Opening Day at Century Downs Racetrack

Opening Day Parade, Century Downs RacetrackAfter years without racing in the Calgary area, horses are back on the track. Century Downs Casino is so fresh the slots aren’t even sticky yet. And this weekend, it was opening day for the reason behind their existence (aka the help in securing their liquor license):  the racetrack. Conveniently located beside Cross Iron Mills outlet mall. I fully supported the opening parade’s emphasis on horse style. In this case, it was zebra-striped everything — even girth straps.Drivers on Opening Day at Century DownsThe fashion sense continued with the drivers. Standardbred silks just seem to have a certain Evel Knievel super-coolness.Ribbon Ceremony at Century Downs RacetrackNo scissors here. This is how ribbon-cutting rolls at the racetrack.Hazel Bennett, Borders Racing StableI found most of the high-fashion hats inside at a private reception, where the peeps were not only VIP, they were smart, since it was ridiculously cold outside. Hazel Bennett of Borders Racing Stable wore a lovely feathered hat originally worn by her mother in the 1940s. Dr. David Chalack, Rocky Mountain HolsteinsDr. David Chalack stuck with his ten-gallon, but what would you expect from the man who is not only the Chair of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, but a board member of the Canadian Dairy Network and past president of the Calgary Stampede?Sandra Rexilius, United Horsemen of AlbertaSandra Rexilius paired her beautiful brown velvet chapeau with her actual riding jacket. Bien sur!Max Gibb and Premier Jim PrenticeWhile Premier Jim Prentice stuck to his lawyerly go-to duds, albeit weekend casual with the button down shirt sans tie, it looks like he might have picked up a little fashion advice — and a big belt buckle — from Max Gibb, vice-chairman of the United Horsemen of Alberta and Century Downs.Jim Prentice and harness drivers, Century DownsAlthough he seemed to charm the harness drivers without cowboying up.First Race at Century DownsFinally, the wait was over and the first official race at Century Downs began. The photo finish ended up being a few short feet between new guard and wise guard:  22-year-old Travis Cullen (ladies, he lives in Airdrie) and 60-year old Rod Hennessy.Rod Hennessy wins the first race at Century DownsMy fave outfit of the day could be winner Rod Hennessy’s lucky orange and blue silks, but my favorite expression is definitely that manure-eating grin on Waitin Ona River’s face. Congratulations, you two! For more on Opening Day, please check my article in the Calgary Herald.

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