Odds-on choice Major Custard overcame the second-tier starting spot and fended off all late challengers to deliver as the 2-5 favourite in the $29,000 ABSS Maverick Final on a stakes and track-record packed card Saturday (Oct. 3) at Century Downs.
With pylon-starter Criminal Record easing for position off the gate, Major Custard landed fifth while Horse brushed by early leader Chazmichaelmichael to take control by a :28.2 first quarter. Major Custard continued to track Criminal Record moving to a :57.3 half, catching second-over cover as Criminal Record mounted a first-over bid moving to the backstretch.
However Criminal Record stalled heading to three-quarters, forcing driver Brandon Campbell to swing Major Custard three wide and roll the Custard The Dragon gelding towards Horse to three-quarters in 1:25.1. Rounding the final turn, Major Custard edged in front of Horse and downed that rival into the stretch but still had to hold off pocket-popper Chazmichaelmichael. Through the stretch Major Custard maintained the lead and kept Chazmichaelmichael at bay by a neck to win in 1:53.3. Horse finished third with Dontpokethedragon taking fourth.
Trained by Michael Campbell for owners J J J Stables and Jim Marino, Major Custard remains unbeaten this year from nine starts while collecting his 14th win from 16 starts, earning $195,695. He paid $2.80 to win.
Past Affair powered to the lead past the half and cruised to a 17-1 upset in the $28,000 ABSS Marquis Final.
Treasure Horizon hustled to the lead with Snow Shark securing the pocket and Miss Itunes settling into third. Past Affair raced fourth to a :27 first quarter before driver Michael Hennessy sent the Vertical Horizon filly for the front as the tempo slowed. By a :56.3 half, Past Affair took control and gained separation to three-quarters in 1:24.2 as Treasure Horizon spun his wheels and Snow Shark backtracked through the field. Miss Itunes circled tiring horses and rallied through the stretch but only cut her deficit slightly to finish two-and-a-half lengths behind Past Affair in a 1:53.4 mile. Rockinwithcustard, the 8-5 favourite, finished third.
Paying $36.90 to win, Past Affair competes for trainer David Kelly, who co-owns with Mike Dicks. The filly broke her maiden in her 13th start, pushing her bankroll to $18,903.
Hennessy Sets Track Records In Shooting Star Divisions
Driver Mike Hennessy swept the two Alberta Shooting Star divisions for two-year-old pacing colts & geldings, earning lifetime marks for each winner and setting track records with each rookie.
Shark Week prevailed in the first $19,100 division to keep his perfect record intact. Hennessy settled into fourth as Had A Hard Handle (Kelly Hoerdt) fronted the field through a sharp :26.4 opener and :57 half. Hennessy was on the move from fourth through that third quarter, flushing pocket sitter Lovin Up On You (Brandon Campbell). Lovin Up On You cleared to the lead and then Shark Week stormed past and hit the third quarter in 1:25.3. Carro B Bunsen (Phil Giesbrecht) followed the cover of Shark Week but couldn't make it to the leader's wheel. Shark Week closed in :29.1 to trip the timer in 1:54.4 to establish a new track record for two-year-old pacing colts. The former mark of 1:55.2 was set in 2018 by Outlawgrabbingears.
Rod Hennessy trains and co-owns Shark Week (Vertical Horizon - Shark Gone Bad) with Lorne Duffield of Edmonton, Alta. The colt has won all three of his appearances.
One race later, Hennessy was back in the winner's circle after again making Century Downs history. The second division, contested for a purse of $19,300, was captured by Dragon Energy. The post three starter made the lead early and paced through panels of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:24.4. Pacin Perfect (Tyler Redwood) popped the pocket around the final turn and looked to give the favourite some tense moments but Dragon Energy found another gear and battled back to win by three parts of a length in a life's best 1:54.1. Second choice Codename Cigar Box (Hoerdt) rallied well from an early miscue to get up for third.
That's the fastest mile for any freshman male pacer at Century Downs, taking more than a full second off the old 1:55.3 gelding mark of Outlaw Stateofmind from 2019.
Nathan Sobey trains Dragon Energy (Custard The Dragon - Tik Tik Vroom) for breeder-owners Kurt & Kathy Schmidt of Leduc and co-owner Robert James of Camrose, Alta. The colt picked up his fourth win in five tries.
Graceful Horizon, Burning Hot Become Century's Fastest
The fillies continued Saturday's assault on the Century Downs record books, establishing new marks in the two $19,300 Alberta Stardust divisions.
Graceful Horizon connected as the public choice in the first division, grinding out a first-over victory to remain perfect in her career.
Driver Dave Kelly allowed Custard Smoothie (Campbell) to front the field through a :28.2 first quarter while situated in eighth and second to last. Kelly right-lined Graceful Horizon to commence a first-over attack in front the Century Downs tarmac through a tepid :30.3 second stanza. Heading into the backstretch, those two fillies matched strides on the front end and started to pull away from their competition, pacing nearly as a tandem through three quarters of 1:26.3. That battle continued on through the final quarter with Graceful Horizon getting up to win by more than a length with the clock stopped at 1:55.3 for the mile to take two-fifths off a second off Wedding Dance's record.
Chris Lancaster trains and co-owns Graceful Horizon (Vertical Horizon - Gracie Montana) along with Derek Gilbert of Brandon, Man., and Velda Olding of Abbotsford, B.C.
Burning Hot didn't let the ink dry on that record after a faster win of her Alberta Stardust division one race later.
With Phil Giesbrecht up, Burning Hot used her post three position to park and sting Outthere Somewhere (Keith Clark) through a :27.2 first quarter. Giesbrecht quickly looped to the lead and tried to play hide and seek with her rivals, hitting the half in :56.3 and then opening up a seven-length lead at the 1:25.2 third station. A first-over Sent By Angels (Dave Kelly) started to cut into that lead and made it interesting turning for home, but Burning Hot had enough fire left to close in :30 for the 1:55.2 track record and lifetime best score.
The win was the second in five starts for Burning Hot, a daughter of Blue Burner from the standout pacing mare Crackers Hot Shot. She's owned by Clauzette Byckal of Onoway, Alta. along with trainer and breeder Rod Starkewski of Lamont.
No stranger to winning stakes races in Alberta, Lady Neigh Neigh picked up her 17th lifetime win with a wire-to-wire 1:54.2 score in the $9,000 Fillies & Mares Open. Dave Kelly engineered the winning effort for Chris Lambie, who co-owns the daughter of Bettors Delight - Santinos Rosa with trainer Chris Lancaster.
For the results from Century Downs' Saturday card, click the following link: Saturday Results - Century Downs.