Throughout the final card of the Rocky Mountain Spring meet on Sunday there was an anxiety among many fans, owners, trainers and jockeys. All awaited the seventh and final race, the seven furlong Fillies and Mares Stake. With weekend racing at Whoop-Up Downs Friday night, then Millarville Saturday, Lethbridge race fans were anxious for a good show Sunday, and they received one.
There were at least two stunning come-from-behind victories, others with horses running bunched down the lane and the Stake race itself, with Lilli Abbie shooting out of the pack as the six horses neared the wire. Of the six horses that went to the gate it was Gordon Howg’s Lillie Abbie, Martin Ortiz aboard, who had total command of the final few metres of the stretch to earn $5,777 to the winner out of the $10,900 purse.
“It went as I expected,” said trainer Gary Marks. “She’s quite the horse. Gordy has quite a few good little horses,” Bred in Texas, Lillie Abbie s by Uncle Abbie out of I’m a Pine by Robin des Pins.
You could call it a sentimental victory but fact is Scott Sterr, aboard Guns A Blazin won the opening race of the card for owner/trainer Terri Landaker. “It’s good to win one for Terri. We go way back and we’re good friends. We’ve spent a lot of years on this track together.” Landaker was the leading rider with the RMTC until a bad spill ended her riding career, leading her to become a trainer.
In an amazing race, Sweet Annie, running well behind the pack suddenly shot forward under the guiding hand of Jose Rocha to win with ease as it thundered past the bunch. In the fifth race Scott Sterr took a page from Rocha’s book and brought Majestic Lass flying home from well off the pace. “She picked that up on her own (running well off the pace) and I don’t like it much,” said owner/trainer Pete Dubois.
“She did this last time out too,” stated jockey Scott Sterr. “Then she suddenly fired. It’s kind of cool when they do that.”
There were six races Friday night and 50-year-old Scott Sterr won five of them - races two through six. The only race the riding veteran missed was the opening one on the card, taken by J.B. Botello aboard Coastal Breeze, paying a nice 17.50, 5.10 and 3.50. The rest of the night belonged to Scotty.
In order, he rode William Leech’s Azoominshezquick; Brudda Clyde trained by Cory Rumsey; Cantchaco from Jacqueline Sixth; Soul De Naskra from Garry Marks; and closed the night with Ocanera trained by Daniel Oberholtzer.
“Boy, that Friday was a huge day,” A smiling Sterr stated. “I’ve won a bunch like that before, but not all in a row.”
BEHINDS THE STATING GATE
Scott Sterr’s smile was more than prevalent after the races Friday night but that smile would have been a lot larger had he won the first race as well... If you count Sterr’s win in Sunday’s first race, he won six in a row... Rose Rossi had the winners circle and pari-mutuel area decked out in Canadian flags . . .Many of the horsemen were packing up their trailers (house and horse) and heading off to Grande Prairie for the summer race meet, returning to the RMTC and Whoop-Up Downs in Lethbridge September 2-4, kicking off the Fall Meet... Meanwhile the ponies, their riders, owners and trainers converge on Grande Prairie for its popular summer meet.