Sunday, June 29, 2008

Myrthful Mynx "Mynx"








Up now is a great story from the history of the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. The story is of the Les Lee family from Grand Island N.Y. They owned two of the best racehorses that were in our barn. Myrthful Mynx was the first horse owned by the Lee's. She was claimed for $16,000 and went on to win several races. She won the Canadian Stakes at Woodbine in 1982, and set the track record for 7 furlongs on the turf in Ft. Erie. The Mynx was a very honest racehorse, and was very exciting to watch race. Myrthful was a spitting image of her father, Lord Vancouver. Lord Vancouver was one of the best Turf Horses that I ever watched race at Woodbine. Myrthful Mynx was not very far from being as good as her dad.
We met the Lee's like most of our great American owners, through the Schmidt's. Les Lee was originally from Saratoga Springs N.Y. So it is very understandable that he grew up with a real appreciation for watching gifted equine athletes race. Les met his lovely wife Dianne in college. They feel in love and got married and started a family. Like most men who get married. Sacrifice becomes a way of life. In order to raise children, and to try and create a happy and enjoyable environment for all the members of the family in which to live. The dream of becoming a horse owner remained just that, a dream for Les Lee. However Les had become ill. There was some major reason for concern that the problem could be serious. Dianne made a promise to Les. That if his health problem was not serious, and if it meant there would be no disruption to the family income. Then he could live out his dream and become a horse owner. Les had dodged the demon, and regained his health. It was now time to kick back and try and create some real fun. He was going into the racehorse business, and his trainer was going to be Sheldon Wolfe!
When we met the Lee's. They were very nice people from the start. Les was very excited to living out his dream. Dianne who is also a very excellent person. Was very supportive to Les and looking forward to the challenge. However Dianne was skeptical there would be any success at all. She thought that Les would have his fling. It would be over quick, and that would be that. Little did she know what was about to happen.
Attractive orange and navy blue silks were designed and made. Les Lee opened a horseman's account and deposited $16,000 in the account. My dad had selected lightly raced Myrthful Mynx to be the horse to be claimed. Mynx never ran at two. She had recently broken her maiden, and had showed very good speed. The hope was that she would be a grass horse like her father Lord Vancouver. That she would have a lot of good races in front of her. If she would prove to have endurance and could improve racing on the grass. Then there would be a lot of potential for a very good claim. The claim was put in for Myrthful Mynx. Les and Dianne Lee were now the proud owners. The Mynx didn't race well in the race that we claimed here. However she came back to the barn in very sound condition. Her legs were in very good shape. Myrthful Mynx had a very laid back almost stoic personality. She was an attractive tall dark bay filly. She was almost black in color. Like I said early Myrthful Mynx almost looked identical to her sire, Lord Vancouver.
Before not to long Myrthful Mynx started to adapt and train very well in our barn. She was starting to show the signs that there was potential for her to become a very good racehorse. Here is the meaning of her name. Myrthful "full of or showing high-spirited merriment" Mynx "A girl or young woman who is considered pert, flirtatious, or impudent". I think that our Mynx showed a lot of those qualities when she raced!
The "Mynx" won 9 races in our stable. Her ninth win would be her only stakes win. She won the Canadian Stakes on October 2nd, 1982. That would prove to be the last win of her successful racing career. She would become my father fourth stakes winner, and the second racehorse to become a stakes winner after coming from the claiming ranks. I will now feature 3 of my favorite Myrthful Mynx wins. I didn't look after Mynx until her 4 year old year. Her initial caretaker was Danny "C" who was an excellent horseman and did an excellent job with her. Danny departed working at the racetrack after 1980. I took over Mynx's care for her 4 year old year, in 1981.
The first win I will do took place at Woodbine on June 6, 1981. It was a 7 furlong race on the Marshall Turf course. At this point in Mynx's career she had proved that she was a better racehorse, racing on the turf. Also she loved racing on the Marshall course. It is now gone from Woodbine. The old Marshall course was similar to the Hillside Turf course that still exists at Santa Anita racetrack, located in California. Just past the quarter pole, the horses momentarily race over the main dirt track, and switch back to the turf. Myrthful Mynx became expert at races over the Marshall. Crossing over the main track didn't affect her races at all. In fact she did win at least 2 of her races. After making the crossover, without any problem, and taking full advantage of her opponents, who did not cross over the main track nearly as well.
Mike Quong rode Myrthful Mynx as a 3 year old, and did an excellent job. However Brian Swatuk who had proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was one of the best jockeys’s at Woodbine. Had become the number 1 rider for the Wolfe Stable. Brian also became the regular rider on the Mynx. This race went to order for Mynx. She really had one horse to beat in this race. That horse was the speedy and very promising filly Sneaker Streaker. This quick filly was training well for her connections, and they were very confident that they were going to beat the talented and much more experience Myrthful Mynx. However that was not going to be the case in this race. Brian and the Mynx tracked and pressured Sneaker Streaker throughout this race. After the crossing of the main track. Sneaker Streaker could not challenge the big move of Mynx in the last 1/8 of a mile. Myrthful Mynx pulled away for a convincing 2 length win. The Mynx and the Wolfe Barn were in for a very good year. I do have the video of this race. I do hope to learn the skills necessary to upload this video, to this post. For all viewers of this blog to enjoy.
The next Myrthful Mynx win. Would be here best effort on the main track, in her career. It took place at Woodbine on September 16th, 1981. It was a special race for me personally. I will fill you in on the story. Myrthful Mynx had some special help to win this race. The help came from her talented jockey Dave Borden. Dave Borden was flown in from New York City, from Belmont Park to ride the Mynx in this race. Who was Dave Borden, and why did Sheldon Wolfe and owner Les Lee, fly a New York jockey in to ride the Mynx in a 6 furlong allowance race? I will give you the answers.

