Chris Lancaster is poised for a big weekend after winning three of the four eliminations for this year's Western Canada Pacing Derby and Don Byrne Memorial on Saturday (Sept. 7) at Century Mile.
The 2018 Future Star winner at this past February's O'Brien Awards, Lancaster swept the Don Byrne Memorial eliminations with Rockin Mystery and Lady Neigh Neigh after pacing colt Jewels Dragon won his Western Canada Pacing Derby elimination with the fastest mile every recorded at Canada's newest racetrack.
Favoured Outlawgrabbingears delivered to his backers with a lifetime best-equalling effort in the first $10,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby elimination. Leaving from post seven as the 3-2 choice, Outlawgrabbingears was settled into fourth early by Paul Davies as Ralph Klein winner Rockin N Talkin (Brandon Campbell) used his rail control to make the early lead and hit the first quarter in :28.3. Davies right-lined Outlawgrabbingears as the field straightened down the backside and cleared to the top before hitting the midway point in :56.2. Davies kept the tempo honest with a :28.1 third quarter to reach the third station in 1:24.3. Turning for home, Outlawgrabbingears was preparing to face the fresh threat of Rockin N Talkin, who angled out in mid-stretch to take his shot but couldn't get to the favourite's bridle as Outlawgrabbingears hit the wire a quarter-length the best in 1:52.1 -- the fastest time recorded to date at Century Mile. Night Stick (Kelly Hoerdt) closed sharply to finish third with Outlaw Gunsablazin (Jamie Gray) also guaranteeing his spot in next week's $125,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby Final by finishing fourth. Loaded Deck was fifth and also makes the WCPD Final as the fastest fifth-place horse.
Davies trains and co-owns Outlawgrabbingears (Smart Shark - Grand Slam Woman) with Nicole Davies of Aldergrove, B.C. and Deborah Pinel of Calgary, Alta. The win is his seventh of the season and 14th lifetime, pushing his career earnings to $206,135.
Making his first pari-mutuel start since the end of July, Jewels Dragon was all sparkle and no rust in his 2019 Western Canada Pacing Derby elimination. Driver Serge Masse watched from sixth as favoured Crackle N Burn (Phil Giesbrecht) made the first call in :27.2 before yielding to a parked-out HF The Great Pumpkin (David Kelly). Shortly after allowing his rival to clear, Crackle N Burn pocket-popped and landed back on the lead through a sharp :55 half. Kneedeep N Custard (Kelly Hoerdt) came to call and managed to get a neck in front while challenging the pacesetter first over, reeling off three quarters in 1:23. Masse was poised second over with Jewels Dragon and tipped his change off Hoerdt's helmet as the field hit the straightaway. Kneedeep N Custard managed to fully front Crackle N Burn but Jewels Dragon loomed the danger after being towed into the race. Under mild Masse encouragement, Jewels Dragon jolted by Kneedeep N Custard to hit the wire just over a length to the good in a lifetime best and track record shattering 1:51.1. Crackle N Burn stayed for third with Go Nine O solidifying his spot in the final with a fourth-place finish.
Trained by Chris Lancaster, Jewels Dragon sports seven wins in 12 seasonal starts. The son of Custard The Dragon - Whitesand Jewel is owned by Paul Sanders of Surrey and Christine Cutting of Langley, B.C.
In the first Don Byrne Memorial elimination for three-year-old pacing fillies, Rockin Mystery rewarded her backers with a front-striding score. Driver Serge Masse pressed on to the front from the outside post seven and cleared to the lead over second choice Stash The Cookies (Mike Hennessy). That filly started to drop back and effectively removed the favourite's main competition from immediate contention. The field gave Rockin Mystery a ton of respect on the lead, and Masse backed down the pace accordingly. The half was reached in :59.1 and the third stanza flashed up in 1:57.2. With that tepid middle half, Rockin Mystery had plenty left in reserve and showed her heels to her rivals in the stretch. After a few reminders at the head of the lane, Rockin Mystery powered home through a :27.2 final quarter to win by four in 1:54.4. Longshots Cayley Skye (David Kelly) and Maxsamian (James Jungquist) completed the triactor, while Stash The Cookies rallied to finish fourth and punch her ticket to next Sunday's final.
Rockin Mystery (Mystery Chase - Cant Stop Rockin) is trained by Chris Lancaster for owners Rod Therres and Blair Miller of Langley, B.C. The lion's share of the purse from the win, her fifth of the season, lifts her sophomore bankroll to $109,125.
The final Don Byrne elimination went to Lady Neigh Neigh, an impressive first-over and grinding winner. Blackcheddar (Paul Davies) had the most speed leaving the gate and outsprinted Shes Movin On (Serge Masse) to front the field of eight through a :28.1 opener. The middle half didn't provide a challenger, so Lady Neigh Neigh and driver Brandon Campbell were the first to call coming first up from sixth at around the three-eights mark. Blackcheddar still had three lengths on his rivals turning for home after a :57.2 half and 1:25 third panel, but Lady Neigh Neigh could not and would not be denied. Pacing her final quarter in :27.1 (the second fastest of all three-year-olds in stakes action on the card) Lady Neigh Neigh nudged by Blackcheddar in the final strides to win by a half length in a lifetime best 1:52.4. Gin Twist (Keith Clark) and favoured Flash A Smile (Kelly Hoerdt) completed the first four. Cenalta Glory (Rene Goulet) was the fastest fifth-place finisher and will also advance to the Byrne final.
Lady Neigh Neigh (Bettors Delight - Santinos Rosa) is trained by Chris Lancaster, who co-owns with Christopher Lambie of Rockyview County, Alta. In 12 starts as a sophomore, Lady Neigh Neigh boasts an enviable summary of 8-1-1 with more than $80,000 in earnings.
The $125,000 finals of the Western Canada Pacing Derby and the Don Byrne Memorial will be contested next Sunday (Sept. 15) at Century Mile.
To view the charts from Saturday's card of harness racing in Edmonton, click the following link: Saturday Results - Century Mile.