As soon as jockey Pedro V. Alvarado opened his mouth, it was obvious how easily Tommy Danzigger won yesterday's 80th running of the Canadian Derby.
But first, trainer Robert Gilker talked about how hard it was to get the new champ to the paddock so he could prepare for the race.
"For some reason, he decided he didn't want to go," Gilker said in the winner's circle at Northlands Park. "We started moving back to the barn at something close to mach speed, but we got him settled down. He was fine when we got here."
So fine, in fact, that no other thoroughbred in the top field of three-year-olds launched a serious challenge.
Alvarado waited only a short while out of the gate before stepping in front and setting exactly the pace he wanted. "I kept looking around, waiting for somebody to come after us.
"I left some room on the rail because it was better to run further out, but nobody moved on the back side so I just said, 'Time to go' and he went."
The clocking -- 2:23 flat for 1 3/8 miles -- wasn't fast, and didn't need to be.
First into the lead was Winnipeg import Theglow. "I knew he hadn't been racing horses as good as these," Alvarado said. "It was OK to wait."
Coming to the final turn, Scorewithcater took a run at Tommy Danzigger.
Although he never looked capable of overhauling him, Scorewithcater was a solid second ahead of It Happend Again and fourth-place Stylish Citizen, the Woodbine standout who was the morning-line favourite for the $300,000 classic.
Tops among familiar Northlands horses was Bronze Barbarian, in fifth spot. He was followed by Quiet Approach, Mr. Shadar, Theglow, Cool Diablo, Crowned Royal, Tease The Tiger and Almost Time.
The traditional blankets-and-flowers ceremony for winners of big races was delayed slightly. Owner Edgar Smith, trainer Gilker and others waited while the high-strung B.C.-bred settled slightly on the track.
It was no surprise. Gilker spoke of an incident early in the colt's career when he acted up in the paddock and was not allowed to start.
The trainer paid tribute to the winner's rivals. "This was a good field of three-year-olds."
He agreed that Tommy Danzigger had one big advantage over the higher-publicized entrants: "We've been practising on a track like this for a long time."
The Northlands circuit, like Vancouver's Hastings Park, is a five-furlong oval with tight turns and a natural surface. Scorewithcater, to name one, is accustomed to racing on larger, synthetic surfaces.
The victory was Tommy Danzigger's third in nine lifetime starts and boosted his career earnings past $300,000.
CANADIAN DERBY PAYOUTS
Tommy Danzigger (Alvarado) 19.30 9.00 7.10
Scorewithcater (Ry Walcott) 4.90 4.10
It Happened Again (Welch) 4.90
Also; Stylish Citizen, Bronze Barbarian, Quiet Approach, Mr. Shadar, Theglow, Cool Diablo, Crowned Royal, Tease The Tiger, Almost Time