22 at Century Downs, just outside Calgary, and the thoroughbreds June 21 at Edmonton’s Century Mile. While they were obviously expecting good news, this was a better news day than they expected. “The authorization to open the casinos and racing entertainment centres was surprising because it was ahead of schedule,” said Century’s racing director Paul Ryneveld. Purses in Alberta are directly tied to casino profits, particularly at the casinos that are part of the complex of both Century Mile and Century Downs. For some reason, Premier Kenney and/or Dr. Hinshaw lollygagged when it came to the no-brainer of opening Century Mile for thoroughbred racing and Century Downs for harness racing until now. Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg was allowed to be the first of all pro sports entities in Canada to burst out of the gate three weeks ago, and both Woodbine and Mohawk tracks in Toronto followed this past weekend. As a result, the Edmonton-area thoroughbred track and Calgary-area harness track missed out on massive infusions of betting action from a sports starved populace. Winnipeg has been up and racing with six-race-a-night programs over three days a week and running up record totals of: $1,067,221, $1,623,616, $1,786,264, $1,429,225, $1,535,976, $1,853,429 and $1,142,611 through Monday evening. If those numbers are meaningless to you, consider the fact that they added up to $10,438,342 for seven horse races a day over seven race days. Last year, Assiniboia Downs’ average handle was a mere $12,467,854. For. The. Entire. Year. They are expected to top that Wednesday night on their ninth day of racing. And that’s with no fans in the stands and no on-track betting. By comparison, the average handle for thoroughbred racing at Edmonton’s Century Mile last year was $172,422 and hit $838,429 for the Canadian Derby. When they go to the post for the 40-race day thoroughbred season and the 50-day harness season, the riders and drivers will wear masks, as will everybody else involved. But despite the lollygagging, behind those masks everybody will be smiling. “I think the most important point to be made here is that this development will save the overall industry in this province and with some luck, we’ll be able to come back even stronger in 2021,” said Norm Castiglione, Horseman’s Benevolent Protective Association president. The Alberta horse racing industry involves approximately 4,800 jobs beneficial to the provincial economy to the tune of $312 million in 2019. And these have been tough times for horse racing before COVID-19. “Thoroughbred horse racing will return to Century Mile for 2020 and beyond. We need people to realize the significance of this for both the immediate future on the long-term future. Our government saw the importance of this industry to our economy and now, going forward in partnership, we will work toward making it stronger for the future,” said Castiglione. By Terry Jones Reprinted with permission of The National Post  

The Albert Standardbred Horse Association Awards Banquet will be held on Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at the Northlands Paddock Theatre in Edmonton, and earlier today the trio of finalists for each category was announced. “We are very excited to have Shannon Doyle and Margaret Graham return as emcees for our very special evening,” said ASHA’s Project Coordinator, Orianna Scheck. Cocktails will kick off the night at 5:00 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. The popular band ‘Five On The Side’ will also be returning. The event will honour Alberta’s outstanding equine athletes and their owners along with some of the province’s finest horsemen. Tickets are $50.00 each and are available from Shelly Gray at the Northlands Race Office and at the ASHA office in Calgary. Please contact Orianna Scheck at the ASHA office at (403) 263-7765 for further information. Here are the nominees for each of the categories: CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES FILLY FIRE WATCH MY VILLAS ON FIRE CAM FINISH CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY MY VILLAS ON FIRE FIRE WATCH TRUE ROCK CHAMPION TWO YEAR OLD AB STAKES COLT/GELDING COOL COWBOY JOHNNY GUN URCUTOFF CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT/GELDING COOL COWBOY URCUTOFF COOL COWBOY CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES FILLY NIGHTTRAINTOVEGAS BARONA MERCEDES MOTHERS MELODY CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY NIGHTTRAINTOVEGAS SHARK FESTIVAL RUMMYS COMMAND CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD AB STAKES COLT/GELDING SOTALLY TOBER BLUE EYED COWBOY COMES HOME FIRST CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT/GELDING  BLUE EYED COWBOY OUTLAW GUNPOWDER COMES HOME FIRST CHAMPION AGED MARE SING LIKE AN ANGEL FEELIN FLUSH BLUE STAR BEAUTY CHAMPION AGED HORSE WHO DOESNT CLAIMER 