Horse racing fans in the Peace Country, again in 2020, will be able to watch some of Canada’s best quarter horses compete on JDA Raceway during The Horses At Evergreen Park in July and August.
The Bank of America Challenge Championships has returned with five Canadian championship events again this year. Evergreen Park is the only race track in Canada taking part in the program. Other regionals are in the United States, Mexico and Brazil.
With $140,000 in purse money from the five races on JDA Raceway and a chance to compete in the championship finals in Albuquerque, New Mexico – and hundreds of thousands of dollars in purse money – Evergreen Park will be hosting some high-quality quarter horses.
Since the Bank of America Challenge Championship began in 1993, the program has distributed more than $65 million to quarter horse breeders and owners.
The program's primary focus is on horses three years old and older. When the Challenge began in 1993, it was founded with the intention to help owners, trainers and horses reap the rewards of longer racing careers. Only a small percentage of quarter horses are still stakes-calibre beyond the age of four, but those that have not been retired or transferred to the breeding sheds have become some of the biggest superstars in racing.
Once a horse enrolls into the Racing Challenge program, it is eligible to participate in any Challenge Championship race offered.
The five divisions of the B of A Challenge Championship program cover a wide spectrum of competition:
In 2019 Grande Prairie’s Chuck Stojan won three of them – Geitithot (Adequan), True Copy (Distaff) and Stripsteak (B of A Challenge)– win Canadian titles and advance to the championship in New Mexico. Stojan was also selected as the Owner Of The Year at the finale.
Painted Wagon, owned by Bucky Stockwell, won the John Deere Challenge in Grande Prairie and Gone To Be Bright, owned by Gonetothebrightside Syndicate, took the Distance Challenge.
This program is not only a boost for the local race program, but for quarter horses across Alberta and Western Canada.
“The Alberta Quarter Horse Racing Association is trying to do everything they can to work with all tracks to get the best quarter horse racing here and staying in Alberta,” said Evergreen Park Racing Manager Pat Hill. “These races help and support quarter horse associations in both the U.S. and Canada.”
The JDA Raceway track has one of the highest percentages of quarter horse races in Canada where both quarter horses and thoroughbreds race on the same track.
“We usually like to do a third of our purse structure to run quarter horses racing … and this includes the Challenge races,” said Hill. “Our great track is one of the reasons these important quarter horse races are featured here. Having these races helps enhance the barn population.”
The Downs At Albuquerque is hosting the champion finals Oct. 24 for the second year in a row this fall.
“We commend the people behind The Downs at Albuquerque on their deep commitment to the sport of quarter horse racing,” said American Quarter Horse Racing Association Chief Racing Officer Janet VanBebber. “They have undertaken a significant task in renovating this historic racetrack, supporting integrity measures and making the Challenge Championships a truly special event.
“If you've not been to Albuquerque, it is a wonderful holiday destination, and The Downs is a great racetrack to enjoy, as it showcases one of the greatest nights in sport,” she added.
Two of the regional championships at JDA Raceway will be in July and three will be in August.
To view the Challenge complete schedule click here.
The racing season begins on JDA Raceway on July 11 and continues weekend until the final day of racing August 30. Here is the schedule.
In between there’s a lot of stuff going on at the 35th annual Foster’s Peace Country Classic Agri-Show March 12-14 at Evergreen Park. And it’s all free admission!
Click on the Show logo to the right for a complete list of days and times for all events.
The pancake breakfast, free to the public, starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the foyer of the TARA Centre.
And at 10 a.m. the big Show gets underway. It goes 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Concessions will be open in the TARA Centre and Drysdale Centre all three days. City of Grande Prairie is the Thursday Day Sponsor; ATB is the Friday Day Sponsor; and William Joseph Communications is the Saturday Day Sponsor.
It is the largest agricultural show of its kind in northwestern Alberta and one of the largest in western Canada. Click on Events Schedule, Horse Program Schedule or Speaker Schedule for detailed information on those events.
Hundreds of exhibitors will be on site both inside and outside the TARA Centre- which is also being used for speaking seminars all three day and exhibitors filling Evaskevich Hall, NuVista Energy and Salons C & D and the hallway in the MD of Greenview North Wing. The MD of Greenview North Wing is also where the annual Peace Crafts & Creations Show & Sale will be held all three days of the Show.
The foyer of the TARA Centre is the location of the Michener Allen Bids From Kids Auction starting on Saturday at 1 p.m. On the same day, at 11 a.m. in the IPAC Room, there will be an auctioneer class put on by Michener Allen. Children can get “cash” to bid on auction items by taking a Food Bank item to the ATB booth in Evaskevich Hall on Saturday before the auction.
The GP Safe Communities Kidz Zone will be set up outside and inside Keddie’s Korner in the TARA Centre foyer all three days of the show. There will be farm safety demonstrations for the youngsters.
Also, in the Kidz Zone, will be Trinity Body Art doing face painting all three days of the Show – for a minimal fee.
While the TARA Centre is the focal point of the show, it is one of several venues at Evergreen Park used during the Agri-Show.