Before I started to work at the racetrack for my dad, in 1979. I had become an astute racing fan. I followed the races and jockeys from all over the U.S. and Canada. I knew who the good riders and horses were at all the race tracks. My brother John and I had always wanted to experience watching the races live in New York City. On a November weekend in 1978 we were to get our wish. After school on Friday. My brother John picked me up in his car, and we drove all the way to watch the races at the Meadowlands racetrack that night. The Meadowlands sports complex is located right across from N.Y.C, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. We enjoyed watching the races that night. It was also the first time we had watched the thoroughbreds run under the lights. We found a place to stay in Hackensack New Jersey. The next morning we were off to watch the races at Aqueduct, "The Big A". We were both very excited! My favorite race on the card was a $25,000 claiming race for 3 year olds. I had selected as my bet in the race a horse named "Chabua" I liked him because he had back class. Chabua had run against tougher competition earlier in the year, and was dropping down in competition, for this race. His best effort would see him outclass the field. Chabua was trained by Marvin Cohen, and was being ridden by Dave Borden. Dave Borden, who was originally from Ohio, was a former top apprentice, and leading rider from Thistledown racetrack in Cleveland. He came to ride in New York in the winter meet in 1977, while he was still and apprentice. He had done well and was working hard to establish himself in the very difficult New York circuit. The Chabua race was 7 furlongs. The race went to form. There was some good speed in the race. Dave was content and very patience to allow Chabua to settle in his best stride and track the two front runners in third position. When the front running pair hit the quarter pole. I expected Dave to start to ask Chabua for his run and try and win the race. However Dave was still content to wait, and stay in 3rd position. I was starting to get anxious. Did Dave Borden know what he was doing? Or did I bet my money on another loser? Now the front pair had reached the 1/8 pole. The horse on the outside had started to drift out, creating a hole in between the pair. At this point, I was amazed as what I was about to see. Dave reached up and hit Chabua with his whip, in his right hand. Chabua started his charge. At this point Chabua was already a head in front. Running between the front pair. Dave as quick as you can blink your eye had switched his whip to his left hand, and again gave Chabua a slap on his left side. Chabua again responded and began to open up his lead. This race was over! Chabua pulled away to win by 2 1/2 lengths. What a fantastic race! I was star struck. I had never in my life watched a jockey ride a race when such precision, and execution. I was about to become a big Dave Borden fan. This race would be the highlight of my weekend in the big apple!
From that weekend on I began to follow Dave Borden's career. I was looking forward to the day when he could ride some of our horses. That dream came true when we rode Mt. Tabor Rd. in the Select stakes race at Monmouth Park in May of 1981. When we shipped to Monmouth, my dad decided to use a local rider instead of paying to bring down a jockey from Toronto. I recommended Dave to my dad. He knew that I had good sense and intuition when it came to the horses and racing. My father decided to give Dave Borden agent a call and see if he could get him to ride Mt. Tabor Rd. in the Select Stakes. Dave Borden agent was happy to hear from my dad and was delighted to ride Mt. Tabor Rd. for us. I was excited that Dave would finally be riding one of our horses in a big race. It was great to meet Dave the day of the race. He showed up in the morning at the barn to meet us. The race went well. We finished 3rd in the Select. This was a very good race, in spite of the track coming up a sloppy horrible mess. Also the ship down to Monmouth didn't go well. We failed to ship Mt. Tabor Rd. down in a box stall. We had a delay of 4 hours waiting for the state vet to arrive and clear Mt. Tabor Rd for entry into the U.S. He was not feeling well when he arrived, and almost never made the race.
The summer went by and it was now September. Myrthful Mynx was training well and in very good shape and was being prepared for a Sprint Stake race at the end of the month. The major prep race was coming up. We were without a jockey as we could not get a commitment from Brian Swatuk to ride Mynx in the up coming stakes race. Being a small stable has its disadvantages when you do have a good racehorse. It can be difficult to get the best jockeys to ride for you. They usually want to ride for the big stables that have the abundance of the best horses at the track. My dad and Les Lee talked it over. Les Lee was very aware who Dave Borden was. The decision was made to contact Dave Borden's agent to see if he would ride Mynx for us in the allowance race. If she raced well. He would have first call for the upcoming stakes race. Again Dave's agent was happy to hear from my Dad. He was happy to come to Toronto to ride Myrthful Mynx for us. I was delighted when I found out this exciting news.
It is September 16, 1981. Myrthful Mynx is running in a tough allowance race. It is a big field. However the Wolfe barn has the advantage for this one. We have the best jockey at the track on this day. When Dave arrived he was happy to be in Toronto. It was his first time in Toronto, and his first race ever at Woodbine. He was confindent that he would win the race for us. Dave said "that he always had good luck riding for the first time, at a new racetrack. Mynx broke from the 4 post position in the 13 horse field of fillies and mares. Myrthful Mynx broke alertly, and showed good speed from the start. Dave knew that if Mynx had any chance to win. He had to be aggressive in this large and talented field. After the opening half mile in a fast: 46.1, Mynx was lying in 4th, in good striking position, on the rail. Dave was now thinking on how he was going to win this race. Turning in the stretch Dave had Mynx were in full stride. There was only one option available to win the race. Look for an opening to run between horses, and then on to victory. There could not be any mistake now. If Dave had to check Mynx the race would be lost. There in front of my eyes, was what I had witnessed the first time I watched Dave Borden ride, on Chabua. I could not believe it. It was surreal! The front runner Moneda started to drift out. There was the hole; there was no time to loose. Dave asked Mynx to run through the opening. The Mynx was in full agreement with her talented jockey. Myrthful Mynx exploded through the opening. This race was over! Mynx was under a powerful hand ride from Dave Borden, on to a convincing 2 1/2 length victory. This winning race will always be one of my best thrills in the racing business.
I do have the video of this race and intend to upload it, to this post. Dave Borden came back and rode Mynx in the Stakes Race. She finished 3rd. I was always disappointed that Dave Borden never had the opportunity. To ride Myrthful Mynx in a grass race.
It is October 2, 1982. Myrthful Mynx is now a 5 year mare. She has enjoyed an excellent season. She has four wins to her credit. Two big wins were both at 1 mile, and 1 1/16 respectively. The Mynx had proved that like her dad Lord Vancouver could run all day and night on the turf. Talented young jockey Richard Dos Ramos had started to do a lot of good race riding for the Wolfe Stable. Rick had been the first jockey to win with Myrthful Mynx at a mile. Rick had done an excellent job riding her, and it was to be no surprise that Rick Dos Ramos got the ride for Mynx last race. It would be her last chance to become a stakes winner, in the 28th edition of the Canadian Stakes Race. The race was to run at 1 1/16 on the inner turf course. This beautiful grass course is sadly also a memory at Woodbine.

