Stacked field for Monday’s Alex Picov Memorial at Ajax Downs

Published October 6, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Snow Moose
Three-year-olds Sour Candy (9) and Snow Moose (8) square off in the $49,230 Alex Picov Memorial Championship on Thanksgiving Monday. New Image Media/Clive Cohen photo

Ajax Downs is hosting its annual Race for the United Way Day and pumpkin giveaway for kids this Thanksgiving Monday, complete with eight Quarter Horse races. Headlining the on-track action is the 50th running of the prestigious Alex Picov Memorial Championship for 3-year-olds and upward.

All proceeds from a silent auction and 50-50 draw will go to the United Way of Durham Region. Fans on track will also receive a free gift with program purchase and the outsiders and track ponies will be dressed up for Halloween.

The $49,230 Alex Picov Memorial Championship could go a long way to solidifying Ajax Downs’ Horse of the Year honours as 3-year-olds Sour Candy and Snow Moose meet up once again while tackling top older horses First Cold Wave and Had to Be Relentless. The race is at 440 yards, a distance only First Cold Wave has attempted.

Both Sour Candy, owned by Craig Spada and Rick Crispi and trained by Lauren Spada, and Snow Moose, owned by Milena Kwiecien and trained by Jason Pascoe, have 36 Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario (QROOI) points, more than any other horse that raced this year at Ajax Downs. Sour Candy has a record of six wins in eight starts, including a neck victory on September 13 in the $53,000 Picov Derby. Snow Moose was third that day.

Alexis Sanchez rides Sour Candy, who will start from post 5.

Snow Moose (post 2) has five wins in 12 races and won both the QROOI Derby and Ontario Bred Derby this year. JB Botello takes over from regular rider Brian Bell.

First Cold Wave won the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity for older horses on September 3 for owner and breeder Robert Bailey. Brian Bell gets the mount. Had to Be Relentless is stakes placed this year for Carol and Jaime Robertson and he is seeking his first stakes win. Josh Scott will ride.

The Championship field is completed by the fillies Valiant Chick Insnow, who is stakes placed this year, and Queen Charlotte, a three-time winner for James Bogar this year.

The jockey race tightened as Brian Bell’s two wins at Ajax Downs yesterday grabbed him enough points to sneak into the lead again for champion jockey of the year. Bell has 216 points and a meet-leading 24 wins, and is trying to fend off JB Botello, who is in the midst of the best year of his career with 214 points, while crafty veteran Ramiro Castillo has 211 points. The track is where these three will be duking it out for the title, with just two racing days remaining after Monday.

First race post time Monday is 12:55 p.m. For more information visit

With files from Jennifer Morrison

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