With the Derby Bar and Grill Newsletter on it’s annual “Keeneland Yearling Sale Summer Vacation”, a few club members may have been drinking their morning coffee with a lack of suitable reading literature. Fear not – here is the Round-Up for yesterday’s huge day for Club I.
Hastings Round-Up: September 14th
Dancer dries damp spirits with Marathon win
by Nigel Reid
The seemingly early onset of the autumn monsoon season failed to dampen the spirits of a small army of Hastings Racing Club horse owners, all intent on cheering their pride and joy home in the second leg of the Hastings Marathon Series.
Now a battle-hardened nine-year-old, Square Dancer has retained his enthusiasm under the consummate handling of trainer Steve Henson, even if it did appear earlier in the season as though the war horse’s powers may be slightly on the wane.
However, underestimate the old fellow at your peril was the message when, after joining forces with another campaign veteran in Richard Hamel, the wily pair saw off a tough group to take the lion’s share of the $16,000 purse on offer for the second leg of the Marathon Series.
What a servant Square Dancer has been. His neck win on Saturday may have been his first since July 2018, but it was his eleventh in a 52-race career and made a mockery of the concerns anyone had that he might not enjoy the rain-soaked surface or the 11-furlong distance. Hell or high water is all the same to “The Dancer” and he was cheered rapturously upon his return to a winner’s circle filled to the brim by Hastings Racing Club I members.
Syndicate, or group, ownership in all sizes is the future of our sport, and it was good to see another bunch of friends, albeit a slightly smaller crew than the Hastings Racing Club army, land the second race of the afternoon.
Cape Lite was making her first start for her new connections since they shrewdly claimed her last month. Now owned by Mark Freeman’s Renfrew Racing III and trained by David Milburn, the daughter of Cape Blanco has demonstrated real consistency this season for her previous trainer Craig MacPherson, hitting the board in all but her first run.
Ridden in the $8,000 claimer by lightweight apprentice Lenny Seecharan (which allowed connections to reduce her weight and claiming price down to $7,000), Cape Lite was settled near the lead early before moving to challenge running into the far turn. Rousted along two wide by Seecharan, the filly had too much for her rivals and handling the conditions best, was pulling away at the line to win by a comfy length-and-three-quarters.
Cape Lite was a second winner of the afternoon for Seecharan after he steered Sea Cadet to victory in the opener, a $4,000 claiming contest over six-and-a-half furlongs.
Owned by the Rocking Bar B outfit and trained (and bred) by Frank Barroby, the three-year-old Numaany gelding made a decisive move entering the far turn and just had enough to see off the late-driving P S Charlie Brown.
Seecharan’s excellent double was overshadowed by a treble for leading rider Amadeo Perez. The first came in the six-and-a-half furlong maiden claimer event for juveniles where, riding Walkinthewalk for Mark Cloutier and Canmor Farms, he eventually got the better of Queen’s Park after a furious stretch duel.
Queen’s Park, who finished third in last month’s $50,000 CTHS Sales Stake, had taken Walkinthewalk on from the outset. Together, the pair drew right away from their rivals in what looked, superficially at least, to be an above average event.
By the freshman sire Danza, Walkinthewalk was another winning graduate of the CTHS Horse of Racing Age Sale back in March, where she was knocked down to Canmor’s Ole Nielson for $15,000, and is one of four recent winners to have passed through the auction.
Both Queen’s Park and Walkinthewalk had bumped into the young superstar Infinite Patience on previous outings and their impressive display on Saturday has done nothing but frank the form of the best juvenile seen at Hastings in 2019.
The next race on the card was also a juvenile contest; this one a maiden optional claimer over six-and-a-half furlongs that threw up another impressive performer in the shape of RJ and Lois Bennett’s homebred, Synergy.
Trained by Barb Heads, Synergy was among the best moving youngsters in the paddock prior to the $20,000 heat and confirmed that impression with an eye-catching win on just his second ever start.
Like so many of his progeny seem to, the Sungold gelding was doing all his best work at the business end, running on with real purpose to neutralize the gap to Gottcha Cowboy in a matter of strides, before powering away to win gearing down under a cute ride by Antonio Reyes.
The ongoing four-way battle for leading rider honors continues to go back and forth with each passing race and, not content to watch Reyes move ahead of him, Amadeo Perez took the final two races of an increasingly wet afternoon.
The first came aboard Stevie’s Song in a $4,000 claiming contest for trainer Mark Cloutier and owners, Roy and Dixie Jacobson and Toni Cloutier.
Yet another winner for the BC sire Storm Victory, Stevie’s Song has been knocking on the gate to the winner’s circle all season, with three seconds and a third from his previous five runs. Such consistency, the Holy Grail of equine attributes, had obviously alerted the backstretch however, and the three-year-old was snagged at the claims box after the race and will now join trainer Demetris Topouzis for owners MJD Stables.
Perez then struck again in the nightcap, taking the $8,000 claimer aboard The Odds R Good for trainer Mel Snow and his fellow owners, Don Danard and Rob McKellar. Breaking sharply, the distinctive seven-year-old grey seemed to relish the sloppy track, bounding his way to a gate-to-wire victory that was his first of the season, but tenth overall and third on an off surface.
Predictably, the intermittent downpours did little to help the on-track handle – the just more than $56,000 coming in around $10,000 lower than 12 months ago. The off-track figure held up well when compared to 2018 and, at a shade above $265,000, was even a little ahead of last year.