Monday, 03 March 2014 22:15

Dave Kapchinsky — A Tribute

Written by An anonymous friend and associate
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Dave (Kap) passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday January 7, 2014 at the age of 80 years. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Jean, his three daughters Roxanne, Debra and Charmaine, 5 grandchildren, 3 step grandsons, 1 great granddaughter, 3 siblings and 1 surviving brother and sister.

Dave was born in New Sarepta into a large first generation Polish family. He was the youngest son of 10 children — 6 brothers and 4 sisters. Dave quit school at the age of 12 and went to work as a brick maker, helping the family make ends meet. His father had died at an early age. In 1953 at the age of 20 years old, Dave started a small business called “Dave’s Transport” with an initial investment of just $5,000. A year later, he married Susan Bachinsky. In 1957, he joined forces with his 2 brothers, Ron and Gerhardt (Boomer) to form “KAPS Transport”.

Dave became the company’s President. Dave developed his skills as an astute businessman and chief promoter — a role in which he was more than capable of — building the company from the ground while his brothers ensured the field work was being completed. KAPS Transport grew rapidly throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s with many subsidiary companies — including Shirley Helicopters, Mackenzie Air, Kap's Interpose, Harvey Insurance, and Kap’s Earth Moving & Manufacturing, serving many sectors of the oilfield industry throughout Western Canada, the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The KAPS conglomerate became a public company and was sold in 1972.

During the late 1960’s, Dave ventured into a number of real estate investments — warehouses, a shopping centre and two farm properties. His first farm was Rim Rock Ranches in the County of Wetaskiwin, a farming and feedlot operation. It was during this period that he became fascinated with horses and thoroughbred horseracing.

This fascination led to Dave purchasing his first racehorse, Lake’s Lady from Max Bell in 1969. Others followed — Rim Rock Gal, stakes winner of the Mademoiselle Stakes; Rim Rock Prince; and Kaps’ Call; some of which were in partnership with Richard (Dick) Bonnycastle.

The fascination was quickly growing into a passion — and led to the purchase of 143 acres of farmland between Edmonton’s southern boundary and Nisku (International Airport). Paddockhurst Stables began operations in 1970, with the intention of breeding and looking after Dave’s own racehorses. Paddockhurst Stables fast became a force to be reckoned with its famous Red and White silks. Early successes came with home breds —Paddocks First; and Dave’s favourite Brenda’s Orphan; whose dam died 10 days after giving birth. Brenda’s Orphan was raised on powdered milk and went on to win the Alberta Derby, Ky Alta Stakes and the Canadian Derby Trail Stakes.

The early 1970’s brought a new challenge for Dave. While in Ontario he purchased the 1973 Canadian Maturity Stakes winner “Nice Dancer”, a Windfields Farm bred he jointly owned with Harlequin Ranches & Tom Morton. However, what Dave really wanted was to someday win Canada’s most prestigious Thoroughbred race, the Queen’s Plate. He recognized his best chance to achieve this dream would be to start buying yearlings at the Woodbine Yearling Sales.

Dave met trainer Jerry Lavigne in his travels to Ontario and Woodbine. In one of his first conversations with Jerry, Dave told him of his wish to win the Queen’s Plate. Jerry replied, “ Mr. Kapchinsky, you've come to the right place — if you have the money, I have the experience”, some years later Dave recalled, “ Mr. Lavigne had all the money, and Dave had the experience!”

One of their many notable purchases, was a Grey colt by Quadrangle for $151,000.00 at the 1978 Woodbine Select Yearling sale, out of the Windfield’s Farm Consignment. Bejilla went on to win 12 races and earnings of $217,112 — including the 1982 Dominion Day stakes (G3). Dave had got the name Bejilla from a Kenyan guide he had met on a safari a few years earlier. Returning to the Woodbine Sales in 1980, Dave paid $105,000 for a rather small Chestnut Colt by Briartic out of Tabola, named Son of Briartic— he won a total of 8 races, 6 of them Black-type Stakes races, with career earnings of over $380,000. He won 3 Black-Type races as a 2-Y-O, the Kinggarvie S; Vandal S; Swynford S; and as a 3YO went on to capture the Toronto Cup on turf; the Sir Barton S; and the Queen’s Plate; defeating Runaway Groom.

Upon retirement, Dave syndicated Son of Briartic to stand at stud in Alberta. At the same time Dave was continuing to develop Paddockhurst Stables into one of Western Canada’s premier Thoroughbred breeding operations. He envisioned Paddockhurst to be the Windfields of the West.

