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Freshmen Featured In Alberta Stakes

Published: July 27, 2014 10:19 pm ET

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Two-year-old pacing fillies and colts converged at Alberta Downs to make their stakes debut in the Emerald Filly and Horizon Pace featured on back-to-back harness racing programs in Lacombe, Alta. on Sunday.

Alberta Downs hosted the Sunday double-header due to heavy rain fall on Friday, which caused unsafe/heavy track conditions postponing the Saturday program.

Undefeated Fire Watch and the debuting Im Just Ducky were victorious in $22,500 divisions of the Emerald Filly Stakes, co-sponsored by Standardbred Canada.

Fire Watch advanced from the back of the five-horse field down the backstretch and drew two lengths clear down the lane with second over Wrapped To Go (Connie Kolthammer) chasing her to the wire. Fire Watch stopped the clock in 1:58.1 for her second and fastest pari-mutuel win. Beauty Of Nature (Gerry Hudon) finished third off a pocket trip.

"I'm pretty proud," said trainer/driver Travis Cullen, who picked out the Camystic-Raging Red Head filly, a $3,000 yearling at the ASHA Sale. "Ashleigh has an owner that wanted to buy a couple of yearlings last year so I said, 'oh I'll come along for the ride, it's something to do in the afternoon.' I ended up buying two of them; one is no good and this one is learning. She is still very, very green."

Ron Cullen and Trevor Williams, both of Manitoba, also share ownership of the winning filly.

Im Just Ducky emerged between horses in the stretch to win her first pari-mutuel start in 1:57.4. True Rock (Kelly Hoerdt) edged out I Am Miss T (John Chappell) from the runner-up honours one and a half lengths behind. Trainer/driver Jamie Gray co-owns the special Art Colony-Gold Pearls filly with breeders Fred Gilbert and Richard Osterbeck, both visiting from Brandon, MB.

"We've been sitting here all day waiting for this race to come," said Gilbert. "This filly had a big story behind her. The mare had three foals and this is the only one that lived. It took three people to pull her out of the mare. So we're happy as heck."

Gilbert said he acquired 'Ducky's mother, a big, strong mare, from Jamie Copley at Rideau Carleton. With Gold Pearls' full-sister, LR Dancing Dream, sporting a mark of 1:50.4, he was hopeful she would make a good broodmare and produce some speed.

"We were lucky and fortunate enough to own Flak Jacket and we sold him and we've been kind of sitting stagnant," he said. "We need a new star in the barn and, well, hopefully this is it."

Favourites Johnny Gun and First Class Horse won the matching Horizon Pace divisions contested earlier during the afternoon program.

Cullen also picked up his first stakes win of the day with Johnny Gun, sending him first over from fifth down the backsretch to prevail by four and a half lengths over pacesetter Outlaw This Is It (Philip Giesbrecht) and pocket-sitter Mysharona Bluechip (Keith Clark).

Harold Haining trains Johnny Gun, who earned his first win in two pari-mutuel starts in a time of 1:56.2. Owner Don Richardson of Cochrane, Alta. purchased the good-looking Brandons Cowboy-Jerrys Girl colt for $22,000 at the ASHA Sale.

Trainer/driver Keith Clark and First Class Horse swept around the early leader after the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 1:55.2 stakes triumph. Cool Cowboy (Kelly Hoerdt) finished four and a half lengths behind in second with broken equipment while third went to early breaker Bruadar (Brandon Campbell), who was 10-1/2 lengths in arrears.

The win was First Class Horse's second (consecutive) in three pari-mutuel starts. Clark also co-owns the Western Terror-Susurrus Hanover colt with Robert Jones of Slave Lake, Alta. and Doris McDougall of Cochrane, Alta.

This week's $8,400 Open Pace was dominated by the Cullen family. Five-year-old Mach Three gelding Who Doesnt returned to action for the first time since his 1:50.4 track record victory on July 6. Overcoming his outside post assignment, Who Doesnt rolled right down the road to earn his fifth win in a row in 1:52.2 for trainer/driver Travis Cullen and co-owners Jeanne, Kenneth and Jodie Cullen. Ashleigh Cullen trainee Daniel Semalu (Philip Giesbrecht) finished three and a half lengths behind with the winner's stablemate, Playbook (Jim Marino), rounding out the top three finishers.

To view Sunday's harness racing results at Alberta Downs, click on the following links: Afternoon / Evening

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