Both the Drysdale Centre and Lewis Hawkes Pavilion will be hosting major events including the Northern Classic Bull Sale on Friday at 1 p.m. and the Keddie's Horse Program and Petting Zoo all three days and the Country Junction Feeds Youth Livestock events on Saturday starting at 9 a.m.
Clarkson Hall, newly-renovated thanks in part to a Canada 150 grant, will be where the County of Grande Prairie Farm Family of the Year is celebrated on Friday with a banquet for about 500. The County Farm Family Luncheon will be taking place in the Kin Club Room in the TARA Centre on the same day.
The Wanham Plowing Match Thunder In The Park II Skijoring winds things up. Skijoring features skiers and snowboards being pulled behind horses, over jumps and around a race circuit. It starts at 6:30 p.m. under the lights at JDA Raceway and there is no admission charge.
Adults who would like a bite, beer and a bet can visit the Evergreen Park Casino during the Show. It is open 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. The Pines Family Restaurant will also be open during Show hours. It is located in the Gordon Badger Stadium, beside the casino.
“Tradition, community spirit, and the opportunity to keep abreast of new technology – these are at the heart of the appeal agricultural exhibitions have long held for Alberta’s rural communities.
“This show presents a tremendous variety of displays and exhibits, and provides information on all aspects of farming and rural life. There truly is something for everyone at the Peace Country Classic Agri-Show.”
Those words were spoken by Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture LeRoy Fjordbotten just before the first Agri-Show in 1986. They still apply today as we are about to celebrate the 35th Agri-Show at Evergreen Park.
Whether you are a farmer looking to talk to manufacturers and distributors; want to sit in on a seminar to learn more about some aspect of the agricultural industry; or are an urban family looking to experience a taste of rural life the Agri-Show is the place to be.
The Horses At Evergreen Park will be running over 21 days in 2020.
The two-month race season at J.D.A. Raceway at Evergreen Park will begin Saturday, July 11 and conclude on Sunday, August 30.
There are some changes for 2020.
Racing will be mainly Saturdays and Sundays only in July (with the exception being Friday, July 31) and then switch to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for all of August.
There has also been a slight change in post time on Saturdays in July. First post for every Saturday race in July, as well as Fridays and Saturdays in August, will be 6 p.m. First post on all Sundays will remain 1 p.m. as it has in the past.
Click here to view the schedule.
“This creates more of a consistency,” said Evergreen Park Marketing & Sponsorship Manager Don Moon of the post time and day changes. “In the past we had started with a 6:30 p.m. post for the first month or so on the non-Sundays and switched over to 6 p.m. to ensure we weren’t running into darkness later in the summer, but now those Fridays and Saturdays will start at the same time all racing season.”
The fact the horse population has proven to be a little larger in August also helped with the decision to go three days per weekend that month.
Last year The Horses At Evergreen Park introduced several new initiatives – including the Wiener Dog Derby, Dino Derby, an honorary owner program for children, photo contest, art show to benefit injured jockeys, bacon fest, kid’s pick contest and a big hat contest – to go along with other events like the Alberta Derby, Mr. Mike’s Paint the Park Purple, Evergreen Park Racing Club and 4H Day that had been established for several years.
“We formed a racing committee and they did a great job getting these events off the ground,” said Moon. “The committee will be meeting early in the new year and there are some new ideas for 2020 that will be tossed about so, hopefully, we will be keeping most of last year’s first-time events and adding some new things to the mix for next July and August.”
Click here to see a review of the 2019 highlighted events.
Evergreen Park has a variety of sponsorships available for the horse racing season. For information contact Moon at 780-532-3279.
“Evergreen Park is the only venue in the Peace Country that offers live and off-track horse racing,” said Moon. “The Evergreen Park Casino & Restaurant has several screens, two betting kiosks and programs for racing across North America. We welcome everyone to come out and give off-track betting a try and then experience the live racing in July and August.”
The Evergreen Park Casino & Restaurant is open 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
Evergreen Park just ended a busy Christmas schedule highlighted by the Festival of Trees, Northern Spirit Light Show, Farmer’s Market Christmas Craft Sale & Show, the Evergreen Park Multi-Office Christmas Party and many other Christmas parties hosted in Park facilities like the TARA Centre, Drysdale Centre, Evergreen Park Kids Zone and Oldtimer’s Cabin.
The Christmas break was a good time for Park staff to take a breather. And they’re going to need it because things are going to get busier again soon.
The Largest Wedding Show in the Peace Country highlights the January schedule. It goes on Sunday, January 26 in Evaskevich Hall in the TARA Centre.
Tickets are available online at www.evergreenpark.ca and they are non-refundable. Online tickets are available until midnight Saturday, Jan. 25 for $20 and then $25 after midnight. At the door $25 starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. Children 12 and under are free and no advance ticket required.
There will be gift bags for brides and grooms; there is a licensed food and beverage lounge right inside the show; and free product samples and service demos.
There will be cash and carry deals on wedding dresses, jewellery, tiaras, wedding accessories and more; is a full menu canteen and a mother’s lounge; two fashion shows are planned – one at 11:30 a.m. and another at 2:30 p.m. – and there will be lots of prize draws throughout the day.
