The subject here is
Ask just about anyone that hangs around
Fraser Downs racetrack and they will know who Woody is.
It’s Woody for short. His full moniker
is Woodmere Windrop and he is a 12-year-old standardbred
racehorse (he actually turned 13 on Jan. 1) whose career
just came to an end.
Woodmere Windrop was retired recently
by owners Marian and Bill Young after he had been racing
from their barn for seven years. Racing for that length of
time is not that common, never mind with the same owner and
trainer (Bill, who turns 80 on April 17).
“It’s the longest we ever had a horse,”
said Marian with strong emotions. (The Youngs have raced
horses in B.C. for years, back to the racing days decades
ago in Ladner.)
And Marian admitted he was among, if
not, her favorite.
“He is such a nice horse to be around,”
she added. “When I took kids around for (backstretch)
tours), I would always take out Woody. Sometimes they even
got on his back. He was always so good with them.”
Woody was easy to remember for his
style on the track too. He had 59 wins in his career through
“He always tried hard,” Marian said.
“He was fun to watch too when he made his late move (it was
determined early that Woody was not a leaver).
“He loved to race. When he was out with
an injury (he had a hoof problem for some time) we sometimes
had to tranquilize him on race days. He wanted to get out on
the track and race.”
Bill is even more emotional when it
comes to Woodmere Windrop. When asked how Woody was in his
stall and in the cross ties – or how he was to train –
Bill’s answer was the same. “Perfect.”
Woodmere Windrop’s story is interesting
from the start. Those in the Canadian harness racing game
will probably recognize the name Woodmere. It is the name of
the well-known breeding farm of Wallace Wood in
Woody was born there on April 16, 1994,
a son of the top sire Drop Off and the appropriately named
dam Stylish Winner.
He raced throughout the Maritimes (five
tracks: Charlottetown, Summerside, Truro, Saint John and
Fredericton) for his two-and three-year-old campaigns. He
was driven each and every time (35 starts) by top Maritime
reinsman Gilles Barrieau and competed in some stakes races
but tough luck took its toll.
As a two-year-old he won six races
(including the first of his career on Aug. 26, 1996) in a
row, including some Atlantic sires stakes events and also an
elimination for a $50,000 purse event. In the final Woody
drew the outside eight, and did make it to the lead, but the
58.4 first half did him in and he missed the money.
He made his last start in the Maritimes
on Nov. 9, 1997 and his first in B.C. less than a month
later, on Dec. 7.
He had been purchased by Nigel Holmes
for trainer Dave Hudon.
“I paid $22,000 for Woody to Jean
Beliveau in Ontario,” Holmes said. “I talked to him about
getting a horse or two and he said his brother Louis in the
Maritimes had a couple to sell. One was Woody and the other
Woodmere Windrop was with Hudon/Holmes
through 1998 but was claimed for $12,500 by Bill Young on
Jan. 17, 1999. He won five times for Hudon, the last three
before the claim.
“When Woody first got here he had to
race fairly high because of the money on his card and he
could not win at that level,” Holmes explained. “We turned
him out for awhile and he came back a better horse.”
Then came the claim.
“I was sour at first (at the Youngs),”
Holmes continued with a smile, “but I got to know them and
it became a joke. But I’ll get them back one day.”
Woody had plenty of milestones with the
Youngs (they did lose him a couple of times on claims late
in 2004 but got him back quickly, once on a claim and once a
Woodmere Windrop won 41 races for the
Youngs, including setting his life mark of 1:54.1 on June 5,
1999 at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, Calif.
From Nov. 11, 2000 to Jan. 14, 2001 he
had five wins and two seconds in nine starts, all with
driver Jeff Stone in races with $10,000 purses at Fraser
He captured his 50th career victory on
March 19, 2005 and his last win came Aug. 5, 2006. In total
he had 39 seconds and 39 thirds to go with his 59 victories.
He made $276,670 in his career while
never winning a race with a purse of more than $10,000.
Downs’ drivers Jim Marino and Scott
Knight – among the 21 different drivers Woody had behind him
in races over the years – remember him fondly.
“Woody won me a driver’s title.” Marino
explained. “Bill Davis and I were battling and I remember
this one race at Sandown. We were neck and neck for the last
half (Woody on the outside). We beat them by a nose (records
says a neck). Woody wouldn’t quit.”
“Woody was so easy to drive,” Knight
added. “ He would drive himself and the whip, or anything,
didn’t seem to matter, he would just go. He had an
unbelievable move on the backstretch.”
Even in retirement Woody has made a
quick impression. He went to Greener Pastures, the B.C.-
based society that will take standardbred horses when they
end their racing career. Greener Pastures takes the horse(s)
for a short time to ease them from the rigors of the races
and then tries to find a good home where they can become
riding horses, pets, or whatever.
The day after he arrived at Greener
Pastures he was already under saddle and receiving rave
Jackie Tingey, one of the women
assisting GP’s director Diana Ball as she worked with Woody,
fell in love with him. After a short time, she asked Diana
if she could keep Woody. When Ball clarified that Jackie was
indeed serious Woody was headed to new friendly hands.
He deserves it. In addition to being a
winner on the track Woody is just a nice horse.
-Canadian Sportsman magazine