The grass course was listed as yielding for the race. The main challenger in the race was Eternal Search. This pint size princess was one of the best race mares that I ever had the pleasure to watch race at Woodbine. Myrthful Mynx had a lot of battles with her. Up until this race she was unable to beat her. That was about to change. It is also an interesting fact. That Richard Dos Ramos had not won a stakes race, until this day. My father had a great talk with Rick prior to the race. He discussed strategy with Rick. My father felt that there was good speed in the race to pressure Eternal Search in the race. Eternal Search enjoyed controlling the race. With left unchallenged. She became a very difficult foe to beat. Rick agreed with this strategy. He was confident that he could get Mynx to relax off a fast past. He would let the speed soften up Eternal Search. Then when they were through with her. He would make his move on Mynx, and try to win the race. Myrthful Mynx came up to her final race in great shape. She looked confident in the paddock and the post parade prior to the race. The horses were loaded in the gate. Then we go the famous call from Daryl Wells. "There at the post, there off" The race went to plan. Eternal Search broke well, and sprung to the lead. However Rosy Briar in hot pursuit. Myrthful Mynx was also on her game. Richard had placed Mynx in third position into the club house turn, with in close striking distance to Eternal Search. When this talented field had run 3/4 of a mile. Rosy Briar had given up the ghost and had started to fade out of the race. Richard knew it was time to take up the fight with Eternal Search. Mynx drew up along side of her old nemesis, and the big battle begun. Turning into the stretch. Richard and Mynx had won the battle. Eternal Search was no match for Mynx on this day. Myrthful Mynx had command of the race down the stretch. However Noble Martha with jockey David Clark had made a huge move from off the pace, and was ready to try and snatch the race from Mynx and Rick. At the 1/8pole from the finish line. Noble Martha slightly had an advantage in the race. However Rick asked Mynx for one last great effort to beat off the challenge from Noble Martha. Mynx would not let Noble Martha past her, and open up a neck advantage to the final run to the finish. Mynx and Richard had done it. What a great way to end her great career. It was a very happy occasion for the Lee and Wolfe connections. It was also a major thrill for Richard Dos Ramos winning his first stakes race on Myrthful Mynx. It was a fantastic ride! Posted is an ultra rare picture of; yours truly, Mynx, and Richard Dos Ramos, celebrating there first stakes win!

