AJAX DOWNS 49TH SEASON
After the Kentucky Derby dust settles, head out to Ajax!
Ajax Downs’ 49th season of Quarter Horse Racing gets underway this Sunday May 6 and while it has been a tumultuous time for the track and its town, the racing in 2018 promises to be better than ever.
HIGH RATE OF RUN, owned by Big Dog Stable and trained by Carol McIntyre, was the first horse in the box for one of the 6 races carded on Sunday. Certainly McIntyre is hoping for just that from this 3-year-old filly in race 4. The maiden allowance event, worth $14,400, is at 220 yards and Cory Spataro will ride.
The featured 5th race is superb as 10-year-old star ONE KOOL WAVE, the Horse of the Year in 2002 and a 23-time winner, heads the field chasing $19,000 at 250 yards. Owned by DK Training Centre and breeder Bob Bailey, One Kool Wave certainly appears to be ready to roll based on his workout on Monday when he blitzed 220 yards in 12.24, the 2nd fastest for the distance that day. Brian Bell is the grey gelding’s regular rider.
The open allowance has also lured ARTIC FAME, who won more races than any other older horse in North America last year with 7 victories from 9 starts. Artic Fame is owned by George Coleman and trained by Scott Reid. Cassandra Jeschke will ride.
Ralph Pearson’s talented COUNTRYS COMIN BAC, a 3-time winner in 2017 is also in the field with 2017 leading rider Ramiro Castillo on board. Completing the field for the feature is MEMORIES TIMES SIX, owned by the Picov Cattle Company and the mare RUNAWAY CAUSE, owned by Rene Hunderup and Darlene Ballis Hunderup.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the state of Quarter Horse Racing in Ontario with the recent announcement of long-term funding for horse racing pledging money to tracks through the next 19 years. This softens the blow somewhat of the casino issue in which plans for a casino and vast entertainment district known as Durham Live in nearby Pickering has left the Ajax Casino on shaky ground.
The track and the town of Ajax, including Mayor Steve Parish have been working hard to keep the Ajax Casino and the battle continues as the first of 25 race dates gets underway.
The quality of horses racing at Ajax, the only Quarter Horse track in Ontario and the biggest one in Canada, has improved in recent years and 2018 will see the return of 2017 Champions as well as a lot of new faces.
Country Boy 123, named Horse of the Year at Ajax by the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. for the second consecutive year, is gearing up for his 5-year-old campaign for owner Ruth Barbour.
The unbeaten 2-year-old Had to be Ivory, bigger and stronger as a sophomore this year, is preparing for his sophomore season for trainer Bryn Robertson and he has been an exciting runner to watch.
The ever-growing stable of owner Milena Kwiecien of Burlington, ON will be a force again in 2018. Kwiecien’s horses, trained by Jason Pascoe, wintered in Oklahoma and many have been racing with success. The stable stars from last year, Maryland Magic and LS Prince, along others, will also be back in action. Ajax Downs’ jockey colony is also a fun and personable group. Ramiro Castillo, who won his first Ajax title last year, will try to repeat over veterans Brian Bell and Tony Phillips and rising star Cassandra Jeschke.
Ajax Downs has several big events in store for fans who attend the races on Sundays (in the summer) and Mondays (in the fall). The track has seen an increase in attendance in the last few years as its on-track events have become more popular. In addition to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations, Ajax has a Fan Appreciation day with cash voucher giveaways, a Party on the Patio, Canada Day celebration and a Craft Beer event. All the events can be found at www.ajaxdowns.com.
The name of the game, however, is Quarter Horse racing and as the horses get saddled in such proximity to the fans, it is a good way to pick out your favourite horse. The track also offers a complete area for newcomers to the sport (including free wagers and vouchers) and on-track experts have a high rate of picking winners.
Post time for each racing day is 12:55 p.m.