Friday, September 30, 2011

A long goodbye to the people's champ

Rahy’s Attorney wasn’t always the favourite on the tote board during his lengthy career, but he was a favourite friend the Woodbine faithful cheered unabashedly through six seasons at Woodbine.

Rahy's Attorney on his way to the winner's circle

As popular as Rahy’s Attorney was to his numerous fans, of which he had more than 250 on his Facebook page, the big fellow was even more beloved to those that cared for him in trainer Ian Black’s barn on the Woodbine backstretch.

“I didn’t like it when he travelled,” said assistant trainer Skippy Bowen. “I missed getting to see him every morning. He changed all of our lives.”

Conditioner Ian Black is proud to have provided the handsome bay fellow, owned by Joe and Ellen MacLellan (known as Elle Boje Stable), in partnership with MacLellan’s mother, Jean, his brother, James, and friends Mitch Peters and Dean Reid of Calgary, a loving home at Woodbine - - a home that Rahy’s Attorney almost didn’t find.

“There’s only been one year in the six years I’ve been training that I haven’t had him in the barn. One of the luckiest things in my life, and I’ve been pretty lucky, was when Joe called me in March of 2006 and said he had a couple of two-year-olds and would I have room for them,” recalls Black.

The handsome champ

Given that the owners did not want to bring the pair of horses to Woodbine until July, Black, who had only six stalls at the time, asked MacLellan to get back to him.

“So, I said give me a call a little closer to the date and I’ll let you know if I have a stall,” recalls Black sheepishly. “And by some strange twist of fate, when he called me back I had room for them otherwise he could have been sitting in someone else’s barn.”

That twist of fate brought Rahy’s Attorney, along with multiple stakes winning filly Glitter Rox, into Black’s barn.

A two-year-old Rahy’s Attorney would make his first lifetime start at Woodbine on November 16, 2006, finishing seventh of eleven over the Polytrack racing from the back of the pack under long time partner Rob Landry. The horse would show marked improvement in his next start as Landry guided Rahy’s Attorney to the lead and held on to finish third in a seven furlong Polytrack sprint.

Rahy's Attorney and exercise rider Tyler Gaskin

He would break his maiden as a three-year-old in his fifth lifetime start, sitting just off the pace before cruising to an easy three-length victory at odds of 7-1. After finishing second in his next outing, Black had a novel idea.

“We put him on the turf,” grins Black. “There was an Ontario-sired non winners of three on the turf and we ran him in there and he won handily. He came back and won again in an allowance race and then he won the Vice Regent. From there, we went to the Bunty Lawless and he won that.”

Check out the checkerboard on Rahy's Attorney

Rahy’s Attorney would go on to win the next two editions of the Bunty Lawless, but the gelding had bigger fish to fry in his future than a restricted turf race.

“The next year he had no conditions left, so we thought we’d have to try better horses. We ran him on the Poly as a prep for the Connaught (Grade 3, 1 1/16M) and we thought we had a shot and he won it. That was his first open stake,” says Black.

The versatile horse would continue a productive four-year-old campaign perfecting his on-the-engine running style with a second-place effort in the Grade 3 Singspiel at a mile and a half on the E.P Taylor turf. Two starts later he was fourth, defeated less than four lengths, in the mile and a quarter Grade 2 Nijinsky, won by Seaside Retreat.

Usually he'd only stick his tongue out at the competition

The effort set Rahy’s Attorney up perfectly for the Woodbine Mile. With a pair of hotshot shippers, Ventura and Kip Deville, taking all the action, Black’s charge was sent to post at a generous 12-1.

Just Rushing would lead the field to a swift half in :48.25 with Kip Deville and Rahy’s Attorney hot on his tail. Jockey Slade Callaghan urged Rahy’s Attorney into action midway through the turn and took command at the top of the stretch opening up by almost two lengths. The race appeared to be setting up for the closing Ventura, but despite having a lengthy stretch run to get it done, there would be no passing Rahy’s Attorney on this day as the local hero hit the wire a length and a quarter in front in a time of 1:36.14.

Rahy's Attorney wins the Woodbine Mile

To some, the result was a shock. But, whatever you do, don’t try and tell the crew at Barn 15 on the Woodbine backstretch that the horse they call, ‘The Champ’, ever stole a race.

“He ran the way he did and you had to run to be with him. It’s the hardest way to win a race, in my opinion, because you have a giant target on your back the whole way around,” states Bowen.

The boss couldn’t agree more, noting that Rahy’s Attorney earned his victories honestly, with a ferocious front-running style that propelled him to more than $2.2M in earnings.

“He has a high enough cruising speed that he takes the kick away from those closers,” smiles Black. “It looks like everyone is going to come and get him, but he’s taken the kick away from them by making them stay in range by going a half in :48.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson, who had the pleasure of steering Rahy’s Attorney through his final five starts, knows first hand of the power within the old blue collar warrior.