Here is the link for the Dave Borden race; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX4XDAR2nSw

Some just recently discovered of Myrthful Mynx..
                                         Your truly leading Mynx to the racetrack at Woodbine.
                                       My Dad with Mynx on the farm. During her retirement as a broodmare.


                                          Warming up for a rare at Fort Erie a racetrack Mynx loved!

                                        2 more retirement photos.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wolfe's Girls!







This post is dedicated to three of the very fine female racehorses that were a valued part of the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. During the course of my father's training career he would build a reputation of being great with the ladies. The success of the excellent fillies that came into the barn would account for a large part of our enjoyment in the racing business. During this posting I will remember and honor; Clover Lass, Cocagne, and True Hope. These classy ladies all had something in common. There were all excellent Wolfe runners. They spent most of there careers in the claiming ranks. However they were all quality athletes, and were just a shade away of being stakes caliber performers.

"Clover Lass"

This classy lady was claimed by my father for $8,000. Like Mt. Tabor Rd. Clover Lass was owned in our barn by John DeLongis. Clover Lass ran poorly in the race we claimed her. When we got her back to the barn and had her checked out. We were disgusted in the rundown condition Clover Lass was in. This fine racing mare was in a total state of neglect. Her previous trainer should have been reported to the humane society. Our stable went to work on Clover Lass to see if we could rebuild her, and turn her into the bionic racehorse. It shows you what some hard work and tender loving care will do for these fine athletes. Clover Lass started to train like the talented athlete she was.

