Sunbird remained undefeated and punched his ticket to the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Century Mile on Aug. 26 with an impressive victory in the Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trial at Hastings Racecourse last Monday. The 1-1/16 mile Churchill was one of six $50,000 stakes races that made up the bulk of the B.C. Cup card.
According to Sunbird’s trainer, Terry Jordan, the victory by the three-year-old son of Orb made a “couple of elderly people feel good.”
Jordan, 81, is happy to be alive after winning a battle with colon cancer a couple of years ago.
“I have my good days and bad days,” he said. “I would have never made it without the support of Anita. She is the Queen of the Castle.”
Jordan was referring to his longtime partner, Anita Bolton, also an excellent trainer.
Sunbird is owned by Pauline Felicella and the estate of her late husband Nick Felicella, who passed away in January.
“Mrs. Felicella is approaching 90,” said Jordan. “She was thrilled Nick was around to get his picture taken when Sunbird won the Ascot Graduation last year, and the win Monday really picked her spirits up. The horse means a lot to her.”
The Felicellas owned and operated the popular restaurant Nick’s Spaghetti House on Commercial Drive between 1955 and 2017. The most accomplished horse they owned was Spaghetti Mouse who compiled an impressive 12-15-8 record from 52 starts, all at Hastings, for earnings of $929,850.
“A month after I bought Sunbird for them, I told Mrs. Felicella he was a better horse than Spaghetti Mouse,” said Jordan. “Spaghetti Mouse was her pet, so she didn’t believe me. Sunbird has a lot to prove, but he’s a pretty special horse.”
Jordan considered running Sunbird in the $125,000 Manitoba Derby at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg. The Manitoba Derby, also held last Monday, is the first race in the Western Canadian Triple Crown, which includes the Canadian Derby and British Columbia Derby. A $100,000 bonus is awarded if a horse wins all three races. After looking at the nominations, particularly Heroic Move, Jordan decided to stay home. Following the upset of heavily favoured Heroic Move by Mano Dura, Jordan did not regret the decision.
“Sunbird had just one start this year and wasn’t ready to ship to Winnipeg to run a mile and an eighth over a deep track,” he said. “He came out of his race in excellent shape and we’re heading to Alberta on Friday to get him ready for the Canadian Derby. We gave up the chance to win the $100,000 bonus, but we did what was right for the horse. He is a happy horse right now, and we are going to try to keep him that way.”
Race 4: The Rob VanOverschot-trained Desired Outcome stretches out to a middle distance for the first time and considering all four of his siblings to race are route winners, he should be able to handle the assignment. The British Columbia-bred son of Ralis will have to catch Brian’s de Leight who looks like the main speed and could be gone if he breaks alertly with Antonio Reyes aboard.
RACE 6: Arikara steps up in class but she is as sharp as a tack with back-to-back wins for last year’s leading owners Rob and Sheena Maybin. Other speed in the field will not make her task easy, but she is capable of stalking and with a patient ride by Ridge Balgobin she could complete the hat trick.
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