Big William Leech was beaming as the Rocky Mountain Turf Club 2016 season drew to a close late Sunday afternoon. He had just watched Pete Schoeler’s prized gelding Poutn On The Wagon (trained by William) win his sixth race in a row and a purse of $18,815, the Sport of Speed Sale Futurity. “That’s a nice colt, eh!” William exclaimed. “He won thee Futurities and three trials this year, and you know, I don’t think he’s reached his potential yet.
“Ricky (jockey Ricardo Moreno, who has been aboard for all six wins) told me, ‘I didn’t have to push him at all.’ Next year we hope to enter the colt in that big Derby Challenge. “You know, it’s been a really good year, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Another big Quarter Horse race held the closing Sunday was the All Canadian Derby, taken by She’s Gotta Reason, owned by Mike and Kathy McNiven and trained by Laurie Ferguson. Jockey Neville Stephenson, whose win in the Derby was the first of three straight, said: “The last time I rode this horse I didn’t get a good break. This time I hoped for a good break and we got it. He went a bit right but I pushed him and he just ran straight after that. “I was in the middle but I saw I was clear. I didn’t have to stick him one time. This was only the second time I’ve been on this horse.” She’s Gotta Reason is by Good Reason Sa out of Mia Jones by Special Leader and was bred in Oklahoma.
The happiest owners at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club Saturday had to be Charles Stojan and his son Jerry. Charles’s Tiny Flying Corona captured the $15,100 AQHA Aged dash. Charles’s horses also finished two-three in the opening race of the card, the Francis Weaselhead Memorial. “My oh my, my horse came through,” Charles excitedly said from the winner’s circle about Tiny Flying Corona. “William (Leech) is sure a great trainer. “Tiny has placed first seven times in his last 11 races, second three times and third once. That’s quite a record, but now we’re retiring him.
"This Aged race wasn’t real tight. He was just faster than the rest really it wasn’t close. I claimed him as a three year old for $20,000 and he’s now won close to $50,000 for us here in Lethbridge, you can’t beat that. I’ve got all my money back and then some." Saturday Charles pocketed another $8,003 as his share of the purse.
To top things off his horses Sherry Baby and Tahma Chop took second and third in the Frances Weaselhead Memorial, with a $6,175 purse. The Memorial was won by Honor The Fast Man, owned and trained by Tom Kenway. “This win by Tiny and the first race results have made us a pair of pretty happy campers,” said Charles. William Leech trained Tiny Flying Corona which is by Tiny’s First Corona out of Phoebes Flying by Chicks Beduino, and as Charles says was bred in California.
“I think Tiny’s too good of a horse to keep racing so I will retire him, and my son Jerry will likely use him as a steer wrestling horse.” Jerry bulldogs on the Wildrose and FC circuits, and should have the fastest horse in the arena. Ricardo Moreno rode Tiny Saturday, poking the horse into the lead through the middle of the pack and staying out front.
The Rocking Chair, complete with a wooden rocker, and covering a six furlong distance was taken by Media Cat with Blandford Stewart aboard. The race was for eight year olds and upwards. It is a sure thing the rocking chair would not be put to use by trainer Norm Cuthbertson.
Another former RMTC horsewoman was remembered Saturday with the Wanda Halerewich Memorial. The seven furlong run was taken by Daniel Oberholtzer’s Star Princess with Ramiro Sanchez Castillo aboard.
Sunday’s card wound up with a pair of farewell races, the first the Farewell Sprint. This five and a half furlong run was taken by the Lyle Magnuson owned and trained, General Day, with Magnuson’s favourite rider, Larris Allen aboard. In his last five races the General won four and was third in the other. Bred in Oregon, General Day is by For Really out of Galpin Appeal by Skip Trial.
The final race of 2016, the seven furlong $12,200 Farewell Stakes was taken by Master’s Bluff, owned and trained by longtime RMTC supporter Darcy Ralph. This proved to be Master’s Bluff 's first win in its last 11 races, racing a lot at Northlands in Edmonton.
Lyle Magnuson and William Leech wound up as the top trainers for the meet with 13 wins apiece.
BEHIND THE STARTING GATE...
In the Frances Weaselhead Memorial Sherry Baby, in second place, and ridden by Freddy Fuentes and owned by Charles Stojan, paid 34.60 and 6. 30... In the next race Lady Poet, trained by Marla Stanford, paid a healthy 53.00, 12.50 and 6.20 with an Exactor of Lady Poet. No. 2, and Miss Moochie (No. 6) a nice $420.20... Lu King and horse owner Debbie Cunnington enjoying a few laughs with Debbie’s daughter at the King lamp sale booth Saturday... 88-year-old Trainer/owner Stan Marks, closed out 2016 with a win in Sunday’s first race with Awesome T, Martin Ortiz aboard... Jockey Laurina Bugeaud, who arrived at the RMTC late in the meet, won again Sunday to give her five for the meet... Daniel Oberholtzer's Ocanera won the Keep On Keepin' On Memorial, a race dedicated to those who have gone on before us, who would have wanted us to keep on keeping' on through hard times... The curtain has fallen on the 2016 season, but already horsemen are talking about the 2017 Spring meet at the RMTC.