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..