Vancouver, B.C. (July 2/17) — It’s weird how this works.  Snuggles, trained by affable Dino Condilenios, is noted for her belligerent behaviour prior to a race.

Then there’s Victress with an engaging attitude trained by stone-faced Robert Gilker, a man of few words.

It’s almost as if the roles should be reversed.

Gilker, who also owns Victress with his co-owner/trainer wife Vicky, maintained his cool demeanor after winning the $75,000 Monashee Handicap at Hastings Racecourse Sunday. When asked in the winner’s circle what he liked most about Victress, Gilker responded: “I like the way she gets to the wire.”

There was nothing not to like in the Gilker camp when Victress wore down favoured Snuggles to win by a neck in a final time of 1:44.11 over 1 1/6 miles for fillies and mares.

“Good horses know how to do their job,” Gilker said. “This is a good horse.”

That is all that interviewer Drew Forster could get out of Gilker, who deep down had to be thrilled with the ride Amadeo Perez engineered. Victress trailed early in the five-horse field but started her winning surge at the quarter-pole and closed aggressively to wear down Snuggles in the final strides.

Making her first start since Jan. 1, Victress paid $6.20, $3.00 and $2.10.

Rob Gilker might be quiet but he’s also astute.   He and Vicky plucked Victress out of the Hastings Paddock Sale last year for $3,500.  With Sunday’s victory, the Kentucky-bred’s lifetime earnings now total close to $160,000, making it difficult to find fault with Rob’s candid evaluation:  “This is a good horse.”

Live racing resumes Saturday and Sunday with start times of 1:50 p.m. The following weekend – July 15 & 16 – wieners and beans will be on the menu as the famous wiener dogs return for their annual racing weekend with $1,800 in prize money up for grabs.


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Darren MacDonald