Standardbred racing at Cornerstone Raceway in the city received some good news Friday evening when the Saskatchewan Horse Federation made a donation of $11,100.
Shaun Morin, manager of the Yorkton Exhibition Association said the money was welcome since purses have been forced lower this year by the provincial government’s decision to withdraw grant dollars for horse racing.
“They’re very small purses they’re racing for,” said Morin, as he thanked the owners, trainers and drivers for sticking with the Association in its effort to keep standardbred racing alive. “They’re not making a lot of money at this. They do this for the love of the sport.”
Grant Neil, director in charge of racing for the YEA said the SHF donation definitely helps, adding the YEA “wants to keep standardbred racing going.”
Saskatchewan Party MLA Bob Bjornerud didn’t rule out help in the future.
“We will support you as well as we can into the future,” he told the crowd Friday.
Shirley Brodsky, past Vice President of Finance with the SHF said supporting standardbred racing was well within the mandate of the Federation.
“Horse racing is a big part of our sport,” she said, adding they want to be supportive of all those involved in the sector. “… That’s what the Horse Federation is about, we support the horse industry in the province.”
In the case of Yorkton, Brodsky said local organizers have been diligent in their efforts to keep standardbred racing alive in the absence of long-standing government grants so they wanted to help in that effort.
While the standardbred sector is facing trials, Brodsky said “horse numbers are very strong in general across the board,” adding there are more horses in Saskatchewan now than at the time they were used for utilitarian purposes.
In addition it was announced Friday the Prairie Lily Pace will be raced in Yorkton Aug. 23.
The race has been a premier event of the race season in Saskatchewan for years, and its fate was in question, but with the SHF money the race will go with a purse in excess of $4,000.
The night also saw four features among the seven races on the card.
Best For Blues made it six straight top-three finishes with a win in the Custom Printers Feature Race for driver/trainer Brian Gray. Shawn Worthen with Tackie Toe was second, with Laurie Bell and Abbafun there for third.
Gray had won the first race in the card with Maid To Measure.
Worthen was back for the win in the City of Yorkton, Community Parks, Recreation & Culture Feature Race with Down Home Stylish, who topped Richard Remillard with Miss Tinkerbelle and Bell with Right On Willie.
Veteran driver Hugh Woods found his way back to the winner’s circle with Oral Fixation in the Fedorowich Construction Feature Race over Gray with Stagger Lee and Worthen with Ink Blink.
Woods said the win was a bit surprising.
“These horses aren’t ready,” he said of his string. “They really haven’t been trained in eight weeks.”
Woods, who lives at Ashville, MB., said excessive rains have made training at home nearly impossible.
But Oral Fixation overcame the lack of training.
“She raced good,” said Wood, a 45-year veteran of the track. “She’s on old pro, on a given day she can still come through, just like me driving, on a given day I get there,” he said with a smile.
The Saskatchewan Horse Federation Feature Race saw Kevin Siever pilot Mystery Road to top spot over Richard Remillard with Winwood Thunder and Clayton Braybrook with HF Zeligs Glory.
“I knew she (Mystery Road) could leave out of there,” said Siever, adding that even with a good start by the quarter the mare wasn’t exactly responding well.
But once pressure came her way, Mystery Road was up to the pace for the win.
“I expected she could move with them, but you never know,” offered Siever.
Siever said it was a little extra special winning the Horse Federation Feature after the organization had come through with the donation to racing.
“It’s nice to see them supporting the industry,” he said.
Siever had had an earlier win on the card with Kalahari Cajun in race three.
Siever said Cajun had a bit of luck going his way.
“Once that inside horse was scratched (Fly Bye Merlin) it helped us quite a bit,” he said.
Like Mystery Road, Siever said Cajun too “kind of backed off when he got to the front,” but also like Mystery Road Cajun was able to respond once pressure came from behind. “He wasn’t going to work unless he had too.”