Pacing's Version Of Jekyll & Hyde

Published: September 24, 2016 08:49 am EDT

The road to the $50,000 finals of the Marquis for three-year-old fillies and the Maverick for the three-year-old boys set for October 8 goes through the eliminations for both these stakes this weekend at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.

For the gals, the Marquis stakes will see three eliminations go on Saturday, all with a purse of $5,000. The Maverick stakes for the boys is featured on Sunday with two eliminations both carrying a purse of $7,500.

The path to victory in the first elimination of the Marquis may have to go through Outlawsurshotshark. The daughter of Smart Shark was unraced as a two-year-old and was a private purchase for the Cullen barn from Connie Kolthammer's Outlaw Stables earlier this year. With Cullen leaving the province for Ontario, their share was transferred to the Don Byrne stables and will make her first start for trainer/driver Brandon Campbell on the weekend. She was a beaten favourite in her last effort in the Alberta Diamond stakes and is capable of much more, especially having drawn the rail. She has bankrolled just under $100,000 lifetime with a superb 19-11-5-2 record.

In the second elimination, Ba Bye Ceia Later is in good form. She was a 7-1 surprise in the $56,900 Alberta Diamond final for three-year-old pacing fillies in her latest start and looks to double up in here. The daughter of JK Royal Flush-Palma Ceia got away seventh early in the race before latching on to some cover through the middle stages of the mile and used a :29.4 last quarter to post the win. The favourite that day, Divas Dragonfly, broke stride.

“She got the perfect trip that day for sure. And I think we drew the easier division this weekend. Getting the good post draw is an obvious plus,” said trainer Rod Hennessy. Ba Bye Ceia Later has banked just under $71,000 and sports a respectable 13-5-4-3 record in 2016 for Alberta partners Bryan Brook of Leduc and Diane Harries of Falun.

The last elimination should be fun to watch and could come down to Monstrous and Divas Dragonfly. Meadowlark Farms' homebred filly Divas Dragonfly will have redemption on her mind as she broke stride early in the Alberta Diamond final, costing her any shot. The connections admit Lady Luck has not been on their side when it comes to stakes action but feel their good fortune will be back in their corner soon.

“She hit something on the track and caught her shoe enough to go off stride in her last start,” commented owner/trainer Carl Archibald. "We have had our share of bad luck when it comes to stakes races but I feel things will change. Something weird always happened, whereas last year we had all the luck."

The barn expects a bounce back effort from the 2015 champion two-year-old Alberta sired filly this weekend.

“We made some minor changes in preparation for this race. She trained real good today and appears happy.”

Warren Fuller's homebred three-year-old pacing filly Monstrous will be no pushover. She has a tremendous late kick and will be a dangerous player again. The Allamerican Navajo-Hoosier Pam filly was a vet scratch in the Alberta Diamond stakes back on September 10 but has been awesome all year never finishing worse than second with a remarkable 11-6-5-0 record good for earnings of just under $60,000.

Switching to the boys on Sunday, the Alberta Maverick Stakes will see a number of familiar faces battling it out yet again.

Wrangler Cash and O'Brien Award winner Kelly Hoerdt has had a great year but has drawn the outside post eight. A son of the Hall of Famer As Promised, Wrangler Cash has chalked up earnings of $145,842 for Hoerdt and partners Blair Corbeil and Dr. Maurice Stewart. Blue Star Maverick (Hennessy) drew a decent inside post and could be your early pace factor. Flamingbluestar has been impressive clobbering cheaper and could be your surprise package with Brandon Campbell at the controls for trainer Sanford Campbell.

The second division will see three heavyweights in Blue Star Jet, Outlaw Turn N Burn and Classy Artist set to duke it out. The tank was empty last start out for Blue Star Jet, who took the lead in the Alberta Marksman final only to fade late in the race ending up fourth. The tank was full back on August 7 when he won the Brad Gunn Stakes in a sizzling 1:54 wire-to-wire victory. That time gave him title to track record holder for three-year-old geldings.

The connections have conceded their horse has a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

“He is a weird horse. We can not figure when this guy will show up,” said owner/trainer Rod Hennessy. "He trains like a monster in the morning but you never know which Blue Star Jet you will get behind the gate until post time."

This trait may have been passed on thanks to his family genes.

“His mother Movin Uptown was exactly the same. You would never know which horse would show up.”

However, there is talent there and punters must respect his speed. “He is the highest money earner of the field at $124,401 so it’s hard to totally knock him.”

Blue Star Jet was named the 2015 Alberta Two-Year-Old (Colts & Geldings) Alberta champion and set the record at Century for two-year-olds at Century in 1:56 last year.

Outlaw Turn N Burn will be an obvious impact player again. He was a good second in the Alberta Marksman and can not be discounted. Donna Sarin trains the Blue Burner-Penny Lace colt, who now sports a 13-5-2-2 record on the season, earning just under $60,000 for owner 8113564 Canada Ltd. He shares ownership of the 1:56.3 track record for two-year-old colts, pacing to that mark just over a year ago.

The aforementioned Classy Artist merits respect again off his longshot win in the Alberta Marksman stakes and is an off-the-pace threat especially if a speed duel develops up front. Trainer Rod Starkewski of Lamont, Alta. shares ownership on the colt with breeder Tony Chan of Sherwood Park, Alta. The son of former Western Canada Pacing Derby winner Trust The Artist has compiled a very respectable 23-3-4-3 record and is closing in on $50,000 in earnings this year. Gerry Hudon will again be calling the shots in the bike.

Century Downs Racetrack and Casino has carded twelve dashes for Saturday and eleven races on Sunday, with a first race post time of 1:10 p.m. each day.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Frank Fontana)