Sports Col­umn: Read all about him

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - Hjhowe@rogers.com

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.

HAROLD HOWE

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