Clover Lass started to train so well that she won two electrifying races in our stable back to back. The first race took place on July 11, 1979. She won at the $16,000 level showing excellent speed and leading all the way going 7 furlongs. Then on the 27th of July Clover Lass would run the greatest race in her career. She was entered in a $12,500 starter handicap going 7 furlongs. The race came up with tough competition. Trainer Ritchie Papa had entered his talented mare “Don’t Be Shy” in this race. Don’t Be Shy had won recently at the $50,000 claiming level. Also she had won a condition allowance race recently as well. Don’t Be Shy was odds on favorite to win this race. However Clover Lass was up for the challenge. She had come out of her winning race in fine shape, and trained very well coming up to this race. Clover Lass was ready to rock and roll! Our female version of Captain Dawn looked excellent in the saddling area and in the warm up. Usually horses that are turned out well and look good. Will also perform very well. The horses were loaded in the gate, and there off! Clover Lass was very serious in winning this race from the start. She exploded from the starting gate and opened up a 3 length lead. Now the rest of the field was under pressure to try and keep pace with her. The fractions for the race were fast. The opening quarter was: 22.2 the half mile time was: 45.3. Don’t Be Shy was starting to try and harass Clover Lass. But she was having none of it. Clover Lass responded with a ¾ mile time in 1:10.2. At the 1/8 pole Clover Lass still had a 2 length advantage. Don’t Be Shy and Impetuous Deb were both trying to run by Clover Lass. To our happiness Paul Souter and Clover Lass were equally determined to not let them pass. The margin of victory was 1 length and the final time for this 7 furlong race was 1:23.1. Clover Lass was tried and proud when she came back to the winner’s circle. Ritchie Papa could not believe that Clover Lass was capable of racing to that level. Yes she could!

Cocagne “Cocaine”
Up next is Cocagne. Her name is French. The meaning in English is “An imaginary country of idleness and luxury” This talented filly was claimed by from the very successful French Canadian owner Jean-Louis Lévesque. My father claimed her as a two year old. Cocagne turned out to be a very successful runner in our stable.

Quickly her barn nickname became “Cocaine”. It was difficult for most of the predominantly English speaking barn staff to correctly pronounce her French name. Richard C., who was my dad’s first assistant trainer, gave her the nickname. Richard is a very talented horsemen and rider. He was a great asset to our stable, and became a great teacher and a friend to me. The name Cocaine seemed the easiest English translation from her French name. Also Richard enjoyed singing the famous Eric Clapton song. When he use to ride her. I can still hear Richard sing the lyrics. “If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; cocaine.
When your day is done and you wanna run; cocaine.
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine”.

Cocaine was a very honest racehorse. She had a lot of speed and desire, and hated to loose. Cocagne won 4 times in the Sheldon Wolfe racing stable in very few starts. She was a very serious racehorse that was just a shade away from being a really top performer. I will feature her winning race that took place on October 2, 1980. This race was at the $30,000 claiming level. She was ridden to victory by Michael “Killer” Quong. Cocaine broke very alertly from the starting gate. She pressed the pacesetter “Matched to Win” from the outset. Coming to the quarter pole Cocagne kicked into high gear and blew to the lead. Opening up a 2 ½ length advantage. She held off the determined challenge of “pertinent Solution” to win the race by 1 length. I have included the winning picture from this race. Also included is the official racing form chart. From the Wolfe family archives I have included a rare photo of “Cocagne”. In this picture you could easily see the beauty and great character that she processed that made her an excellent race filly.

True Hope "Butterball"

This filly was very popular in the Wolfe Stable. Not only with me, but everyone that came into contact with her. True Hope was just that kind of a girl! Her nickname came to be "Butterball". Richard C. gave her that name and it just stuck. The name to me just describes how popular she was. I will try and describe her personality. True Hope was like the pretty girl that lived next door. The girl that had the happy go lucky personality, that was always vivacious. Butterball was the ultimate tomboy who loved to play her sports. But never forgot that she was also an attractive, very feminine woman. That was our True Hope!

She came to the Wolfe barn by the way of the claiming box, in the fall of 1980. In fact we claimed her on closing day of the Greenwood meet. She had a very gruelling campaign as a 3 year old, and was completely worn out. True Hope was sent to the farm for a badly needed rest. There was nothing that some quality rest and relaxation would not fix. Butterball came back to the racetrack in the Spring of 1981 full of life, and looking forward to getting back to business. She started to train very well, and also started to make a great impression on ever one in the barn including yours truly. I was her groom and it was a real pleasure and an honour to look after her. True Hope was easy to get along with. She was always very enthusiastic, and always put her groom into a great mood. That is the benefit of being in the company of a classy woman.

