Aug 252017


Topo emerged from his underground dwelling around 11:30 am MDT on Monday August 21 (Eclipse Day) and alas he could not see his shadow which left him pondering…… is there a distinct possibility of 6 more years of thoroughbred racing at Northlands?  Maybe the moon and sun are aligning for a reason?  Topo is a big fan of Northlands for all too simplistic reasons – the Facility has a grandstand for customers/fans, lighting for night racing and barns and dorms to house horses and workers – common stuff at all real racetracks.   As we’ve said many times in the past, Topo is treated well by the management and staff when visiting the Park from the top down. General Manager Scott Sinclair has been and continues to be very good to Topo.

Topo thinks this Eclipse thing is way overblown – why would anyone spend time and good money to drive to some godforsaken place in the western US to watch the moon place itself in front of the sun – never mind that it would take 3-4 hours for all the sheep that flocked to the site to get out of the parking area. Topo easily recreated the event at home by holding a ping pong ball in front of a yellow tennis ball and viewed the alignment thru his ESPN sunglasses.  Same effect but much more cost effective and for Topo it was a Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Topo’s worst fears were realized in the 88th running of the Canadian Derby.  A classic horse race with 3 equine athletes basically hitting the wire together. Circumstances dictated that Topo was in a no win situation, however one possibility he did not envision was there would be a dead heat – unfortunately it was for second and not the win.

Topo has to hone his technical skills and work on getting late breaking news out to the Nation instantaneously rather than not at all.  From our ground level view in the Paddock observing the field of runners as they paraded by, right away we knew we could kiss our $20 good bye on our selection of  #6 Aqua Frio.  Unless it was the normal gait for the horse, he seemed “off” on his left front.  Neither Jockey nor track vet questioned this anomaly so obviously Topo possesses mystical powers that allow him to detect these slight abnormalities in our equine friends. Topo’s instincts proved correct as the horse did not run a jump and finished a rather uninspiring 6th.

We have followed Rico Walcott since he has been here and there is mutual admiration between the Mouse and the #1 Jockey in these parts as you can see below.

Rico and Topo

Rico was extremely tired and completely out of breath upon return to the Winner’s Circle with the winner Chief Know It All.  An amazingly great ride on a horse whose pedigree (according to Topo) indicated there was no way that he could get the Derby distance.  Double Bear ran a career race and Trooper John’s effort mirrored his past five winning efforts.  Upon crossing the finish line, The Trainer of Double Bear lodged a claim of foul which was ultimately disallowed by the Stewards.  Topo’s understanding is that this matter continues to live on as certain Parties will or have lodged an appeal of the Steward’s decision.

In the meantime the $150,000 purse will be held in abeyance until the appeal is heard.  Considering the speed the Appeal process has worked in the past, there is a strong possibility that a third new track may be built by the time the Tribunal gets around to hearing the case.  BTW does not anything “tri” suggest 3 of something?  Our understanding is that there are only two (2) members of this Committee which leads Topo to wonder – how do you break a tie – paper, rock, scissors?

Nothing good will come out of this from Topo’s perspective as we painstakingly pointed out in our Canadian Derby post. We will continue to be loyal to both the Diodoro and Riversedge camps understanding that there will be disappointment somewhere for someone down the line here. It is unfortunate that the focus of the 88th Derby is not the excellent race itself but that the official result will be determined by those with no connection to racing in some obscure Boardroom somewhere.  Topo prefers races decided on the track by the horses laying it on the line to get home first. We will however salute the connections of the little grey horse Chief Know It All  – Tim Rollingson, Clayton & Rick Wiest and Randy Howg (all from the Lethbridge area) who stepped up to the plate with $100,000 US (plus State Tax, I’m sure) to claim the horse then skip the Manitoba Derby in order to have him primed for the Canadian Derby.  Trainer Diodoro as per usual selected the horse for purchase leading Guest Announcer Dan Jukich to comment to Diodoro in the Winners Circle – “maybe you are Chief Know It All”.   While at Northlands, Diodoro Assistant Bob Jackson and his staff ensured the horse was ready to perform.   Topo has learned that all things being equal all of the top three finishers will race next in the BC Derby on Sept 9.