10,000 AND OVER COLTS/GELDINGS PLAYBOOK RAGING FINGERS GREEK RULER CLAIMER UNDER $10,000 FILLIES/MARES FANCY CAMELOT OVERNIGHT SUCCESS QUEENS HERITAJ CLAIMER UNDER $10,000 COLTS/GELDING  BR MONEY MATTERS YANKEE LUKE HILLDROP SHADY GROOM OF THE YEAR AMY HENRY CHRISTINE CUTTING SEAN MOORE TRAINER UNDER 200 STARTS MARJORIE DUMONT RYAN GRUNDY LANCE WARD TRAINER OF THE YEAR JAMIE GRAY KELLY HOERDT TRAVIS CULLEN DRIVER OF THE YEAR  TRAVIS CULLEN PHIL GIESBRECHT BRANDON CAMPBELL HORSEPERSON OF THE YEAR TRAVIS CULLEN KELLY HOERDT JAMIE GRAY OWNER OF THE YEAR KELLY HOERDT-BLAIR CORBEIL RODNEY STARKEWSKI JAMIE GRAY BREEDER OF THE YEAR KURT & KATHY SCHMIDT MERIDIAN FARMS-BILL ANDREW OUTLAW STABLE FASTEST GIRL  EMMASPHERE FEELIN FLUSH FASTEST BOY WHO DOESNT BREEDERS RECOGNITION AWARD ALLAN NEURAUTER RON MCLEOD AWARD COLLEEN HAINING HORSE OF THE YEAR TO BE ANNOUNCED From the Alberta Standarbred Horse Association 

The Alberta Standardbred Horse Association held its 2014 Yearling Sale on Monday afternoon in Olds, Alberta, and the sale was a huge success -- showing the optimism within the industry that harness racing in the province will be revitalized. A total of 54 yearlings were sold for $646,400, nearly double the total sales amount from 2013 and producing an average price of $11,970 which is approximately 20 percent higher than last year. Last year, the average yearling price was $10,027 selling for a total of $351,000. "We are over the top with excitement with the sales results," said Sales Coordinator Orianna Scheck. "There were some very impressive looking individuals which reflected in the purchase prices. Every yearling that walked in the ring offered something for the buyer. The breeders did an outstanding job in having their yearlings looking great and ready for the ring." Green Rider, Hip 55 was the sale topper with a final bid of $40,000. Green Rider was purchased by SSG Stable and consigned by long-time breeder Dr. Larry Hanson of Emerald Park, Sask. The handsome bay colt is sired by Mach Three and the first foal out of the Presidential Ball mare Prairie Tracker ($265,800 – 1:52.4). Hip 41, Jazzy Jay went to Blair Corbeil and Kelly Hoerdt for $38,000. The beautiful daughter of I Zee was consigned by Meridian Farms and is the fifth foal out of the mare Just Sassy ($269,400 – 1:54.1). The filly is a half sister to Big N Bad ($261,126 – 1:51.3), Just Saucy ($81,621 – 1:54.1) and Ghost Pine ($52,635) who just took a track record of 1:51.3 at Alberta Downs on October 5, 2014. Sudden Storm, Hip 44, rounded out the top three highest priced yearlings of the sale at $30,000 and was purchased by Keith Clark. The colt, bred by Meridian Farms, is sired by Allamerican Navajo and is the first foal out of the Cams Card Shark mare Starring Role ($156,005 – 1:53.4). "I would say that our sale went extremely well. The first few horses were a little light but once we got rolling, they returned very well," ASHA President Norm Kennedy told Trot Insider. "‎It's very very important to get back into the Calgary area (with Century Downs scheduled to open in 2015). Looking around here today, we're seeing some of the former owners back picking up a few more horses than they have in the recent past. "With the new track coming, you can't help but have some enthusiasm." On behalf of Kennedy and the Board of Directors, ASHA would like to thank all the breeders and the Alberta horsemen for showing the resilience they have had during these past few years. ASHA looks forward to a promising harness racing industry going forward.   From the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association 

Stoney Durkin ($10.90) established a new track record at Leamington Raceway on Sunday, pacing the mile in 1:57.2. Mark Williams sent the five-year-old Whosurboy gelding to the front and made every post a winning one, hitting the half in :58.2 and pacing home in :59 seconds flat. Breeder Larry Fitzsimmons trains and shares ownership of Stoney Durkin with William Durkin of Sparta, Ont. The track record was overshadowed by the performance of Donnie Rankin, who won six of the 10 races on the afternoon card. Rankin started the day with three in a row, including his own Jet Black ($3.40) in 2:00.3, Danny William ($13.30) in 1:59.4 for owner Kevin Gillis of Windsor, Ont., and back with his own Hoo Rah ($2.90) in 2:04.2. He also won back-to-back races with Brother John ($2.80) in 2:00.1 and Keaton ($2.80) in 1:58.2 for Windsor's George Robinson and took the finale with his own pacer Memory In Motion ($3.90) in 1:59.4. Next week, Rankin puts his announcing skills to the test, as he attempts to show how easy it is to call a harness race. Leamington would like to extend a special thank you to the Ontario Harness Horse Association for their "jog a horse" program, where kids and adults alike get to experience what it is like to perform on the track. Racing