The Alberta Bred Stakes races on Saturday at Rocky Mountain Turf Club presented excitement in its highest form. The action started off with three-year-old filly's and then three-year-old colts and geldings and the Saskatchewan invaders looked to score big in both races. Trainer, Courtney Ross and Jockey Neville Stephenson stepped up and won them both.
In the filly's race, "Unified Hearts", showed her dominance with Ron Scott's, "Maxcee" who was shipped in from Century Downs, finishing second.
In the three-year-old colts and geldings race, "Boeser", slipped up the rail for a huge stretch drive beating out, "Dites Moi", trained by Ron Olsen and ridden by Juan Apango.
The five and a half fillies and mares sprint turned out to be the Garry Marks show, as he placed first with, "Capalli" and second with the big favourite, "Lady Amelia". It was a battle all the way with Trevor Simpson edging out Blandford Stewart at the end.
The colts and geldings sprint at five-and-a-half furlongs was a battle all the way between the Allan Brown trained, "Holler At The Moon", ridden by Nicholas Patrick, and Nellie Pigeau's, "Why Not Live", ridden by Blandford Stewart. "Holler At The Moon", hung on for the victory by a neck over, "Why Not Live", who was ultimately disqualified from second and placed fifth for interference.
The seven furlong fillies and mares race wound up being a romp to victory by over twelve lengths for the Garry Marks trained, "Tegan'sbestwilko", ridden by Trevor Simpson over the second-place finished, "Wilko's Comicstrip", ridden by Larris Allen and trained by Godfrey Weaselhead.
The final race of the day was the seven furlong battle of the boys, with Jim Depew's, "Captain Will" scoring a victory over Clinton Rycroft's, "Smartasatak", who was shipped in from Century Downs.
It was a tremendous day of horse racing and once again proved that Alberta Bred horses deserve a day of their own.
Speaking of Alberta Breds, At the age of 16, in 1974, Kevin Oberholtzer took out his first training license, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kevin has a lot of stories to tell on his various exploits throughout the years, and one of his favourites is when he and the late Marvin Christensen, who owned Circle C Farms and was an investor in Rocky Mountain Turf Club, along with being Kevin's ex father-in-law, were sitting in Marvin's house having coffee and they decided they should go to the horse sale. Louise Christensen, Marvin's wife, said, "You two don't buy any more horses". Of course Kevin and Marvin agreed they would not.
While at the sale conducted by Perlich Auctions, there was a horse that the auctioneer couldn't get a bid on. Knowing Kevin and Marvin, the auctioneer pointed to them and said, "Sold". Kevin and Marvin looked at each other in stunned disbelief with each expressing that they did not bid on the horse. However, Marvin, being the good guy he was, said, "Let's go see what we bought". Kevin thought the colt didn't look that bad and they paid the thousand dollars, which was the minimum bid at that time.
The horse went on to be a runner and actually competed in Stakes races in Edmonton and Calgary. A year after that, Robertino Diodoro, claimed the horse for twenty thousand dollars. Not a bad return on a one-thousand dollar investment.
Kevin originally hails from the Arrow Wood area, close to Vulcan. Kevin called it a colony of horses, as there were Bertchys, Calf Robes, and several other people with race horses in the area. Kevin estimates there were at least two hundred race horses in the area. Kevin recalls hot walking for free and loping horses for three dollars. He says with a laugh that if you didn't do what the trainer asked you to do, you didn't get paid.
Kevin moved to Taber and married Glenda Christensen, Marvin's daughter. That's when his training career took off as he trained for Circle C Farms. Marvin liked to support all racing in Alberta and Kevin would race horses for Marvin on every track in Alberta to help support the industry.
Kevin made a point of hanging around the older veteran trainers and picking their brains as often as he could. Now he laughs and says, "I'm one of the old trainers now".
Kevin will be going to Turf Paradise in Arizona again this winter and hopes to bring horses back to Lethbridge for the spring meet, aligning with his goal of keeping racing alive in Alberta. If Kevin has a pet peeve with Alberta racing, it's that someone can claim a horse from Lethbridge or Grande Prairie and race it in the city, but if you claim a horse in the city, you can't race it in Lethbridge or Grande Prairie. As far as Kevin is concerned, Alberta racing is Alberta racing and it should be a fair train going both ways. Hard to argue with his logic.