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Winning the Canadian Derby would be a boyhood dream for thoroughbred owner Ole Nielsen

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13 minute read

Written by Curtis Stock

The Canadian Derby has and always will be the stuff of dreams. Just ask thoroughbred owner Ole Nielsen who won Saturday’s allowance race at Century Mile with favoured Vancouver invader Explode to move squarely into the forefront of the $250,000 August 18th Derby.

“Winning the Canadian Derby would be a boyhood dream,” said Nielsen after his charge Explode got up in the final strides over a bowl of mud and the wind blowing the starched flags sideways having just enough to get past a very game filly Im Evin Im Leavin to win by half a length.

Sharp Dressed Beau, the 3-1 second choice in the wagering who had three straight wins coming into the race, was another length and a half back in third.

“I’m an Edmonton boy. I was raised here,” said Nielsen, who now lives in Vancouver. “I went to the University of Alberta and then moved to Vancouver to go to the University of British Columbia. I remember picking up empty pop bottles so that I could have enough money to bet $2 to win, place and show on a horse at Northlands. And when I was a little older I remember betting $100 to win on Chariot Chaser,” he said of the 1965 Derby when Chariot Chaser splashed through a similarly muddy track coming from 21 lengths back with Sandy Shields in the irons to run down Vancouver’s Weedbender.

Chariot Chaser paid $26.00 to win that day. “I had more than enough money to buy a train ticket to Vancouver for a nice holiday trip. Now I’m not going to say Explode is going to win the Derby – too many things can happen and you don’t know who else is going to show up – but he will get the distance; he’ll run all day.”

The Derby is 10 furlongs. Saturday’s allowance race was nine furlongs. But Nielsen is probably correct that Explode will handle the extra eighth of a mile. That was in full evidence on Saturday when he overcame his outside 10th post position, raced four wide around the first turn and then five wide down the backstretch before unleashing his move.

After the wire winning jockey Amadeo Perez had Explode gallop out another eighth of a mile which he accomplished with aplomb.

It was also in full evidence back in Vancouver at Hastings Park when he won his last two stakes starts by a combined total of 10 1/2 lengths – first going six-and-a-half furlongs when he came from last place and then the mile and a sixteenth Chris Loseth when he stalked the early pace and then fluidly drew away by half a dozen lengths.

“I felt good about (Saturday’s race) but he gave me some anxious moments down the stretch gawking around here and there – something he absolutely doesn’t do in Vancouver – and then jumping the tire tracks left by the starting gate,” said Nielsen, who runs a breeding operation in Vancouver.

“I was shocked the way he ran down the lane. But he got the job done. And that filly…,” Nielsen said of Im Evin Im Leavin. “Boy she ran a huge race. That’s some filly. Amadeo had to ask him at the end to go. Fortunately he did.”

The victory was Explodes third in a row and fifth in his last six starts. The only blemish – a small one – came when he simply ran out of real estate and finished second in the Jim Coleman Province stakes missing by three-quarters of a length to Dr John after being 10th during the early going in the six-and-a-half furlong dash.

“After he won the Ascot Graduation and was named champion two-year-old in B.C. I said at the Awards Dinner that I’d had quite a few good horses over the years and it’s hard to convince me that they are good horses,” recalled Nielsen, who said he has been a “horse nut” all his life winning his first race way back in 1971. “But I said ‘This might be a good one.'”

For sure. “As I said at the dinner I’ve had several good horses,” he said mentioning horses like Winmor Miss that he owned with with Jim Sapara who beat the boys including highly regarded Rockcliffe in the Alberta Derby and Monashee who won over $800,000.

“Monashee won three races in Edmonton. I really liked sending her to Alberta when my mom and dad and my sister were still alive and lived here. It was a lot of fun.”

Nielsen bought Explode as a weanling in Kentucky and then put him into the B.C. Yearling Sale. “We’re short of horses in Vancouver so I bought six weanlings and ran them all through the B.C. sale as yearlings. I had a $15,000 reserve bid on Explode which I thought was fair but nobody put up their hand,” said Nielsen adding that he wound up selling only one of those six weanlings. Luckily Explode was one of the ones I kept. I’m very, very happy with him.”

“He only arrived in Edmonton (on Friday). Mark (trainer Cloutier) brought him out here with Harold Barroby’s son, Trapper, in Harold’s rig. It was a new spot for him. He was a bit nervous in the paddock and it wasn’t a very nice bloody day. The experience will do him good. That was one tough race. In my opinion these were better horses than he was running against in Vancouver.”