continues for the next five weekends at Leamington with post times Saturday and Sunday 1:30 p.m. To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Leamington Raceway. (With files from Leamington Raceway) Blue Eyed Cowboy ropes in win at Alberta Heavy favourite Blue Eyed Cowboy came flying by in the stretch to win the $20,000 Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Colt Stakes in a career-best 1:52 performance on Sunday afternoon at Alberta Downs. Bill Tainsh Jr. drove the stakes winner for owner/trainer Rod Starkewski of Lamont, Alta. Comes Home First (Jim Marino) was the first to get a call, leaving from post five and sprinting the opening quarter in :26.4. As he headed down the backstretch, Sonic Spark (Travis Cullen) swept to command whileBlue Eyed Cowboy -- away sixth from post three in the full field of 10 -- flushed out Ghost Pine (Brandon Campbell). Ghost Pine quickly surged to command, clearing just past the :56.1 half-mile mark while Blue Eyed Cowboy was left uncovered and stalled three and a half lengths off the lead. To read the rest of this story click here.  Allstar Seelster handles hike in class Three-year-old pacer Allstar Seelster stepped up to win the $11,000 Preferred 2 for horses and geldings on Sunday night at Flamboro Downs. Fresh off a victory last week at the Preferred 3 level, Jack Darling's Allstar Seelster turned back first over challenger Adkins Hanover and held off the pocket-pulling Brocks Fortune for the neck victory in 1:54. Mike Saftic drove the son of Artistic Fella to his fourth win of the season in 12 starts. Tendtowin finished two lengths behind in third. Russian Kisses earned her first win back in Ontario after sweeping the Spud Island Classic in Charlottetown, P.E.I. with a 1:55 score in the $11,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred 2 in 1:55 for owner/driver Robert Shepherd and trainer Isabelle Darveau. She now has 11 victories in 27 starts this year. To read the rest of the story click here.  Web Cam notches fourth straight at Rideau Web Cam continued his Rideau Carleton Raceway reign and is now a perfect four-for-four racing against the Ottawa oval's top pacers. Assigned post six in this week's $6,500 Winners Over Handicapped Pace, 3-5 favourite Web Cam ($3.30) hustled to the front of the seven-horse field off the gate and led all the way through fractions of :27, :56.3 and 1:25.1 en route to the 1:54.1 triumph. He held off the pocket-pulling Beach Runner A M by a head while Chasin Racin edged out Onyx V A three and a half lengths behind for third-place. Web Cam is a seven-year-old Astreos-Rudy Cam gelding -- a half-brother to Canadian Pacing Derby champion Modern Legend. To read the rest of the story click here. Mach Wheel wins first out for new connections Mach Wheel was victorious in his Truro Raceway debut on Sunday afternoon, taking the top class for his new connections and ending Oakmont's win streak. Leaving from outside his five rivals in the $1,275 Winners Over Pace, Mach Wheel took over command at the half and cruised home to a three length triumph in 1:55.3 over the "good" track with a two second variant. Oakmont, who was riding a three-race win streak, was forced to settle for second-place honours and Sf Razamatazz finished third. The six-year-old Mach Three gelding was a recent addition to the Darren Crowe stable and is owned by Nova Scotia connections Roy Springett of Windsor, Robert Siteman of Valley, William Shearer of Brookfield and Donald Charles Smith of Brookside. To view the rest of the story click here. Breaker rebounds to win at St. John's Three-year-old pacing colt Son Of Rocknroll recovered from an early break in stride to win the NLSBA Stake Invitational on Sunday at St. John's Racing and Entertainment Centre. Trained and driven by local horseman Daniel Williams, Son Of Rocknroll made up his 12 length deficit to defeat pacesetter Salmonier Storm by half a length in 2:05.2 in the $1,200 non-wagering race. The Rocknroll Hanover-Village Blush colt has now won six of his 11 starts in his sophomore year. Two-year-old fillies Force Of Grey and Silverhill Legacy were a distant third and fourth to complete the field. To view the rest of this story click here. Salute is best at Inverness Raceway Salute became the third different winner in Inverness Raceway's Invitational series on Sunday afternoon. Salute fought off favourite Junebugs Baby to win the $2,500 third leg of the series by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.4. Pocket-sitter Bonnys Mac rounded out the top three finishers over two lengths behind. Redmond Doucet trains and drives the nine-year-old gelding for the Ruth Shannon Stable of Port Hawkesbury, N.S. The victory was Salute's fourth and fastest this year from 15 starts and followed up a fourth and fifth-place finish in the previous divisions. To view the rest of the story click here.