Next up is the annual Grande Prairie Petroleum Association STARS Hanger Dance, which goes Saturday, Feb. 1 in Evaskevich Hall in the TARA Centre.
The event goes from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and tickets are available by going to their website at email@example.com or phoning 780-830-7000.
The annual McGoverns RV & Marine Show & Sale goes in Evaskevich Hall in the TARA Centre at Evergreen Park from Feb. 14-23.
Admission is free and all of the latest trailers, RVs, boats as well as equipment and supplies will be on display.
It goes Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sunday.
The Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce partners with the City of Grande Prairie; County of Grande Prairie; Community Futures Grande Prairie & Region; Farm Credit Canada; Grande Prairie Regional Innovation Network; Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association; and the Municipal District of Greenview to host the annual Growing the North Conference – February 19-20 in the TARA Centre.
The Growing the North Conference is the largest economic development conference in Northwestern Alberta/Northeastern B.C.
The Game Country Archers are holding their annual indoor 3D shoot in the TARA Feb. 29 – March 1.
Those interested can pre-register at firstname.lastname@example.org
The largest event of its kind in northwestern Alberta, the Foster’s Peace Country Classic Agri-Show, goes March 12-14 at the Park.
It includes hundreds of exhibitors indoors and outdoors at the TARA Centre; the Peace Classic Bull Sale on the Friday, skijoring on Saturday, a kids auction on Saturday and a petting zoo all three days of the Show.
Back again for the third year in a row on Saturday, March 21 in Evaskevich Hall, NuVita Energy Salon and Salons C & D, is the Food & Beverage Expo. It includes dozens of exhibitors offering samples of food and beverages and goes from 5-10 p.m.
The Rising Above Hope Lives Banquet goes on Saturday, March 28 in the TARA Centre. it’s an annual fundraiser that has had great success at Evergreen Park.
Sports Expo – 3 to 5
Home & Garden Show – 17 to 19
NPBRA Spring Spectacular – 24 to 26
Crafts & Critters Show & Sale – 25
Peace Wapiti Academy Grad – 9
4-H Achievement Days – 9 and 10
Stompede – 27 to 31
Are you the company employee, group member or friend who is in charge of organizing the Christmas party this year?
Evergreen Park's Multi-Office Christmas Party on Friday, Dec. 13 in NuVista Salon and Salons C & D in the TARA Centre.
That event is more of a traditional Christmas party with a great Christmas-themed dinner; poutine bar later in the evening; comedian to entertain; DJ to provide dancing music; and prizes to be won.
Cost is $75 per person and you can also book tables of eight. We will make sure, no matter how many tables or seats you have, you will be seated together with your group.
Cocktails start at 6 p.m. and dinner is ready at 7 p.m. This is an 18-plus event.
You can book your table or seats for either party by clicking on the poster on this page.
If December 13th or 20th don’t work for you, the NuVista Salon and Salons C & D could be available for you on different days for your private Christmas party – each Salon holds 300 people can they can be combined to hold 600 or 900. There is also Evaskevich Hall as well as a variety of small rooms for parties from a dozen to 2,000 people.
Chefs Kelly Buyar and Jordan Bishop are ready to prepare your special Christmas party meal and the Evergreen Park facilities rental team are prepared to set up your room for your needs.
For more information call the Evergreen Park office at 780-532-3279.
It was difficult to tell who had the biggest smile on their face after the final day of racing at The Horses At Evergreen Park on Sunday – Nellie Pigeau, Blanford Stewart, Julia Lawrence or Waddyraptor.
They were all winners as another summer pari-mutuel racing season wrapped up on J.D.A. Raceway at Gordon Badger Stadium.
Grande Prairie’s Pigeau (photo right) was grinning because she walked off with the top trainer award at The Horses for the second year in a row.
She put a bow on it on Sunday with three firsts a second, third and fourth and two fifths in the eight-race finale.
Over the course of the July-August races at Evergreen she racked up 16 firsts, 11 seconds and 17 thirds working for a variety of owners.
Pigeau earned $73,339 on J.D.A. Raceway this year for her owners.
Stewart (photo below), from Jamaica, rode 28 winners at The Horses this summer as well as guiding steeds to 13 seconds, and 15 thirds. His winning percentage at Evergreen was 29% and he earned $103,934 in purse money.
He started racing in 2009 and since then has had about 1,500 mounts.
Stewart wrapped up the day Sunday with a second in the Mr. Mike’s Paint The Park Purple – Race For The Cure over six furlongs for a purse of $9,550. He helped owner Gordon Howg pocket $2,483 for that runner-up finish.
Event of Default, with Larris Allen on board, was the winner of that race. Trainer Lyle Magnuson, who had been in a battle all summer with Pigeau for top trainer, got to accept the blanket for owner Rocky Mountain Turf Club Stable from Mr. Mike’s owner Brad Richards.
Lawrence was giddy because she was the winner of the 50/50 draw pulled after the seventh race and then ended up winning the Frisbee toss that capped off the day. She gets a $1,000 gift voucher at Marlin Travel for being the best tosser of the day. Her Frisbee, while not making it into the big purple tractor tire target on the track, was the only one that was touching the tire.