“It should set him up nicely for the next one,” said Nielsen, with ‘the next one’ of course being the Canadian Derby. “We were going to stay in Vancouver and run him on Aug. 5. But it made more sense to come here if you are trying to get the big prize. We’ll see how smart we are in three weeks.”

Nielsen was glad to hear that Im Evin Im Leavin isn’t going to run in the Derby with trainer Greg Tracy and the filly’s owners Wayne Bakke, Nathan Hoines and Jodee Hoovestal opting instead to run her in the $100,000 Century Casinos Oaks the day before the Derby.

While most people were surprised with Im Evin Im Leavin’s inspired performance while being sent away at 20-1 Tracy wasn’t.

“In her last start she rattled the starting gate and had blood running down her forehead. I mean she literally shook the whole gate,” said Tracy of a race where she ended up third defeated by nine-and-a-half lengths.

“Prayven (jockey Badrie) also lost his whip when she acted up in the gate.” If you threw that race out, you’ll see that Im Evin Im Leavin had won her previous three starts – two in New Mexico and the other at Century Mile – in most convincing fashion. Furthermore, in Im Evin Im Leavin’s last start of 2018 she finished second to B.C. powerhouse Summerland, who has won eight of her nine career starts.

Tracy will probably run Flatout Winner in the Derby. Fifth on Saturday he could be a live longshot. Bumped hard leaving the starting gate, he lost several lengths at the break, made a good wide move down the backstretch before being taken back to the rail where he flattened out. Moved off the rail again he started to run again.

“I think he’ll get a lot from this race,” said Tracy. “He just shipped in (from Churchill Downs in Kentucky) before the race. I think he’ll be a different horse in the Derby.”

STOCK REPORT – In other Derby news trainer Robertino Diodoro is looking at sending two horses to Edmonton for the Grade 3 race.

Diodoro, who has won the last two Canadian Derbies and four of the last six – although, amazingly, the verdict of the 2017 Derby which was won by Chief Know It All is still tied up in the courts – intends on sending both Señor Friday and Miltontown to Edmonton on Thursday. Senor Friday has won at Prairie Meadows, Canterbury Downs and in Phoenix. He’s owned by Charlie Garvey.

Miltontown, who was claimed for $50,000 is owned by the same connections that won last year’s Derby with Sky Promise: Rick and Clayton Wiest, Tim Rollingson and Norman Tremblay. “Miltontown’s last race was in the Iowa Derby but I think you can throw that race in the garbage. He got a terrible trip. It was a speed-biased track and he was trapped behind horses.”

Asked if he thought he could win the Derby with either of them Diodoro said “Both are doing well. If I didn’t think they could win they wouldn’t be coming to Alberta.”

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The Canadian Derby is hosted by Century Mile Racetrack and Casino.  They offer many options to enjoy the 90th running of this classic.

  • Tables of four (4) or six (6) in our Finish Line Restaurant.
  • Tables of four (4) in our private Paddock Room wagering area.
  • VIP Tents – The Spangled Jimmy Tent and Sky Promise Tents located next to the racetrack, South of the Century Mile building.
  • Executive Cabanas for twenty (20) located directly on the apron along the East side of the Century Mile building (18+ area).
  • Outdoor, open grandstand seating.
  • Outdoor beer gardens (18+ area).

Additional notes:

  • Casino is open from 9:30 am to 3:00 am.  Slot machines activate at 10:00 am.  The Casino is age restricted to 18 years of age or greater.
  • Main Apron along the racetrack will be fully open and accessible to all ages (no cost for attending on the Apron, outside of ticketed areas).
  • There is no infield seating options this year due to the grass in that area still establishing itself.
  • Food and beverage options will be sold throughout the venue.  Outside food and beverage not permitted.
  • Free on site parking and free shuttles from Premium Outlet Collection mall will be available.

Click here to learn more about the Canadian Derby.

 

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Director Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) musician, photographer, former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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International

Trump calls for ‘immediate’ release of Mar-a-Lago warrant

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump called late Thursday for the “immediate” release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate, hours after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the warrant, with Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the “substantial public interest in this matter.”

In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents … I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.” He continued to assail the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as “unAmerican, unwarranted and unnecessary.”

“Release the documents now!” he wrote.

The Justice Department request earlier Thursday is striking because such documents traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and that the public was entitled to the FBI’s side about what prompted Monday’s action at the former president’s home.

“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” said a motion filed in federal court in Florida on Thursday.

Should the warrant be released — the request is now with the judge — it could disclose unflattering information about the former president and about FBI scrutiny of his handling of sensitive government documents right as he prepares for another run for the White House. During his successful 2016 campaign, he pointed frequently to an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information.