“The first time I ever sat on him was at Payson in Florida. It was raining and they were trying to get all the horses out so I offered Ian a hand,” recalls Wilson. “So, Ian says, ‘jump on this one.’ Well, I jumped over his back and realized who I was sitting on and I went and galloped him a mile and a half. It was the easiest work I’d ever done in my life. He knew exactly what he was doing and he ran the same way.”

Rahy's Attorney chillin' out

Rahy’s Attorney was such a pro that Wilson suspects the horse might have a hidden talent.

“He knew exactly how he liked to run and what he needed to do. I swear he read the Form before the race ran,” laughs Wilson.

In his final start, the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, Rahy’s Attorney put in a performance that was a microcosm of his career, showcasing his intelligence, heart and stubbornness in the stretch run.

“When he broke, he was a step slow and a bit tight behind the other two and he pinned his ears as if to say ‘let’s go, I want to be up there’,” recalls Wilson. “So, I let him go. He was allowed to do what he wanted and he scooched on through and his body language, as soon as he hit the front, changed. His ears went up and he relaxed letting me know, ‘Yep, this is what I’m supposed to do’. It was like I was just along for the ride.”

As Rahy’s Attorney clipped through the fractions of the mile and a half Sword Dancer, Wilson’s confidence in her horse soared.

“Skippy and Ian always said that a :48 half was significant for him. He can go full tilt the last three eights and they have to do some running to keep up,” said Wilson.

Despite an extensive resume of stubborn efforts, track announcer Tom Durkin declared Rahy’s Attorney a dead-horse-walking as the horse turned into the stretch run.

“The announcer at Saratoga, just as we were coming inside the last three-eighths says, ‘Rahy’s Attorney is fully extended’ as if to say they were all going to gobble him up,” laughs Wilson. “But that’s just where he was getting started. It’s uncanny how he could do that last three-eights in a Grade 1at 7-years-old, and he just got passed by Winchester in the last three steps.”

Rahy's Attorney with a remarkable effort in the Sword Dancer

As Rahy’s Attorney galloped out following his remarkable second-place effort, he took a bad step and Wilson immediately hopped off his back and called for help. A vet would later determine, via an ultrasound, that the classy gelding had a lesion in his digital tendon.

Although it was difficult to see his horse vanned off in his final start, Black holds on to a much more poignant Saratoga memory of his old friend.

“It went through my mind the first time around, and it might sound corny, but he was galloping along going: 48 and change and I thought if I ever saw a horse really enjoy what he was doing, well, there it is right there,” smiled Black. “He’s just so happy and there’s no give up in him at all. Horses might have beat him, but he was always coming back at them and he always galloped out in front. I’m sure when he gallops out in front he still thinks he won”

Rahy’s Attorney leaves behind a sparkling list of accomplishments.

He's the track record holder for a mile and an eighth on the E.P. Taylor turf course winning the Grade 2 King Edward on June 27, 2009 in a time of 1:44.73.

He won a stake race five years in a row from the Vice Regent in 2007 at Woodbine to the Pan American at Gulfstream Park in 2011.

He averaged $54,000 per start in 41 lifetime races winning 14 times.

Of the 28 stakes that Rahy's Attorney started, he was first or second on 19 occasions.

For all his accomplishments, Black has just one regret regarding his old friend.

“I wish he had a third start here this year so he was eligible for a Sovereign Award as champion turf horse. It would have been great for him to have one last hurrah,” said Black.

Although Rahy’s Attorney won’t be back to the track as a racehorse, there is a chance he could return to Woodbine in a new career as a pony.

“There’s nothing that horse likes more than going out in the morning and standing by the wire and watching horses train,” said Black.

For the past six years, Rahy’s Attorney, and his regular exercise rider Tyler Gaskin, have stood at the finish line at Woodbine and watched the morning workouts together. It was a routine that followed ‘The Champ’ through to his final Saratoga start.

“I jogged him at Saratoga the other morning and the rider asked, ‘will he stand’,” laughed Black. “And I said, ‘yeah, he’ll stand, but you might not get him going again!”

True to form, Rahy’s Attorney made his way to the Saratoga finish line and relaxed.

“There’s a fountain in the middle of Saratoga there and he stood and watched it for ten minutes,” smiled Black. “He was a true professional and he loved his job.”

Have a Happy Retirement Champ!

* * *


"Jockey Jocelyne Kenny. Tough as nails. Thrown to the ground more times than a CFL ref’s flag – and always got up. Amazing attitude throughout. Won 30 races and capped her season with a score in the $50,000 Gold Cup.” - - Assiniboia Downs track announcer and CEO Darren Dunn explaining away the four losses suffered by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season.


"And Kissed by a Ghost SCARY good this afternoon, comes on, on the oustide of Mia's Miracle, takes the lead and wins it" - - To the groans of the crowd, track announcer Dan Loiselle calls the sixth-race winner on Thursday.