Son of Briartic stood at Paddockhurst Stables for 7 seasons before being sold to a US Syndicate based in Washington State. From Son of Briartic’s Alberta foal crops, he sired many Black-Type Stakes winners: Artic Laur $634,000; Roll on Briartic $$391,000; Briartic Romance$278,000; Jan Artic $256,000; I Want Fifty three $253,000. Son of Briartic’s success as a stallion continued in Washington with top Blacktype horses such as Arctic Son $501,000; Makers Mark $430,000; Ryson $397,000; Royal Reach $369,000; Dash Eight $338,000; and You’ve Got Action $303,000. Over a stud career of 18 crops and 549 foals, his progeny earned a total of over $19.4 million. Starters from foals 92%; winners from foals 73%; 32 Blacktype winners; and 38 Blacktype placed horses. These are incredible statistics considering he stood his entire stud career in Alberta and Washington State. Without a doubt, Son of Briartic is still regarded as one of the top stallions ever to stand in Western Canada.

Dave paid the highest dollar at two Woodbine Yearling Sales — with Bishops Hill $210,000 — and Search Warrant at $160,000, who only ran 3 times and placed once. Dave mused: “How bad is this horse? Every time he steps onto a race racetrack, you can’t find him with a search warrant!” Dave owned and bred many other Blacktype Stakes winners and placed horses in Ontario. His Ontario breds included: Mr. Kapacity — winner of the Sir Barton S; Susie Cherie; Northern Affair; Quantra; Dusty Old Farmer; Pleasure Boy; Dancing Relation; and Lonely Dancer.

Alberta’s home bred Blacktype Stakes winners continued throughout the 80’s and 90’s with the likes of Old Gun Powder; Ellens Briartic; Mac Amania; Rock the World; and Stompin Tom to name but a few.

Paddockhurst Stables replaced Son of Briartic with another successful syndicated stallion — Highland Ruckus. While Highland Ruckus was a leading stallion in Alberta and Western Canada, Dave sold the horse back to breeder Gustav Schickendanz (Schonberg Farm) in Ontario for a healthy profit for the shareholders. The deal was done in a typical Dave Kap fashion — one phone call — one price — take it or leave it — a gentleman’s agreement. Only thing missing was the handshake.

Other stallions followed at Paddockhurst – Park Regent — bought for $125,000, sold a year later to Japanese interests for $400,000. Crowning Honors stood three seasons before being sold and exported to England.

Dave continued to race and breed a small number of horses in Alberta with trainer Rick Hedge until 2005.

Throughout the 31 years Dave Kap owned and operated Paddockhurst, he always managed to find time in helping to cut grass, driveways and lawns. Every spring the first thing on the agenda was to harrow all horse pastures — as well as prepping, re-seeding and mowing the paddocks during the summer months. Dave would also drive the horse van to Kentucky, Ontario and B.C — shipping Mares and Foals. He could be tough on the farm help at times — the farm manager and his daughter Roxanne included — who worked as the bookkeeper and secretary for 13 years. But at the end of the day, Dave always moved on and very rarely looked back.

There were always other farm stories to tell. On one occasion the farm manager receives a call from Dave in Nova Scotia at 2.00 am — he asks ”what’s happening and what are we doing?”. When the manager questions Dave’s reason for the call, he goes on to explain that another round (of drinks) has just been purchased and that he had been playing the piano for the last two hours or so — the manager responded that it was his understanding that Dave had gone to Nova Scotia for CTHS National Director meetings. Dave replied, ”What meetings? This is the only real meeting we’ve had since being here!”.

But the best farm tale that is second to none: During the early 1980’s on July 1st — two years in a row — Dave’s Herefords (cows) broke out of the pasture at Paddockhurst and made their way to the neighbor’s farm, which happen to be owned by none other than Mr. Hal Yerxa (CFCW Radio Station). On the first occasion, Mr.Yerxa was having a mid-summer dinner party. The cows gate crashed the formal event and chaos ensued, pushing one guest into the pool and using the surrounding area as a toilet. The second year was a little less dramatic but no less damaging to the lawn. On both occasions Dave was at Woodbine — Hal demanded Dave get on the next plane home and retrieve his cows out of the backyard — or else the gun was coming of storage and the shooting would begin! Needless to say cooler heads finally prevailed.

Dave gave back to the horseracing Industry, serving as CTHS Alberta Director from 1984 to 1995, Alberta President from 1988 to 1991, National Director from 1988-91, as well as a Member of The Jockey Club of Canada.

He won the Sovereign Award in 1981 for Canada’s outstanding owner. Was awarded Alberta’s outstanding horse person of the year in 1994.

Dave Kap was a truly remarkable person in many ways, without doubt had a huge impact in Western Canada on the thoroughbred industry and with KAP'S Transport — the oilfield company developed many innovative methods for moving heavy machinery. A towering figure with a unique character to match — he combined a work hard, play hard style and was always a man of his word. Three days prior to his passing, Dave commented to a close friend “I’ve had one hell of a run, I have no regrets”.

A memorial for Dave Kapchinsky will be held on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club — 3500-119 Street in Edmonton from 2 pm to 5 pm. The invitation is extended to friends, business associates and horsemen.

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