Last issue’s question:
Name the first Maritime-bred filly to earn $100,000 at age two and three in the region?
Answer: DIPLOMAT KATIE
* Editors Note:
This is Jerry McCabe’s 100th column for the Atlantic Post Calls. The history of our sport is worth preserving...thank you Jerry!
A bay filly by the name of Some Nice Friday was the result of long-time Halifax horseowner Sandy Fraser’s first venture to the Maritime yearling sales in 1987. He purchased that Willow Bird Filly out of the Tarport Ervin mare Ketch Up for $4500. The success and promise of Some Nice Friday prompted Fraser to re-invest some of her $12,747 in freshman earnings and the following Fall he purchased her full sister, Diplomat Katie, from David Killel’s consignment for $10,000. Russell Burgoyne handled the training and driving for Fraser’s fillies and in the summer of 1989 they began an enviable run of success for their connections.
Thirty years ago this month Diplomat Katie made her debut, winning a baby race at Truro for a $100 purse in 2:09.2. By season’s end she would set a record for earnings by a freshman filly in the region, that initial $45 cheque ballooning to $56,786 in seasonal earnings. She won nine of 16 starts on the year while scoring a 2:02.1h Maritime record at Fredericton in September. Diplomat Katie rolled over her competition in the Atlantic Sires Stakes that summer, taking AtSS events in Sydney, Summerside, Truro, New Brunswick Downs and Fredericton. She was upset in the AtSS stake at Exhibition Park Raceway by Island Kash after she made a break on the sloppy track and the following week at the Charlottetown Driving Park she was not able to overtake front runner Brite Jennifer in the 2:02.3 mile. After drawing post seven in the elimination for the rich Dairy Queen Futurity, she managed to grab a third behind Nancy Glory in 2:08.2 at EPR, good enough to qualify for the $50,485 final the next week. She returned to top form in the Final, grinding out a come-from-behind one length victory over rival J K Beauty in a time of 2:03.2. She finished the year as the favorite in the AtSS championship at the CDP, riding a four race win streak into that race. Diplomat Katie had to settle for place honors as J K Beauty and owner/trainer/driver Joe Smallwood took the lion’s share of the $18,355 purse over the off track on October 7th.
In 1990, Diplomat Katie and J K Beauty would take turns dominating the three-year-old filly class. After tuning up for the season with a win in the Fillies and Mares Open at Truro, Diplomat Katie and J K Beauty were both knocked out of contention by a breaker early in the first AtSS test at Sydney. Carl and Trent Delaney’s Quality Blue Chip filly Paradox took advantage and won the $12,500 stake in 2:03. For the next six weeks, Fraser’s filly would hold the upper hand, setting a Maritime record with the first 2:00 mile by a filly in the AtSS, winning in Fredericton in 2:00. She became the first pacing filly to repeat as Dairy Queen Futurity champion, taking both her elim and the $34,100 Final in identical 1:59.3 clockings over New Brunswick Downs. Injured in a shipping accident, the filly required stitches to repair a gash in her leg, yet still jogged to a 2:00 score in a division of the Bill Quigg in later July. Unfortunately she came out of that race lame and missed the Anne Shirley Stake in Charlottetown during Old Home Week. She did best her rival J K Beauty in the Stanfield Memorial at Truro winning in 2:00 after Smallwood’s filly made a break. The following week in the $23,550 AtSS championship final J K Beauty extracted revenge, brushing to the front and prevailing by 3 ¾ lengths over Katie in 1:58.1. Her second place money pushed Sandy Fraser’s filly over the $100,000 in lifetime earnings, the first locally-bred filly to do so. Diplomate Katie would sweep the divisions of the Truro stakes to which J K Beauty was not eligible – taking divisions of the Donnie Turner and Lofty Hardy Memorials against the colts. J K Beauty would prevail again in the season’s final test, a $5000 Battle of the Sexes invitational where Diplomat Katie would end up fourth in the 1:56.4 mile at New Brunswick Downs.
