EDMONTON – Champion jockey Rico Walcott staved off a late challenge from outsider Star Czar to win the feature CAN$56 000 Western Canada Handicap aboard hot favourite Shimshine at Northlands Park on Saturday.
The six-furlong contest in Race 3 seemed all but over when Walcott steered Shimshine to a four-length lead at the top of the stretch.
However, Shimshine lost momentum mid-stretch and Star Czar, with Jamaican Dane Nelson in the irons, made a last ditch effort only to narrowly miss out by a head.
Shimshine was timed at one minute, 13.72 seconds.
“He likes to have something to run at and he started looking around in the stretch,” Walcott explained.
“I heard the crowd roaring, so I just put my head down and rode him to the wire.”
Making his first start as a three-year-old after being crowned the champion two-year-old in Alberta last year, Shimshine stalked the pace set my Mr Meaner, with Striplin Warrior chasing from second.
Walcott then moved the three-year-old chestnut gelding up to take command at the quarter-pole and had cleared the field at the top of the stretch.
Late drama unfolded when Shimshine stalled and allowed the fast-finishing Star Czar to threaten.
Walcott completed his double on the eight-race card when he partnered with 7-2 choice Rainy Bay in race four to beat the three-year-olds and upward also over six furlongs.
He raced the four-year-old roan gelding off the pace before hauling in the leaders late on to inch clear by three-quarters of a length.
Over at Assiniboia Downs, another Barbadian, Antonio Whitehall, also kept up his great form on the seven-race card when he guided 9-4 bet Smart Sense to a half-length win over the three-year-old and upward maiden fillies and mares.
Going five and a half furlongs in race two, Whitehall kept a close eye on the duel for the lead between Little Miss Zak and Actsense before putting the four-year-old bay filly to the front passing the 16th pole, and warding off Honouraprilsrules late.
His second win came in another five-and-a-half furlong sprint in Race 4 when he brought favourite Mojo Rising from a stalking position to beat the three-year-old and upward maidens by one and three-quarter lengths. (CMC)