Waddyraptor, sponsored by the County of Grande Prairie, was no doubt grinning, but it was difficult to tell.
He stood on the top of the podium, over top of the word “fastest” while Rexmagnusauer III (Marlin Travel) was “faster” and Runtime Terror (Hi Tech Business Systems) was “fast” in the first-ever Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum Dino Derby.
Fifteen dino racers took part in the Derby in what was a hilarious ending to the race season. All the fans left with smiles!
Before the day’s race card at The Horses At Evergreen Park started on Friday night, local owner Chuck Stojan was asked if he was going to head down to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Bank of America Challenge Championship on Oct. 26.
Stojan’s horse Getithot had qualified for the championship after winning the 400-yard Adequan Derby Challenge at Evergreen Park on July 28.
Stojan said he would go for sure if he had at least one more horse win the right to make the southern trip.
It didn’t take long for the decision to be made!
Minutes after that conversation Stojan’s horse True Copy (photo left) outraced five other horses to finish first in the Bank Of America ARC Distaff regional finale over 400 yards in the first race of the evening.
And to top it off, and help fill up his horse trailer, in the last race of the day – the 440-yard Bank Of America Championship Challenge – Stojan’s steed Stripsteak was the winner and also earned the right to head to Albuquerque.
Stojan might have made it a hattrick of B of A regional finals on Friday had another of his horses, Clear To See, not been scratched in the John Deere Juvenile 350-yarder in Race 4. His horse Good Kiddy was also scratched from the Challenge race.
The John Deere went to owner/trainer Buckey Stockwell’s Honeys Painted Pop, who earned the right to visit Albuquerque in October with the win.
Friday’s nights trio of regional finales wrapped up the five-event Bank Of America regional finals series at The Horses At Evergreen Park. The series attracts top quarter horses from across Western Canada.
On the same day Stojan’s Getithot won the Adequan, Gone To Be Bright won the 875 Evergreen Park Distance Challenge for Gonetothebrightside Syndicate and can join Stojan and Stockwell in New Mexico in the fall.
Jockey Ricardo Moreno was aboard both True Copy and Stripsteak and William Leech trains both horses for Stojan.
Stojan should be able to afford gas for the Albuquerque trip.
The three wins this summer earned him $67,186 with $43,665 of that coming on Friday night.
The final weekend of The Horses At Evergreen Park continues Saturday night with a 6 p.m. post and the season wraps up on Sunday with eight races and the Mr. Mike’s Paint The Park Purple – Race For The Cure! It’s a day to create awareness about pancreatic cancer.
Following the horse races the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum Dino Derby will be held.
Fifteen dino races will be leaving the starting gates looking to win the championship trophy.
There is no admission fee and families are welcome!
Chuck Stojan, after this weekend, may have a full load of quarter horses to take down to Albuquerque, New Mexico in October.
The long-time local owner already has one horse that has qualified for the Bank of America Challenge Championships – the most prestigious quarter horse championship in North America - in the American city after two B of A finales at The Horses At Evergreen Park and this Friday (Aug. 23) he has horses entered in the final three of five Challenge regional championships at J.D.A. Raceway this summer.
On July 28 on J.D.A. Raceway his horse, Getit Hot, won $23,521 of a $48,003 purse with a first-place finish in the 400-yard Adequan Derby Challenge. The same day a horse named Gone To Be Bright, owned by Gonetothebrightside Syndicate, captured the other B of A regional championship race – the 875-yard Evergreen Park Distance Challenge. Both horses are trained by William Leech.
Those two races started the five-event Bank of America regional finals at Evergreen Park.
On Friday the regionals, with the trips to Albuquerque up for grabs for all winners, start with the ARC Distaff Challenge over 400 yards. Stojan's True Copy is entered and leaves from Gate 3.
Others involved include High Gloss Black (1), First Prize Cruise (2), Knotty Knita (4), Shez My Hero (5), Blink And Shes Gone (6) and Atomic Blondie (7). Purse money is $22,253 and it is for three-year-old and older fillies and mares.
On paper the four-year-old True copy is the favorite with 10 wins, five seconds and a third in 18 lifetime starts and $88,585 in career earnings. First Prize Cruise, also four, is next at 17-4-1-7 and $25,760 and four-year-old Atomic Blonde has won $24,693 after 21 races with two wins, two seconds and six third.
Next up in the B of A regional is the John Deere Juvenile Challenge with a purse of $34,595.
Stojan’s horse, Clear To See (out of Gate 7), is in tough in this one. Clear To See has a win and third in two lifetime races and earnings of $3,838 while Double Cruise (Gate 6) has two
wins and a second in three career races and $21,134 in earnings; and Suits (Gate 8) has won $7,891 with a win and third in six races.
Others in the race, which is over 350 yards and for two-year-olds, include Allthespeedyouneed (Gate 1), Quarter Sawn (2), Honeys Painted Pop (3), Eyesa Cruiser (4) and Light Footed (5).
The Bank of America Challenge finishes up the high-profile regionals at Evergreen Park.
Stojan’s entries in that race are Stripsteak, gate No. 3, and Good Kiddy, out of gate No. 4. The race is over 440 yards with a purse of $39,457 and is four three-year-olds and up.
