There was a lot of digging in and wearing down going on Saturday night at Assinboia Downs, and when it was all over more than one person walked away with a $2 Pick-4 that paid $5,363.60. Favourites were defeated in every leg.
There was a hint of extra moisture in the track and many of the favourites didn't seem to handle it as well as they might have handled a dry strip. The horses that did win seemed to relish the surface with strong efforts, and none of them paid a big price.
Grace O'Malley ($8.60) dug in to win the first race under Chris Husbands for trainer Lorna Gray while favourite Riffle Hitch seemed to flounder outside on the turn on the cut back in distance for trainer Don Schnell. Heavy favourite Hop Along Harry ($5.40) was one of the two favourites that won on the night, but he had to dig in late for leading rider Paul Nolan to catch lone speed Our Boy Ken in the second race.
Liberty Rocks ($8.60) forced the pace outside under Renaldo Cumberbatch and opened up into the stretch to win the third race for trainer Jerry Gourneau. Jungle Lass was likely best but could do no better than second after yet another awkward start, while heavily favoured class dropper Wild N Crazy simply galloped around and showed nothing.
The Pick-4 pool swelled to $15,356 before the fourth race with the help of a Friday night carryover, but a high percentage of the tickets were dead after Liberty City ($14.90) took down the first leg for trainer Wendy Anderson. At least he earned it.
Dueling with three rivals throughout from the inside, Liberty City lost the lead to inside duel stalker Pacific Tsunamia after passing the eighth pole, but came back late under Paul Leacock just in time to get his head in front and hold off late charges from favourite Justcallmetater and Deputy Forest. It was Pacific Tsunami's first start this year and he came up just a touch short. Mark him down for a better effort next time.
Lucky Brew ($8.20) pressed favourite With Prejudice just enough early to soften her up late, and came with a long steady rally to win the fifth race under Renaldo Cumberbatch for top percentage trainer Rob Atras. Lucky Brew was cutting back from 7 1/2 furlongs to six and seemed to have a stamina edge on her favoured rival.
Caporetto ($5.80) responded gamely in a long drive under Chavion Chow to wear down favourite Majorca Sun and win the sixth race for trainer Brent Hrymak and set the stage for Pick-4 payoffs ranging from $3,700 to $19,000 in the seventh race.
Favourite Ol' Steely Blue hopped at the break in the seventh and gave the much improved Taras Ruler the lead by himself under jockey Adolfo Morales. The race was basically over after that, as Taras Ruler rated kindly on an open lead just ahead of the favourite and Best Laid Plans before drawing away in the stretch for trainer Ardell Sayler. Best Laid Plans ran a strong race to finish second but couldn't gain on the lone speed. Ol' Steely Blue faded to third.
The $2 Pick-4 paid huge at $5,363.60 considering the relatively short prices on the winners, but favourites got beat in every leg and that made the difference. That wasn't the case in the eighth and final race, as top choice Dynasheals ($3.90) and jockey Travis Cunningham wore down second choice Enact from the outside and drew out late to win by two lengths.
The largest $2 Superfecta of the evening, $1,763.10, came in the third race, as a direct result of the favourite finishing last in the six-horse field. When favourites go missing...
Lucky and smart go home with pockets full.