The highly anticipated B Cup Stakes day took place on Saturday and there were some outstanding races.
Things kicked off with the 3-year old Filly Stakes and Lyle Magnuson's, "Sterling Aly", took no prisoners with Larris Allen on board. "Sterling Aly" registered a fifteen-length victory over the nearest competitor, "Move with Joy, trained by Laurie Ferguson and ridden by Neville Stephenson.
Next the 3-year old boys took centre stage and again, Lyle Magnuson and Larris Allen teamed up for another romp. "Forty Caliber", trained by Jack Bolin and ridden by Dwight Lewis was a distant second.
The 2-year old Stakes had some excitement as Elly Rutherford's longshot, "Forty Four Magnum", picked up the victory, only to be disqualified for interference and first place was awarded to veteran trainer Bill Kinch's horse, "Anello", ridden by Trevor Simpson.
One of the most exciting races of the day was the 3&Up stakes for Fillies and Mares. For the entire five-and a-half furlong race, John Poirier's, "She's it again", battled with Garry Marks, "Lady Amelia", with Neville Stephenson on board; "She's it Again" just edging out, "Lady Amelia", ridden by Blandford Stewart.
Lyle Magnuson and Larris Allen were back at it again in the Sprint Stakes with, "Doc Radke", winning in a gate-to-wire fashion, while Garry Marks was second best with, "Gottem All Buzzin".
Garry Marks finally didn't have to settle for second best when, "Some Gave All", was ridden gate-to-wire in a seven-furlong journey for the victory with Blandford Stewart on board. Longshot, "Come on Fire", trained by Larry Snider came in for second with Martin Ortiz on board.
The final B Cup Stakes race saw two long shots come in first and second. The recently claimed, "Italian By Marriage", was ridden to victory by Sheldon Chickeness, for trainer Jill West. Juan Apango brought, "Carlot Cowboy", in for second.
A trainer who has seen many a B Cup stakes race is Pete Dubois. Pete and Erna Dubois have been around horses the better part of their lives. Pete was a gallop boy at Stampede Park starting in 1957 and after a few years there he went to Woodbine in Toronto to gallop horses. Eventually he made his way back to Alberta and married his wife Erna, who also had a horse background.
After a number of years of being involved in horse racing, they got out of it for fifteen years and raised a family in the Claresholm area. Pete worked at the Agriplex in Claresholm and life was good for both of them. Then after the kids grew up and left and Pete and Erna retired from their day jobs, they thought it might be fun to run a horse or two again at the race track..
The late Bryce Choinard from Bar None Ranches asked Pete if he'd train a horse for him in Lethbridge and then showed up with two horses. Pretty soon Pete and Erna were training over twenty horses for Bar None Ranches and what a run it was. One of the best horses they ever trained for Bar None was Ding Dong Dandy, who people at the A Track had given up on because among other things, he hyperventilated and simply didn't have any air. Because of his superior breeding, Lynne Choinard, owner of Bar None Ranches, didn't want to give up on him and sent him to Pete and Erna. Erna tells of how scared the horse was of everything and the hours she spent with the horse.
She says when the horse got scared of something he would put his head into her shoulder for comfort. The hours Erna put in with the horse paid off and Ding Dong Dandy became one of the best horses to run in Alberta. According to Erna, the horse just needed some confidence and she helped give it to him. Lynne Choinard was good friends with the Late Ed Whalen, of Stampede Wrestling fame and one of Ed's favourite expressions was "It's a Ding Dong Dandy". After Ed's passing, Lynne named the horse in his honour.
Another horse that Pete and Erna train is Dubla Gold. Dubla Gold is now eleven years old and this will be his last year of racing before he's retired to a good home. Dubla Gold had a run of four years in Lethbridge where he was pretty much unbeatable.
Erna has fond memories of the Western Canadian Circuit that was comprise of Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina and then to Lethbridge in the late fall for a week and then they would go to Spokane and then Phoenix. Pete also worked at breeding farms for Dupont and Golden West.
Pete rode as a bush jockey for Ken Buxton travelling to such stops as Stettler, Hanna and Lake McGregor for weekend race meets. Pete still galloped his own horses up to seven years ago and wishes he still could.
One of the best lines ever in horse racing was shared by Erna when she said years ago someone said to her, "Horsemen are like birds, all they do is squawk and crap". Partially true and absolutely hilarious.
Pete and Erna currently train six horses and feel that is their limit. Erna says it's important that horses are cared for properly and if they have more than six, their concern is that they won't have the time to train and treat them properly.
It was a joy to spend some time with Pete and Erna Dubois and listen to their stories encompassing sixty years. The biggest thing one takes away from a visit with these two is the glow they still have when they talk about their horses. It is truly a love affair.