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Power-Packed Programs At Century

Published: August 28, 2015 1:59 pm ET

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This weekend Century Downs will showcase the top three-year-old pacers as eliminations are set for Alberta Diamond on Saturday for the girls and Alberta Marksman on Sunday for the boys, as well as some exhibition races that will be a first for harness racing in Alberta.

The Alberta Diamond for three-year-old fillies will be contested in two elimination heats each with a purse of $10,000 per elimination. Blue Star Texas and Fire Watch appear to be headed on a collision course as both heavyweights look ultra tough in their respective eliminations. Each filly is favoured to win, setting up a huge grudge match in the $50,000 final scheduled for September 5.

In the first elimination, Blue Star Texas (Keith Clark) looks to bounce back off a third place finish in the Ralph Klein stakes final won by her arch rival Fire Watch (Cullen). The connections feel a better effort for Blue Star Texas is in the cards on Saturday.

“She just did not get the right trip in her last race. She would just not relax but still did not have a terrible race,” stated Clark. “We will train her up and get ready for this race. If she races to her potential she will be tough to beat.”

Owned by Doris McDougall and Robert Jones, Blue Star Texas was a $12,000 yearling purchase and is a half-sister to a former Alberta Sires Stakes champion in Blue Star Admiral (Camystic). On the season, Blue Star Texas (Brandons Cowboy - Movin Uptown) has a 10-5-1-3 summary and recently surpassed $117,000 in career earnings.

In the second elimination, all eyes will be on Fire Watch (Travis Cullen) who will likely be the heavy favourite to wrap up a spot behind the gate in the final. She looked superior in wiring the field in the Ralph Klein stakes final back on August 8.

The connections do not believe the layoff will be anything to worry about.
“She came out of her last race good. I gave her a week off after that last win and she’s training great,” noted Cullen. “She is a very nice filly.”

On the season, Fire Watch (Camystic-Raging Red Head) has compiled a 17-8-5-1 summary and is just shy of $125,000 in career earnings. She is co-owned by Cullen -- Century Downs' leading trainer and driver -- along with his father Ron and partner Dwayne Taylor of Minto, Man.

Switching to the boys on Sunday, the Alberta Marksman stakes will showcase some nice youngsters; however, both elimination heats with purses of $10,000 per elimination look like wide-open contests. The winning horse will likely be the one with the right trip.

The first elimination heat of the Alberta Marksman will feature Pablos First, the first foal of Alberta legend Trust The Artist. Trained by Darryl Cutting, Pablos First will once again get the services of driver Jim Marino. Marino has been driving Johnny Gun (who drew the rail in this race) for the Haining barn, but picked off that one for Pablos First.

“I had a very tough decision to make as Johnny Gun is a nice horse, but Pablos First really impressed me,” stated Marino. “I’m hoping we put in a good effort, and make it to the final.”

Owned by Leo Frank and Glenn Lassen of St Albert and Melinda Smith of Airdrie, Alta., Pablos First finished third in his most recent start but Marino feels he could fared better with a different trip.

“I could have won last time but I was locked up with lots of horse and nowhere to go,” said Marino. "He is a very nice colt and coming to form. He has shown he can go with these types.”

The second elimination of the Alberta Marksman features another horse from the Cutting barn, 2-1 morning line choice Urcutoff (Brandons Cowboy-Wendy Jo) from Post 6. Coming off a strong runner-up finish in his last start, Urcutoff will have the services of his regular driver Brandon Campbell for California-based owner Mark Anderson.

Also part of the Saturday and Sunday cards will be two Racing Under Saddle exhibition races, featuring one field of pacers on each day. The RUS races are a first for Standardbreds in Alberta.

Friday's card (starting at 5:30 p.m.) will feature nine dashes at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, with 11 races also set for Saturday and Sunday with a first race post time of 2:00 p.m. each day.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)

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