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Harness racing is heating up, in big way, this weekend at Century Downs - just minutes north of Calgary, Alberta. It's a spectacular long-weekend of racing, now underway, with three afternoon programs carded for Saturday, Sunday and Monday with first race post times scheduled for 1:15 MT (3:15 ET).   The civic holiday Monday card is the richest Standardbred day on the Century Downs racing calendar with the $117,490 Ralph Klein Memorial (3YO Pacing Colts & Geldings) - along with the $125,000 Gord & Illa Rumpel Memorial (3YO Pacing Fillies) - headlining the rich Mid-Summer Classic Day program. Also featured on the 'stakes stacked' card will be three divisions each of the Alberta Rising Star (2YO Colts & Geldings) and the Alberta Starlet (2YO Fillies). Catch Alberta's best young hopefuls on Monday's matinee!   Your free Century Downs programs, for all three days, are now available at https://www.cnty.com/centurydowns/racing-program/.   Following this weekend - harness racing, in Alberta, will move on to the Track On 2 (along the highway between Calgary and Edmonton) for the month of August - before settling in for the first ever harness meet at the all new Century Mile track just south of Edmonton.   by Shannon ' Sugar' Doyle, for Century Downs          

Waking up this morning was almost like just any other Monday morning... But on this Februrary 4th 'World Cancer Day' Monday - I was determined to help in adding to the numbers for Team To The Moon - an idea brought to fruition, a few years ago, by the husband-wife team of Lou and Maria Sorella of Mississauga, Ontario.   "On a day when all tracks in Ontario cancelled live racing, due to unseasonably warm winter weather that has caused unsafe track conditions, TEAM TO THE MOON had been busy recruiting members to help raise funds in support of Breast Cancer Awareness," says Team Director Lou Sorella.   I saw a Facebook video clip, early Monday morning, of Brendan Curran training THE FOX down in Charlottetown, PEI and I enjoyed what I was watching... A childhood friend of mine, Joey Blacquire, was very excited to show me his brand-new ownership licence while I had been home for my Christmas holiday in PEI. That licence now has him involved as part of the fractional ownership group behind THE FOX.   I reached out to Brendan and he was happy to hear that we'd be looking after THE FOX in terms of his role with Team To The Moon. Another call here and there, a few more Facebook and Twitter posts throughout the day and before we knew it Lou Sorella was in beast mode taking on new recruits.   "Today had to have been my busiest day in the last four years," mentions Sorella. "As the saying goes if you blinked - you missed it. I could barely keep up with the multiple requests that came in from social media pages both on Twitter and Facebook."   "Today we added trainers Dain Pearson and '2018 O'Brien Award Future Star' winner Chris Lancaster," beamed Lou. "On the equine side we have a fan favourite and horse loved by everyone around in FORK, owned by Sarah Lauren Scott, a long time supporter of Team To The Moon... Sarah has been the best from day-one! She's been there with brow-bands and other Team To the Moon apparel that some of our horses wear and we love her for that."   Also added today were the following horses from east of Ontario... THE FOX (Brendan Curran/SugarDoyle), MUZZYSENGLISHBABY (Joe Poirier) and ELECTRIC SYL (The Rennison Family). Out west top class pacing mare BIG SHIR (Gilbert, Lambie & Lancaster) was added to the fold.   "Today will go down, in our books, as one of the best days, ever, for new members joining our group" explains Sorella. "I never wish to see them cancel racing, but because of today's cancellations our Team was able to do something special - it was an open day that brought some new people and faces together as one - to TEAM up and fight for this very important cause."   Monday morning the Team had consisted of just five horses, one realtor and one driver.   "Right now Team To The Moon has ten horses listed, one driver and two trainers - plus we have Tom McPhail - a well known realtor from the Milton and surrounding area. Together we are now a bigger and better Team To The Moon - all with the same goal. And that is to have fun and raise awareness for Breast Cancer Awareness," concluded Sorella. Feel free to contact Lou Sorella via Facebook or Twitter anytime - to discuss details on joining up to race - in part - for Team To The Moon and Breast Cancer Awareness. By Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle                