Stripsteak has nine wins, two seconds and a third after seven career races and $44,926 in earnings while Good Kiddy is 10-1-0-4 and $7,801.
All of the horses may be chasing JD Wagon Boss, out of Gate 1. The Boss has won $62,632 in 18 career starts with seven of them wins, three seconds and three thirds.
Gone to Be Bright, the Distan
ce Challenge winner, has a 19-4-5-0 record and $27,736 in earnings and is out of No. 2 while Walters Cartel (10-1-0-5 and $5,430) leaves from No. 5 in the five-horse field.
Leech, who filled in as the trainer for the Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park winner Exactly last month, has his hands full on Friday. Besides Gone to Be Bright, he trains True Copy, Blink And Shes Gone, Light Footed (which he also owns), Clear To See, Stripsteak and Good Kiddy.
The Bank of America Challenge Championships go October 26 at The Downs in Albuquerque.
The Horses At Evergreen Park go Friday and Saturday with a 6 p.m. post and Sunday starting at 1 p.m. Sunday is Mr. Mike's Paint The Park Purple - Race For The cure! The annual pancreatic cancer awareness day at the track. There is a silent auction, Frisbee toss for a $1,000 Marlin Travel gift certificate, 50/50 and purple cookies, bracelets and drinks for sale. The day also includes a Dino Derby, sponsored by the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum.
There is no admission fee.
The Alberta Derby thoroughbred race at Evergreen Park was a big event last Sunday, but also making as much noise at J.D.A. Raceway were some top-end quarter horses.
And they were running for a lot of money!
Veteran local owner Chuck Stojan knows that because he grabbed $23,521 from one of those races.
Stojan’s horse Getit Hot (photo right) won the $48,003 Adequan Derby Challenge on Sunday.
It was a regional final that earned Stojan the right to take Getit Hot to the Bank of America Challenge Championship Oct. 26 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“These are some of the best quarter horses in Western Canada,” said Stojan, who is delighted the Bank of America has sponsored five big quarter horse races at Evergreen Park this year.
The second B of A race held on Sunday was the $28,802 Evergreen Park Distance Challenge – won by Gone To Be Bright (photo below) for owner Gonetothebrightside Syndicate. Gone To Be Bright, as a regional winner, also has the option of going to Albuquerque in October.
The Adequan Derby Challenge was over four-hundred yards and featured seven horses. Ricardo Moreno was in the saddle for Stojan in that race and William Leech, who filled in as trainer for Alberta Derby winner Exactly, is Getit Hot’s trainer. Leech also trains You Have No Equal, who finished seventh for owners Kathy McNiven and Luis Alvarez in the Adequan.
Papas Coleen, owned by Fort St. John’s Donalda Cochrane and trained by local trainer Darcy Hawkes, was second in the Adequan Derby Challenge race followed by Chasin Harm.
Leech kept the streak going as trainer of Gone To Be Bright (winner of $14,978 for first) in the Evergreen Park Distance Challenge – over 875 yards – with Moreno in the saddle again. He also trains Blink And Shes Gone (owned by Gonetothebrightside), the fifth place finisher, while Grande Prairie’s Nellie Pigeau looks after fourth place finisher Its Official for Bruce Fenton.
Cruisin For Chicks finished second in the EP Challenge while Glittering Blue was third.
If the winners of the two big quarter horse races can’t make it to Albuquerque the second-place finishers will be eligible.
Regional races for the right to attend the championships in Albuquerque have been going on since early in the year across the United States and into Mexico and Brazil. Evergreen Park is the only race track in Canada that hosts regional Bank of America competitions.
The remaining three of the five regional finales will be held on Sunday, Aug. 18 at The Horses At Evergreen Park.
They are the Bank of America Championship Challenge ($35,00 US purse over 440 yards for three-year-olds and older); John Deere Juvenile Challenge ($25,000 purse over 350 yards for two-year-olds); and the ARC Distaff Challenge ($15,00 purse for three-year-olds and older fillies/mares).
Racing at J.D.A. continues this weekend, with a now opening post time. First race Friday and Saturday will be at 6 p.m. and Sunday they’re off at 1 p.m. This weekend is the last that includes a Friday. All remaining races will be Saturday and Sunday starting August 10.
Admission to racing is free and the Pines Family Restaurant and Pines Restaurant & Casino are open before and after racing.
For the first time in PBR (Professional Bull Riders) history, Grande Prairie will welcome the toughest sport on dirt’s Canadian Touring Pro Division for one-night of edge-of-the-seat action on Saturday, Oct. 5 for the Grande Prairie BuckWild PBR in the Drysdale Centre at Evergreen Park.
The Touring Pro Division regularly features Canada’s elite, alongside some of the league’s top international athletes, squaring off against the rankest bucking bulls in the nation. Fans will witness exhilarating 8-second rides and wrecks throughout the action-packed event as the PBR’s courageous riders face off against their 2,000-pound opponents.
The stop will mark one of the final four Canadian events prior to the season-culminating PBR Monster Energy Canadian Finals, presented by Dakota Dunes Casino, on Nov. 22-23 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where the 2019 PBR Canada Champion will be crowned and presented with a $50,000 bonus.
