The Lewis and Young Expedition

 

August 27, 2001:  It’s true. Harness racing competitors in B.C. continue to hope for help

from the ferry godmother.

   That’s not a typo. Like most, the race trackers also believe in the

fairy godmother but their more real objectives lie in trying to overcome

the problems associated with the other ferry.  The big ship that travels

to and from Vancouver Island -- the one that would take people and

horses to and from Sandown Park in Sidney and Fraser Downs in Surrey.

   Bring on the godmother who with one wave of her magic wand would, in

seconds, send horses, drivers, equipment etc to the tracks.

   Unfortunately that does not happen.  Shipping horses for the races at the

two tracks can be close to a nightmare. Owners, trainers and drivers on

the Mainland are sometimes hesitant to spend the time and money to ship

to Sandown where purses are not as large as they are at the Downs.

    However, what about the competitors on the Island who must travel to

Fraser Downs for the meet which runs from September to May?

Surprisingly there are at least two trainers in Sidney who are more than

ready to make the trek.  They are those intrepid veterans of many

expeditions, Lewis and Clark er Young -- known to most as Bentley Lewis

and Don Young.

   “I have shipped to Fraser Downs many times,” Lewis said recently, “and I

will be shipping regularly this year. Heck, I lived out of a suitcase

for many years so this is not all that difficult.”

   For Young, who also will be a regular campaigner at Fraser Downs, the

main problem with shipping is tied into the hour (of the day).

   “Sometimes it means you have to catch the first ferry of the day,” he

explained, “and if you are in the last race sometimes you miss the last

ferry and have to stay overnight on the mainland.  That’s a problem.”

Young added that if he goes by himself and has to stay over he could

bunk in a tack room at the track.  If his wife joins him they would get a

motel room, thereby adding to expenses.

   “You have to get at least a fourth place (and that share of the purse)

to pay expenses.”

   Lewis, meanwhile, is excited, recently getting back into the business

after a couple of years away.  The 40-year-old got into harness racing as

a youngster in his native Saskatchewan. He raced in the Prairies, with

horses as good as As Promised, and moved to B.C. in 1995. But a change

in his marital status and “burnout after 10 years of 24/7” saw him leave

racing.

   “I have been asked to train for a new owner (Ken Unger),” Lewis

enthused. “He is prepared to become quite involved.”

Lewis now has such horses as Cookies Thunder, Blue Valentine and Speed

City Joe and is all smiles.

   “It is a great sport, a working man’s sport,” he said. “There’s not a

whole lot of money but there is a whole lot of fun.”

   Young is also upbeat, illustrated best by the fact that the 62-year-old

just got his race driver’s licence three years ago.

   He came to Canada (Edmonton) from his native England in 1963 and quickly

met people involved with racehorses. He owned horses in Ontario before a

business transfer brought him to B.C. in 1994.

   Three years later he was retired and suddenly into racing on what is

darn close to, if not, a full-time basis.

“I have a brood mare and two races horses I train,” he said. “One is a

two-year-old (Speedy Return) who just qualified and the other is Red

Star Tempest, a four-year old mare.”

   Tempest recently provided Young with a career highlight as they combined

to win the Dobber Memorial Pace before a hometown crowd. It was a new

lifetime mark of 2:02.3 for Tempest who also picked up the winner’s

share of the $5,000 purse.

   “I couldn’t sleep that night. I went to bed at 11, was up at 12 and

could not go back until 3.”

   Young hopes that such happy moments will be able to be repeated – at

Sandown.

   “There is quite a history here but it is tough for Chuck (Sandown

general manager Keeling), who is losing money, to replace some of the

infrastructure.  Too bad council (North Saanich) turned down slots,” said

Young, a booster of the Sidney emporium. “Once the mayor changes … maybe

they could have a referendum on slots.”

Perhaps the real fairy godmother can wave her wand and help on that one.

 

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