After a month’s break at the end of the 1990 stakes season, Diplomat Katie was qualified back and sent to the Fred Grant Stable in New Jersey to continue her campaign. In 1991, she would win several Open Mares events at Freehold Raceway’s half-mile oval, lowering her record to 1:58.4 and then 1:57h. She would meet her old rival J K Beauty on a number of occasions stateside in the FM Opens at Yonkers and Freehold. Katie would take the final cheque when J K Beauty won the $52,000 final of the Guys and Dolls Pace in May 1991 in 1:56.1. After a win at the NJ half-mile oval the following week in 1:57.3, Diplomat Katie was shipped home to face the local free-for-allers. The four-year-old mare fared well against the top horses on the East Coast. She was third in the NSPE Cup at Truro behind Skippy Tar, and then second to Jo Jo Maruri in Gold Cup Trial 2 in track record time before finishing fourth in the Final. She was third in the $25,000 Provincial Cup at EPR to Bomb Rickles and then third in the FREX Invitational behind King Tyler. On September 15th she would takes honors in the Johnny Conroy Memorial at Truro in a 1:56.2 track record performance for aged mares. At season’s end she sported a 29-10-4-6 line with an additional $59,540 in earnings.
In 1992 she returned to Fred Grant’s care in New Jersey where she equalled her life’s record with a 1:56.2 win in the FM Open at Freehold in April. In June she returned to Russell Burgoyne to prep for the local free-for-all circuit, finishing second, third and fourth behind Kilkerran Ingle in three starts at Truro. Unfortunately she was sidelined in late July and scratched from the Governors Plate and shelved for the remainder of the season. She would return to racing in the US in early 1993. On June 16th of that year she was reined to victory by Billy O’Donnell in a $15,000 claiming event at the Meadowlands, taking her life’s record of 1:54.2. A week later she was facing the bearcats on the Maritime circuit once again. She was second to Winds of Peace in the J.A. Ferguson Memorial in track record time of 1:57.1 at Sydney on July 10th and then fifth in the Governors Plate behind No Worries, third in the NSPE Cup to Kilkerran Ingle in a Truro track record 1:54.4 mile (pacing in 1:55/3) and fourth in Little Black Book’s Canadian record 1:54 mile in GC Trail 3 before finishing second in one of two Gold Cup Consolations behind Buddy Hanover in 1:57.4. She would complete her FFA season with two sixth place finishes, in the Conroy Memorial at Truro and the Provincial Cup Elims at EPR. Racing later that Fall at the preferred level in Truro, Russell Burgoyne would guide her to 1:58.2 and 1:59.1 triumphs, ending her six-year-old campaign with five wins in 25 starts and $26,229 in earnings. After a brief 1994 sojourn to Freehold and Yonkers, Diplomat Katie was retired from racing in the winter of 1994. In six seasons of racing she complied $231,722 in earnings with a line of 37-22-24 in 130 lifetime starts.
After her racing career was completed, Diplomat Katie joined the broodmare band at Wally Wood’s Woodmere Farms. From eight foals, matings to Pacific Rocket produced her two best performers, The Newfie Bullet, p1:52.3f ($117,314) and Woodmere Rockette, p,1:53.2m ($64,408). Woodmere Flyn Ryan, a son of Lisryan, was her best local performer taking a record of 1:57.3h and earning over $50,000.
Sandy Fraser’s good run continued when he purchased the full sister to Diplomat Katie and Some Nice Friday for $22,000. Some Nice Ketch would go on to set many records of her own before Fraser and trainer Russell Burgoyne hit the jackpot once again with the colt Guyonthego. Diplomat Katie will be remembered as one of the top Maritime-bred performers from her era and along with J K Beauty, at the very top of one of the best group of fillies ever to compete on the local stakes circuit.
This issue’s question:
Name the last mare or filly to compete in the Governor’s Plate?
Answer in next issue of Atlantic Post Calls
Jerry can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org