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'Texas' Looms Large In Alberta

Published: July 10, 2015 8:43 am ET

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With the Alberta Sires Stakes eliminations now complete, the stage has been set for Saturday's $54,800 Alberta Princess final and Sunday's $55,400 Alberta Plainsman final at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.

The Keith Clark-trained sophomore filly Blue Star Texas will command the bulk of the attention in Saturday's Alberta Princess Final off her 1:56.2 win in the $10,000 elimination which was held back on July 1. Fire Watch (Travis Cullen) had to settle for second-place, finishing one and a half lengths behind Blue Star Texas. Trainer-driver Keith Clark parlayed a nice pocket trip to post the victory. However, the tables have turned for the final with Blue Star Texas drawing outside of the Cullen-trained Fire Watch.

“She is a decent honest small mare but will need the trip again, " said Clark regarding Saturday's final. "We have our work cut out now since Fire Watch is inside of us this time."

Blue Star Texas now has four wins in seven starts this year, including stakes finals of the Wild Rose last month at Century Downs and the Penny Bath Memorial in April at Fraser Downs. The Brandons Cowboy-Movin Uptown filly has banked $80,527 lifetime for her Alberta connections, owners Doris McDougall of Cochrane and Robert Jones of Slave Lake. She set a track record at Century Downs for three-year-old fillies, stopping the timer in 1:54.4 back on June 6.

Stablemate Cam Finish, the 8-5 favourite in the other Princess elim, used a three-hole trip to post her first win in 2015. The Camystic-Expensive Return filly stopped the clock in 1:59, pushing her earnings to $47,010. Clark shares ownership of Cam Finish and isn't as optimistic about her chances. "Cam Finish, my other horse, she is a bit weaker than 'Texas'. We are hoping for a small cheque from her."

Sunday's feature is the Alberta Plainsman for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Hollywood Redneck and Outlaw Deacon Jim were winners of their respective Alberta Plainsman eliminations, with the Final figuring to be a more wide-open affair.

Hollywood Redneck (Gerry Hudon) went coast to coast through panels of :28.1, :57.2 and 1:26.4 before desperately fighting off 8-5 favourite Pablos First (Philip Giesbrecht) down the stretch to win by a scant nose in a lifetime mark of 1:56.2. The Brandons Cowboy-Cameezy colt has now won $17,622 to date. Hudon shares ownership of Hollywood Redneck with William Boden of Vancouver, B.C. and Donald McDougall.

Pablos First did not have the best of trips but the connections feel confident going into the final he can rebound.

“He is a nice little horse. I had to go three-wide down the backstretch and that cost me. Hollywood Redneck (Gerry Hudon) really dug in down the lane and beat me. My horse was just a little tired at the end,” said Giesbrecht. With a few speed horses signed on for the final, things just may go in the favor of this Darryl Cutting-trained horse.

“The pace appears to be in my favour. If the boys race a little on the front end, I just may be able to pick up some cover, so we will see,” commented Giesbrecht.

Pablos First has bankrolled $50,062 in lifetime earnings for his owners Leo Frank, Glenn Lassen of St Albert and Melinda Smith of Airdrie, Alberta.

The other elimination provided an upset with the Rod Hennessy-trained Outlaw Deacon Jim tracking down Urcutoff (Brandon Campbell) to win by a neck in 1:57 flat. Outlaw Deacon Jim dug deep in his gas tank to come up with a 28.4 final panel for driver Paul Davies for the Blue Burner-Billie J Blue Chip colt's fourth win in just six seasonal starts.

This weekends's slate of live harness racing at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino starts Friday at 5:30 p.m., followed by Saturday and Sunday’s cards with a first race post time of 2:00 p.m. each day.

On Friday, Century starts with two new jackpot wagers and $5,000 had been seeded to each pool. The third race will kick off the Century 6, a Pick 6 jackpot bet, and the eighth race will be the start of the track's Super High 5.

Sunday is also “Bring A Friend Day” featuring Draws for Stable Tours, a T-shirt toss after each race, a Betting Basics Course for newcomers and Live Entertainment. In addition to the ABSS action, a seven-horse Open Pace is carded that could place the existing 1:52.3 track record in jeopardy.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)


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