I'm going to feature two of "True Hope's" exciting wins. The first winning race in the Wolfe Racing Stable took place on April 22, 1981. The distance was 6 and 1/2 furlongs at Greenwood Racetrack. At this point Butterball was training very well, and was a totally different horse. Compared to the exhausted filly that we had claimed 5 months earlier. Talented jockey Brian Swatuk was just starting to do some excellent race riding on our horses. Brian did a fantastic job of riding True Hope. In the earlier races in True Hope career. She had showed the preference of being a come from behind sprinter. True Hope enjoyed to relax in the earlier part of the race. She would let the speed horses battle for the lead. Beat themselves up, fighting for the lead. Then in the last 3/8 of the race. True Hope would make her run, and try hard to outrun her competitors. The first win for the Wolfe's, Butterball would win in classic come from behind style.

True Hope was owned by another of our excellent owners from Buffalo. Mr. Norm Stager was a great fan of the Sport of Kings. He was an excellent man to work for, and enjoyed a lot of success in the Wolfe Racing Stable. Now back to the race. I was very confident in True Hope going into this race. Yes it is true that horses cannot speak English. Yet if you become an prolific horse person. You definitely develop a direct communication with your animal friends. True Hope going into this race told me that she was going to win this race. I had total faith in her. I bet accordingly before Daryl Wells said "There at the post, there off!" Brain took True Hope into hand and she fell back off the lead. During the run down the backstretch. You could see that True Hope was enjoying the race, and she was looking forward to throw it into high gear and try and win the race, and keep her promise to me. There was no room for error running at Greenwood. The tight turns at Greenwood could make it difficult for horses to try and win from off the pace. However True Hope had no problem with the tight turns. Butterball enjoyed running at Toronto "Bull Ring Racetrack. Bull Ring is the slang for a racetrack that is less then 1 mile in circumference. Greenwood was only a 3/4 mile track. Coming to the 1/4 pole True Hope was waiting in 4th position and full of run. She was in tight quarters. Brian Swatuk was patiently waiting for room to forge for the lead, and the win. Coming to the 1/8 pole. There was now and opening for True Hope. Without any hesitation Butterball and Brian shot through the hole and emerged with the lead. This race was over! True Hope had kept her promise to me. Scoring an impressive 2 1/2 win. I was in seventh heaven!

True Hope was on her way to a very successful 4 year old year. She would become one of the best racehorses that we had in 1981. Butterball would score 4 wins for our stable in very limited starts. True Hope won right back at Greenwood on April 29th. Scoring a 2 length victory in a carbon copy fashion. I was away for that race. We had shipped Mt. Tabor Rd. for a stakes race at Monmouth Park in Oceanport New Jersey. Mt. Tabor Rd. finished 3rd in that race. True Hope would win again at Woodbine on July 15th at Woodbine. For this race her racing style would change. True Hope was ridden in this winning race by up and coming apprentice jockey Richard Dos Ramos. When the gate opened for this race. Butterball came storming out of the gate with vengeance on her mind. There was no relaxing or taking back for this race. Richard had enough good sense to try and argue with a angry woman and let True Hope have her own way. After a quarter of a mile True Hope had opened up a commanding 6 length lead. She was never challenged in the race and coasted home to a easy 5 length win.

On August 2nd True Hope would sadly run her last race for the Wolfe Racing Stable. Butterball had moved up to the $25,000 claiming level and was reunited with top veteran rider Brian Swatuk. The race was run at the distance of 7 furlongs. In this race True Hope showed again a very good turn of speed and a lot of determination and grit to win. At the 1/8 pole she found herself in front. However she was involved in a cat flight with a formidable foe in Sunny Christo ridden by Dave Penna. Brian asked True Hope to dig in a not to let Sunny Christo run past and defeat her. Butterball pinned her ears and was ready to flight! No way she was she going to let Sunny Christo run by her. True Hope won this exciting race by a neck. I was delighted with her effort. However sadly I would soon learn that our True Hope had been claimed by a visiting U.S. stable. We would loose one of our best girls. She would never be forgotten!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mt. Tabor Rd.



The next racehorse that will be remembered on this blog is Mt. Tabor Rd. When I remember this prolific racehorse the first thought that comes to mind is speed, pure speed! This very successful runner was to be the third stakes winner in my dad’s training career, and the first horse claimed by our stable to become a stakes winner.

