I am sure November 11, 2014 will be “remembered” by a few people who raced at Fraser Downs.
In past columns I have mentioned Dennis Johnston as having a small stable but last Tuesday, it was the “biggest.” Dennis started four horses, had three winners and a third, two of the winners were in the stake finals. The story started earlier in the week when Dennis heard that one of Canada’s young driving stars (Doug McNair) was interested in travelling west with his future brother in law Billy Davis Jr. at his own expense for a working holiday.
The Betty Millbank Memorial was the first $50,000 stake race and a $64 winner, Kootenay Mystic, started the ball rolling of what was to come. Favourite Millbanks Writer faltered when she got tired and the backfield went by her. The win just proved that there is always hope for small-time owners and breeders and that horses can’t read the program to know that they are not supposed to win. Congratulations to the Chadwick family.
Quite a few tears were shed in the winners circle when Go To The Windows won the $75,000 Mary Murphy stake for owner/trainer Dennis Johnston and driver Doug McNair. Dennis is a very hard-working trainer that does all his own work with the horses and is well-liked around the barn area. Breeder Sharon Graham was so excited and supplied most of the tears of joy.
Driver Doug McNair showed his driving ability when he won with Blissful Angel in the Robert Millbank final for partners Dennis Johnston and Bill Pambrun. Blissful Hall was very hard to manage and Doug was able to get him to the front after a couple of anxious seconds and win very easy. Watch for this guy in the future.
Need You So Bad has dominated the Robert Murphy series and the final was no different for Driver Billy Davis Jr and owner J J J Stables. I hope this win was able to help erase some of the pain that Bill Davis and J J J Stables went through this summer with the horrific barn fire.
All in all, the 2014 Breeders Classic was an awesome day. Both clubhouses were full, betting was up over last year and the small stables continue to do well.
Racing resumes Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12:45 p.m.
– Jackson Wittup is executive director of Harness Racing B.C.