Salt Grinder & Willie the Cat shined 10 years ago

20 Apr

Ten years ago on April 20, 2002 two very quick horses lowered the 5 1/2-furlong track record in back-to-back races.

Race 7 that day had a firster named Willie the Cat entered to run. The WA-bred sailed to the lead and cut fractions of 21-4, 44-0, 55-4 and stopped the timer in 1:02-1. The Ron Crockett-owned runner broke the track record by 1/5th of a second and won by 1 3/4 lengths. He was trained by Tim McCanna and ridden to victory by Frank Gonsalves. Colony Lane was second and Tickletime finished third.

Thirty minutes later was an allowance race for 3-year-olds and trainer Jim Penney had entered Salt Grinder to make his 3-year-old debut with jockey Kris Prather aboard. The B.C.-bred hooked up with Bold Ranger in a nasty speed duel (21-1 and 43-4 splits) and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths and finished 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Bold Ranger held second and the favorite Chief Yatahay checked in third.

Flying Notes (who won 3 stakes at the 2002 meet and was named horse of the meeting) won the next race – the 9th – in 1:02 4/5 for the 5 1/2-furlong distance!

Both Willie the Cat and Salt Grinder had terrific careers at the Auburn oval, each winning two stakes races apiece.





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