It's late in the stakes season and now it's time for the Alberta 'showcase showdown' with the rich 'Super Finals' program carded for Saturday, November 17, at Century Downs - just north of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The top two and three-year-olds face off against each other in four $75,000 Finals, while the 'next-best' will be chasing after four $15,000 Consolations. The Super Finals will take place during the final four races, of Saturday afternoon's card, while the Consolations go behind the gate in the first four dashes.   Race 7 2YO Filly Super Final - $75,000 5 ROCKIN MYSTERY - has three straight victories coming in and now trainer Chris Lancaster adds lasix. Looking for driver Brandon Campbell to 'cowboy' this one up early and go unchallenged throughout. She looks much the best on paper here - 'key' her in both the PICK 5 & PICK 4. 6 GIN TWIST - was good enough for second-best to the top choice, here, in her latest. She does show breaking issues in the past - she'll need to behave for any shot in this one. 9 MAXSAMIAN - will have to race from off the pace again, leaving from the trailing spot, but she can grab a share against these. She's a 'must-play' for the TRI and SUPERFECTA. 4 JEDI TRICKS - is the Cinderella story in this race and she's certainly showing great form coming in, but can she keep it going? If she gets any kind of trip at all - she can be heard from.   Race 8 2YO C & G Super Final - $75,000 6 CRACKLE N BURN - for a Super Final upset! He shows great speed on the end of his miles and if there happens to be an early speed battle - it could set up for him late. Beware of this closer! 4 OUTLAWGRABBINGEARS - he's tough to go against, but there's just no value in backing him for the win. He's the richest on paper and he deserves to be the fave, but I'm thinking upset. 2 I AMA ROCKET - was all dressed up with no place to go last time. He has won against the pair I have selected, ahead of him, but he'll need some luck, in this field of nine, to do it again. 1 HF THEGREATPUMPKIN - he's a hunch play for me in here. He gets the rail advantage, here, plus a Mike Hennessy catch-drive. I wouldn't be surprised to see him do well on this day.   Race 9 3YO Filly Super Final - $75,000 3 CUSTARD LITE - has been a real nice filly since adding lasix in mid-July. A 9-time winner this season and I think she can handle this group for her richest win to date. Put her on top! 7 BEARCAT JOSI - tough post for this miss, but she's on great form coming in. It'll be interesting to see where driver Jamie Gray gets her settled early. She's a must play at a juicy 8/1 on the ML. 2 BORN A DRAGON - is an early speed threat and she'll be trying to stick around late with these. If she makes front and gets left alone, on the lead, she could be very tough to take down. 5 CUSDMAGICDRAGON - got stung in the early going, last time, so maybe it'll be a change in tactics here. we're expecting her to take lots of tote board action once again.   Race 10 3YO C & G Super Final - $75,000 5 EXIT SMILING - was much the best in the Maverick Final - winning by almost double-digit lengths and co-owner/trainer/driver Jamie Gray barely even asked him. Top call again! 4 PARADISE HILL - had traffic troubles last time and that shouldn't happen here. He gets a great post to work with and if riding along up close - he'll be heard from at some point. Beware! 1 MORTGAGE MY VILLA - gets the rail and will look to use it to his advantage here. He's definitely worth a look for the TRI and JACKPOT HI5. 2 YANKEE UP - has been a bit of a fringe player, but was the 'next-best' to our top choice, here, in his latest effort over Century Downs. If playing the HI5 - he belongs in it.   Sugar's Key Ticket Plays   Race 3 PICK 5 - 123579 / 27 / 234568 / 139 / 5 - $43.20 (20 CENT ticket)   Race 7 PICK 4 - 5 / 124569 / 2357 / 45 - $48 ($1 ticket)   Best of luck to all of those competing on Saturday at Century Downs. I'll be watching and cheering from London, Ontario...   *FREE Super Finals Program https://www.cnty.com/fileadmin/content/operations/centurydowns/race_day_programs/November17_GUTS.pdf   by Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle      

With decades of experience, in harness racing, to her credit - award-winning writer Melissa Keith, of Lower Onslow, Nova Scotia, is on the move to Western Canada and is set to make her professional race calling debut this coming Sunday at The Track On 2. "The support for harness racing, in Alberta, is really impressive to see..." says Keith. "Watching the developments by Century and at The Track On 2 - and seeing the many fans along the fence when I watch online - I'm looking forward to getting out there and to the races!"   Keith brings with her a long list of accomplishments, through her written works in harness racing, including the Media Excellence Award for Outstanding Written Work, in 2015 - Been There, Bought the T-Shirt: The Relevance of Trademark Race Calls - read it here http://www.standardbredcanada.ca/files/Been-There-Bought-The-Tshirt-(0215).pdf - it was published in Trot Magazine's February 2015 issue. The story is about race announcers, their trademark race calls and memorable race calls.   Melissa's favourite horse race callers currently include Ken Middleton (Mohawk), John Hernan (Yonkers), Sugar Doyle (Western Fair) and Vance Cameron (Red Shores). Her all-time favourite callers have been Scotty Kane (Sackville Downs), Danny Emond (Hippodrome de Montreal), Sam McKee (Meadowlands/Red Mile), Frank Salive (many places) and Larry Lederman (mostly retired, but called at Freehold this past summer).   