2011-12 Season in Review
Portland Meadows wrapped up its 65th season of live racing last Wednesday, and what a season it was, both on and off the track. The meet got underway on Monday October 17 under sunny skies and saw So Gone and Rocco Bowen take home the featured $10,000 Overnight Handicap which drew a quality field of eleven runners. The Tawnja Elison trained runner would come back just one more time at Portland and score an allowance win before taking most of the winter off. Opening Day also saw jockey Javier Matias register a three win day, and it was just the start of a monumental season for Matias who went on to earn his first career riding title in the United States. Matias won 70 times during the season and was in front of the standings for pretty much the entire season.
Week 2 at Portland Meadows kicked off the $25,000 Ultimate ShowVivor Online Contest, where 1892 horseplayers from across the country focused their efforts on Portland Meadows. Their goal, was to simply outlast all their competitors by having their daily selection finish in the top 3 positions. If they could outlast all the competitors they would pick up $5,000. If the winner could outlast all the competitors and make it to the end of the season then they would take home $10,000, and if their selection won each day of the season, they would take home a $25,000 top prize! Well after a number of weeks, and outlasting 1891 players, Bernard Aldirch of Owensboro, Kentucky took home the $5,000 winner’s prize. He had that prize wrapped up on December 11th, but went an additional 3 weeks on his own before finally being eliminated.
The week of October 24th didn’t just kick off the ShowVivor Contest, but it was also Felimon Alvarado's week. The meet’s eventual leading trainer went a perfect six for six during the three day race-week. He started off with wins on the 24th with Mr. Ichiban and Western Where. Came back on Tuesday October 25th with a three-bagger, scoring with Lady Schnapps, Giacomina and Pattie’s Gold, and then for good measure won with Salish Road, his lone starter on Wednesday October 26th. Alvarado would go on to take the training title with a career season, winning 34 races from just 104 starts.
November marked the start of the Inaugural running of the McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series. The first of two Claiming Series run during the meet, this series was ultimately won by 11 year old Colonel Courtney who took home the $28,900 final. Colonel Courtney came to Portland Meadows for the McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series and finished second in the first leg and fourth in the second leg. But after being claimed by trainer Guru Dharma Khalsa for owner Michael Pollowitz out of the second leg, Colonel Courtney and Juan Gutierrez cruised to a solid win in the final event.
Warnock took home the $33,800 Baxter Andruss Oregon-bred Futurity under jockey Luis Torres. Torres would go on to claim the leading Quarter Horse riding title and horses like Warnock and trainer Hector Magallanes were part of the reason why. Torres and Magallanes hooked up all throughout the season with numerous winners, making them one of the top Quarter Horse duos on the grounds. Torres and Magallanes would team up with Danner on February 27th as they set a new track record for 300 yards, covering the ground in 15.51 seconds. They broke a 16 year old track record that was set by Thinkin Strawfly of 15.54, which was set back in April of 1995.
December brought Oregon Championship Day to the track. Always the premier event on the calendar, Oregon Championship Day saw great stakes performances by numerous Oregon-bred winners. LG Jet won the first of two stakes races he’d win during the season, as he scored in the $15,000 Bill Wineberg Stakes for jockey Luis Torres and trainer John Harris. The Georganne Hamrich owned LG Jet went a perfect 4 for 4 on the meeting, including his biggest win in the $20,000 Oregon Thoroughbred Breeders’ Derby.
Forty Something took home the $15,000 Janet Wineberg Stakes winning a hard fought stretch battle over Bahati Gold. HVR West Cascadian scored in the Oregon His Stakes for trainer Chris Hartman, who owned the horse and bred it along with John White. Missisissy scored a 20/1 upset in the Oregon Hers, catching heavily favored Kate Winsalot in the final strides. And in the Lethal Grande Oregon Sprint Championship, it was He’s a Goblin who got the victory going wire to wire.
Jim Fergason scored a memorable win on January 18, 2012 when he booked his 1,000th career win, as Mo’s Flashy Date and Mark Anderson scored the win for Fergason. Fergason is a six time training champion at Portland Meadows, and has been training here for over four decades.
CM Got Overserved took home the $30,900 Far West Futurity Finals, one of three stakes events he would win during the season. He is owned and bred by Randy Dickerson who scored a memorable Daily Double on February 6, 2012. Dickerson owned and bred CM Believing who took the first race of the card, and then took The Memorial with CM Got Overserved, who he also owned and bred. He also bred those horse’s mother, Mi Fames a Dandy.
As the season wound down, apprentice jockey Eliska Kubinova really started to sizzle, as she registered a career high of five wins on the February 29th card. But that career high would only last a week as Kubinova came back on March 7th with a six win day, which was the most on a single card of any rider this season. Kubinova finished second in the Thoroughbred rider standings, winning 60 times during the year.
The season came to a close on March 14th and it was Swiss Exploit who ended the year in style with an impressive sweep of the Route Claiming Series, including a powerful win in the $25,000 final. Swiss Exploit went wire to wire in both the first two legs of the series, and after being claimed for $4,000 by trainer Dave Runyon, he came back and rallied from just off the pace in the Final under jockey Javier Matias.
Portland Meadows will return to Live Racing on Sunday July 15th, as Summer Racing will usher in a new era at Portland Meadows.