Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This posting is going to be a lot of fun for me. To honor and remember our gallant racehorse named "Stephanie L". I have always admired the underdog, and those who excel and overachieve. This is a classic story you are going to love.
Her name was "Stephanie L" and she was named after owner Charles Larante's daughter named Stephanie. This filly by Lord Durham out of the Ruritania mare named Joans Turn. Came into The Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable during the summer of 1985.
When Stephanie L came into the barn. She was a 3 year old maiden. A racehorse is referred to as a maiden, meaning that they still haven't won a race. Also the barn first impression of Stephanie was not good. For Stephanie L was a very petite and small filly. Stephanie L was not training well, wasn't eating well, and seemed like the racetrack and being a racehorse wasn't her thing. But the bottom line is. Don't always believe in first impressions. For they are not always reliable.
We finally got Stephanie up to running in a race. The results were mediocre at best. The fall had come, and Stephanie was starting to eat better, and her attitude and enthusiasm also started to turn in a positive direction. On October 10, 1985 Stephanie L was entered in a maiden $12,500 claiming race, as part of a entry with a filly named Forcette. If Stephanie L was entered in the race by herself. She would of been sent off at 30 to 1 odds. As her previous races were very poor. Forcette was the betting favorite in the race at odds of 1.80 to 1. The track conditions were muddy.
Forcette ran a very dull and disappointing race. Finishing in 7th position, and never really getting in contention in the race. However to our surprise Stephanie L broke her maiden in fine style. Under the guidance of jockey Ray Sabourin. Stephanie contended throughout the 6 1/2 furlong race. Stephanie L advance around the turn for home, came between rivals in early strength, came inside the leader in mid-stretch, and took command in the final stages. The betters of Forcette were saved.
It was a gusty performance by Stephanie L. There was more to this petite miss, then her physical appearance would lead you to believe. After all, you cannot read a book from looking at the cover. Can you?
On a pleasant fall afternoon at Greenwood Racetrack. Stephanie L would start to show her true worth. The date was October 28th and Ray (Gun) Sabourin was back in the saddle, and had become the perfect racing mate for Stephanie. The track conditions were fast and the betting public had completely given Stephanie little chance of completing with the other 3 year old fillies in this $12,500 claiming event. The distance of the race was 7 furlongs and Stephanie L was sent off at odds of 21 to 1. Ray Sabourin had allowed Stephanie to settle into her best stride, after the start of the race. She had dropped back to 9th place. When in came time to ask Stephanie for a closing kick. Stephanie was happy to respond. When the field had reached the top of the stretch Stephanie was closing strongly on the outside, and was now a major contender, in 3rd place. In the final 1/16 of a mile Stephanie L had wore down the leader and was the pulling away winner by 1/2 of a length. Wow!!!! What an exciting win!!! Ray was ecstatic when he came back with Stephanie to take the winning photo. Ray told my dad, that Stephanie was much the best in the race, and would of won by a much bigger margin if the race would of been run at a longer distance. The best was yet to come.
On November 21, 1985 Stephenie L's magic run would continue. In this race Toronto Racing fans, and the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable would get an idea just how much talent and will to win this young filly had. When the gate opened for this 1 mile and 3/16 test for 3 year old fillies at the $25,000 claiming level. It would be all Stephanie L from gate to the finish line. Stephenie L controlled the pace all the way, and when Ray asked Steph for more speed, she was eager to give of herself. Down the home stretch she went. Winning this race in a romp, by 8 horse lengths. Ray Sabourin stopped riding Stephenie in the last 1/16 of a mile to the finish line. What a big win it was for her, and the Sheldon Wolfe Stable. Stephenie L. had completely revered her fortunes. She was no longer the struggling unhappy racehorse. That couldn't compete, and looked like she would never win a race. Stephenie L. was for real, and proved on this night. That she was now a force to be reckoned with.
Closing night of the Ontario Racing Season for 1985. Would take place on Saturday December the fifth. There would be one more race for Stephenie L. It would be the final chapter in her Cinderella story. The last day of racing season in Ontario always culminates with the running of the Valedictory Stakes Race. This is the true endurance race. That is run at the marathon distance of 1 & 3/4 miles. It takes a special and brave equine athlete to compete at this demanding distance.
There was no time for my father Sheldon to nominate Stephenie L for this race. However on the closing day card would be an allowance race. Run for 3 year olds and up. Non winners of an allowance race for 1985. The distance would also be run at 1 & 3/4 miles. What a perfect opportunity for Stephenie to increase her winning ways. But could Stephenie L compete successfully at the demanding distance of 1 & 3/4 miles? And could she complete against older and much more experienced males. Toronto Racing fans were soon to get there answer. For Stephine L and earned the chance to compete in this race. In fact she looked very forward to this night.
Stephenie had trained perfectly coming into her first non claiming race. Stephenie L and her racing partner Ray Sabourin both looked composed and confidant prior to the running of this race. Stephenie was the only female competing in this marathon event. The co feature on the closing night card.
There off was the call by racing announcer Dan Loselle. Steph ran professional and confidant all the way. Ray and her were content to run a staking race. Stephenie lied in third position, nice and relaxed for about 1 & 3/8 miles in this race. With about 3/8 of a mile to go. Just where the racetrack kitchen use to be located on the backstretch of Greenwood. Stephenie L made her decisive move. Just like a female lioness, ready to pounce on her pray. Just like a laser beam firing from a ray gun. Ray Sabourin and Stephenie L made the lead in a flash. At this point in the race. The crowd at Greenwood on this night. Knew exactly who the winner would be. It would be Stephanie L!!!!!!
We all stood and cheered her on with pride, as Stephenie had totally trounced this field of older thoroughbred males. Stephannie had pulled away to win this marathon with total authority in the time of; 3 minutes, 10 seconds and 4/5. The winning margin was 8 horse lengths.
Stephenie L will always be remembered with love and respect, as one of the Wolfe Stables finest steeds. For Stephanie L had proven she had the heart of a champion. Stephanie L loved to race, and she loved to win. Stephanie L would run all day or run all night. It didn't make any difference to Stephenie L!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!