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Newcomer Seeks Stakes Sweep

Published: April 22, 2016 5:08 pm ET

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Driver Travis Bowman could very well be the poster boy for the idea behind the famous Johnny Cash song, I've Been Everywhere.

“Century Downs is the forty-first pari-mutuel track I have driven at,” noted Bowman, who has been scoring some serious upsets since arriving at Century Downs and could be one to keep an eye on in this weekend's Prairie Series Finals.

Eliminations for the Prairie Girls Series for three and four-year-old Fillies and Mares and the Prairie Boys Series for three and four-year-old male pacers took place last weekend. The Prairie Series is an early closing event for three-and four-year olds which have not won $20,000 lifetime as of the end of December, 2015. Both finals will have purses of $25,000 this weekend.

The Prairie Girls eliminations saw both ends of the spectrum with a heavy favorite winning the first elimination while the other elimination was won by Bowman with a longshot.

In the first elimination, Credit The Shark (Keith Clark) delivered as the favourite. She had to work for the lead briefly then wired the group stopping the clock in 1:58.3 and paying $3.80 to win. Clark co-owns Credit The Shark with Ann and Harvey Jaeger.

Woodbine invader Twin B Breezeway (Phil Giesbrecht) used a first over trip to press the winner all the way down the lane to get second place. Green Light (Connie Kolthammer) was glued to the rail the whole way and was looking for some room. Both these horses could prove a top threat in the final with the right trip.

In the second division, Lovethatsixpack parlayed a two-hole trip in a decisive six-length dominating win in a time of 1:58.2. The four-year-old daughter of Sixdaysontheroad looks like she may be peaking at the right time, which may mean bad news for the rest of the field.

“She did not handle the turns well this winter/spring at Fraser Downs. Her first start here can be excused as she had just shipped in four days earlier and had the eight post. She has speed. I used her leaving and I still had lots left in the tank last week," said Bowman. The Jeffery Waltenburgh trainee rewarded her backers by paying a whopping $45.70 on the $2.00 win ticket.

Travis Cullen's sophomore filly L Dees Sunsetbeach chased home Lovethatsixpack to get place dough despite getting shuffled to second last before rallying late in the lane four-wide and obviously has to be respected again.

Turning to the boys on Sunday, the $5,000 eliminations of the Prairie Boys Stakes for three and four-year-old male pacers were contested a week ago with Counter Strike and Big Magick earning victories in their respective events. The final looks like it may be shaping up to be a David vs. Goliath match between these two horses.

Sent off as the 1-5 favourite, Counter Strike and trainer/driver Cullen used a three-hole trip before taking over and winning his amazing seventh straight race in a sizzling time of 1:55.2 by a length and three-quarters over Man Of Many Arts (Phil Giesbrecht), who could only watch as Counter Strike marched on to victory. Cullen shares ownership of the four-year-old Camystic gelding, with Jerry Hagenaars of Hafford, Sask.

Punters looking for a horse to topple the likely favourite Counter Strike should consider Big Magick. Driven by Bowman in his elimination, Big Magick overcame the tough outside post eight as he fired out to the front and cleared breaker Outlaw Goodnready. He then had to put away the challenge by runner-up Mach It Big (Rene Goulet) in the third quarter before going on to capture his elimination by nearly four lengths in 1:56.4. The four-year-old homebred Mister Big gelding is owned by trainer Vernon and Earla Sifert and Insight Strategies, all of Aldergrove, B.C. Appellate (Keith Clark), the 3-5 favourite, could only muster a third place finish.

“Big Magick loves the Century Downs surface and the shorter stretch here. We had him in Toronto last spring with Gord Remmen training for us out there but he found the stakes types there a bit too tough so we brought him back home," said owner/trainer Vernon Sifert. "I just trained him on this track and we had no problems at all. We are fortunate to have drawn post three and very confident with our driver Travis Bowman that with the right trip we can be tough again.”

Big Magick appears he can race anyway you want him to. “He is a horse that keeps digging. Last week was only the second time he cut the mile but a two-hole trip would not bother this guy,” stated Bowman.

The race obviously has to go through Counter Strike who drew post two just next to Big Magick, however that isn’t scaring the connections of Big Magick.

“Obviously Counter Strike with his awesome win streak resume is the one to beat but no one wins forever so we are hoping for the best,” commented Sifert.

Century Downs Racetrack and Casino will feature twelve dashes set for Saturday and Sunday’s card both with a first race post time of 1:10 p.m. each day.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)

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