Keith's current status in the business of harness racing... She's a much-sought-after freelance writer and an Atlantic Post Calls columnist; is President of the Canadian Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and a member of the fractional Won't Back Down Stable, at Truro Raceway.   When asked about her previous experience in race calling... "Professionally - there's very little," admits Keith. "I've practiced, but not formally called the races, at Maritime tracks (primarily Truro Raceway), after being encouraged (by another fan) to call a few races trackside at a New Brunswick matinee card a few years ago," she explains. "My first professional race call was Race 2, May 1, 2018, at The Raceway at Western Fair District. I had been practicing more seriously in the months leading up to that date, hoping to assist at a Nova Scotia matinee card that never materialized this year. I was actually preparing to travel to Leamington Raceway in Ontario, where they had welcomed me to guest-call a few races, when I got the call to announce at The Track on 2!"   Has Keith ever called races on a one mile race track? "In practice yes, but for real - the answer is no... Although I look forward to giving it my best shot!" she says. "I was raised on half-mile racetracks and still bet them most, but the big tracks give closers and horses with exterior post positions a better chance, so I enjoy them too - especially the stretch drives."   How did this opportunity come to be? "(Owners/Operators) Kurt and Kyla Belich, and (Business Development Advisor) Jim Reed, were open-minded and even enthusiastic about welcoming a still-evolving, female announcer to The Track On 2, which blew me away," answers Keith. "Sugar Doyle, who called the first cards on the season at The Track On 2, is an in-demand announcer and had previous commitments at other tracks, so he asked me if I would be willing to give it a go. Sugar has been my race calling 'coach', ever since I mentioned wanting to try it a couple of years ago, with no plans to do anything but learn a fun new skill. He knew about my radio background, so the pieces just fell into place."   Do you see this venture as a stepping stone to becoming an announcer or will you continue your main focus on writing? "That's an excellent question," mentions Keith. "Time will tell... I'm mostly happy to have been able to tell my Dad the news about The Track on 2 literally days before he passed away last month. He cried when he heard my race call at Western Fair, back in May, and said it made him so proud that his daughter would do that, stereotypes be damned..."   Keith will make her professional 'full-card' race calling debut this coming Sunday, September 16th, at The Track on 2 in Lacombe, Alberta. First race post time, for the eight-dash program will be 1:10 MT - a FREE Program and Live Video Stream will be available at www.thetrackon2.com.   Best of luck Melissa and welcome to Alberta!   *The Track On 2 is a horse racing and event centre located just outside of Lacombe, Alberta on the QEII Highway. The racetrack is the only one mile dirt track and 7/8 mile turf track in Western Canada. The facility also includes a large grandstand, a riding arena and a number of stables. The Track is locally owned and operated by Kurt & Kyla Belich and their business partner Ross Morrison.   by Shannon Doyle, for The Track On 2      

Harness racing is about to heat up, in big way, this weekend at Century Downs - just minutes north of Calgary, Alberta. As part of the 'Calgary Racing Festival' - three afternoon programs will be featured on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with first race post times scheduled for 1:15 MT (3:15 ET).   The civic holiday Monday card is the biggest Standardbred day on the Century Downs racing calendar with the Ralph Klein Memorial (3YO Pacing Colts & Geldings) - along with the Gord & Illa Rumpel Memorial (3YO Pacing Fillies) - headlining the rich Mid Summer Classic Day program. Also featured on the 'stakes stacked' card will be the Century Bets Final (2YO Colts & Geldings) and the Emerald Filly Final (2YO Fillies). Catch Alberta's best young hopefuls on Monday's matinee!   A familiar face on the Harrington and Dover Downs circuit last season - JL WONDER WOMAN - is the newest addition to the open mares ranks in western Canada. Now owned and trained by Jim Marino - the 5YO Feelin Friskie miss wired the 'best in the west' mares, in her most recent start, for Tony Succarotte in 1:54.1. - she is right back in to go this Saturday in the $9,000 Open Mares event in Race 2.   Succarotte, a mainstay on the Cal Expo circuit, has been driving horses south of the border, for 30 years, but this is the first time he's ventured on to the Alberta circuit and he's quickly become a force in the driver's room - with an almost 40% rating for 'getting a cheque' finishes through his 28 drives, at Century Downs, since July 7th. Watch for him to continue shaking things up on track this summer.   Century Downs - Saturday Program https://www.cnty.com/fileadmin/content/operations/centurydowns/race_day_programs/CDRC_Program_Sat_Aug4_2018.pdf   by Shannon ' Sugar' Doyle, for Century Downs  