“Chief” Owners with Diodoro and future trainer Diodoro Jr. (Thomas) all wanting to have pic taken with Topo


Topo with the Garland of Daises.

As is customary Northlands once again put on a very good show for its marquee event of the year.  Not being a logistical type Topo can only imagine the time and effort required to accommodate a crowd of 10,000 vs. the normal 1,500 or so who show up on regular race days.  Obviously there are more than the usual complaints due to the sheer numbers that are there but all in all it is one event on the racing calendar that continues to attract people who are not necessarily there to wager but to participate in an “event” which has evolved over time. Topo is happy to report that food and service was very good – lots of cheese.

Wagering on this year’s Derby Day was a little disappointing when $1,097,282 went through the mutuels compared to $1,165,075 last year a decrease of slightly under $68,000.   On track wagering was off about $110,000 which means off track wagering from all sources increased slightly.  Topo was initially concerned that only 8 made it to the post in this year’s rendition compared to 12 last year.  Win, Place Show, Exacta and Triactor wagering on the Derby itself this year was $169,827 vs. $252,824 last year which is the primary reason for an overall decrease.  Once again, large fields are required to attract bettors from all over holds true.  Topo is tasking Racing Secretary Jason to ensure a full 12 horse field for the 89th running!


New Nation members from the Jockey Colony – the Balgobin Family & Micha St. Hill



Looks like so far this year the most positive thing for Randy Howg was not winning the Oaklawn Handicap with Inside Straight nor partnering up with the Lethbridge boys to buy into Chief Know It All but to not purchase the $1.3 million son of Uncle MoMonaco.  Once again  Monaco could do no better than 5th  in his race at Saratoga on Saturday so the horse remains on track of having to earn equivalent purse money in his next 213 starts to recover his purchase price.  For the flock who do not know –horses usually start between 40-50 during their lifetime – so good luck with this one!

It is unusual for Topo to make a single mistake but a review of last week’s opus included two glaring errors:

  1. The G1 Pacific Classic was scheduled for Saturday not Sunday as reported. We trust the faithful did not miss Topo’s positive vibes for Arrogate’s stablemate Collected (3/1) who led every step of the way to defeat Arrogate.  This corner contends as has been previously noted that Gunrunner is now the best horse in training in North America which will be interesting come Breeders’ Cup time in November – both Gunrunner and Collected  like being on or near the lead which may set it up for Arrogate assuming he makes it to the post.  It is too bad that Topo had way too many vinos on Derby Day leaving his Win only wager on Collected to get the proverbial flush when in his stooper state he called out #2 rather than #3 to the Seller and did not bother to check it until the horses crossed the finish line.
  2. This looks like the Randy show this week. It was reported that Randy Howg had an interest in Edison winner of the 2014 Canadian Derby.  Randy pointed out to Topo that he had no interest in the horse – mia culpa, mia culpa.

Topo is not even going to study the fields for this Saturday’s Forego (previously named King’s Bishop) and the Travers carded as Race #9 and #11 at Saratoga.  We will support Drefong in the Forego for selfish reasons – the Team has a mare in foal to the stallion standing in Kentucky and the humanoid Giovanni “Gio” Ponti was an Italian architect, designer, artist and publisher hailing from Milano.  No – it’s not some bridge somewhere in Italy.

Our pick in the Travers will be Good Samaritan who rewarded Topo with a nice $19 mutual in the Jim Dandy last time out at Saratoga so we owe him one.  He won with such ease that Topo sees no reason for him not to repeat.  We think the field is much tougher for Giuseppe The Great will finish second again so there will be no exacta wagers on these two.

It’s now time to retreat to our hiding place and prepare for the trek down south as there are no further interesting races that will take place in Alberta until 2018.   We will report to the Nation from Del Mar during the Breeders’ Cup in early November.

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