Last issue’s question: In the twenty years of Atlantic Breeders Crown history which colt has paced the fastest mile in a Breeders Crown final?
Answer: CLAY HENRY
The 2004 Atlantic Classic yearling sale will long be remembered for the record $100,000 price Charlambos Christoforou shelled out for sales topper Seawind Gambler. Hip # 76 was purchased by longtime owner Bruce MacDonald’s Hopedale Holdings for a more modest $6000 price. Ernest Smith of Fairview, PE was the breeder of the Arcane Hanover colt, second foal of the No Nukes mare, Ms Crawford County.
Clay Henry would make his pari-mutuel debut in July 2005 a winning one taking an Atlantic Sires Stake B event in Summerside in 2:05 for trainer/driver Earl Smith. The Maritime freshman colts in 2005 were a competitive bunch. Elm Grove Action, a Lisryan colt co-owned by Bob MacNeill and John Lavric of N.B. posted the top mile in AtSS action that year winning in 1:57.4 by a nose over Doug Hill’s Dawnza Hooligan. There were also two “super” colts, Clare MacDonald and Morah Kerr’s homebred Harrods colt, Super Sidney C ($41,916 in seasonal earnings) and Dr. Jim Shive’s Mantorious colt PH Super Dave ($49,949 in seasonal earnings). Super Sidney C prevailed in the $25,000 Atlantic Sires Stake championship at Charlottetown after parking Shive’s colt the distance and holding off Lisryan colt Hardcore in the 1:59.2 mile over an off track. PH Super Dave turned the tables in the $33,300 Maritime Breeders Final at Truro. The Todd Trites-reined colt had set a stakes record of 1:57 in his elimination and held off his archrival again in the Final a week later in 1:58.1. Clay Henry would take the final cheque in that season-ending event and completed his freshman year with $16,393 in earnings with three wins in 13 starts. The highlight of Clay Henry’s debut season would be a 1:58 victory in the $15,000 Don MacNeill Memorial stake at the CDP for catch-driver Kenny Arsenault.
In 2006, Bruce MacDonald’s son Alan would take over the training duties for the gelding with Earl Smith and Kenny Arsenault sharing the driving duties. After a couple of qualifiers in Summerside in later May, Clay Henry tuned up for the early season stakes action with a couple of overnight starts, winning the second before tackling the stakes trail in the Maritime Breeders eliminations. He would finish third to early season sensation Pictonian One and Gilles Barrieau in 1:55.2 in one elimination before taking fifth place money behind upset winner Hardcore and Danny Romo in 1:56.2. Super Sidney C was on the shelf early and missed that $21,490 stakes final with a tendon injury. In July, Clay Henry would finish second in an AtSS event at Fredericton and a Joe O’Brien Stake at Summerside before a third place finish in the AtSS at SRW and a sixth place finish in Truro AtSS. The gelding would then lower his record to 1:56.4 in an overnight class at the CDP. During the Old Home Week meet, Clay Henry would finish first in an AtSS on Monday afternoon in 1:57.1 before being set back to third for interference. Later in the week he would take a $15,500 Joe O’Brien Gold division in 1:56.3. In early September both Clay Henry and Super Sidney C would have to travel to the final AtSS stake in Saint John to earn the points necessary to advance to the Atlantic Breeders Crown Final. Clay Henry succeeded with a second place finish before closing out the month with a pair of third place efforts in the Bill Quigg Memorial at Fredericton and the PEI Colt Stakes. On October 1st, Earl Smith prepped Clay Henry for the Breeders Crown Final with an impressive 10-length score in a division of the Carl MacKenzie Stake at Truro in a new record of 1:56.1. Super Sidney C won the other division in a similar time and entered the ABC Final on a seven-race win streak.
When the glamour boys division lined up behind the gate for the sophomore colt final on Sunday, October 8, 2006 Super Sidney C had the three post while Clay Henry left from the outside eight post. Kenny Arsenault was at the controls for Alan MacDonald’s trainee as Earl Smith was driving Woodmere Homebrew from post two. Clare MacDonald sent the favorite Super Sydney C to the front parking Elm Grove Action through quick fractions of :27.1 and :56.2. Clay Henry found the five-hole in the early going before moving to third going to the half. Arsenault had him on the move up again on the backstretch passing a tiring Elm Grove Action and setting his sights on the leader just a ½ length back as they passed the three-quarter mile marker in 1:25. The Arcane Hanover gelding surged past Super Sidney C on the upper turn and held on to win by two and 2/4 lengths in 1:54.2 on the warm autumn day. Super Sidney C would settle for the deuce over Becoming Jarwa. The mile erased the AtSS standard set by Firm’s Phantom and equaled by Flaming Moe in 2005. The 154.2 clocking also equaled Firm’s Phantom’s Maritime record for locally-bred colts and geldings. Clay Henry would complete his sophomore season with a 1:5.7.4 effort against the top class at the CDP before romping in his $11,970 division of the Donnie Turner Memorial in 1:56.3 at Truro. By season’s end, the Island-bred pacer had banked $43,938 in 22 starts. The following spring he was honored as PEI’s Horse of the Year at the annual PEI Standardbred Horseman’s Association banquet.
In the spring of 2007, Alan MacDonald headed to Ontario with Clay Henry for his four-year-old campaign. After qualifying at Mohawk Raceway in March he would make his first five starts at Georgian Raceway, winning two, with a second and two thirds and a new race record of 1:53.2f. A second and a third place result followed at Woodbine before he was sidelines by sickness for the best part of a month. After a fifth place finish at Mohawk, where he paced his mile in 1:51.1, he was entered in the Kempenfelt Pacing Series at Georgian Raceway. He would finish second and fifth in the two $15,000 eliminations and earn a fifth place cheque in the $56,500 Final of that series. The bay gelding would race iron tough on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit that fall, taking his record in a $22,000 conditioned pace at Mohawk Raceway in mid-September in 1:51.3 with Keith Oliver in the bike. The Island-bred pacer liked to come from off the pace and regularly showed last quarters in :27 seconds, coming home in :26.4 the night he took his record. He followed that victory up with scores in 1:52 and 1:52.1 in October and November. Racing up until the end of January 2008, when he won his last start in 1:53, he banked $87,785 in his Ontario campaign.
He returned to the racing wars in Ontario briefly later in December 2008 but a number of ailments had taken their toll and he was returned to PEI to enjoy his retirement. In his brief career, Clay Henry accumulated lifetime earnings of $148,116 with a 17-11-14 line from 70 starts with a lifetime record of 1:51.3. His Maritime record mile of 1:54.2 in AtSS action has since been broken. But no stakes performer in Atlantic Breeders Crown action has bettered the magic mile Clay Henry recorded in October 2006.
This issue’s question:
Name the two-year-old Atlantic Sires Stake champion pacer of 1973 that was also owned by Bruce MacDonald?
Answer in next issue of Atlantic Post Calls
Jerry can be reached at: email@example.com