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Giesbrecht Grabs Five In Century Stakes

Published: September 12, 2021 9:19 pm ET

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Century Downs’ card on Sunday (Sept. 12) was devoted entirely to the Alberta Sires Stakes (ABSS), with driver Phil Giesbrecht stealing the show by winning five of the 11 ABSS events.

Giesbrecht’s afternoon started with a victory by Samba Beat, who sat a pocket trip before pouncing to the lead and holding off 46-1 shot Tajmania to win the third of three Maverick eliminations.

Taking the field to the quarter in :27.3, Samba Beat yielded control to favourite Dragon Energy passing the stands first time, where Tajmania angled off the pegs and slowly gained ground uncovered. Dragon Energy led to the half in :56.2 and continued up the backside with no challengers, though Tajmania made steady inroads towards the top nearing three-quarters in 1:25.4.

Samba Beat lunged from the pocket around the final turn and took over the lead from Dragon Energy into the stretch just as Tajmania hit his best stride. However, the line came in time for Samba Beat and he held a head in front of Tajmania at the finish of a 1:56 mile with Dragon Energy another two lengths behind in third.

Owned by trainer Gerry Hudon along with Monica Hudon and William Andrew, Samba Beat won his fourth race from 11 starts, pushing his earnings to $16,689. The Santanna Blue Chip colt paid $7 to win.

Alongside the pacing sophomore events were a pair of ABSS contests for pacing rookies. In the event for the colts and geldings – the ABSS Rising Star – driver Phil Giesbrecht landed a stakes sweep, starting with Farasthe Eyecansee when he zipped out of the pocket to take the first division of the ABSS Rising Star in 1:58.4.

Parked by a :27.4 first quarter, Farasthe Eyecansee eventually settled behind Joe Rich, who led the field to the half in :58.1 while enduring a first-over challenge from Lets Tie One On. The pair continued to battle into the backside until after three-quarters in 1:28, where Lets Tie One On started to retreat. Room then opened for Farasthe Eyecansee to float from the pocket, and the Vertical Horizon colt swiftly grabbed command from there to win by 2-1/2 lengths over Chuck You Farlie closing for second. Joe Rich faded to third.

Winning his first race from five starts, Farasthe Eyecansee has earned $16,575 for owners Jacques Lambert, Miguel Lambert and Doug Hines. Jacques Lambert also trains the $16.60 winner who had Phil Giesbrecht in the sulky.

Needabankloan wired his competition in the second Rising Star split and just held on at the finish to post a 1:58 win with Giesbrecht in the bike.

Scoring from post three, Giesbrecht took control with Needabankloan to a :28.3 first quarter and maintained command while pressed by favourite Restless And Wild to a :58.2 half. He kept that rival parked up the backside to three-quarters in 1:28 but had the line in tow to deal with off the final turn. Restless And Wild stalled into the stretch, forcing Ladner Lad and Joe Dimagio to launch off cover and charge after the leader late. Needabankloan fought to the finish, passing the line a nose better than Ladner Lad landing second. Joe Dimagio took third.

Bred by owner-trainer Jacques Lambert, who co-owns with Richard Scott, Needabankloan won his first race from six starts, boosting his earnings to $11,125. The Toucam Sam colt paid $12.30 to win.

Odds-on choice Vegas Gambler completed Giesbrecht’s sweep of the Rising Star with a coast-to-coast 1:57 performance. The Mystery Chase colt charged for the front and faced minimal challenge through fractions of :29.1, :59.1 and 1:28. Opening four lengths off the final turn, the Rod Starkewski trainee strolled to the finish to win by a diminishing margin of 2-3/4 lengths over pocket-sitter Prairie Pursuit. So Strange sat third to take third.

Co-owned by Starkewski with Clauzette Byckal, Vegas Gambler won his fourth race from five starts and now has $45,025 banked. He paid $2.30 to win.

Giesbrecht’s final win on the afternoon came in the first elimination of the ABSS Marquis, where he steered the sophomore Blue Burner filly Burning Hot to a 1:56.3 victory as the 1-9 favourite.

Burning Hot took the lead past a :29 first quarter and stayed in command as Senga Nightmare attempted to apply first-over pressure into a :59.2 half, though she remained detached from the pacesetter. Giesbrecht’s charge continued to three-quarters in 1:28.1 before gaining separation on the field around the final turn and slightly widening her margin through the lane to win by 3-1/2 lengths at the beam. Outtheresomewhere snagged second from pocket-sitter Jack N Diane while Sent By Angels finished fourth another seven lengths behind.

Trained by Rod Starkewski for himself and co-owner Clauzette Byckal, Burning Hot won her sixth race from 11 starts this season and her 10th from 18 overall, lifting her earnings to $146,312. She paid $2.10 to win.

The other elimination for the ABSS Marquis went the way of Graceful Horizon, who launched from the pocket to win in 1:53.3.