Kissed by a Ghost BOOsts his career earnings to $112,648

Woodbine track record holder Wollemi Pine is almost as pale as this handsome blogger

Woodbine $100K Guaranteed Pick 4

Every Wednesday and Sunday, Woodbine offers up an incredible $100K Guaranteed Pick-4. For more details, check out the selections of WEG experts on WEG's Thoroughbred Pick-4 page. More info also available on Woodbine's Facebook page.

This and That

A well-regarded racing fan, Tim 'Tiznow' Reynolds passed away far too young this week, and the folks at THOROFAN have established a fund for the benefit of his daughter Lauren:
Tim, an avid racing fan, passed away prematurely earlier in the week leaving behind a wife and 8-year old daughter. Tim was prominent within the Facebook horse racing community and was named Fan of the Year by the Horse Racing Nation website last year.

Sometimes it's what a horse does off-the-track that counts. Such is the case with Jersey Moon as Susan Salk reports that the Suffolk Showcase horses bring joy to family:

Athena, who’d been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth, sat in a stroller curiously watching the bay brown gelding in his stall, and the horse didn’t break the gaze.

And when he found an opportunity to get closer to the child, into the stroller he went, his muzzle snuffling gently over her waiflike form, softly, to say hello.

Seeing it all was a turning point for Wetmore-Grey, her husband Chris and eventually their entire family, all of whom were about to feel joy again. It would ride into their lives on two lucky racehorses.

Jersey Moon, a quirky horse with a propensity to nod his head ‘yes’ at the slightest provocation, and Rough Shod Heir, a large reddish bay who can’t stand to get dirty and intensely dislikes stepping in water, would soon be on their way to Connecticut to work their magic on a family coping with illness.

Tonk, a giant equine of unknown heritage, makes the case for horse as man's best friend when a Gutsy wrangler, huge horse save boy from charging grizzly:

“The boy was bent over, feet out of the stirrups, clutching the saddle horn and the horse’s neck,” she said. “That kept him from hitting a tree limb.

“But all I could think about was the boy falling off in the path of that grizzly.

“I bent down, screamed and yelled, but the bear was growling and snarling and staying very focused on Scout.

“As it tried to circle back toward Scout, I realized I had to get Tonk to square off and face the bear. We had to get the bear to acknowledge us.

“We did. We got its attention – and the bear charged.

“So I charged at the bear.”

Did she think twice about that?

“I had no hesitation, honestly,” Bolster said. “Nothing in my body was going to let that little boy get hurt by that bear. That wasn’t an option.”

Tonk was on the same page.

With a ton of horse, boulder-size hooves and a fire-breathing blonde thundering at it, the bear came within about 10 feet before skittering off to the side.

Last Wednesday, I Tweeted from the paddock that Hollywood Hit was 1-9 on the toteboard. A reply from EJXD2 asked "do you mean 1-to-10 or 1-to-20? With nickel or dime breakage, horses can't be 1-to-9 to win" I followed up and have an answer in this story, Odds On: Answering the $2.10 Question:

So, while it may seem like a $2.10 question, Greg Martin, Woodbine Entertainment Group’s Director of Wagering Operations, has taken the time to answer a few questions regarding current wagering practice and what might be in store in the near future.

1. Why does Woodbine’s digital tote board stop at 1-9?

GM: “The tote board odds are historical in nature and they consist of two digits only with the ability to put a dash in it. This goes back to wooden tote boards, before we have the video boards we have now. We put a program ad in all programs that explains what the odds mean, and say that 1-9 could mean a payout of $2.10 - which is the minimum payout by law. 1-9 could result in a payout of between $2.10 and $2.30, so 1-9 is in the middle of that.”

2. Is the inability to display 1-10 or 1-20 a technical issue? Can it be changed and, if not, why not?

GM: “It is not a technical issue. We have been participating in discussions within the industry to change the standard to decimal odds, and we believe it may happen in the future. We are currently planning to offer both old-style odds and decimal odds on the HorsePlayer Interactive (HPI) website at, so that customers can get used to seeing it in a decimal format.”

Still Need More?
As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.

More than a few photos from last weekend at Woodbine!

She's a Beauty!

The striking Anne's Beauty

Dynamic Holiday prepares for a trip around Woodbine

Josie Carroll keeps an eye on Plate/Oaks winner Inglorious

Inglorious is on hiatus now, but will return to race as a four-year-old

Smart Sting surges to the lead

Smart Sting wins the Selene

Smart Sting the solution in Selene Stakes

Alpha Bettor enjoyed a good spell earlier this year

Bowman's Causeway makes a giant paddock presence

Derby Kitten...picture purrfect

Patrick Husbands and Hippolytus head to the track

Take a bow...Moonshine Mullin!

Silverleo didn't make the podium

Stand up for Oh Canada

We'll be seeing more from Nanaimo

Derby Kitten wins the Ontario Derby

Honimiere wins the Flaming Page

I know it's over, yet still I cling...

1 comment:

Alan H. said...

My brother was a part owner of Jersey Moon. We lost track of him after he was claimed and then retired. Thanks for letting us know where he is and the good that he is doing.