Freshmen Featured In Alberta Stakes

Published: July 22, 2016 05:02 pm EDT

Two-year-old pacing fillies and colts will get their first taste of stakes action at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino this weekend in the Emerald Filly Stakes and the inaugural Century Bets stakes.

For the gals, the Emerald Filly will see three divisions go on Saturday, all with a purse of $16,667. The Century Bets for the boys is featured on Sunday with two divisions both carrying a purse of $25,000.

Co-sponsored by the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association and Standardbred Canada, the Emerald Filly is for two-year-old pacing fillies in 2016 that are Canadian-sired or 100 percent Canadian-owned.

Last Time To Play (Western Terror-Susurrus Hanover) will certainly demand the bulk of the attention in the first division of the Emerald Filly. The two-year-old daughter of the terrific sire Western Terror was a $40,000 purchase out of the Lexington Select Sale and looked good wiring older condition types in her prep for this contest back on July 16. She will be seeking the hat-trick win for the Masse barn.

Kurt and Kathy Schmidt’s homebred Lil Bit O Jingle (Blue Burner-Rain Drop Hanover) comes into this race fresh off a six-length romping winner in her qualifier. Trained by leading trainer/driver Travis Cullen, she could be your value play. Cardinal Rule (Allamerican Navajo-Cai Hanover) also looked sharp in her tune-up, just losing by a neck, while Perfect Mystery (Mystery Chase-Ideal Date) keeps on improving.

Shesamysterytome (Mystery Chase-Allamerican Boo) appears to be the one to beat in the second Emerald Filly division. She gave the heavy favourite Pickles On Top (Cullen) all she could handle in her career debut back on July 9, losing only by a half-length. The Ryan Grundy trainee looks to build off that effort.

“We got her for $2,700 at the Alberta sale and we were happy with her first career start,” said Grundy, who noted the connections did not buy her for her looks. “We were looking for a Mystery Chase filly so we decided on her. She is nothing pretty to look at for sure but her mother did produce a few nice mares. She is a bit aggressive but overall nice to train and enjoys to work,”

Grundy had no complaints on drawing into this division.

“We get to duck a couple of promising horses in Pickles On Top and Last Time To Play and we were happy with our post draw (Post 4). We hope for good luck in getting the trip and hope we have lots of gas left in the tank coming for home.”

Badlands Palace (Badlands Hanover-Crystal Palace) just keeps improving for the Harold Haining barn.

“She is a real nice filly. We bought her from the Alberta sale for $2,300. We liked the look of her and she has good bloodlines,” said Haining, who will place his filly in the care of veteran reinsman Gerry Hudon. “We have done very well with Gerry driving our baby fillies over the years.”

Outlaw Fireball (Blue Burner-Watchasgirlsgoby) was a decent fifth in her first career start. She was a private purchase from Connie Kolthammer last week by the Gagne barn. Trainer Majorie Dumont has no regrets taking this filly, noting she still has some growing up to do.

“Outlaw Fireball is a nice filly but in her last race before we bought her she was stuck behind our horse Golden Echo and kind of stopped,” noted Dumont “She is is still green and learning the game but she trained good today. We will see what we have on Saturday,”

Fans might just see a heavyweight emerge from the third and final Emerald Filly division. Pickles On Top (Camystic-Real Chop) was a $24,500 yearling purchase for the Cullen barn. After a visually impressive win in her Maiden race back on July 16 in a time of 1:59.2, she tackled older condition types and still was a very game fourth despite a very wide trip.

Wedding Dance (Mystery Chase-Westart Love) looked sharp winning her maiden race back on July 16 for the Haining barn.

“I was impressed with her last win in 1:58.3,” commented Haining. “We also bought her from the Alberta sale for $6,500 and, again, we liked the look of her. Her mother earned over $100,000 in B.C. We will have all three of our horses as ready as can be but you never know with two-year-olds.”

Shifting to the boys on Sunday, two divisions of the Century Bets Pace are also set to go. Da Magician is a youngster that appears to have a bright future. The two-year-old son of Dragon Again was an $18,000 purchase at the Lexington Select sale last year. After an impressive Maiden score in 2:01 back on July 3, his next two starts were against older condition type pacers and did not look out of place. His last race showed his true grit as he marched to the front and cut out some brisk fractions (:28.4, 58.3 and 1:28.1), before finally surrendering to the winner, four-year-old Smoke Eater. He dug deep to keep second, repelling a fast-closing Secrets Mystery down the lane. The ever-improving Serge Masse trainee will appreciate tangling with foes his own age on Sunday.

Hall of Famer Keith Clark will be represented by Beer Bribe (Camystic-Bridgette Hanover), a $37,000 purchase at the ASHA sale last year. His bloodlines and appearance helped bolster that purchase price.

“I was impressed with his good size and his bloodlines produced the likes of Beren Hanover,” said Clark. “I don’t feel he is the best in here but he does have good manners and is very easy to drive.”

Tap Man (Mystery Chase-Tapioca Hanover) has received pari-mutuel support from the punters right from the start but has yet to deliver. The Mystery Chase son was a $9,000 purchase from the ASHA sale last year however appears to be aptly-named as he continues to be a mystery to the Hennessy barn.

“We are still trying to figure him out. It has been puzzling to us,” stated Rod Hennessy. “He has talent but continues to be green; we are going to make some equipment changes and change his shoeing. We will know more about this guy after this weekend.”

Hennessy hopes Tap Man follows along the lines of some of his siblings.

“He is a half-brother to a couple of horses I trained in Tip Top Tap (paced 1:52 at Alberta Downs) and to the filly Tap Out (paced 1:53 at Alberta Downs).”

Bettors can go any way in the second Century Bets Pace division. Clark will also be represented in this division by Charge And Go (American Ideal-Yankee Lacey) who he and co-owner Doris McDougall purchased for $45,000 at Harrisburg last fall.

Charge And Go was a decent runner-up to the aforementioned Da Magician in his career debut and used a wide trip to be a closing third in his next start on July 17. The connections feel, however, they have their work cut out for them here.

“He is a bit green but he is learning,” said Clark. “The sire has produced a lot of nice horses so we will see what happens on Sunday,”

Punters will also have to pay close attention to yet another Mystery Chase offspring. The connections have high hopes for Murder Mystery after his last start. Sent off at a whopping 22-1, he was hustled out from post eight and was in contention the entire mile, losing by a mere half-length to favoured Retros Mystery.

“He is a real nice colt. There is not a ton of speed from this family but he was real good in his latest race and in my opinion he continues to get better all the time,” added Hennessy. “For me, he has done everything a colt to do,”

Keep an eye on Wabash Cannonball (Mystery Chase-Western Gift) for the Hoerdt barn. The $9,000 colt from the 2015 ASHA sale was a solid second in his qualifier on July 10 in 2:00.2 and can be any kind in his career debut.

Racing at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino goes with eight races Friday starting at 5:45 p.m., followed by 10 dashes set for Saturday and 11 races for Sunday’s card with a first race post time of 1:10 p.m. for both days.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)

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