Written by: Dave Briggs

The man responsible for overseeing Adena Springs North talks about the Pegasus World Cup, the state of the Ontario breeding industry and the best part of being Irish.

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Dave Landry Photo

What was the reaction within the Adena/Stronach family to the Pegasus World Cup?

“Delighted. This was a family affair that turned from a vision to reality and, in doing so, cemented the commitment by the Stronach family to promote and grow horse racing not only in North America, but the world. It is now interesting to see that the Australians are keen to replicate the idea and will offer a $10 million race this year based on the principal where owners participate in funding and share in the revenue stream generated.”

What did you, personally, make of the race and what do you think it could mean for the sport?

“It was interesting because I got the privilege and the opportunity to witness a vision by Frank Stronach become a reality. Secondly, it was a very good race because it proved that horse racing can be popular with the public and this was proven by the audience that watched it on the TV and the ratings that it received. It’s not often that you get to see a rematch of the two best horses of this past decade. Further, it proved, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the quality of the horses bred here in Ontario could and did compete at the highest level with the best from America.”

Thoughts on Shaman Ghost finishing second?

“I was not surprised at all at his performance having had the opportunity to witness him win the Queen’s Plate and seeing his performance in the Prince of Wales. He is a very underrated horse, but when you look closely at his form you could not count him out. This is Canadian breeding at its best and descends from a sire line first started by Vice Regent who sired Deputy Minister who became Champion 2-Year-Old. In turn, Deputy Minister made his mark as a sire notably through Awesome Again who not only won the Queen’s Plate but the Breeders Cup Classic. Awesome Again has turned out to be a super stallion who has the remarkable title of siring the most Breeders’ Cup winners by any stallion, but most importantly, Ghostzapper. The sire line not continues as Ghostzapper is firmly entrenched as a leading sire in North America and now it appears he is on route to becoming the heir apparent. Sharman Ghost is truly following in his sire’s footsteps not only as a racehorse, but a contender to be a future stallion at Adena Springs.”

What’s your take on the CTHS/HBPA Mare Purchase Program?

“Kudos to both organizations. It sends a positive message to the breeders here in Ontario.”

What is your assessment of the current state of the breeding industry in Ontario?

“Breeders took the greatest blow when the SARP was canceled. Many people just stopped breeding or sent their mares south looking for greener pastures. This year is different and it is reflected by the staggering increase in early bookings to the Adena stallions. There is a positive feeling expressed by many breeders that they can and do produce top horses. This past fall saw the Ontario-bred daughter of Sligo Bay, Lexie Lou bring a staggering $1 million dollars as a broodmare prospect.”

If you were the commissioner of all of horse racing, what is the first thing you would do?

“I believe that we need to clean up the image of horse racing and I would be a strong advocate to impose hefty fines and lifetime bans on any one who breaks the rules. The use of drugs on racehorses must be regulated to a point to bring us back to drug free racing.”

You can assemble a dream field from different eras. What horses are in the race, what’s the surface, what’s the distance and who wins?

“This is like asking me which ice cream is the best and I could write a book on it so I will just give you a quick answer. I like different horses for different reasons, distance and surfaces and so I do not want to exclude any of my likes. One thing for certain is that I love milers and the surface is grass. Blushing Groom is my favourite because in my opinion he was the best miler on the turf. When The Aga Khan sent him to North America he was a game changer in the breed on both the dirt and the turf.”

What’s the best part of being Irish?

“A sense of belonging to a nationality that has contributed so much to the world — and in particular horse racing.”

What is the greatest movie ever made and why?

“Doctor Zhivago. It was the first epic movie that I saw as a child and I still love it to this day. It showed a human side to the Russian revolution and for the first time I was able understand that people of different class see things in a different manner, but they are still human in love and have compassion.”

You can jump in a time machine and see any event in history. What do you pick and why?

“That is easy. The Breeders’ Cup race between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer at Gulfstream Park. I was there for the race and I was on the rail watching the race and it just made my heart beat stride for stride. It was like I was watching it in slow motion and I have never forgotten the race to this day.”