The Canadian Derby often brings trainers and owners 'home', and the 87th running is no different. Rarely, though, do we get the kind of homecoming like we have with Derby contender Ruck and his travelling buddy and Assistant Trainer Ryan Bott.
Ruck (by Lookin At Lucky, out of Raylene) has never been to Northlands Park but it feels like he's come home for owners Calmar Stables & Ranch and all of the many fans of the superstar filly Raylene.
Raylene is one of just a handful of fillies who have won the 13/8 Derby. Her racing career was impressive, with 16 wins (13 Stakes races) and she made over $775,000. Calmar Stables kept the filly when she retired and she's now a broodmare with seven foals including Ruck.
Ryan Bott is 20 years old and from the Edmonton area and basically grew up on the backstretch at Northlands Park. Ryan's parents are Allan and Sharon Bott, who met working at the track and have never left! Sharon always loved horses, and when she heard that she could work with them and get paid at the racetrack she rejoiced! She started as a groom when she was 19, got her Trainers license when she was 25 and has dedicated her life to her passion for racehorses.
Ryan has been working in the Bott barn since he could carry a bucket and started learning to gallop when he was just shy of 13. When he was 18 he decided to explore opportunities at other tracks and went off to Florida and Kentucky and now works full time for Trainer Reade Baker at Woodbine. Mom Sharon describes sending him south on a plane with some nerves and trepidation, but knew he was a talented horseman and wanted him to travel, learn, and see other places.
Ryan loved Ruck the first time he breezed him as a 2 year old at Woodbine and the two have become fast friends. Ryan was entrusted with the daily care of Ruck when they shipped to Winnipeg for the Manitoba Derby in July and after a second place finish they continued west to Northlands Park.
Ryan says "the Canadian Derby is the biggest race of the year, and as a kid it was fun to watch the 'big' horses. The best part of this week is that I'm here with Ruck and that I've come home." Mom Sharon adds that he hasn't minded having his laundry done and home cooked meals ready for him, either!
Ryan and Ruck have bonded on and off the track. A well mannered, easy going, friendly colt, Ryan describes Ruck as a horse who is incredibly professional and has noticed that he's getting more serious and focused with each start. We think Ruck would have a similar description of Ryan!
Rick Ma and Kevin Lung of Calmar Stables & Ranch knew they wanted to have a horse for this year's Canadian Derby. It's the scene of their incredible win on Derby Day with Raylene and having her son back to follow in her hoofsteps is a thrill for them. Rick says "We planned for this day with Reade for a year, and we love that it's coming together and he seems to be peaking at the right time."
It's not unusual for a mother to see a son continue in racing, but it is rare for a colt to compete in a race that his dam has won. For Sharon and Raylene, we know that seeing their boys get ready for the Canadian Derby at their home track will make them proud. It's a special homecoming, and we wish Calmar Stables & Ranch, Ryan and Ruck best of luck!