Charlottetown Driving Park hosted a double-header of PEI Colt Stakes on Saturday with the two-year-olds featured during the afternoon card and three-year-olds front and center in the evening. Gilles Barrieau, Clare MacDonald and Mike Stevenson each won three of the stakes divisions, which ranged in purses of $5,400 to $6,300. Barrieau pulled off the biggest upset of the day when he catch-drove Landed Alien to a 1:57.4 triumph, converting from the pocket to defeat heavy favourite Lovineveryminute at odds of 11-1. Jackie Matheson trains the sophomore filly, who earned her first stakes victory and a new lifetime mark. Barrieau also drove two-year-old winners Dixeland Band (1:59) for trainer Kevin MacLean and filly Jann Down (1:59.3) for trainer Stephen Mason. To view the rest of the story click here. Emotional win at Kawartha Downs It was an emotional night at Kawartha Downs tonight for the Boyd family, who buried family patriarch Ross Boyd this afternoon. They then travelled to the track to watch grandson Nick record two victories on the card including one with a horse he owns and trains. Boyd went gate-to-wire with his own colt, two-year-old Rise Against, who won in 1:58.3. Boyd, of Guelph, Ont., also trains the youngster, who was notching his first lifetime win in just two starts. Boyd was also in the winner’s circle following the third race thanks to a 1:57.2 effort by Lucky Regal. “We buried my grandpa this afternoon and tonight down the lane it was like he was helping me across the wire,” Nick said following the win. To view the rest of this story click here.  Accident mars Alberta stakes Mothers Melody and Shark Festival were victorious in the $10,000 Alberta Standardbred Horse Association Filly Stakes for three-year-olds on Saturday afternoon at Alberta Downs, but the final division was marred by an accident at the top the stretch. Charismatic Art (J.F. Gagne) was leading the fillies around the final turn in the second division when she broke stride causing interference to Rummys Command (Jim Marino) in behind and Blue Star Escape (Kelly Hoerdt), who fell in the backfield. The rest of the field was able to get around the breaker with Shark Festival (Keith Clark) closing off cover for the 1:56.3 victory. Favourite Rollin Deep (Travis Cullen) finished one and a quarter length behind in second with Great Desire (Philip Giesbrecht) back in third. Marino was up on his feet quickly after being dumped from the sulky. Hoerdt told Trot Insider he was doing okay after the race, but headed to hospital to have his left ankle x-rayed. Both drivers booked off their remaining assignments after the 10th race accident. To view the rest of this story click here. Hat Trick for Sparling at Leamington Hockey season may not have started yet, but Rob Sparling Jr. scored three wins on the Saturday afternoon card at Leamington Raceway. Starting in the third race with an impressive two-year-old Bettors Delight filly, Passion Delight ($3.70), "Spar" made it look easy, winning in 2:04.3 over the "good" track for trainer Andrew McCabe and owner Glenview Livestock Ltd. of Guelph-Eramosa, Ont. The time of the mile was a track record for freshman fillies. His next win with DS Surprise ($4.10) wasn't so easy as he battled tooth and nail with St Lads Top Model and Alfie Carroll, ending up in a dead-heat for win in 2:00.3. DS Surprise is owned by Archie and Janice McEachern of Alvinston, Ont., with Janice handling the training chores. Sparling's third win was memorable as well, as he drove three-year-old filly Blissfullannmarie ($25.10) to a maiden win in 2:04 for trainer Catharine Gaudreau and owner Don Wilkins of Bothwell, Ont. With the 2014 election campaign just underway, Lakeshore mayor Tom Bain didn't need the winner's circle platform to announce his candidacy as no one in Lakeshore dare run against the popular mayor. Still, he was in the winner's circle with his trainee Wallet Sniffer, catch-driven by Alex Lilley for owner Don McMurren of South Woodslee, Ont. and parked the mile in 2:02.3. The handle for the Saturday afternoon card was $9,153. To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Leamington Raceway. (With files from Leamington Raceway)

The Alberta Standardbred Horse Association (ASHA) has announced it will be holding a "Name That Foal" contest, sponsored by Meridian Farms and ASHA. Harness racing fans can submit their name choice for the foal pictured below with a letter explaining why the name was chosen. Bonus points will be given to those who also submit a picture drawn by the participant. The foal is a bay filly sired by Camystic out of Real Chop. She was born on March 16. Please send two additional names in case your top choice is already taken with Standardbred Canada. Complete contest rules are outlined below: All participants must be a resident of Alberta. A maximum of 18 characters (including spaces). Ages 13 to 18: Best name entered wins $100. Ages 7 to 12: Best name entered wins $100. Ages 6 & Under: Best name entered wins $100. The foal's name will be chosen from one of the above three winners and the winner will receive an additional $100. The best letter with drawing will receive $100. Runner-ups in each category will receive an ASHA prize. All submissions must be received in the ASHA office by April 30. The winners will be announced Saturday, May 3 at Alberta Downs Opening Race Day. Please print and submit the contest page to the ASHA office by mail, fax or email. Mail: ASHA, Bay 127, 5065 – 13th Street SE, Calgary, AB T2G 5M8 Fax: 403-294-1510 Email: orianna@asha.ab.ca From the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association

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