The newly-announced event comes amidst one of the tightest races for the national title in league history, with the all-Canadian Top 4 separated by fewer than 530 points.
As the top-ranked rider in Canada for the majority of the 2019 season Jared Parsonage (Maple Creek, Saskatchewan) currently sits atop the national standings. Regarded as one of the most consistent bull riders in the Great White North, Parsonage’s season has been highlighted by two event wins on the Monster Energy Tour, a runner-up finish at the Calgary Stampede and 11 additional Top 10 efforts.
Close behind Parsonage are No. 2 Shay Marks, No. 3 Dakota Buttar and No. 4 Jordan Hansen.
From Sunnybrook, Alberta, Marks quickly climbed the national standings after his career-first event win on the Monster Energy Tour in January at the Winnipeg Classic. Adding significance to the victory, the event was Marks’ first since undergoing reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2017. Since, he has recorded 13 additional Top 10 efforts across all levels of PBR competition in both Canada and the United States.
Competing for the first time in 2019 on home soil in June, two-time Glen Keeley Award winner Buttar has made a quick leap up the national standings. In addition to three Touring Pro Division event wins, the 26-year-old has an additional seven Top-10 efforts across all levels of PBR competition in Canada.
Rounding out the powerhouse contingent of the all-Canadian Top 4 is Okotoks, Alberta’s Hansen. In addition to a win on the Monster Energy Tour in Calgary, the 25-year-old has also ridden to two Touring Pro Division victories in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan,
Also expected to ride in Grande Prairie are the lone two multi-time PBR Canada Champions: Aaron Roy (2008, 2010, 2012) and Zane Lambert (2013, 2017).
The bull riding action at Evergreen Park begins at 7 p.m. on,
All riders will attempt one bull each in Round 1. The Top 10 will then advance to the championship round for one more out and a chance at the event title. In addition to competing for points towards the Canadian national standings, riders will also have the opportunity to earn world points in an effort to earn a berth onto the elite PBR Unleash The Beast.
Tickets for the one-day event go on sale Friday, August 2 at 10 a.m. MDT.
VIP Packages including a behind-the-scenes chute tour, autograph session with some of the sport’s top riders and entry into the drawing for a premium shark cage experience will also be available for purchase.
Both can be purchased at buckwildgp.com.
PBR, which has events in five countries, has competed in Canada since 1996 where it operates two tours. Joining the Touring Pro Division (TPD), the Monster Energy Tour (MET) debuted in 2016 as the nation’s first cross-country, nationally televised series. At PBR Canada events riders have the opportunity to earn points towards both the Canadian and world standings.
Exactly became the first female to win the Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park, as the chestnut filly crossed the line in a time of 1:44.46 to win the 88th edition of the Derby at J.D.A. Raceway on Sunday afternoon. It was held at Evergreen Park for the fifth year in a row.
Striders Ring was second while Proud and Loud came third. Grande Prairie Derby winner, The Hybrid, finished third but was dropped to fourth following an inquiry. Its All Good was scratched by the vet. Exactly paid $4.40 to win to run the one mile and a sixteenth race on dirt.
“It’s awesome a female can outrun these boys for that kind of money, in this calibre,” trainer William H. Leech said, full of superlatives. “That’s awesome. That’s amazing. That is an amazing feat in thoroughbred racing for a female to out-run the boys.”
Exactly’s normal trainer Elige Bourne couldn’t make the trip to Grande Prairie so he asked Leech to handle the filly. The Lethbridge resident was in town because he had five horses sprinkled throughout the nine-race card on Sunday.
Previously, Leech witnessed the three-year-old’s prowess from a distance at Century Mile in Edmonton, but he never got a chance to handle her until the last few days. Leech said the filly was “just a dream to work with.”
“This mare is awesome, she cruised around (the track on Sunday),” Leech said. “Honest to God, the way she came back (to the barn), I thought she ran at 85 per cent. She’s that much horse. She wasn’t overly tired. The jockey (Rigo Sarmiento) did an excellent job. He picked his spot and asked her to run and no problem. It looked really good.”
Exactly, owned by Alexandre Dion, has five total races under her belt this year and has been in the money every time, with three wins and two second-place finishes. Adding the $29,362 purse from the $55,400 Alberta Derby, she’s now earned $60,528 this season so far. Not bad for a horse that cost $2,000 at auction.
Exactly did the run Sunday in 1:44.46, just off the track record of 1:44.23 set by Derby winner Regal Max in 2018.
“A filly really needs to have a big heart and a lot of grit to outrun the boys,” Leech said. “The boys are a little tougher, a little stronger and for a filly to go in against them - especially running a mile and a sixteenth - you have to have a lot of grit and power. It’s a great filly.”
Bourne was made available post-race from Edmonton and the former jockey was immediately struck by her presence when he first laid eyes on her.
“The first time I watched her work I went, ‘This is a machine,’ and she is,” Bourne said. “Even the races where she ran second she got bad trips that cost her the races. Did she have a clean trip on Sunday? I hoping she did because she hasn’t had one yet.”
