Matt’s Blog — Weekend Preview July 7 & 8

Posted July 06, 2017 | Racing News

Big weekend ahead with some fabulous weather on the horizon! Park After Dark on Friday night features 8 races, with the first coming at 6:30pm. Joining us on the Patio is Mike Chalut from Kiss 91.7fm with their group of radio winners.

On Saturday, we have a pair of stakes races – both with intriguing fields.

The first is the Fred Jones, which goes as Race 4. It’s a smaller field of five, but it appears that all five are in with a big shot to win. READY INTAGLIO found room in the Spangled Jimmy late to win going away. He seems to get better the more ground that is thrown his way, and shouldn’t have any problem with the added 16th of a mile in this one. ROYAL WARRIOR didn’t find any room in mid-stretch and had to steady sharply. He was closing with a fury, and now gets Rico Walcott to take over in the saddle. There should be speed for both of those horses to close into with BLUE DANCER and KILLIN ME SMALLS signed on again. Neither have turned up with their best effort on the season, but the back class can always pop up and score when it counts. PRIVATE MONEY GAME just missed the track record two back, but validated that effort with a big win over a salty optional claiming field.

Later in the card we run the first Shirley Vargo Stakes. Here is a write up on her that will be in the program Saturday.

Shirley Vargo (Capron) was born June 26, 1947 and crew up in Crows Nest Pass, Alberta.  She moved to Lethbridge to pursue her education and to become a teacher where she met Robert Vargo.  Robert went to work for a General Motors dealership in Lethbridge, but in 1974 they decided to head north to Fort McMurray where Robert had taken a job running the GM dealership there.  Fort McMurray was where the Vargos settled and started a family, with two daughters and a son.  

Robert’s father had been around the Western Canada racing circuit, but it wasn’t until around 2005 that Robert decided to get into the game owning horses.  He ended up partnering up with Norm Castiglione and they began acquiring and racing horses in Western Canada. 

“Robert had a horse named Knight’s Covenant who was running at Stampede Park,” Norm said.  “He couldn’t go so he asked me if I’d go watch his horse run.  Well the horse won and I thought ‘well this is easy, so I jumped in as well.” 

Shirley loved attending the races, mostly at Northlands Park, but also trips to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver were also common.   In 2010, Shirley had a brain aneurysm, and while it may have slowed her physically, it didn’t slow her from coming to the track and watching their horses run.

“There were times when we’d win a race and we’d have to try our best to rush down to get down to the Winner’s Circle,” said Castiglione.  “But the folks in the Northlands Winner’s Circle always treated her like gold and she always appreciated them.”  

In addition to racing, Shirley loved craftmaking, visiting garage sales, and doing things with her local rotary club.  Shirley passed away last year in June and today we honor her memory here at Northlands Park with the running of the $75,000 Shirley Vargo Memorial Stakes.  

Riversedge went out and purchased the morning line choice for the race in CURLISH FIGURE. She was last seen at Delaware in a $100k stakes event. She looks to have a good stalking style, and has a sparkling work over the track. PORT PROTECTION was the easy winner of the John Patrick with a sweeping move down the backside and may really be coming into her own. CASTELLANI ships in from Vancouver following three straight 3rd’s in added money events. We have seen these connections pick up a stakes win already at the meet. SMART FIX has been right there in both of her races in 2017, and will look to break through with her late running style. QUALITY LANE may have bounced off a big effort in her return to the track, and should make her presence felt in the stretch.

Also on Saturday it is Retro Day, where there will be a tarmac full of classic cars on display! Weather looks to be around 28 degrees for both days, so make sure to join us here at Northlands Park!