It was the first time in nine years that Thoroughbreds made their way to the starting gate and raced down the track in Calgary, but Century Downs put an end to that on Saturday, September 23. Over 400 horses have moved into the stables, along with trainers, exercisers and grooms; one of them being trainer Craig Smith.
Smith had three horses in Saturday’s race card: HARDLY FORGOTTEN, owned by Karen Bjarnarson, CREDITS GOOD, owned by Dialed In Racing Stable, Indyrock Racing and Smokin Guns Stable, and SHEEP RIVER BEAR, owned by Bear Stable LTD and Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd.
HARDLY FORGOTTEN (Walcott) went for an early lead leaving the starting gate, and stayed comfortably in second as he went around the first turn. In the backstretch he went head-to-head with THE SPINMEISTER (Balgobin). It was a grueling battle, as THE SPINMEISTER was tight on the rail, with HARDLY FORGOTTEN not giving up. Coming out of the final turn, HARDLY FORGOTTEN’s stamina and strategy came to shine as he picked up speed and took the win by just a head in 1:23.55.
CREDITS GOOD (Walcott) showed great speed as he took the lead right out of the starting gate. He was being tested by WESTERN HERITAGE (Balgobin) head-to-head. Coming right off the backstretch, LONG TIME DON came three-wide, at 47.40, and showed his strength and speed by taking the win by over two lengths at 1:25.80. Following LONG TIME DON was OVED (Muir) and CREDITS GOOD.
With the field of eight, SHEEP RIVER BEAR (Muir) had a tougher battle than the other two. SHEEP RIVER BEAR started the race wide and hung back to find his stride. SHEEP RIVER BEAR maneuvered down the rail to catch CHEEKY PURCHASE (Munoz) and HIGH IMPACT (Nelson), went in-between the two, and landed on top to claim that win.
“They’re both horses that I thought had a good chance today,” said Smith about HARDLY FORGOTTEN and SHEEP RIVER BEAR. “It’s a new surface, new facility, you know, different competition so we weren’t guaranteed any wins, but they rose to the top and got the job done.”
It is needless to say that Smith had a pleasing opening day at Century Downs. “It’s been an excellent day,” said Smith. “[There’s been] a great crowd, the facility has handled it well, and we’re just really happy to be here.”
As it is the first time that Thoroughbred racing has been brought to Century Downs, there has been some advancements and changes to track and the facility itself. “So far I think everybody’s happy,” said Smith. “The surface is very kind to the horses [and] it doesn’t seem to have a bias. You can win on lead, they can win from off-the-pace, win on the rail, win on the outside. The barns have been good, so I think everyone’s pretty happy.”
Smith is looking to keep the momentum going throughout the season, as he’s off to a great start. On Sunday’s card, Smith won three out of his seven entries. “Hopefully [we’ve] got good things to come,” said Smith. “We’ve got a few horses that we stuck them away and kept them for this meet. I’m a Southern Alberta guy, we want to win races in Southern Alberta.”
Catch all of the racing action every Saturday and Sunday, with a post time of 12:50 p.m., and at 3:10 p.m. on October 2 and 9. New to racing? Join us upstairs on the second floor for Betting Basics at 12:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, and at 2:15 p.m. on October 2 and 9.