17.827 seconds. 17.827 seconds is all it took for a pretty little chestnut filly named Toughie to be eligible to race for over $1,000,000 on Sunday, June 21. Just 17.827 seconds to give her owner the thrill of a lifetime!
Charles (Chuck) Stojan’s father owned racing Quarter Horses, so Chuck was involved in the business at an early age and was an avid fan. He took a few years off from racing horses to raise a family and build Stojan’s Power Sports and Marine, a “toys for big boys” dealership in Grande Prairie, but was involved in rodeos and other horse sports with his children. A couple of years ago, Chuck was killing time in Los Angeles for a day after a cruise and he decided on a whim to stop by Los Alamitos Race Course to see if there were any horses training. He drove to the stable gate and asked security if his old friend Charles Treece was still training horses, and the two men were reunited over a cup of coffee. That coffee turned into a three hour visit and Chuck “got the bug” to race again. By the end of the visit a partnership was born and Chuck was back in the Quarter Horse racing game. He runs in California with Chuck, and in Alberta with trainer William Leech.
Late one evening last October, Chuck was looking at an on-line auction catalogue for a sale in California, and a photo of a little filly caught his eye. He researched her pedigree page, and decided that she would be a great addition to his stable. Unfortunately, the sale was the next day, and there was no way to get there in person or to wire any money to the sales office. He made a quick call to Charles, and the men decided that if she passed a visual inspection and went for the right price Charles would pay for her, and Chuck could pay him back.
That little filly, purchased sight unseen, is Toughie (Stel Corona-Hard Lining, by Hawkish), a pretty two year old chestnut powerhouse, who has had two starts and two wins in her very brief career. Her first start was an Allowance race at Los Alamitos, and she won by a length, which gave Chuck and Charles some hope that she might run well in the Ed Burke Million trials. Toughie is scheduled to ship to Alberta for the summer meet at Evergreen Park, but she might have travelled north earlier if she had not won so easily in her first start. Chuck took the chance on her gritty performance, and entered her in the trials.
The American Quarter Horse is the fastest horse in the world in a sprint, and finalists in Quarter Horse Stakes races are often determined by holding trials. The Ed Burke Million Futurity is a Grade 1, 350 yard dash for 2 year olds who have been pre-paid in to be eligible for the race. In 2015, over 262 hopeful owners paid their horses into the race which took the total purse to $1,030,000. Toughie was just one of 100 colts, geldings and fillies who entered in the 13 trial heats vying for a spot in the race. With only the top 10 fastest times from all of the heats qualifying for the final Toughie needed to have her running shoes on!
The night of the Ed Burke Trial races was a nail biter for Chuck, who was watching the live feed at home in Grande Prairie. She was drawn into the 9th heat, and there were a couple of very fast times coming in the first two heats which proved difficult to beat for the rest of the night. Drawing post 7 in her heat, Toughie broke late, but lived up to her name and gamely ran down the lead horses to pass the wire first in just 17.827 seconds. At that point she was the 8th fastest time of the heats, but with 4 more heats to go there was a possibility that she wouldn’t make the top 10. Chuck anxiously marked down all the times, and was ecstatic when her time held as the 9th fastest of the night.
Chuck is going to Los Alamitos for the Ed Burke Million Futurity, which is on Sunday, June 21, and he will be cheering Toughie on from the rail. We will be cheering Toughie on from Alberta, and hope that she is, indeed, tough enough!