Exactly ran second at the Sonoma Handicap and finished runner-up in the Chariot Chaser Handicap, both races were run at Century Mile.
“She’s a nice filly and I liked her when I started working with her,” Bourne said. “She was miserable to get along with, but now she likes the attention she gets. She’s done an about-face with her attitude. She got hurt getting shipped (to Grande Prairie), but she overcame that. She’s never had a chance to show her true potential.”
Fight in the trailer
As Bourne mentioned, Exactly got into a trailer disagreement with at least one of her stall mates on the way up to Evergreen Park.
“She’s a filly with some geldings,” Leech said, perhaps providing part of an explanation. “Maybe, she got horsing a little bit.”
Lucky, the dust-up didn’t cost Exactly too much in terms of injuries.
“(She) skinned up her knees and her legs a little bit,” Leech added. “When she got here, we had to do a lot of cold water hosing and wrapping legs and hand-walking her, just a lot of extra care. Thank God nothing swelled up or was real deep - just ripped the skin and hair off, but it could have been terrible.”
Good return so far
As previously noted, Exactly has earned over $60,528 for owner Alexandre Dion. The filly was purchased in April 2016. The breeder of record was Gary and Marie West Stables, Inc. in Lexington, Ky.
“That’s a hell of a return on your money,” Bourne said of the money earned so far by Exactly. “(When it comes to buying horses), a lot of it’s luck. You can spend a lot of money and get nothing. It’s a crapshoot when you buy. (Exactly’s) got a pedigree in her, but the stud was unproven and the mare was unproven.”
The Horses At Evergreen Park continue weekends in August.. Racing goes Friday and Saturday this weekend with 6 p.m. posts and Sunday at 1 p.m. Next weekend it reverts to just Saturdays (6 p.m. post) and Sundays (1 p.m. post) until the finale – Mr. Mike’s Paint The Park Purple – Race For The Cure day on Sunday, August 25.
- By Gordon Anderson, Daily Herald-Tribune
Five horses will leave the starting gate on Sunday hoping to trot off J.D.A. Raceway at Evergreen Park with one of the most prestigious titles in horse racing in Western Canada - Alberta Derby champion.
They will be running for a purse of over $50,000. The race, over 1 1/16 miles, is for three-year-olds and Evergreen Park is hosting it for the fifth year in a row.
The lineup includes Hybrid, Exactly, Proud & Loud, Its All Good and Striders Ring.
The Hybrid, owned by Grande Prairie's Jason and Kelsey Coney and trained by Jason, is one of the five.
Winner of the J.D.A. Grande Prairie Derby July 14 at Evergreen Park, Hybrid has earned $25,743 in its career. The Kentucky-bred has 17 career starts with three wins, two seconds and a third while racing at The Horses At Evergreen Park, Hastings in Vancouver and Turf Paradise in Phoenix.
Hybrid leaves from gate No. 1.
Exactly, leaving from gate No. 2, has $31,166 in winnings since its first race in 2018.
The Kentucky-born is owned by Alexandre Dion and trained by Elige Bourne. After four starts, all at Century Mile in Edmonton, Exactly has two wins and two seconds.
Proud & Loud leaves from gate No. 3.
Trained by local Tim Rycroft, Proud & Loud is owned by Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd.
The Kentucky-bred has career winnings of $21,178 and five career starts – two of them at Century Mile - with two wins.
Its All Good is out of gate No. 4.
Born in Kentucky = owned by Robbin Martens and trained by Lionel Joseph - Its All Good has just three starts to its name with a win and a third and $6,079 in earnings. All its racing has been done at Century Mile.
Rycroft trains, and Riversedge owns, Striders Ring out of gate No. 5.
The Alberta-bred, with $18,093 in career earnings, has raced five times with a first and a second competing at Century Mile and Century Downs in Balzac.
All five horses will be chasing the Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park track record of 1:44.23 set by 2018 winner Regal Max last year.
Eleven horses had been nominated for the Derby. The owners of three of them - Sharp Dressed Beau, Parking Permit, Zicatela and Hill Top Wonder - opted to race at Century Mile this weekend while Call It A Wrap and Hawkwood aren't on any entry sheets.
The Alberta Derby is the eighth of nine races on Sunday and post time is 3:55 p.m.
It's a big day of racing that also includes the Evergreen Park Distance Challenge Final, Adequan Derby Challenge Final and the Distaff Series Race 2.
The day starts with a VIP Brunch at 10:30 a.m. Tickets for that are available online at www.evergreenpark.ca until 6 p.m. Saturday; at the Evergreen Park administration offices in the TARA Centre 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at The Horses at Evergreen Park Friday and Saturday nights.
There will be three days of racing this weekend. It goes 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and then wraps up with the Derby Day starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
How do you like coffee-rubbed cab striploin served with a cabernet wine au jus?
Or seared pineapple and pomegranate salad with cilantro roasted red pepper cream dressing?
Never tried it?
Well, it’s time to get your fancy on at the annual Alberta Derby VIP Brunch at The Horses At Evergreen Park on Sunday, July 28.
And in fancy we don’t just mean the food.
Get yourself upscale with a big floppy hat, or fascinator, if you’re a lady and wear your best Sunday-go-to-derby hat, tie and outfit if you’re a guy.
