10/23/2016 10:23AM

Royal Warrior goes from last to first in Harvest Gold Plate

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Under a well-timed ride by Rico Walcott, Royal Warrior won the $50,000 Harvest Gold Plate Handicap at Northlands Park on Saturday. He paid $11.20 for his three-quarter-length win over the pacesetter Blue Dancer in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

Royal Warrior trailed the field while Blue Dancer was carving out interior fractions of 23.71 and 47.05 seconds. Killin Me Smalls, who was the favorite in the six-horse field, tracked Blue Dancer early and when he tried to engage the leader approaching the six-furlong mark was easily repulsed.  Royal Warrior started to wind up at the three-eighths pole and was in full flight on the stretch turn. He was still five lengths behind Blue Dancer at the top of the stretch but he finished with a rush to get up in time.

The final time was 1:43.77.

Royal Warrior was coming off a dull effort going 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 3 British Columbia Premier’s at Hastings. He won his previous start going the same distance at Northlands in the $75,000 Speed to Spare.

“We weren’t going a mile and three eighths this time so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to catch Blue Dancer and Killin Me Smalls,” said Walcott. “I asked him to run a little sooner than usual and he just took off.”

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A 6-year-old gelding by Majestic Warrior, Royal Warrior is trained by Dave Nicholson and owned by Frank Bodell.

 The victory brought his career earnings to $211,224.

There were three other stakes on the 11-race closing-day card.

Can’t Use Nellie paid $21.70 for her 1 1/2-length win over heavily favored Onestaratatime in the $50,000 Duchess of York Handicap.  Similar to her win in last year’s Duchess of York, Can’t Use Nellie came from off the pace in the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares.  She was ridden by Renaldo Cumberbatch.

Onestaratatime set the pace and was game in defeat. Blameitontheknight chased Onestartatatime and held on for third.

The final time was 1:45.69.

A 5-year-old daughter of Mineshaft, Can’t Use Nellie is trained by Shelley Brown.

With Keishan Balgobin aboard Trooper John romped by 8 1/2 lengths in the $49,000 Canadian Juvenile. He paid $23.30.

Double Bear, who dueled with Trooper John early, held on to finish second. Hyannisport and Xtreme Lyra finished in a dead heat for third.

The final time was 1:39.65.

It was a bittersweet win for trainer Tim Rycroft and owner Riversedge Racing Stables Inc. Their heavily favored Norm’s Big Bucks took a bad step and was pulled up approaching the quarter -pole when it looked like he was about to take control of the one-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Norm’s Big Buck was vanned off following the race. The severity of his injury is unknown.

Ruffenuff ($2.50) completely dominated the $50,000 Freedom of the City for 2-year-old fillies. With Quincy Welch aboard, she broke sharply and cruised to a 10 1/4-length romp over Quivera. Misto Do It finished third in the one-mile race.

The final time was 1:39.14.

Undefeated in three starts, Ruffenuff, a daughter of Dialed In, was coming off a 12 1/4-length romp in the $48,000 Bird of Pay. In her debut she was an easy 6 1/4- length winner of the $50,000 Princess Margaret.

Ruffenuff is trained by Greg Tracy and owned by Curtis Landry and Red Diamond Stable.

Tracy was the leading trainer for the third year in a row. He won 83 races at the meet.

Walcott was the dominant jockey for the sixth straight year. He won 99 races at the meet, 40 more than Dane Nelson.