Exotic Dragon, the 1-5 favourite, protected position from the pylon post to take the field by the quarter in :27.3 with Graceful Horizon sitting second. Bad Rossa advanced first over from fifth moving to a :57.3 half but promptly tired heading up the backside, causing outer-tier congestion. Meanwhile Exotic Dragon sped to three-quarters in 1:25.4 with Graceful Horizon her closest pursuer from second. She proved the most threatening to the pacesetter off the turn when driver Kelly Hoerdt tipped the Vertical Horizon filly from the pocket and fired to the front, sliding 2-1/2 lengths clear of Exotic Dragon while Outlaw Spiced Rum gave chase from third, another six lengths behind.

Co-owned by trainer Chris Lancaster with Derek Gilbert and Velda Olding, Graceful Horizon won her fifth race from nine starts this season and her eighth from 13 overall, pushing her earnings to $83,032. She paid $9.10 to win.

Sophomore pacing colts and geldings opened the card with the other two $7,500 eliminations for the ABSS Maverick Stakes. Trainer/driver Dave Kelly scored a last-to-first win with his Santanna Blue Chip colt Bonus Round in a 1:58.2 mile to take the first elimination of the Maverick.

Leaving from post six, Bonus Round pulled to the back of the sextet while Had A Hard Handle set a clip of :28.1 and :58 on the point. But the pacesetter started to tire into the backside, allowing first-over Tidal Shark to grab the lead as Lovin Up On You vacated pocket and Chaseisonthecase sat third over. By three-quarters in 1:28, Kelly raced fourth over with Bonus Round and rolled his charge off cover into the stretch to overtake late leader Lovin Up On You to win by a nose in a three-horse photo. Lovin Up On You took second, while Litizor rallied from a pylon trip but settled for third.

Owned by Pick 6 Stable, Bonus Round won his first race from 11 starts, boosting his earnings to $17,915. He paid $8.60 to win.

Shark Week shot to the front and never looked back to take the second ABSS Maverick elimination in 1:55.4.

Driver Michael Hennessy hustled Shark Week from post seven to the top before a :28.1 first quarter and faced no pressure to a :57.2 half. Codename Cigar Box, the 6-5 favourite, tipped first over from third into the backstretch and provided a minor challenge to Shark Week moving to three-quarters in 1:26.3. He began to lose ground when wide around the final turn while Shark Week strolled into the stretch to win by 2-3/4 lengths over pocket-sitter Solid Silver. Codename Cigar Box held third.

Co-owned by trainer Rod Hennessy with Lorne Duffield, Shark Week won his fourth race from eight starts this season and his seventh from 13 overall, pushing his earnings to $77,344. He paid $7.90 to win.

Freshmen pacing fillies had three divisions carded for the ABSS Starlet, however the event was cut to two splits following the first division completing as a no contest due to an accident caused by Ventimatchalatte falling to the track. The second division also had a faller, though that race was driven to completion. Trot Insider learned that both Ventimatchalatte and Lost In The Moment, the filly who fell in the second division heading to the quarter, got up from the accidents and walked away with no injuries. Drivers Kelly Hoerdt and Tyler Redwood also escaped uninjured and completed their drives on the card.

Division two in fact went to Kelly Hoerdt as he steered his Custard The Dragon filly Tin Foil Hat to a 1:59 victory. Hoerdt hustled Tin Foil Hat to the front passing a :28.4 first quarter to pocket early leader Two Fingers Gold and cruise from there. She clicked a half in :57.2 and three-quarters in 1:28.1 before finishing the job with a :30.4 final quarter to win by 1-1/4 lengths over Two Fingers Gold. Proud Of My Roots finished third another 16 lengths behind.

Co-owned by Hoerdt with Blair Corbeil and Fred Gilbert, Tin Foil Hat won her first race from three starts, boosting her earnings to $14,550. She paid $4.20 to win.

Hoerdt also scored in the final division of the Starlet when reeling in breakaway leader Memum Knowsnothing with his Vertical Horizon filly Jamaica Move to win in 1:58.2.

Jamaica Move took the lead past a :30.1 first quarter, but soon yielded the top to Memum Knowsnothing passing the stands first time. Memum Knownothing sprinted clear of the field to the second turn and clicked the half in :57.4 with Jamaica Move seven lengths behind in second. Memum Knowsnothing’s lead began to shorten up the backside as Jamaica Move crept closer to three-quarters in 1:27.1. By the top of the stretch, Jamaica Move’s deficit had shrunk to two lengths, which she easily recouped to win by 1-1/4 lengths with Cozey Up following suit to take second. Goodbye Ceia Later closed at 119-1 to finish third.

Co-owned by Hoerdt with Ralph Morrow, Jamaica Move won her second race from four starts, lifting her earnings to $16,225. She paid $4.10 to win.

With the eliminations of the ABSS Maverick and the ABSS Marquis in the books, the sophomore pacing colts and fillies who qualified will advance to their respective $40,000 (added) finals set for next Sunday’s (Sept. 19) card at Century Downs.

To view Sunday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Sunday Results - Century Downs.

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