To thoroughbred race fans in Alberta, Colonel Saunders needs no introduction.
He has been a fixture of racing in our province for decades. He has a decorated resume filled with every accolade in the game, he is a master of the condition book, a brilliant mind and an instinctual horseman with a gift that many only dream to possess.
Dale Saunders is a pleasant contradiction. His lifetime achievements speak for themselves, and they say he has forgotten more in his time than many could ever hope to learn. At first glance he may translate as serious, stern and even brooding. But at closer investigation, the Colonel is kind, approachable, encouraging and always willing to help by sharing his infinite words of wisdom and love for the sport he has built his life around.
Together with his wife Barb, they are a respected force in the Alberta breeding industry large in part to their success with their amazing mare Wild Creek. The ‘wild’ horses have become fan favorites on Alberta Breeders’ Fall Classic Day over the years as top contenders and multiple stakes winners. To be among the elite in any industry for so many years as they have, is a testament to endless dedication. The true spirit of horse racing in Alberta is perfectly illustrated by hard working people like the Barb and Dale Saunders, who have given their heart and soul to the industry they love for a lifetime.
With countless championships and overflowing trophy cases speaking to his influence in horse racing, Dale Saunders is approaching another incredible career milestone. Forty-six years of leading horses to the paddock on race day, translates to more than 12,000 pre-race talks with jockeys and 1,999 win pictures with jubilant owners creating a lifetime of memories.
2000 career training victories would put Dale in the exclusive company of only one other. Hall of Fame trainer Red Smith is the only one to accomplish this incredible feat, and you have to think there is a special place reserved beside him in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for his respected peer.
We call him ‘The Colonel’ as a sign of respect to show our deep reverence for a man that has changed the sport and helped it to grow and thrive for nearly five decades.
On Saturday afternoon, The Colonel will start seven horses from his stable, four of which are the prideful descendants of the great dam Wild Creek born and raised on his farm. Wild Creek was a multiple stakes winner and multiple stakes producer, and you can cheer for her babies and grand-babies on Saturday afternoon at Northlands Park on Alberta Breeders’ Fall Classic Day, post time 1pm.