Three-year-old filly She's Regal isn't the easiest horse to handle, but if you know the game she's playing, she'll come up roses for you.
Or, as witnessed last Friday at Assiniboia Downs, she'll present you with the first money race victory of the season.
Ridden by Robert Reeves Jr., the filly won the six furlongs $25,000 Hazel Wright Sire Stakes, hitting the wire a couple of lengths in front of Garden Ballad and three-and-a-half lengths in front of Bunny Said Dance.
The Hazel Wright Stakes isn't a big stakes race money-wise, but no one told She's Regal that. As Reeves put it, she kept him on his toes throughout the full distance.
"I like riding her," he said. "It's kind of like a little game. She plays around with you, and keeps you on your toes. She'll prick her ears up and look around and just kind of easy up all of a sudden. Then, all of a sudden, she'll feel pressure and just take off real hard and strong. She can go from go to whoa and back to go again within a stride or two, but you always know you have a lot of horse under you."
Reeves, who along with Tim Moccasin sits in third place in the jockey standings with 10 wins behind Paul Nolan (22) and Rohan Singh (16), says you can't approach a stakes race any differently than any other race.
"No, not at all," he said. "You've still got to put the horse where you think it's best that it should be and make it comfortable. But they are all races, the only difference is the dollar signs at the end. I just look at where the other horses figure to be laying at and what they are going to do.
"The most important thing is looking after your horse. You just have to make him comfortable. If you have speed and if there are other horses in the race with speed you hope they won't get away as good as you do, but you can't really change the horse's style very much."
For She's Regal's trainer Chad Torevell, who is currently tied with Blair Miller and Wade Rarick for first place in the trainer standings with 10 wins each, it was good to get that first stakes win under his belt. "I was very pleased with her effort. It's always nice to get your first stake of the year and get that out of the way."
The victory showed considerable improvement for the Manitoba bred daughter of Going Commando, out of She Is Impressive by Regal Classic. Last year she finished third in the $50,000 Buffalo Stakes and second in the $40,000 CTHS Sales Stakes. So far she has earned her owners Arnason, Daley, Sundsbak and Zipric more than $38,000.
Tonight's matchup between Balooga Bull and Pleasant Closing in the $30,000 Golden Boy Stakes for three-year-olds, has been the talk of the track since the two went five furlongs, head-to-head on May 21. In that race, Balooga Bull hung onto his undefeated string at five, but only by a head.
While five horses will leave the starting gates, the 36th running of the Golden Boy is really a two-horse race. But for Balooga Bull, who will be ridden by Paul Nolan, and Pleasant Closing (Tyrone Nelson up) the money isn't the only thing on the line. Also up for grabs is membership into a pretty elite club which includes Prime Time T.V., P.C.'s Bluff, Royal Frolic and Plenty Chilly, all of whom went on to win the Manitoba Derby.
Saturday's stakes race is the six furlongs $30,000 La Verendrye for fillies and mares three years old and up. The horse to watch in that one is Golden Stripe (Rohan Singh up), who won this race last year and finished second the previous year. Her major challenges will come from Honorable Lady (Tim Moccasin up), who won the Chantilly Stakes two years ago, Finally Flying (Prayven Badrie up), a second-place showing last year in the Oaks and Chantilly and Cell Line Forever (Nelson up), who finished second in a $35,000 stakes race at Turf Paradise back in February.