Mt. Tabor Rd. was owned by Mr. John C. DeLongis who was living in Buffalo N.Y at the time. As it turned out a lot of the best financial backers we had were Americans based in the Western New York area, during my father’s training career. Marge and Al Schmidt were excellent horse owners. They loved the horses and enjoyed watchers there horses run very much. There career began at Finger Lakes. It ended at Churchill Downs in Louisville in the Kentucky Derby. They always let everyone in Buffalo know who the best trainer at Woodbine was. It was Sheldon Wolfe of course. Many great people from Buffalo that we had the chance to work for, came by way of the Schmidt’s. We enjoyed an excellent partnership in the horse racing business with them.

John C. DeLongis was originally from Pennsylvania. He always enjoyed horse racing. It was his hobby and enjoyment in life. He lived near the Penn National racetrack. Where most of the horses he raced, ran. John and his lovely wife Helen moved to the Buffalo area because John had developed mouth cancer. He required ongoing treatment. It was recommended to him to move to Buffalo. Where he would get the best possible treatment to treat his cancer. After moving to Buffalo he still wanted to continue in the horse racing business. He was looking for a trainer based at Woodbine. Somehow he was introduced to Al Schmidt who recommended that he talk to Sheldon Wolfe. I am shure Al said “You can’t go wrong having Sheldon Wolfe as your trainer.” “He is very honest and always gets the best out of his horses.” Sure enough Mr. John DeLongis called my dad to hire him. He still owned a cheap horse that was currently racing at Finger Lakes. He had the horse shipped to us. So we could run him at Woodbine. This would allow Mr. DeLongis to be eligible to claim a horse. The first horse we claimed for him was a nice honest filly named Marglad. We won one race with Marglad before she was claimed from us. They we claimed a classy mare named “Clover Lass”. Our stable won 2 races with speedy and courageous Clover Lass. Before she to was also claimed from Mr. DeLongis. The next horse would be a very special horse. Destined to be owned by a very special man. Mr. DeLongis said to my dad. “That he had never owned a stakes caliber racehorse before, all he wanted was to enjoy watching his caliming horses run, and that they should be competitive.” However my dad had other planes. He liked Mr. John DeLongis very much. He was an excellent man to work for. He also knew sadly that Mr. DeLongis was in poor health. He was determined to obtain a talented racehorse for him.

When my dad had raced in California in 1974. He had come up against a very talented grass horse named “Captain Cee Jay”. This horse had equaled the track record for 1 mile ¼ on the grass at Santa Anita. My father never forgot about him. Gord Huntley the very successful two year old trainer had a two year old in his barn by Captain Cee Jay. His name was “Mt. Tabor Rd.” Mt. Tabor Rd. made his first start of his career in a maiden allowance race with Robin Platts ridding him. He wore no blinkers in this race. My father went over see Mt. Tabor Rd. and to watch him race. Mt. Tabor Rd. was a medium sized dark bay gelding. He ran lack luster in his debut. Not running a bad race. He would finish in the middle of the pack, in his debut. My father liked this horse. He knew being sired by Captain Cee Jay. That he was bred for distance, and could prefer running on the grass. He was interested to obtain Mt. Tabor Rd. for Mr. John DeLongis. Sure enough Gord Huntley ran Mt. Tabor Rd back 10 days later in a maiden $16,000 claiming race. Now jockey David Clark would be riding him. Also blinkers were now added for his second race. My father called Mr. DeLongis and told him that he was putting in a claim for Mt. Tabor Rd. for him. John had complete trust in my Dad and asked him to call him later if he was successful in claiming this horse. I went over to pick up Mt. Tabor Rd. if we won the claim for him. The maiden two year olds were loaded in the gate. “There at the post, there off” I was astonished when the started gate opened. Mt Tabor Rd. left the gate like a lighting bolt. Before you could say his name he had opened up a commanding 4 length advantage. David Clark was just steering him. He wasn’t urging him to run at all. Mt. Tabor Rd. lead in this race was growing bigger with each of his quick strides. Turning into the stretch Mt. Tabor Rd. was know leading by 7 lengths. He coasted to the finish line winning by an official margin of 9 ½ lengths. His time for the 5 furlongs was: 59.1. I was smiling from ear to ear. When I learned that Mr. DeLongis had won the claim for him. No other owners had put a claim in for this horse. My dad had the pleasure of calling John that evening. Informing him that he was now the proud owner of Mt. Tabor Rd. My dad gave him the description of his performance. He told John "that he now owned a stakes caliber horse". Mr. DeLongis was delighted!

