This should be really popular with the folks who can’t wait for the swimming heats in the upcoming Olympic Games.
This idea, submitted by Halstrom, was conjured up in a brainstorming session that included president/ceo Randy Sampson, media relations director Jeff Maday, the Darkman and marketing VP John Harty.
The turf/dirt race and other innovations of that sort have actually drawn accolades from the racing world at large.
Jockeys will fill the seats on the big birds.
Hall of Fame rider Scott Sevens chalks it up to good luck, something impossible to explain. Those who know him also know better.
The subject is Stevens’ delicate touch with two-year-old horses, his ability to take them to the winner’s circle or set them up for future success.
He demonstrated more of his aptitude with the babies on Saturday, riding the winners of the first and third races, both two-year-olds.
That made him seven for 17 at Canterbury this meet, a superb figure particularly considering that it applies to unpredictable and in some cases truly green young horses, still afraid of their own shadows in many cases.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I’ve always had luck with two-year-olds. Almost every year.”
Stevens was on Smuggler’s Hold, a two-year-old gelding who broke his maiden in the first race Saturday, and trainer Bryan Porter had an explanation for that victory.
“He handles two-year-olds really well,” said Porter, who trains winters at Turf Paradise in Phoenix where Stevens rides. “He’s very good at teaching a horse what it needs to know before it races.”
Take the other morning, for example. Stevens worked Smuggler’s Hold for Porter and dropped him in behind two other horses for a spell.
“He let him get some dirt in the face,” Porter explained, “so that when it happened on the track it wasn’t a new experience to him. Scott’s been around. He knows what these horses need.”
Porter, who also owns the horse, didn’t want to rush Smuggler’s Hold into action. “I told Scott we could wait a week or two if we had to, but he said no, that the horse was ready now,” Porter said.
Stevens acquired many of his skills on the ranch at home in Boise, Idaho, where he frequently rode the fear and anxiety out of horses by taking them over hill and dale and plenty of ditches as well.
Before the race on Saturday, Porter and Stevens talked. “I told him two of the best horses I ever had got beat their first time out,” Porter said. “I told him to win if he could but to teach him what to do. I didn’t want him to do it at any cost.”
Stevens rode Pterodactyls Rule for Mac Robertson in the third race, and this maiden two-year-old filly wound up a winner, too.
Rider Paul Nolan, known variously as the Lawn Surgeon and Lawn Leprechaun, had a bit of information for Stevens after he won with those two horses on Saturday.
“I told him if I was the surgeon, then his success with babies made him the pediatrician,” Nolan said.
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS
Just last weekend, Jaime Ness lost Best Westerner, a horse he considers the best on the backside, to a knee injury.
Best Westerner was in Winnipeg for $50,000 Derby Trial, taking on horses he had beaten at the same track this season in a stakes race. He was sitting an easy winner, Ness said, when he switched leads and, just like that, chipped a knee. Ness shook his head and said, “He’s done for the season.”
On Saturday, Ness confirmed that Repenting, another star in his barn, was done for the season, too, the result of a broken ankle. “It can be fixed, but it takes time and he’s done for the year, too,” Ness said.
A conversation ensued about the vicissitudes of racing, and Ness took hold of a time-honored axiom
“The strong will survive,” he said.
Nolan was the star of the show on Saturday, winning half of the eight races in which he had mounts.
His first of four trips to the winner’s circle was aboard Wicked Pancho, and he made it two for the day with Early Arriver in the fourth race.
Nolan came right back with another winner, riding Mooji’s Sister in race No. 5. He made it four for the day aboard Princess Bianconi in race No. 7.
Nolan finished second on Ribot’s Rift in the sixth race.
It was a good day as well for Stevens, who completed the card with his third win, on Beau Named Sue.