The draw took place on Wednesday for the $90,000 Brad Gunn (colts & geldings) and $70,000 Ralph Klein (fillies) Final at Century Downs. Headlining the glamour boys Brad Gunn Final, of course, would be First Class Horse - from post 6 - installed as the 3/5 morning line favourite for Hall of Fame co-owner/trainer/driver Keith Clark. After not racing, for two months, the colt son of Western Terror came back to finish a solid third against a pair of very good older horses in Sotally Tober and Ghost Pine. That showing saw him pace his own back half in one of the fastest - if not THE fastest - final halves in the history of Century Downs - an eye-popping 54.1 bullet! The rail post goes to my second choice in Have Not Read It for Kelly Hoerdt. This son of Dragon Again is expected to use the inside post to his advantage so count on Hoerdt to have this colt rocking and rolling early - to be a big factor late. He's a must play in the Exactor here. Urcutoff, for conditioner Darryl Cutting, bounced back in his latest race to get the job done, after coming up flat in stakes action two back. Brandon Campbell, from the center of the gate post 4, will be looking for a trip up close again so expect this son of Brandons Cowboy to 'cowboy-up' early. He gets top 3 consideration. Outlaw Deacon Jim from post 3 is the second-choice on the morning line, at 4/1, but I see him as a minor player only here. There's a few more that could round out the top four as well - if the right trip is there. Horses like #2 Chillinlieavillian, #5 Pablos First, #7 Johnny Gun, #8 My Sharona Bluechip and #9 Withflyingcolours are all worthy of being included in the Superfecta. Shannon "Sugar" Doyle's Selections - Brad Gunn Final 6 First Class Horse is the one to beat 1 Have Not Read It  - the Exactor factor 4 Urcutoff -  expect his best effort here 3 Ootlaw Deacon Jim - in need of a trip "Sugar" Bets - Brad Gunn Final $20 EX BOX 1-6 A close look at the Ralph Klein Final for fillies and I can't look anywhere else - it's Wrapped To Go for me. She'll make her third start for trainer/driver Jim Marino and she - like many coming into this race - has never been better. A picture perfect steer from 'The Moneyman', in her Elim, would have her picking up the pieces late after the front end collapsed from an early speed battle. Second-time Marino - this filly was impressive... Third-time Marino - this filly will be great. She offers great value on the morning line, but the only thing that makes me nervous here is post 5. She may have to navigate through some traffic - she may even have to rough it on the outside... I love her form coming in though and that's why I'm putting her on top. Fire Watch - the morning line fave - gets the inside post 2 this time for young gun Travis Cullen. This Camystic miss went the trip of her life last time - parking first-up all the way and staying on to finish a gutsy second-best. One is left wondering though... How does any young horse come back off a tough trip like that? If she responds well and hits the ticket here - then 'she is one heck of a filly'... If she comes up empty in the Final - then she has the excuse of 'last week's trip took it's toll on her'. I'll use with caution and try her for second-best again. Kelly Hoerdt has another serious player Saturday in Thats Extra from post 3. This filly has explosive speed - as seen in her Elim win, last week, when others just could not keep up with her through her third quarter march. If the trip is there and if she gets a helmet to follow, until the late stages, this Allamerican Native daughter could get up to get it all. Again - this is one of those fillies that is peaking at just the right time. She's a serious top 3 threat for me. Blue Star Texas is in a hole early, here, after drawing the outside post. She tried to go all the way last time and with her 'high-tailing it', turning for home, she just couldn't fight off a determined Fire Watch - nor the eventual winner Wrapped To Go. Keith Clark has been in all the big races - there's no pressure for him here - he'll know what to do when the wings fold at the start - but can his prized filly bounce back in this one? It's going to be very tough from the outside looking in. Minor players include #1 Remember Terror, #4 Beauty Of Nature, #6 Cam Finish and #7 My Villas On Fire. Shannon "Sugar" Doyle's Selections - Ralph Klein Final 5 Wrapped To Go - she has never been better 2 Fire Watch - using with caution for second 3 Thats Extra - peaking at just the right time 8 Blue Star Texas an outside chance here "Sugar's Bet"- Ralph Klein Final $20 WIN & PLACE on 5   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLgWQ5JVRbI   Shannon Doyle  

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