Sports Column: Read all about him
For many of us, Feb. 15 marks the midway point of winter and the promise of spring. But for horse trainers of three-year-olds, it signifies the deadline for the first of a series of stake payments that must be made to keep their horses eligible for a variety of races.
It’s a little bit like being forced to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency — never a pleasant task.
However, Blake Macintosh and partners on Sports Column had no such ill feeling about that chore because of their enthusiasm about their colt’s prospects this summer.
“I have never paid a horse into as many races as I have with Sports Column. That includes the $1 million North America Cup because I think he has the chance to be more than just an Ontario Sires Stakes horse,” says Macintosh who makes his home in Cambridge.
“I think he has the tools to be a Grand Circuit performer.”
Considering that the youngster’s rookie season was curtailed by injury after just six starts, that might be considered a bold statement.
“He injured an osselet in a fetlock and it would just not come right last September so we just shut him down for fear of hurting him for the future. Most definitely it was the right thing to do because he is 100 per cent now which he has to be if he’s going to compete at the level I think he can.”
It is only February, but watching the colt train at Meadowbranch Training Centre near Flamboro Downs this past week, one could only admire the effortlessness that Sports Column exhibited.
For sure, a training mile in 2:35 is a long way from a race mile in 1:50 but the good ones all have a little something about them. In this colt’s case it is not swagger but more an air of self confidence.
“It was hard to watch that final group of races he should have been in because that was a lot of potential money that was missed. Obviously, I’m biased but I think he was the best of his division at two in Ontario. After what he had showed before that injury, I know the horse pretty well.”
As it was, Sports Column still made $222,000 from four wins and a pair of seconds in six starts. His biggest win came in the $159,000 Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway in August. Macintosh bought the horse for $20,000 as a yearling in Kentucky and then brought in partners Daniel Plouffe and breeder Joe Thomson.
Sports Column is not the only horse in the stable but clearly is looked to as the flag bearer. When the North America Cup comes along in June, the calibre of Sports Column should be relatively clear. Either he will be capable of taking on the best in North America or he won’t. But he does have the fall back position of the Ontario Stakes, which still could add up to a very lucrative season.