SCENE & HEARD: Hastings Racecourse trainer Craig MacPherson leaned over the railing of the clocker’s stand overlooking the track one recent misty Tuesday morning and said: “He’s light grey but will gradually bleach out and turn white as he gets older. He has broad shoulders, not tall but robust with kind of a quarter-horse build. He was a colt when I first saw him but he’s a gelding now. So having said all that, are you ready to meet your namesake?”
Within minutes Dr. Sport the person was nose-to-nose with Dr Sport the horse outside one of MacPherson’s stalls in the backstretch. I have no idea what Dr Sport the horse was thinking as he stared me down. But for Dr. Sport the person, it was love at first sight.
C’mon, cut me some slack. Dr Sport the horse is only two years old and new to this country. Louisiana-bred, he had just arrived from Florida on a large pallet after being loaded onto an aircraft by way of a hydraulic lift. That’s got to be nerve-wracking for anyone, let alone a two-year-old.
Chad Joe, new to the Hastings scene, purchased seven horses from U.S. breeders over the winter months. He and his wife Christa live with three young sons on a 10-acre farm in Gibsons. Christa describes her husband as a “hard-working cowboy reincarnated”.
When Chad asked permission to name his grey-about-to-turn-white recently gelded horse, ‘Dr Sport’, the irony was too much to be taken lightly.
Jim Coleman, the late, legendary sports columnist and author of two fascinating books on horse racing, once told me on a park bench at False Creek: “It’s the greatest pastime known to mankind. The sport is full of loveable characters. To have my name associated with it is a privilege and an honour.”
Dr Sport makes his debut Sunday at Hastings in race two from post seven in a three-and-a-half furlong dash involving a field of seven other two-year-olds. “He’s in tough company,” says Daily Racing Form analyst Randy Goulding, who doesn’t pick him in his top three selections. MacPherson and Joe tend to think otherwise. So does Dr. Sport the person and probably Dr Sport the horse, who has had two impressive workouts, one on May 19 and the other on May 26.
Dr. Sport the person will be watching and cheering Sunday from the Shalimar Off Track Betting Racetrack in Indio, California. Dr Sport the horse wasn’t supposed to run until mid-June. Already, it’s a solid indication that he’s ahead of his time. The race goes at 2:19 p.m. Sunday. We’ll know more by 2:20 p.m. The bartender at Shalimar is ready for a victory celebration or a wake. Either way, he wins.
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