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Race Rewind: 2006 Nat Christie

Published: April 20, 2015 11:11 am ET

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With the excitement of harness racing returning to Calgary, Alberta this weekend for the first time since 2006 at the new Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, Trot Insider takes a look back on one of the city's last major harness stakes.

Before the closure of Stampede Park, the 25th and final edition of the Nat Christie Memorial was won by the Bob McIntosh-trained sophomore colt Armbro Damien and driver Ron Pierce on Sunday, August 27, 2006. Truckin Jones finished second to come through for Keith Clark after his rising star Armbro Dublin was scratched from the stakes event due to a quarter crack. The only Alberta-sired horse in the field, Blue Star Majesty was third for Kelly Hoerdt.

Owned by the McIntosh Stables, Paradox Farm, CSX Stables, and Michael Kohler, the son of Western Hanover out of O'Brien Award-winning mare Armbro Romance swept his $50,000 elimination (1:51.2) and the $150,000 final (1:52.1), held the same day, winning by a combined eight and a quarter lengths.

In the final, Pierce waited until Western Canada Pacing Derby champion and fellow Nat Christie elimination winner Hyperion Hanover had pocketed Blue Star Majesty in a quick :26.4 opening quarter. He then sent Armbro Damien on the move from third to wrestle the lead from Hyperion Hanover into a :54.2 half and was able to put some separation between himself and his rivals en route to three-quarters in 1:22.1 before coasting home for the two and three-quarter length triumph. Hyperion Hanover, still active to date with over $1.2 million in purse earnings on his resume, tired and finished a distant eighth that day.

"I just wanted everybody to get in line before I sent my horse in the final," Pierce told The Canadian Sportsman after the win. "Then Rod Hennessy's horse [Hyperion Hanover, driven by Paul MacKenzie] gave me a pretty good run, a real good run. I didn't know if was going to get the lead...I was a little worried...but once I got to the front, I knew I had it. I was sure hoping, anyways. I let up on him a little because I didn't want to chase him off his feet."

The win was Pierce's second consecutive in the Nat Christie and the third in the last five editions of the event for McIntosh. The year prior, Pierce had won the Nat Christie with the the McIntosh-bred, Mark Ford acquisition All Over The Place in a 1:50.1 track record. He joined Bill Tainsh Jr. as the only back-to-back winning drivers of the rich Calgary race.

"Last year, I just had to sit there and chase All Over The Place," Pierce said after his second Nat Christie triumph. "Today I had to hang onto Armbro Damien and drive on at the same time. There's some soundness issues so he's not easy to drive, but Bob McIntosh did a great job getting him ready for this. So I feel like I have accomplished something today."

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