In doing so, particularly paired with jockey Larris Allen, Lyle was a tough guy to beat.
In second spot comes Rick Wiest Now here's where the numbers come in - Rick only runs five horses at the RMTC, and claims a winning percentage of around 80 percent. The unofficial stats show Lyle had more than 85 starts this past Spring, while Rick and his boys had just over 25 - remember, these are unofficial stats, but they are pretty darn close.
Surrounded by his sons, Clayton, Cory and Carson, Rick racked up 18 wins through the Spring, three on the final weekend.
The Wiest family is well known around the RMTC, with octogenarian Phil, Rick's uncle, still running horses at Lethbridge. In fact Rick occasionally runs a horse against Uncle Phil, a man he used to help out as a boy, when not helping his Dad.. Rick's father Reg, who ran horses on most Alberta tracks, passed away last year.
"I've been around racing since I was a kid, helping my Dad and my Uncle Phil,"says Wiest, a 55- year old Enchant rancher/farmer.
"Racing is really just a hobby with us, my three boys and wife Dalyce. We're in it for fun. I guess it's a feather in your cap to be the top trainer, but we just run the five horses in Lethbridge so we have to have a pretty high win percentage to be top trainer here. Sitting in third place was Laurie Ferguson, basically a Quarter horse trainer, with some Thoroughbreds. She wound up with 12 wins. Fellow Quarter horse trainer William Leech was right behind her with 11 wins.
Stan Marks and Kevin Oberholtzer racked up eight wins apiece with Kurt Calton at seven and Pete Dubois with six.
I mentioned Larris Allen earlier. Well, Larris closed the meet with four wins to total a leading 31, an impressive total indeed for this past Spring.
Trevor Simpson was the closest to Larris with 26 wins. Tyler Walker, a favourite rider for Laurie Ferguson, closed the meet off with six wins to bring his third-place total to 25. Blandford Stewart and Ramiro Sanchez Castillo - a favourite with William Leech - ended the meet with 21 wins apiece.
To me, the surprise of the Spring was the slipping of Dubla Gold from the top horse at the track, to be replaced, again in my opinion, Careless Hunter. The two went head-to-head twice, and both times Careless Hunter ran away with the victory.
Careless Hunter is part of the Wiest clan's lineup, and in Rick's words for him is "just awesome." "His last four races have been great, and really, I don't know why he's running as strong as he is.
He just paints the rail. He's doing great and he's only five or six years old." Another favourite of mine, Norm Cuthbertson's Beau Gris did well, when run at the right distance. RMTC CEO Max Gibb, who saw his horses run well this Spring, especially He's Italian, was not only pleased with his horses' performances - not to mention his breeding successes - including his Paints, but was happy the way the Spring Meet unfolded.
"We had some rainy days, but we also had a lot of outstanding days, with large crowds, some nice handles, and a lot of new, and younger people, coming out to the races," said Max.
"Millarville (which RMTC also presents) was a great day and certainly put me in the mood for our Fall Meet." The ponies return to the RMTC August 30 through September 1 and run every weekend through to October 10-13.