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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Published: October 9, 2019 2:49 pm ET

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“Outlawgrabbingears is a skinny, ugly horse,” said trainer/driver Paul Davies. “His conformation is bad. He’s toed out; his hips stick out. It’s hard to keep weight on him. People can’t believe the way he looks and what he’s done. To look at him you wouldn’t think he was much.”

That being said, Outlawgrabbingears is something to talk about. Despite his looks, Outlawgrabbingears does two things very well: he wins and he’s fast.

The three-year-old Smart Shark gelding showed that again last weekend when he tasted victory in the eliminations of the Maverick stakes. After his Post 7 start, the gelding got away fifth, went first-up and made the lead in the middle half. He eventually won going away in 1:52.2. His connections are hoping he will be ‘double tough’ in Sunday’s $40,000 final of the Maverick at Century Mile. Outlawgrabbingears will be starting from Post 7 again this weekend.

“There was lots left,” Davies said in regard to Outlawgrabbingears’ elim win. “He probably could have gone in 1:51 and a bit. I like only having to go what I have to go. I shut him down the last half of the stretch.”

The win was the 15th of Outlawgrabbingears’ 24-race career. He was last year’s two-year-old champion when he won seven of his nine outings – all stakes – and banked $103,625. He finished second in his other two starts. This year has pretty much been more of the same, as the gelding has won eight of his 15 starts.

After a four-month winter break, Outlawgrabbingears picked up where he left off. He won the Keith Linton elimination and March 29 final at BC’s Fraser Downs – the latter of which was timed in a life’s best 1:52.1.

Outlawgrabbingears’ success in the Linton was just the beginning. He then went out and won the elimination and final of the Plainsman at Calgary’s Century Downs before finishing third – by a length – in the $50,000 final of the Brad Gunn. He followed that up by winning a leg of both the Marksman and the Ralph Klein.

After triumphing his leg of the Western Canada Pacing Derby, Outlawgrabbingears finished a disappointing fourth – as the favourite – in the $125,000 final.

“There was a virus that went through the barn and everything I had came up flat,” said Davies, explaining his colt’s performance in the Pacing Derby final in which he tired down the lane after having set all of the fractions.

“Last week was more like it,” said Davies, who bought Outlawgrabbingears privately off of Connie Kolthammer for $22,500 last spring.

“If I didn’t see him train I would never have looked at him. Like I said it wasn’t his conformation that attracted me. He was really good gaited and at a high speed. He was running away from Connie the day I watched him train at Century Downs. He did it so easily.

“I asked if he was for sale. Connie said ‘yes.’ I bought him that day and away we went,” said Davies, who now owns the three-year-old sensation with Deborah Pinel. “He wasn’t qualified or anything. I had him for six weeks before he qualified and put the finishing work on him. He’s always been good. Right from the start.”

When it comes to Sunday’s Maverick final, Davies believes that it could be a real show.

“Ooh… I think it’s wide open,” he said. “’Grabbingears’ looks the best, but Crackle N Burn figures to be tough. He almost always shows up… Then there’s the other two ‘Outlaw’ horses: Outlaw Gunsablazin and Outlaw Aceofspades, who finished second and third to Grabbingears this past Sunday. There’s quite a few in contention.”

This weekend, in addition to the Maverick, there is also the $40,000 final of the Marquis for three-year-old fillies on Friday night, plus eliminations legs of the Stardust and Shooting Star for two-year-olds. Davies is also represented in Friday's Marquis with Outlawspotliteonme, who won her division of the eliminations in 1:56.3.

Like Outlawgrabbingears, Outlawspotliteonme was much the best. She won by a very easy two and three-quarter lengths with a stern last quarter in :27.4.

“There was lots left in her tank, too. Gin Twist finished second, but she never got to my wheel. I thought (Gin Twist) would be tougher. Outlawspotliteonme is just the opposite of Outlawgrabbingears as far as looks go. She’s gorgeous,” he said of the three-year-old filly that he also owns with Pinel and who is also a son of Smart Shark.

“Outlawspotliteonme is a bit green and just coming around,” Davies said of the filly he also bought from Kolthammer – this one for $15,000.

“I watched her qualify. She came her back half in about 57 (seconds) and change. I bought her that day, too. She didn’t make it at two. She just wasn’t ready. It took her a while to get her brain in the right place. But I think she’s figured it out,” Davies said of the filly who has now won three consecutive starts, all very easily. “She’s paid for herself already. She’s going to make a nice race horse."

“She’s a full sister to five other horses and they’ve all got speed. It’s a good family. Outlawstandndelivr has won over $70,000,” he said of the five-year-old, who has been first, second or third 31 out of 75 trips. “Outlawfryreyesonly is a two-year-old who won the Rising Star stakes. And I’ve got a yearling and a yearling with the same breeding.”

While Davies believes there is plenty of opposition for Outlawgrabbingears in the Maverick, he knows for sure who the horse to beat is in the Marquis.

“Rockin Mystery. Definitely. She’s a freak of nature,” Davies said of the Chris Lancaster-trained filly who won her Marquis elimination by three and three-quarter very easy lengths in 1:55.2 – more than a full second faster than Outlawspotliteonme went – and who was disqualified from what was an easy 1:52.2 win in the $125,000 Don Byrne Memorial for being ahead of the starting gate.

Rockin Mystery drew Post 6 and Outlawspotliteonme will start from Post 4. Davies said Summer Fantasy, who will start from the trailing Post 9, also scares him. “Summer Fantasy raced pretty [well] to finish second to Rockin Mystery last week.”

Davies, 29, who started his racing career in Ontario working for some of the province’s top trainers, got his trainer’s license when he was 17 and his driver’s license three years later. “I was raised into harness racing. Both of my parents owned horses and my dad later became a harness judge. I first came to Alberta in 2010 when I worked the summer for Rod Hennessy. I took a couple of years away from horse racing and went into construction for a while.”

Asked why he got back into harness racing, Davies was succinct. “Stupidy,” he laughed. “I guess having holidays and weekends off wasn’t fun. Now I get to work every day. I couldn’t shake the horse bug. I was born into it and now I can’t get out.”

Not that he wants to anymore. “I’ve got 14 head to train – the biggest stable I’ve had,” said Davies, who had to take some time off driving after an accident in BC in April.

“I got catapulted when a horse I was driving, who had never broke stride, made a break. I landed hard. And then a horse ran over me from behind. I separated my shoulder and hurt my pelvis, tail bone and right elbow. I couldn’t even pick up a cup of coffee. My left shoulder and my elbow still bug me. But it could have been worse. I was able to walk away with some assistance and the horse was fine. And now I’m having a career year.”

STOCK REPORT - Keith Clark’s Snow Shark figures to be very tough in the first division of Friday’s Stardust for two-year-old fillies; Blue Star Dreaming and Miss Itunes are the ones to beat in the second division.

There are three divisions in Sunday’s Shooting Star for two-year-old colts. Davies is represented by Outlawfryreyesonly in the first division and Outlaw Stateofmind in the second.

To view the harness racing entries for Friday at Century, click the following link: Friday Entries – Century Mile.

To view the harness racing entries for Sunday at Century, click the following link: Sunday Entries – Century Mile.

(Courtesy Curtis Stock/thehorses.com)


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