Friday, 06 May 2022 23:00

Night of Champions awards very good to Greek Geek

Written by Curtis Stock

It was a clean sweep for Greek Geek. Owned by Riversedge and trained by Tim Rycoft, Greek Geek won every category he was eligible for including Horse of the Year at Friday’s ‘Night of Champions’ at Century Mile.

“He did everything he was asked and he did it in style,” Rycroft said of Greek Geek, who won seven of his nine starts. It would have been eight of nine but he was disqualified and placed second in an allowance race. “He couldn’t have done any more.”

As well as Horse of the Year, Greek Geek was also named Champion Aged Horse, Champion Sprinter and Champion Alberta-bred.

For the season, Greek Geek won $174,400. Winning four stakes races - the Don Getty, CTHS Sales stake, the Alberta Breeders’ and the Century Mile - Greek Geek also set a track record when he won a mile and a sixteenth allowance race in 1:42 1/5 going wire-to-wire.

“He’s just a really nice horse,” said Rycroft, who was once again Alberta’s leading trainer. “He never hung up the towel in any of his races. He always tries.”

While he won the Don Getty by a comfortable length and three-quarters after he found running room late, and the Breeders’ by five and three-quarter lengths where he simply dominated, he was a gritty winner in two photo-finish races - the Sales Stake and the Century Mile - winning both those races by a neck.

Four of his seven wins came in races less than a mile - including the seven-furlong Don Getty and the seven-panel Sales Stakes - which gave him the Sprinter of the Year title.

“He had to sprint a lot last year but he prefers to go a route. He likes to relax at the beginning of his races and then come rolling,” said Rycroft.

A big horse, Rycroft said Greek Geek isn’t an easy horse to ride. “You have to handle him with some finesse. A lot of them big horses are like that. You can’t fight them and knock them off stride. He’s a stand on his own kind of horse. Jockey Enrique (Gonzalez) gave him a lot of perfect rides.

Gonzalez, who was Alberta’s top jockey, was aboard Greek Geek for his last eight races. Bought at the Alberta Yearling Sale for just $10,000, Rycroft said Greek Geek was a ‘team purchase’.

“Norm (Castiglione) and Robert (Vargo), the owners of Riversedge looked at him. My barn foreman Gonzalo Anderson looked at him. I looked at him. “He was a big, good looking horse with a nice eye and a good hip. He just looked like a runner.”

After making two starts in Phoenix - a fourth and a fifth - Rycroft said “Greek Geek is training really well. He really likes the track at Century Mile. He didn’t like the track in Phoenix at all. “Hopefully those two races will set him up for here.”

While Greek Geek is all business in races he likes to take his time in the mornings. “He’s not in a big hurry to train,” said Rycroft, of the horse bred by Moonshine Meadow Ranch. “He likes to go out, stand and just watch the horses on the track. He just takes it all in. He likes to be on the track. He warms up good and he trains good. He just gets stronger and stronger. But he’s a handful coming home after his morning gallops and works. He gets a little excited coming home after he trains. Otherwise he’s a really nice horse to be around and to work with.”

In other awards, the Rycroft-trained and Shot In The Dark Racing Corporation owned Asyoubelieve was named Alberta’s Champion Two-Year-Old Colt. Asyoubelieve won three of his four races winning the Canadian Juvenile by eight and a half lengths and the CTHS Sales stake by four lengths.

Champion Two-Year-Old Filly was Highfield Investment Group and Curtis Landry’s Oneofthemgirls. Highfield was also named Alberta’s Champion Breeder.

Trained by Greg Tracey, Oneofthemgirls won the Sturgeon River by three lengths and the Sales Stake by almost seven lengths.

Alberta’s Champion Three-Year-Old of 2021 is Tony’s Tapit. Owned by Kirk Sutherland and trained by James Brown, Tony’s Tapit looked like he was setting up to win the Canadian Derby after he won his first four Alberta starts after coming up from Phoenix where he ran second in the Turf Paradise Derby. He had powerful performances in the Western Canada which he won by five and a quarter lengths after being in trouble early, the Count Lathum, where he hopped at the start and then made a huge move as well as two easy allowance race victories.

Sutherland and Brown are also the connections for Dune D’Oro, who was named Champion Claimer. Astutely claimed for $12,500 on August 20, Dune D’Oro went on to win the $50,000 Red Diamond Express on the Fall Classic card.

Sheltered Bay, who won three of four race in Alberta including the Chariot Chaser and Sonoma - both very impressively - was named Three-Year-Old Filly the Year. Owned by Indyrock Racing and Graham Thoroughbreds, Sheltered Bay is trained by Craig Smith.

To no one’s surprise the Champion Older Mare is Infinite Patience. Co-owned by Edmonton Oiler forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and William DeCoursey and trained by Barb Heads, Infinite Patience was perfect in her three Alberta starts easily winning the Northlands Distaff, the CTHS Sales Stake and the R.K. ‘Red’ Smith. She also had two wins in B.C.

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