It’s unclear at this point how much information would be included in the documents, if made public, or if they would encompass an FBI affidavit that would presumably lay out a detailed factual basis for the search. The department specifically requested the unsealing of the warrant as well as a property receipt listing the items that were seized, along with two unspecified attachments.

To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed. Garland said he personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take lightly given that standard practice where possible is to select less intrusive tactics than a search of one’s home.

In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search warrant, including a subpoena for records and a visit to Mar-a-Lago a couple of months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Neither Trump nor the FBI has said anything about what documents the FBI might have recovered, or what precisely agents were looking for. But the former president complained anew Thursday about the search.

Trump, who for years has lambasted the FBI and sought to sow distrust among his supporters in its decisions, said the warrant was served and the search conducted despite his cooperation with the Justice Department over the search.

In a post to his Truth Social platform, Trump said that his “attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully” prior to the search, and that government officials “could have had whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, if we had it.”

The Justice Department has until Friday afternoon to alert the judge about whether Trump will object to the release.

FBI and Justice Department policy cautions against discussing ongoing investigations, both to protect the integrity of probes and to avoid unfairly maligning someone who is being scrutinized but winds up ultimately not being charged. That’s especially true in the case of search warrants, where supporting court papers are routinely kept secret as the investigation proceeds.

In this case, though, Garland cited the fact that Trump himself had provided the first public confirmation of the FBI search, “as is his right.” The Justice Department, in its new filing, also said that disclosing information about it now would not harm the court’s functions.

Even so, Garland, in a hastily scheduled public statement delivered from the Justice Department podium, appeared to acknowledge the unusual nature of the department’s request as he declined to take questions or provide any substantive details about the FBI’s investigation.

“Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations,” he said. “Federal law, longstanding department rules and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time.”

The Justice Department under Garland has been leery of public statements about politically charged investigations, or of confirming to what extent it might be investigating Trump as part of a broader probe into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The department has tried to avoid being seen as injecting itself into presidential politics, as happened in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey made an unusual public statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending criminal charges against Clinton regarding her handling of email — and when he spoke up again just over a week before the election to notify Congress that the probe was being effectively reopened because of the discovery of new emails.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this year. The National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information.

The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search. Some Republican allies of Trump have called for the FBI to be defunded. Large numbers of Trump supporters have called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was unfairly targeted.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”

Earlier Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio, then fled and was later killed after a standoff with law enforcement. A law enforcement official briefed on the matter identified the man as Ricky Shiffer and said he is believed to have been in Washington in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol and may have been there on the day it took place.

_____

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Lindsay Whitehurst and Meg Kinnard contributed to this report.

More on Donald Trump-related investigations: https://apnews.com/hub/donald-trump

Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press

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Alberta

McTavish puts up six points, Canada crushes Slovakia 11-1 at world juniors

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EDMONTON — Mason McTavish didn’t have to pull on the Maple Leaf and play in an unusual summer world junior hockey championship.

The 19-year-old forward will head back to the Anaheim Ducks next month, the NHL team where he put up a goal and two assists in nine appearances last season. Skipping an August tournament to focus on preparing for training camp likely wouldn’t raise eyebrows.

But McTavish has been clear — he loves playing hockey and he loves representing Canada

The dedication paid off Thursday as the captain put up four goals and two assists, powering his team to an 11-1 victory over Slovakia.

“I don’t think anyone’s surprised by his hockey and what he brings to the ice. But what really impresses me is his attitude,” said Canada’s head coach Dave Cameron.

“He has no ego. He probably had every reason not to come to this tournament, just because of the timing of it. And he’s fully engaged in it. And his performance tonight was outstanding.”

McTavish made his way into the history books Thursday, tying a Canadian record for most goals in a world juniors game.

Other players who have accomplished the feat include Mario Lemieux (1984), Brayden Schenn (2011) and Maxime Comtois (2019).

“It’s pretty cool for sure. A special moment,” McTavish said. “Obviously, credit to my teammates. They were looking for me all game, it felt like.”

McTavish plays a special game, said teammate Brennan Othmann.

“He’s fun to play with,” he said. “He’s an elite goal scorer, as you could see tonight. No matter what team he faces, he always finds the back of the net somehow.”

Nine Canadians had multi-point performances in the win, including McTavish, Joshua Roy (one goal, three assists), Othmann (one goal, two assists), Olen Zellwegger (one goal, one assist), Connor Bedard (one goal, one assist), Logan Stankoven (one goal, one assist), Will Cuylle (one goal, one assist), Lukas Cormier (two assists) and William Dufour (two assists).

Zack Ostapchuk also scored for Canada (2-0-0), who were coming off a tournament-opening 5-2 win over Latvia on Wednesday.