The acquisition of Mt. Tabor Rd. had brought new excitement into our barn. I was appointed by my dad to be the groom of our new star. We now had one of the fastest two year olds at Woodbine and we were getting ready to prove it. He came out of his maiden victory in fine shape. His front legs were like iron. No sign of any problems, no sign of any buck shins. Bucked shins is a painful two year old problem. It is inflammation that develops at the front of there shin bones. They can’t run well if they develop this problem. The Colin Stakes race was now a month away. The dream began of winning this race with Mt. Tabor Rd. for John DeLongis.

We ran Mt. Tabor Rd. in the prep race for the Colin Stakes. It was a 5 ½ furlong allowance for two year olds. Joey Belowus was hired to be the pilot on Mt. Tabor Rd. Joey had done an excellent job riding Ontario Princess. He deserved to get the chance to ride our new star. Mt. Tabor Rd. barn debut occurred on June 29, 1980. “There at the post, there off” When the gate opened again this dark bay blur, in the shape of a racehorse exploded from the starting gate. As in his maiden win. Mt. Tabor Rd. and Joey Belowus made mash meat out of the tougher competition in this race. He opened up a 3 length advantage at the quarter pole running the opening half mile in a quick 46 seconds flat. He challenged any of the other horses to try and keep the hot pace. There were no challengers. Mt. Tabor Rd. cruised to the finish wire in a sizzling time of 1:04.4 and won by 4 lengths. Mr. DeLongis was thrilled in the winner circle. Mt. Tabor Rd. was for real! We now had one of the main contenders for the Colin Stakes in two weeks. We just could not wait for his next race now. The excitement was starting to build.

This is what attracts people to invest there hard earned money into the racing business. It is the challenge of trying to come up with a star racehorse. It isn’t easy! Many have tried and come out of the horse business. With much less money then they started and a lot of bad experience. Also people that love to dream. Can have there dreams come true in the horse racing game. On July 6th, 1980 a dream was getting ready to come true for the Wolfe Racing Stable. Our Mt. Tabor Rd. was the second favorite to win the prestigious Colin Stakes race. There was one main challenger in this race. That would try and prevent our happy story from having a very happy end. That horse was from the Laurie Silvera stable. His name was “Solo Guy”. Solo Guy was considered the fastest two year old at Woodbine in 1980. A lot of the racing community was still very skeptical that the ex claimer form the Wolfe Stable would have talent to out run Solo Guy. We were equally as confident going into the race. That Mt. Tabor Rd. was ready to take on Solo Guy and show him who the fastest gun at Woodbine was. Mt. Tabor Rd. trained to perfection going into the Colin, and his front legs remained as sound as a bell made from brass. The field for the Colin Stakes was loaded in the gate. Daryl Wells was now ready to get this contest underway. I was watching with excitement and optimism. “There at the post, there off’. Both of the main contenders broke alertly. Solo Guy for the moment made the lead. However Mt. Tabor Rd. was ready to take him on. He headed him right away. Down the backstretch they went. The opening fractions were quick: 22.1 for the opening quarter mile. This race was a match race all the way. The second quarter went in: 23.2 for an opening half in: 45.3. At this point in the race my optimism had now turned to joy. Mt. Tabor Rd. and Joey Belowus had won the battle. Solo Guy and his jockey George Hosang had lost the fight and had started there retreat. Mt. Tabor Rd. now had complete control of the Colin. He cruised to the finish line with a commanding 3 length victory! The emotion was running high after this win. Happy, yes the Wolfe Stable and this horse’s proud owner were beyond happy. Mt. Tabor Rd. had made our dream come true, and taken us all to that happier and friendlier world. This is a much friendlier world then the real one. Mr. John DeLongis would say after this race. “Thanks to the Wolfe stable for giving him the happiest day of his life” Thank you Mr. John DeLongis for making this day happen! Mt. Tabor Rd. would be my first stakes winner that I would look after in my horse racing career.