Nice little guy story
Everyone – whether it is in sports or
in life -- loves a little guy(s) story, a rags to riches
Nowhere was that better illustrated
than last Sunday in Calgary when The Bruster captured the
$200,000 Nat Christie Memorial Stake at Stampede Park.
The Bruster is a three-year-old colt
trained and co-owned, along with Bruce Larway, by Spud
McCormac (his mom named him Joseph) a 61-year-old Maritime
native now a resident of Alberta. The Bruster paced to
victory in the final in a time of 1:55.1, after finishing
second by a nose in his heat of 1:53.3, three races
Fraser Downs’ regular patrons will
likely remember that McCormac had raced here briefly the
last two meets. It was in 2003 at the B.C. Breeders mixed
sale in February that the story of McCormac, Larway and The
However, then The Bruster was known as
Red Star Charlie and he was consigned to the sale by the
powerful stable of Robert Murphy. Charlie was a two-year-old
by His Mattjesty out of the Albatross mare Corsie Cannie.
Larway and McCormac picked up Charlie
Even a name change did not help at
first. Despite his fine breeding -- his sire made more than
$1 million at the races and the grandsire made close to $2
million -- the young pacer was small for his age.
By the end of last year it looked like
their investment was out the window. The Bruster couldn't
pace a qualifying mile without breaking stride and it took
five tries to qualify. In his first race -- at the Downs –
he made a break.
However, unknown to most, the bay colt
had hurt himself and needed time to heal. McCormac, a
relatively unknown trainer, was patient and eight months
later he has one of the hottest horses in the country with
six wins in its last eight starts.
Off at a respected 7-2, driver Robert
Shepherd had the Bruster sixth in the eight-horse field, 13
lengths behind after the opening-quarter of 27.1 seconds.
But thanks to his typical powerful closing charge, The
Bruster won by two lengths. Thebuckstartshere and driver Rod
Hennessy finished second, with Jennas Lil Dude, owned by the
Lil Dude Ranch of Surrey and trained and driven by Larry
Micallef, was third.
"I was going to be awfully happy if we
just got to the final," said McCormac after the race,
confirming he didn't think he would win. "To win this is
Considering that purchase price, The
Bruster's financial totals are almost shocking. The
Illinois-bred pacer had earned just $15,946 entering the
day, but the earnings total was close to $85,000 by the end
of the day.
On a day, which had started poorly –
McCormac’s truck was stolen from his Calgary home – the trio
became the stars of the show.
And, if you don’t believe the public
clamors for this kind of a story, ask one of the hundreds of
people in the winner’s enclosure after the race if you can
check their picture.
ANGEL IN THE BARNS: With opening
day less than two weeks away, the first of two sets of
qualifying races was held last Saturday. Ninety horses in 14
races were in action and a high percentage made themselves
eligible for the Sept. 17 opener.
One of the more interesting qualifiers
was Angelintheoutfield, an eight-year-old mare who was
returning after a stint as a broodmare.
Angel, who has 89 career starts, had
not raced since March 13, 2002 and her last win came on
April 20, 2001. The daughter of Daylon Marshal out of Balmy
Hanover had raced and won in the fillies and mares division
and as a two-year-old finished second to Red Star Trixie in
the 1998 B.C. Sire Stakes.
Another qualifier was former track
record holder Bre X who had not raced since Dec. 27 of last
year. Prior to going to the sidelines, the son of Dal Reo
Hop Sing had won eight of 13 starts at the last Downs meet.
OFF AND CALLING: Don’t forget a
chance to sound like Fraser Downs’ Rick (Mr. Excitement)
Uppal or Woodbine’s Frank (Silky) Salive is here.
Ten people will get a chance to call a
qualifier race at the Downs this Saturday. The first 10
entrants will be contacted and assigned a race, which he or
she will call. If you think you have what it takes, send
your name address and phone number to
The contestant receiving the most votes
from the judges will be the winner of Fraser Downs Racetrack
& Casino merchandise. Also, all participants will be
invited to a barbeque after the qualifiers have concluded.
B.C. BUYERS: Three B.C.
interests were active at the recent Summer Sizzler Mixed
Sale at the Western Fairgrounds in London, Ont.
Trainer Ray Gemmill purchased three
horses, trainer Jim Marino two and owner Fred Zaitsoff two.
Gemmill, acting for Western Pacific
Stables, picked up D D Dunbar, a three-year-old gelding by
Jennas Beach Boy out of Ice Chaser for $22,000; Sunday
Supreme, a three-year-old filly by Run The Table out of
Jennie Sunday for $27,500 and Armbro Bach, a three-year-old
gelding by Village Jiffy out of Lindwood Metra for $22,000.
Marino bought Kypros, a two-year-old
colt by Astreos out of Plunge for $7,500 and Certain Fame, a
three-year-old filly by Apaches Fame out of So Certain for
Zaitsoff purchased Greek Maiden, a
two-year-old filly by Astreos out of J Vs Jiffy for $10,000
and Angelic Smile, a three-year-old filly by
Grinfromeartoear out of Ms Katie Ann for $16,500.
The average price at the sale was
SUCCESSFUL SALE: The Alberta
Standardbred Horse Association’s annual yearling sale last
Sunday had gains in nearly every category.
Not surprisingly, As Promised progeny
brought the highest dollar values from bidders. Topping the
sale was Nazko Legacy, an As Promised colt out of the Safe N
Rich mare Bawita. The full sister to former Fraser Downs
star Nazko Promise brought a bid of $50,000.
In total, 123 yearlings were sold,
bringing gross bids of $1,372,400. The sale average was
$11,158, up dramatically from last year’s figure.
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