“We’re deep from our first line to our fourth line,” Othmann said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in or who’s out, everyone’s contributing in some way.”

Matej Kaslik put away the lone goal for Slovakia (0-0-2) midway through the second period.

Making his first start of the tournament, Canada’s Dylan Garand registered 22 saves.

Tomas Bolo stopped 33 of 44 shots for Slovakia, who dropped a 5-4 decision to Czechia (1-0-1) on Tuesday.

There were just 21 seconds left on the game clock when Ostapchuk buried a shot. He picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and slid it around the front, in past Bolo to seal the score at 11-1.

Roy bumped Canada’s lead to 10-1 at the 15:07 mark. Dufour’s shot hit Bolo’s pad and Roy picked up the rebound at the top of the crease, firing it in over the netminder as he fell to the ice.

McTavish barely celebrated after finding space between Bolo and the post for his fourth goal of the night 3:44 into the third.

“I’m not the biggest celebrator, unless it’s a game-seven OT winner or something like that,” he said. “I don’t really tend to get too excited.”

McTavish completed his hat trick with 35 seconds left in the middle frame.

Bedard took a hit in the neutral zone and sent a puck up the ice to give his teammates a two-man breakaway. Roy put a crisp pass on McTavish’s tape and he fired a shot past Bolo to give the Canadians an 8-1 lead.

About a dozen hats floated to the ice.

It was McTavish’s backhanded flick from the top of the crease 15:16 into the second that gave Canada a 7-1 cushion.

Just 36 seconds earlier, Slovakia finally beat Garand after a battle down low.

Kaslik got the puck and unleashed a shot that hit the goalie’s pad and the crossbar on its way into the net.

A three-man breakaway set up McTavish’s first goal of the night 6:25 into the second. Donovan Sebrango sent him a lead pass and, handling the puck, Team Canada’s captain skated in, sending a rocket soaring past Bolo stick side to boost the lead to 6-0.

The second period was just over a minute old when Stankoven put away Canada’s fifth goal of the night on a five-on-three.

Kent Johnson sent a shot into Bolo’s pad and Stankoven, stationed at the side of the net, popped a shot in before the goalie could get back into position.

Canada was 1 for 4 on the power play and Slovakia went 0 for 3.

After a slow start in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Latvia, Canada was a force in the first period Thursday.

The host nation took a 4-0 advantage into the first intermission after Zellweger scored with 43 seconds left in the opening frame.

The defenceman got a shot off from the hash marks and the puck appeared to tick off another player in front of the net before pinging in off the post.

Slovakia challenged the play for being offside but a video review determined Zellweger’s goal was good.

A scuttled Slovakian clearing attempt set up Canada’s third strike of the night.

Bolo tried to send the puck out from deep in his own end but Cuylle picked it up at the blue line and sent it to Othmann in the faceoff circle The New York Rangers prospect sailed a shot in past the goalie 15:57 into the game.

Cuylle gave Canada a 2-0 lead less than three minutes earlier.

Ridly Greig stepped out of the penalty box and chipped a pass up the boards to Cuylle, who skated in alone on a breakaway and put a quick blast through Bolo’s pads.

Slovakia had a breakaway of its own earlier in the first, but Garand read the play perfectly and the shot thudded off of his pads to keep Canada up 1-0.

For the second game in a row, Bedard opened the scoring for the Canadians.

The 17-year-old Regina Pats centre dished the puck to McTavish, who sliced it back across the slot. Bedard capped the give-and-go by ripping a blistering shot past Bolo from the bottom of the faceoff circle 6:16 into the first period.

The early game Thursday saw Finland (2-0-0) battle Czechia (1-0-1) to a 4-3 shootout win.

“During the game, we got better and better. And that’s the most important thing,” said Finland’s head coach Antti Pennanen.

Czechia and Canada will both be off Friday before going head-to-head on Saturday.

The Czechs know they’ll need to elevate their game for the matchup, said forward Jiri Kulich.

“We just want to keep our game,” he said. “It’s a big challenge, of course, and a big game. So we’re just going to do our best.”

In the final game of the day, the reigning champion Americans (2-0-0) took a convincing 7-1 win over Switzerland (0-2-0).

Friday will see Austria (0-1-0) face Sweden (1-0-0) and Slovakia take on Latvia (0-2-0).

NOTES: McTavish leads the tournament in scoring with eight points (four goals, four assists). … The preliminary round continues through Monday, with the quarterfinals set for Wednesday. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 19 and the medal games will be played on Aug. 20. … The 2022 tournament is being held in August after the original iteration was called off on Dec. 29 after just four days as rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials forced games to be forfeited.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

 

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