July 9 – Nick Sallusto & Hanzly Albina have bought several successful runners for the Riversedge Racing partnerhip of Robert Vargo and Norm Castiglione. But no purchase has meant more than Curlish Figure.
The five-year-old daughter of Curlin captured the inaugural Shirley Vargo Handicap at Northlands Park, a race named in honor of Robert’s beloved late wife.
A mother of three and an avid racing fan, Shirley Vargo was a fixture at the Western Canada tracks for over a decade. She passed away earlier this year. According to the Northlands Park program:
Shirley loved attending the races, mostly at Northlands Park, but trips to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver were also common. In 2010, Shirley had a brain aneurysm, and while it may have slowed her physically, it didn’t slow her from coming to the track and watching their horses run.
“There were times when we’d win a race and we’d have to try our best to rush down to get down to the Winner’s Circle,” said Castiglione. “But the folks in the Northlands Winner’s Circle always treated her like gold and she always appreciated them.”
A Plan Comes Together
Curlish Figure was purchased by Sallusto & Albina bloodstock specficially for the Shirley Vargo Handicap. She shipped in from Delaware Park after a close fourth in the June 10 Obeah Handicap.
“It was tight with the ship but we’re so happy for Robert and his family that it all worked out,” Hanzly Albina said after the race.
Sent off as the even money favorite in the 1 1/16 mile affair, Curlish Figure was reserved early by jockey Rico Walcott. She surged to the front turning for home and coasted to a 3 1/4-length victory.
It was an emotional winner’s circle with family, friends and many members of the Northlands Park racing community gathered in celebration. Shirley Vargo was no doubt smiling down on them.