It was the first and only weekend in the Rocky Mountain Turf Club spring meet where there was Friday night racing and race fans seemed pleased to have the three-day weekend back.
Some of the feature races of the weekend was a five furlong junket on Saturday featuring some of the best sprinting fillies and mares. The Garry Marks trained, "Capalli", pulled off a gate-to-wire victory with Trevor Simpson at the reins. Jaqueline Smith ran second and third with "Briana Jean", ridden by Orlando Foster, and "Four Times Lucky", with Antonio Laris on board.
Later in the day, a seven furlong allowance race gave the Nellie Pigeau trained, "Master's Bluff", ridden by Blandford Stewart, an opportunity to display his dominance with a victory of over three lengths over the Jaqueline Smith trained, "Wood Machine"
On Sunday, two of the veteran Rock Stars of the track locked horns again with a different result this time, Jaqueline Smith's legendary, "Cantchaco" was finally beaten by Lyle Magnuson's, "General Day". Larris Allen gave the, "General" a perfect trip coming up with a surge on the inside rail down the stretch to beat out "Cantchaco". Watching those two great horses battle was a thrill for all in attendance.
Stan and Grace Marks were two giants in the horse racing world of Alberta for a number of decades. It was a foolhardy person who left a Stan Marks-trained horse out of any exotic wager they were doing.
Garry Marks, who has been training horses since he was nineteen years old has now for a few decades, followed in his father's huge footsteps. Garry first went to Saskatoon as a nineteen-year-old to train horses and was told he was too young, so he worked as an assistant trainer for a year before actually becoming a full-time trainer.
But let us wind the clock back a little further. When Garry was twelve years old, he was a jockey for his father's horses in the bush tracks of Alberta. Garry bounced around from bush track to bush track with his family and enjoyed it thoroughly. As the years went on, Garry grew and added on a few pounds and had to move off the back of the horse and tend to the whole horse. Training just seemed to be a natural progression for Garry, so off to Saskatoon he went.
After spending a couple of years in Saskatchewan training horses, Garry headed south to Calgary and achieved tremendous success. Although Garry readily admits that during his first year in Calgary when he thought he knew everything to know, (he says with a laugh), he didn't last past July. Garry took to heart the lessons learned and the second year saw him take off and never look back, and that was 1981. Garry says with a laugh that he's now as old as dirt. Garry maintains that the trick to racing is having good horses and good people around you. Garry feels blessed to have had long-time sponsors such as Darcy Peterson and Gordon Howg, along with family such as Helen Reynolds. During Garry's time as a trainer in Edmonton and Calgary, he managed to win some major stakes races with purses ranging from fifty to a hundred thousand dollars. Not bad for a one-time bush jockey. A few years back, Garry came to Lethbridge to be with his father, who was still training in Lethbridge well into his eighties. Garry quickly established himself as one of the leading trainers in both Lethbridge and Grande Prairie, winning several stakes races.
Garry enjoys a more laid-back lifestyle in the Community Circuit and doesn't really miss Calgary and Edmonton. Garry maintains you have to be much more aggressive at those tracks and have really good sponsors with money to spend on horses as the meet goes on. Garry enjoyed the claiming game there and claimed over a hundred horses easily during his time there. He laughs when he talks about his claiming war with legendary trainer, Red Smith, as they would take turns claiming horses from each other.
Garry also trained horses at Turf Paradise in Arizona during the winter. He says this year he's not sure how much he's going to train there, but will probably claim a couple of horses to bring back to the Alberta Community Circuit. Both Rocky Mountain Turf Club and Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie should feel very fortunate to have Garry train horses at their race tracks. Not only is Garry a class one horse trainer, but he is also a class one human being. A nice combination to be.