There will be prizes for best-dressed woman and man … and child, too.
The Alberta Derby on J.D.A. Raceway at Gordon Badger Stadium at Evergreen Park is one of the most prestigious horse racing events in Western Canada.
In 2018, four of the eight horses that competed at the Alberta Derby went on to take part in the Canadian Derby. It is the highest quality race of the season at The Horses At Evergreen Park attracting some of the top horses from Western Canada.
The Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park has become THE place to be, and be seen, during the summertime in the Peace Country. It’s the Kentucky Derby North!
The VIP Brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. and racing begins at 1 p.m. There is limited seating so everyone is encouraged to order their tickets ASAP. There is no gate admission!
VIP Brunch tickets are available online here; at the Evergreen Park offices in the TARA Centre Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and at the live races this Friday, Saturday (both 6:30 p.m. first post) and Sunday (1 p.m. first post) and again Friday, July 26.
For more information call the Evergreen Park office at 780-532-3279.
There are 11 horses that have been nominated for the Alberta Derby at Evergreen Park on Sunday, July 28 at The Horses At Evergreen Park
Eight of them will appear in the $50,000-plus 1 1/16 mile run for three-year-olds and up. (Click here for list.)
If none of the horses pull out before the Derby entry is created by the race secretary early next week, three of the horses will be dropped.
It’s all based on career earnings with the top earners getting the nod.
Top career earner, according to statistics provided by Equibase, is a horse called Sharp Dressed Beau.
The Oregon-bred thoroughbred, owned by Empire Equestrian and trained by Rick Hedge, has $66,475 in career earnings after nine starts with four firsts, two seconds and a third with its last four starts at Century Mile in Edmonton.
Sharp Dressed Beau, who ran at Northlands Park in Edmonton and at Turf Paradise in Arizona last year, is on a three-race winning streak including capturing the Count Lathum Handicap and the Western Canada Handicap in its last two races.
Second on the career winning list is Call It A Wrap – owned by Riverside Racing Stables Ltd. and trained by Tim Rycroft.
The BC-bred horse has won $57,773 after seven starts with two wins, two seconds and two thirds.
After starting its career at Hastings in Vancouver, Call It A Wrap moved to Edmonton where it finished second to Sharp Dressed Beau in both the Count Lathum Handicap and Western Canada Handicap.
With $36,557 in career winnings, Parking Permit – owned by Mohamad K. Khan and trained by James R. Brown – is third.
The California-bred was third in the Count Latham Handicap in Edmonton and has a win, four seconds and four thirds in 15 career starts, with most of those coming at Turf Paradise.
At $31,166, Exactly is fourth among the current list of nominees. The Kentucky-born is owned by Alexandre Dion and trained by Elige Bourne.
After four starts, all at Century Mile, Exactly has two wins and two seconds.
Winner of the J.D.A. Grande Prairie Derby last Sunday, unless withdrawn, will be competing in the Alberta Derby based on money winnings.
The Hybrid – owned by Kelsey and Jason Coney and trained by Jason Coney – has earned $25,743 in its career – fifth best among nominees.
The Kentucky-bred has 17 career starts with three wins, two seconds and a third while racing at The Horses At Evergreen Park, Hastings and Turf Paradise.
With two wins in just three starts, Zicatela (born in Alberta) has pretty good winning record, but not a lot of racing under its belt.
Rated sixth in career winnings among the nominees at $21,421, Zicatela – owned by Crystal Meadows and trained by Dale Saunders - was fourth at the Count Lathum handicap at Century Mile after winning twice there in June.
Kentucky-bred Proud And Loud, owned by Riverside and trained by Rycroft, is seventh among the nominees in career winnings with $21,178.
Proud And Loud has five career starts – two of them were at Century Mile with the last being a seventh at the Count Lathum Handicap – with two wins.
Striders Ring (a third entry by the Riverside-Rycroft combo) will be in if not withdrawn as it sits eighth with $18,093 in career earnings.
The Alberta-bred has raced five times with a first and a second competing at Century Mile and Century Downs in Balzac.
The three horses on the bubble hoping one or more horses pull out are – Hawkwood, Its All Good and Hill Top Wonder.
The Kentucky-born Hawkwood ($13,997 in career earnings) is owned by Highfield Investment Group and trained by Greg Tracy.
Hawkwood has five starts with a first and a second with its last three at Century Mile.
Its All Good is ranked 10th among the 11 nominees with $6,079 in the pockets of the owner.
Born in Kentucky, Its All Good – owned by Robbin Martens and trained by Lionel Joseph - has just three starts to its name with a win and a third. It its races have been at Century Mile.
Grande Prairie’s Al Side owns and Ernie Keller trains Hill Top Wonder – another Alberta-bred.
Hill Top Wonder also has just three starts with two thirds and $3,220 in career winnings, which puts it 11th among the nominees in career winnings.
Evergreen Park is hosting the Alberta Derby for the fifth time.
The day includes a VIP Brunch. That gets underway at 10:30 a.m. and tickets are available here; at the Evergreen Park office in the TARA Centre; and at the information table on race days.