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Snow Can't Stop This Alberta 'Rocket'

Published: September 22, 2018 6:11 pm ET

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As the seasons change in North America from summer to fall, harness racing at Alberta's Northlands Park looked more like a winter wonderland on Saturday (Sept. 22) as the track hosted three divisions of the Alberta Lonestar for two-year-old pacing colts.

I Ama Rocket had the afterburners engaged in the first $16,800 Lonestar division. Driver J.F. Gagne settled his entrant away in fourth while favoured Crackle N Burn (Phil Giesbrecht) set the tempo over the sloppy surface. With a :28.4 opening quarter and :59.2 half, the pace appeared to be in favour of the leader. Crackle N Burn accelerated down the backside as Gagne right-lined I Ama Rocket to test the favourite through a 1:28.2 third stanza. Around the final turn, Gagne gave I Ama Rocket the all-clear for lift-off and his horse responded. I Ama Rocket widened his lead with every stride, hitting the wire more than three lengths to the good over Crackle N Burn in 1:58 with Rock N Roll Dragon (Nathan Sobey) third.

Gagne trains and co-owns I Ama Rocket (Custard The Dragon - Machs Rocket) along with breeders Albert Branham- and Archie Melnyk of Sherwood Park, Alta. The homebred now boasts a 2-2-0 summary from six starts with more than $27,000 in the bank for his connections.

The closest the field could get to Outlawgrabbingears in the second $16,800 Lonestar division was behind the starting gate. Driver Paul Davies sent the public choice to the lead heading into the first turn, made three right turns and pulled away to a six-length trouncing of his five rivals in 1:59. Go Nine O (Kelly Hoerdt) couldn't keep up in the pocket but managed second over Bad Moon Rising (Brandon Campbell).

Owned by Davies along with Nicole Cecchin and Deborah Pinel, Outlawgrabbingears (Smart Shark - Grand Slam Woman) is now under the tutelage of trainer Rod Starkewski with the meet underway at Fraser Downs and Davies splitting time between the two provinces. In five starts, the freshman sports a 4-10 summary and $35,700 in earnings.

The final division of the Lonestar went to post with the most contenders (seven) and the highest purse ($17,100). Chase Me Forever (Jamie Gray) was a strong first-up challenger on favoured Loaded Deck, who had no ace up his sleeve after being confronted down the backside and pressured turning for home. After wearing down the pacesetter, Chase Me Forever held off the late rally from Senga Savannah (Ryan Grundy) to win by three-parts of a length in a life's best 2:01 with HF Thegreatpumpkin (Gerry Schedlosky) completing the triactor.

Gray recently took over the management of Chase Me Forever (Mystery Chase - B C Fantasy) from trainer and co-owner Blaine Chappell, who has also shifted his tack to Fraser from Century Downs. The move north has certainly suited Chase Me Forever, now a winner of two straight at Northlands for Chappell and co-owner Ross Sharp. The rookie's summary reads 2-1-1 in five outings with purses exceeding $19,000.

For the results from Saturday's card of harness racing at Northlands Park, click the following link: Saturday Results - Northlands Park.

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