Tuesday, 05 September 2023 19:40

Exciting Start to the Season at Century Mile: Kioti's Phenomenal Rise and High Hopes for the Future

New season. New hopes. New dreams.

With the thoroughbreds now in Calgary, harness racing returns to Century Mile on Saturday with a card that will feature 13 or 14 races.

One of the horse people who can’t wait to see what the future will bring is Derek Stout, the Camrose owner and breeder of Kioti, who looks like a horse that figures to be very special.

Unraced as both a two-year-old and a three-year-old, Kioti has won six of his last seven starts. And, in his only loss in that span, he broke stride at the start.

“He showed a lot of promise as a two-year-old. I trained him in 1:57 in a jog cart. But he had a few issues. He just wasn’t fully developed,” said Stout,” whose dad, Doug, is the trainer. “He just needed a little more time.

“It was much the same as a three-year-old. So, again, we just waited for him to grow into himself.

“We took our time with him. Did right by the horse. And it turned out great.”

“Kioti is good and he’s going to be even better,” said Doug, who has been in the harness business for 58 years.

Last winter the Stouts took Kioti (pronounced Coyote) and nine other horses to Sacramento, California’s Cal Expo racetrack.

There, Kioti blossomed breaking his maiden in 1:58 2/5 and then winning right back in a much swifter 1:54 4/5 with a last quarter in a quick :27 1/5.

In the middle of April, Kioti returned to Alberta where he really started to motor. After finishing second in the May 6 $30,000 final of the Ed Tracey stake, Kioti put together six straight victories while facing tougher and tougher horses all with driver Mike Hennessy at the controls.

“He’s been great and he’s been classy doing it - before and during the race,” said Hennessy.

“He can throw himself into a high gear and carry it a long way. He loves to win. He’s ready to do what you want to do.

“He’s not a very big horse; he’s just a real game little bugger.

“He’s not Eric Lindros. He’s more like a Theo Fleury - gritty and tough.

“It’s been great having two really good horses - him and Shark Week,” said Hennessy - the latter the sensational pacer, who has won eight of his last 10 starts and 33 of his 67 outings for his dad, Rod, and Lorne Duffield.

One of Kioti’s six straight wins - all at Balzac’s Century Downs - was by almost 10 lengths; another came by eight-and-a-half lengths.

“He’s a personality,” said Derek, 47, who worked for the City of Camrose for 23 years. “He’s a sharp looking guy. You’d never even know that he’s still a stud. He’s well mannered. He doesn’t get rammy; he’s very level headed.”

Trying to make it seven straight wins on August 20 at Lacombe’s The Track On 2, Kioti inexplicably broke stride just after the start.

“It was his first time starting on the rail and he was pacing hard into the turn,” said Hennessy. “I think he just caught a softer spot on the track and lost himself.”

“He had never shown before then that he would do something like that,” added Derek. “But he did that day. That’s just part of the racing game.”

Kioti more than atoned for that miscue a week later going wire-to-wire in his most recent appearance taking a new mark of 1:51 1/5 also at Track On 2.

He won by 2 1/2 lengths.

“I think he could have gone a little faster,” said Derek of that August 27 performance where Kioti was bet down to 25 cents on the dollar.

“Mike kept looking for his shoulder taking a glance to see if anyone was coming. When Kioti heard someone coming he just took off again. He did just what he had to do.

“He was parked through the first quarter mile, got the lead and Mike just let him do his thing and away he went.”

Kioti didn’t come out of nowhere. His dam is Blue Star Beauty, also owned by Derek and trained by his dad.

Bought by Derek for just $2,000 at the Alberta Yearling Sale, Blue Star Beauty, a foal of 2009, went on to win 24 of 99 starts for earnings of $311,108 while winning several stakes especially as a two-year-old when she was Alberta’s champion juvenile filly.

And Kioti isn’t Blue Star Beauty’s first good foal. Instead, that would be Jessie’s Girl, whom Derek also owned. Jessie’s Girl won 17 times and $137,828 with the bulk of that coming when she won the $90,000 Gord and Ila Rumpel stake in 2020.

“She was a really good mare that did everything right. Jessie’s Girl was smart and she got that from her mom. Just like Kioti,” said Derek, who retired her and made Jessie’s Girl a broodmare too joining Blue Star Beauty and Barona Josie, who won two stakes in 2010.

So what is the future for Kioti?

“A lot of people have shown interest in him,” said Derek. “I could sell him very easily. But he’s such a nice horse to have in the barn. And I enjoy it too much to hang out with dad in the barn looking after him. He’s always got some smart ass comment to make,” he said of his father who has been in the harness business for 58 years.

“Dad is getting older - he’ll be 74 next week - and his health isn’t very good.

“Next year maybe we’ll go somewhere if, he continues to get faster.”

Somewhere may come earlier.

“I can’t get enough stalls in Edmonton so I may have to race Kioti in B.C.,” said Doug. “They’ve told me I can have all the stalls I want if I bring Kioti.

“That would be too bad. People like to see him race.”

STOCK REPORT - Harness racing will take place on Friday and Saturdays at Century Mile at 6:15 p.m. both days.

The highlights of the meet are the $75,000 Western Canada Pacing Derby and $75,000 Century Mile Filly Pace - both on Oct. 21 - and the $75,000 Super Finals for two-year-old colts and fillies and three-year-old colts and fillies - all on Nov. 4.

The first stakes will be contested on Sept. 23 with the $50,000 Stardust for two-year-old fillies and the $50,000 Shooting Star races for two-year-old colts.

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