Local hope Freedoms Traveller provided a poignant victory in the $303,210 Canadian Derby presented by Canem Systems (Can-III) Aug. 20 at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta.
Randy and Donna Feddema's Alberta homebred was a favorite of the late trainer Barry Brown, who died May 13 after a battle with cancer. The gray/roan gelding is now conditioned by Lianne Knechtel, Brown's partner for several years.
"He would be so proud of us," said Knechtel, wiping away tears just moments after Freedoms Traveller crushed the field. "It was for him today."
Freedoms Traveller, ridden by Rafael Zenteno, tallied over 10 3-year-old rivals at 5-1 odds in Northlands' signature race, completing the 1 3/8-mile distance in 2:21 4/5 over a fast track. It was the first graded stakes win for Freedoms Traveller, a son of Peacenfreedom--Lunar Gem (by Tiffany Ice). He has won three of six starts in 2011.
Zenteno said he dedicated the victory to Brown. "This is for you Barry," he said as he pointed to the sky.
Tenth early and more than 14 lengths off early pacesetter Tommy D' Horsey, Freedoms Traveller advanced steadily to get the lead on the backstretch of the Northlands bullring. He drew clear by six lengths over Northern Indy in the stretch and cruised home 5 1/4 lengths in front.
Northern Indy finished a clear second and Line Change, the 3-1 favorite, was third, 11 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Line Change had the lead after a mile, taking over the pacesetting chores after an opening quarter-mile of :23 3/5. The half-mile went in :47 3/5 and six furlongs were timed in 1:13 4/5.
Freedoms Traveller won the Ky Alta Handicap at Northlands on a sloppy track July 9, the same day a memorial service honoring Brown was held. He was nosed out in his return to action July 30, losing at the wire to Inhisglory in the Count Lathum Handicap. Inhisglory finished fourth as the 4-1 second choice in the Canadian Derby.
Freedoms Traveller has been worse than third just once in 11 starts, all at Northlands, with four victories. He earned $181,926 for the victory, boosting his career total to $261,261.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Freedoms Traveller paid 12.90, 6.20, and 4.40. Northern Indy, ridden by Gerry Olguin, returned 7.90 and 5.60. Line Change, with Pedro Alvarado aboard, paid $4.50 to show. The exacta was $123 and the trifecta was worth $761.60.
Inhisglory was followed by Fleet Attack, Lemon Loaf, Embellished, Hammers Bullet, The Acid Test, Call Me Later, and Tommy D' Horsey. Treasured Kitten was a veterinarian scratch.