Monday, 28 August 2023 08:15

Odds-On Favorite Abeliefinthislivin Secures Commanding Victory in $200,000 Canadian Derby

Abeliefinthislivin and jockey Amadeo Perez at the finish line of the 94th Canadian Derby on Saturday at Century Mile Abeliefinthislivin and jockey Amadeo Perez at the finish line of the 94th Canadian Derby on Saturday at Century Mile Coady Photo/Ryan Haynes

Abeliefinthislivin flew under the radar in the weeks leading up to the $200,000 Canadian Derby. Saturday, he simply flew to a convincing victory roaring down the long Century Mile stretch and on to a two and a half length victory in the mile and a quarter race - Alberta’s most cherished prize.

“He was a bit of a mystery horse,” said trainer Barbara Heads.

“I only had him for three weeks leading up to the Derby. And Amadeo (jockey Perez) had only been on him once before and that was in a workout on August 18.”

“But that work was very impressive. I worked him in company and he did great. I wanted Amadeo to just sit off a horse and take a run at him. He did just that. He can be a lazy work horse. But it all went very well,” said Heads, who has now won 680 races for earnings of $11.8 million and who leads the trainer standings at British Columbia’s Hastings Park.

“His stride doubles when he sets his mind to it,” she said of the big horse.

“I was really looking forward to see what he could do in the Derby,” she said of the horse owned by Peter Redekop, perennially British Columbia’s leading owner, who bought Abeliefinthislivin as a yearling for $70,000.

Abeliefinthislivin picked up $120,000 for the victory. He came into the race with earnings of $95,450.

Making his fortune in real estate developing and getting into horse racing 60 years ago, Redekop has won B.C.’s Derby three times - a race that if all goes according to plan is where Abeliefinthislivin will run next on Sept. 16.

“The horse had never been farther than a mile and a sixteenth but with his breeding (by Arrogate out of the Pulpit mare Half A.P.) I didn’t think that was going to be a problem,” said Heads.

Four wide around the first turn, Perez started to make his move on pace setter Heroic Move, who took the field to six furlongs in a rapid 1:10 4/5ths and opened a long lead, around the final turn. Abeliefinthislivin got to Heroic Move just past the eighth pole and drew away very comfortably.

“He finished up great,” said Heads.

American Blaze, who had won the Count Lathum in his previous start, finished second. Accidental Hero was third. Heroic Move, trained by Robertino Diodoro, who was looking for this fifth Derby triumph, tired and finished fourth.

The Derby went in two minutes and 30 seconds flat.

“You never like to see a horse fanned wide going into the first turn

during the early going,” said Heads. “He got a little strong going into that turn but I thought Amadeo did a great job with him. It was a good decision to let him free wheel a bit and then take a hold of him until he needed to ask him.

“Amadeo deserved the victory. He’s a hard working guy who is at the track every morning galloping horses,” Heads said of Perez, who has been Hastings Park’s leading rider five times dating back to 2012, and who is leading the B.C. standings again this year.

While Abeliefinthislivin was 10-1 in the morning line, it was the horse’s previous race - the July 8 Los Alamitos Derby in California - that should have tipped off bettors.

Abeliefinthislivin finished fourth in that race defeated by seven lengths. But his opposition was extremely formidable.

The winner of that Los Alamitos Derby was Reincarnate, who ran third in the Arkansas Derby and went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

Skinner, runner-up in the Los Alamitos Derby, ran third in the prestigious Santa Anita Derby.

And, Prince Abu Dhabi, who finished third in that Los Alamitos race, came back to win the Muckleshoot Derby at Emerald Downs, Washington.

“He had been running against some very nice horses so that gave us reason for hope.

“I really didn’t know what to expect.

“There’s a lot of class in this horse. It was nice to see him come into his own.”

Only a minute before post time, Abeliefinthislivin was 6-1. A minute later - as some very heavy betting action came in late - he was the 8-5 favourite and paid just $5.40 to win in the strong 12-horse field.

“I didn’t notice that until after the race was over,” said Heads, who watched the race on a teeming tarmac with racing fans who bet $1.8 million just short of last year’s record handle. “I was surprised he went off as the favourite.

“But as I said he has a lot of class and had been running against some very good horses.”

Heads said the original plan was to run in all three legs of the Western Derby Series which started with Mano Dura winning the August 7 Manitoba Derby.

“But he had to stay in quarantine in California and it made it too tight and too tough to run in Winnipeg. We did what was best for the horse and that was to train him into the Canadian Derby instead.

“It turned out to be the right thing to do.”

It was a very big day for Heads. As well as the Derby, she also won the $100,000 Northlands Distaff with the remarkable Infinite Patience, who has now won 17 of her 23 career starts for earnings of $660,000. Co-owned by Edmonton Oiler Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Infinite Patience is also five-for-five at Century Mile.

Sitting in the Finish Line restaurant, Hopkins showed almost no emotion despite the thrilling stretch duel with 74-1 longshot Orange Theory with Infinite Patience gradually pulling away down the lane.

“Ryan is a very calm guy. His expression never seems to change. I’ve never seen him get excited. He’s got a great poker face.”

As for Infinite Patience, Heads said the six-year-old mare “Never ceases to amaze me.

“She didn’t have a great spring. She got a virus and we ended up having to play catch up. She didn’t make her first start this year until July 16.

“And in that race, which was against boys, she got boxed-in and finished fourth.”

Heads had a third horse running on Saturday - At Attention in the $100,000 Speed to Spare Championship.

But At Attention found repeated trouble. In tight quarters at the top of the stretch and then again late in the race, At Attention finished fourth with the victory going to last year’s Canadian Derby winner Great Escape.

“Nothing seems to go At Attention’s way. It was an unfortunate trip,” said Heads.

“He tried to overcome it but he was stuck down on the rail in a cluster of horses. I don’t know how many times he got checked. Once I thought he was going to clip heels.

“He’s been an amazing horse as well,” Heads said of At Attention, who has been first or second in 17 of his 31 career starts.

“I’m lucky to have a horse like that. I’m lucky to have three horses who all ran well on Saturday.”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow me on Twitter at CurtisJStock

Read 1605 times Last modified on Monday, 28 August 2023 10:12