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Exit Smiling Smashes Super Final

Published: November 17, 2018 5:28 pm ET

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Exit Smiling overpowered his competition as the 3-5 favourite and strolled to a 1:54 career mile in the $75,000 Alberta Sires Stakes Three-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Super Final on the Challenge of Champions program at Century Downs on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Trainer-driver Jamie Gray grabbed the point early with Exit Smiling while Mortgage My Villa took the pocket ahead of Yankee Up in third. Paradise Hill parked through a :29.3 opening quarter and committed first over moving to the second turn and to a :58.1 half.

Exit Smiling turned away the first-over challenge from Paradise Hill into the backstretch as Mortgage My Villa continued to chase from second. Extending past three-quarters in 1:25.2, Exit Smiling accelerated clear of Mortgage My Villa holding second into the stretch ahead of Screen Test taking third from Yankee Up fourth.

"He's been getting pretty grabby the last two starts since I put the plugs on him," Gray said after the race on his decision to race Exit Smiling on the lead. "Today I thought 'I watched a Somebeachsomewhere video yesterday and Paul MacDonell said that he was real grabby so I just let him do what he wanted to do' and that's what I did today.

"I babied him all the way down the lane," Gray also said. "This is a really, really nice colt. He showed me early on as two-year-old that he had the desire; when I was training with other colts I thought 'Man, this guy's got some go to him.'"

Unraced as a two-year-old, Exit Smiling won his seventh race from 12 starts this season and surpassed $100,000 in career earnings for owners Fred Hp Gillis, Geoff Smith, Natasha Peiskar and Jamie Gray. The gelding by Vertical Horizon paid $3.50 to win.

Sent the 1-5 favourite, Rockin Mystery cleared the front and soared away from her rivals to win the $75,000 two-year-old filly pace final in 1:57.1.

Driver Brandon Campbell crossed to the top with Mrbssweetpea pushing for position from the rail and Cayley Skye alongside. After Mrbssweetpea lost stride heading to the opening quarter, Cayley Skye sat pocket through a :29.2 opening quarter posted by Rockin Mystery.

Maxsamian tipped first over heading to the half, supplying cover to Gin Twist pacing through a 1:00.1 half. But Rockin Mystery hit the accelerator into the backstretch and opened a five-length advantage past three-quarters in 1:28.2. The field chased the odds-on choice through the lane as the Chris Lancaster-trained daughter of Mystery Chase widened her lead to the wire. Gin Twist circled fading cover to take second while Cayley Skye took the show photo from Lollipop Yacht.

"I was a little concerned with the inside [around the first turn] and I thought they may be fighting for the two hole," Campbell said after the race. "This filly, as soon as you push the button, she just goes. It didn't matter if they were trying to leave-she was going around them real fast.

"She's been a little bit of a runaway and she didn't know how to finish," Campbell also said. "Chris has done a great job with her-he opened her up a little bit and now she see's the horses she's racing. She was a lot calmer today, so as long as she sees something, she's got a lot of go."

Owned by Rod Therres and Blair Miller, Rockin Mystery won her fourth race from nine starts, earning $65,390. She paid $2.40 to win.

"I think she's going to go into her three-year-old year brave and happy," Lancaster said after the race, "and that's all that matters with a filly."

Outlawgrabbingears endured pressure from second-choice Go Nine O as well as a late-stretch bid from Crackle N Burn to take the $75,000 two-year-old colt and gelding pace by a half length in 1:55.4.

The Rod Starkewski-trained colt by Smart Shark took the top from Crash Dive securing the pocket approaching a :29 opening quarter. Go Nine O, positioned fourth, angled off the cones in pursuit of the leader past the half in :59.2.

Go Nine O dug into the pacesetter nearing the final turn and through a 1:28 third quarter before faltering towards the stretch drive. Crackle N Burn, from third over, ranged three wide and swept into second turning for the wire. Driver Paul Davies urged Outlawgrabbingears to pace all out and outsprinted Crackle N Burn heading to the wire. Go Nine O finished third while second-over Chase Me Forever took fourth.

"He's a nice one to have for sure," co-owner Davies said after the race. "Rod and Jackie have done a great job [since I] handed over the lines to them because I had to head back to [British Columbia]. I never thought I'd have a colt like this so it's a dream come true."

Winning his sixth race from eight starts this season, Outlawgrabbingears has accrued $91,125 for owners Davies, Nicole Cecchin and Deborah Pinel. He paid $2.80 to win.

Brandon Campbell came back and nabbed his second super final win as Maid In Alberta sat off a fast pace and slid past tiring horses to win the $75,000 three-year-old filly pace final in a lifetime-best 1:55.

Bearcat Josi gunned for the top while Born A Dragon pressed for the lead towards the inside before relinquishing into a :28.1 opening quarter. Born A Dragon soon vacated the pocket and brushed towards the top nearing the half while Custard Lite, sitting third, tracked the new leader's move before clearing to a :56.2 half.

Custard Lite controlled the pace to three-quarters as Born A Dragon dropped out of competition, forcing Roaring Home and 3-2 favourite Cusdmagicdragon wide. Past the third quarter in 1:24.2, Custard Lite shortened in stride while Maid In Alberta vaulted three wide from third over and lunged to an 18-1 score over Custard Lite. Cusdmagicdragon finished third with Hot Kiss, off a rail trip, taking fourth.

"I was a little concerned with Keith [Clark]'s entry having the inside-I thought we might get another slow half," Campbell said after the race. "My filly isn't very handy at the beginning of the race but she can close hard. They were going at it [on the lead] and I wasn't even a little bit concerned because I knew they were going to come back and I was going to get a piece of it. [But] going into the last turn, with the way they were slowing up, I knew I had it."

Trained by Harold Haining for owner Donald Richardson, Maid In Alberta won her third race in 21 starts this season and her sixth in 30 overall, earning $105,256. The filly by Vertical Horizon paid $39.50 to win.

Each division also had a $15,000 Super Final consolation go on the undercard. Thunder Alley ($10.20) won the two-year-old colt and gelding consolation in 1:59 by three-and-a-quarter lengths for owners Jim Wilson, Richard Remillard and Valerie Emerson. Phil Giesbrecht drove the winner for trainer Douglas Stout.

Owner-trainer-driver J. F. Gagne took the two-year-old filly pace consolation with Outlaw Hawaiifiveo ($12.10) in 2:01.1 by three-and-a-quarter lengths. Peter Van Seggelen, Carl Warnaar and Tapron Holdings Limited co-own the filly by Blue Burner.

Paperback Thriller ($14.10) surged to a one-length victory in the three-year-old filly pace consolation. Michael Hennessy steered the Mystery Chase filly to a 1:56.4 victory for trainer Rod Hennessy, who shares ownership with Lorne Duffield.

The Keith Clark-trained Test Flight gelding Snap Test ($4.10) wired his competition to take the three-year-old colt and gelding consolation. Nate Sobey drove the gelding owned by CLark, Doris McDougall and Archie Benekos to a two-length victory in 1:56.1.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Century Downs.

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