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Anticipation For Century Stakes

Published: May 8, 2018 10:06 am ET

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The pacers are tuned up, the weather is finally warming up, and it is time to launch the 2018 stakes calendar for harness racing at Century Downs. The program will begin this coming weekend with the Moores Mile for three-year-old fillies on Saturday (May 12) and the inaugural Norm Kennedy Memorial for three-year-old colts and geldings on Sunday (May 13).

Both of the events are open stakes. The owners of 27 colts and geldings and of 19 fillies have made the payments to keep their horses eligible. Each race carries a $40,000 purse, although that money will be split if enough entries on Wednesday require one or the other of the races to be run in divisions.

While Mother’s Day is Sunday, it will be the boys who run that day. The fillies will get their turn on Saturday afternoon. A bunch of them took the opportunity for a trial run this past Saturday. Kelly Hoerdt finished third with Blue Grotto against older mares in Saturday’s opener, and then scored with Cuzdmagicdragon in a field full of Moore’s Mile eligibles in Race 7. He had both of them listed as probables for this Saturday.

Ginger Beer, who is co-owned by Keith Clark, John Hind, and Doris McDougall, won Race 6, a skirmish which saw five Moore’s Mile-eligible fillies spar. Hot Kiss was the runner-up – she gives the Hoerdt barn a possibility of three entries for the Moore’s Mile. The harder questions will have to be addressed by the trainers of those horses that didn’t make the board. Was it a bad race, on what was a really nice afternoon in Balzac? Have they shown enough this season that they deserve another shot? Or are they just not quite ready for prime time?

No Mo Fo Jo finished second to Cusdmagicdragon, and trainer Nathan Sobey says she will be in the Moore’s. “She was a $45,000 buy out of the Harrisburg sale in November of 2016,” Sobey told Horse Racing Alberta. “Diane Bertrand bought her out of an auction in Ontario last November and sent her to Fraser Downs. She made six starts there, including a win in an elimination of the Penny Bath Memorial. She got parked three-wide in the first half of the final, which went in a scorching (1:) 55.4. No horse could keep up that pace, especially on the outside, and she dropped back. But we certainly think she’s good enough to be in the Moore’s field.”

You Talk Too Much and Maid In Alberta finished third and fourth behind No Mo Fo Joe and just in front of Bearcat Josi, who earned a cheque by finishing fifth. It was her first start of the season for owner Derek Stout and trainer Doug Stout. She has not raced since finishing third in the Super Finals for two-year-old fillies last October at Northlands Park in Edmonton.

“She (Bearcat Josi) had a good year last year,” trainer Doug Stout said of the pacer that posted a 4-1-2 record from eight starts and cashed cheques worth $54,627. “I’ve had some good luck with members of the family. I raced her mother, Barona Josi, and she was pretty good as a two-year-old in her day. She managed to overcome a broken sesamoid bone. Then, at three, she had a spiral fracture in one leg and that pretty much ended her racing career. But she’s walking [well] today and she’s become a good broodmare for me. I’ve gotten four foals out of her, all by Mystery Chase. They’re all fillies. I told Jim Rhodes, the breeder, to turn the mare and the sire around next time as I’d like a colt, just for a change. Maybe point them in a different direction and see if that helps!” When the laughter died out, Stout told HRA that he’s booked an appointment with Barona Josi for Mystician this spring.

On the boys’ side, Outlaw True Grit was an also eligible from the Rod Starkewski shed row but did not start on Sunday afternoon. That means he’ll have had a bit of a rest before the Kennedy, although that wasn’t the original plan. Still, it might work out just fine. The challenge for Kennedy hopefuls is an Ontario-bred named Boiling Oar. He shipped in from Fraser Downs following an impressive showing while winning the Keith Linton final in 1:55 (final quarter in :28) on April 13. He has not raced since. The gelding, who is owned by Richard Manes’ JJJ Stables out of Prince George BC, is three for three with $62,500 made so far this year.

“If he races well here, we might look to move him to Ontario and try him in the Ontario Sires Stakes,” trainer Jim Marino told HRA. “Otherwise we’ll probably keep him here for the open stakes on the Century Downs calendar.”

Marino’s participation in next week’s program is up in the air at the moment. He was shaken up in Sunday’s second race when his horse, Sooters Blues went down on the final turn. For an update on Marino’s condition, click here.

The two races of note on the Sunday program were Race 3, which featured six Kennedy eligibles, and Race 5, which featured five eligibles. Gonna Funku Up (trained by Rod Starkewski) and Mortgage My Villa (Nathan Sobey) finished one-two. Peace Out Posse (Kelly Hoerdt) was fourth, Flood Zone (Keith Clark) was eighth and Spikes Revenge (Dave Lamont) was sixth. Jet Juice broke stride off the gate and will have to go through qualifying, so he won’t be a starter in the Kennedy. The rule is a horse has to be qualified to race before it can be entered in a race. Entry will take place on Wednesday morning and the next scheduled qualifier is not until noon on Saturday.

In Race 5, Cheddar Jack (Rod Hennessy) gave a fine performance while winning in 1:55. Freedoms Rescue (Glen Lutz) finished second. Those two, for sure, are headed to the entry box for the Kennedy. Keith Clark has Its A Great White, who finished fourth and is a likely starter this coming Sunday. Shaker Tank (Dan Sifert) is another possibility, although he was seventh on Sunday. Hennessy had hoped for more from Marlons Magic, who finished ninth in Race 5. So, that will be one of those decisions by the veteran trainer, who must decide if his horse is better than he showed on Sunday afternoon.

And there were a couple of other Kennedy eligibles in Race 8. Custards Laststand might give the Hoerdt stable another contender. He was in the winner’s circle after a 1:56.2 trip around the track. Workin Them Angels finished third, just two lengths off the lead for trainer Blaine Chappell.

At any rate, it looks like a good start to the stakes schedule this coming weekend. And with a chance to tour the barns starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and with Mother’s Day to be celebrated on Sunday, it would seem that Century Downs is the place to be for the whole family.

(With files from / Peter Watts)

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