Since the untimely passing of Somebeachsomewhere,p, 1:46:4 ($3,2899,755), the greatest horse of this generation and among the greatest of all-time, and with little else to do these days with Maritime harness racing dark, the debate continues as to who was the greatest horse ever to campaign in the Maritimes. Looking back over the five or six decades here in this region, one horse is certain to generate enormous attention everywhere from the race tracks on Prince Edward Island, from Sydney, Cape Breton to Sackville Downs, Halifax and Truro Raceway in Nova Scotia and stretching from Saint John and Fredericton in New Brunswick. I am certain there are old timers in Montreal, Yonkers and Roosevelt in New York, and Foxboro that will smile at the mention of Andys Son. I’m sure you will still hear a few stories about a great race horse who didn’t need a trip against some of the top Invitational pacers of his era. As some of the smart old railbirds used to say when Andys Son came to visit Brunswick Downs, Moncton, “Landy’s handy, but he ain’t Andy”.
There have been some outstanding race horses developed here in recent years, most notably Somebeachsomewhere trained down at Truro Raceway and State Treasurer p, 1:47 ($2,072,450) who learned his early lessons at Charlottetown, but they moved “up-country” to further their careers. “Somebeach” and Shadow Play p, 1:47.4 who was trained on PEI by Dr Ian Moore hooked up in some of the most memorable races of the three- year old stakes campaign. Recently “Beach” was voted the greatest horse of the decade 2001-2010 and a great many feel he is the greatest horse of all-time. But this story is about a race horse that campaigned almost exclusively out of the “East” at two and three and considered the greatest Maritime Horse of all-time- his name Andys Son.
“Andy” surfaced late in the 1964 season at Fredericton winning easily in 2:11 at the little half-mile track, the fastest mile of the 1964 season in the Maritimes by a two- year old. Fredericton was no stranger to great race-horses as that little track has been a big player in the Maine-New Brunswick Circuit in the early 1920’s. One of the race programs from that era at Fredericton featured the fastest horse in the world, the fastest gelding in the game and the fastest mare in the sport in the famous Single G, Sir Roch and Margaret Dillon. Andys Son ushered in a new era for New Brunswick fans winning at two years old but coming back the next season to sweep that track’s signature race - the Walter Dale in straight heats.
Andy dominated the 1965 season in the Maritimes, as the son of Amortizor - Mothers Girl captured all the major stakes for three year olds including the biggest one the Donnie Turner Memorial at Truro. He tackled the big boys of the Maritime Invitational Circuit but they were no match for Andys Son, who captured the Gold Cup and Saucer at Charlottetown, the Walter Dale at Fredericton, the B C Cruickshanks at Sackville Downs, the Lobster Carnival Pace at Summerside and the Glace Bay Rotary Pace at Sydney, Nova Scotia.
1965 Gold Cup and Saucer Race
Andys Son (Jimmy Moore) 1-1
Landy (Rufin Barrieau) 2-3
Borderview Roy (Dave Hunt) 3-2
Hurrah (Jack Ferguson) 4-7
Dominion Byrd (Joe Hennessey) 5-4
Eloise Wick (Dave Wisener) 6-5
Huckster (Frank Daniels) 7-6
Times: 2:07 2:07.2
Shortly after his easy victory in the Gold Cup and Saucer, Sackville Downs hosted the Race of Champions and Maritime native Buddy Regan returned home and scored a major victory with Mars N over a classy field that included Andys Son, High Level (Earl Avery), Pocomoonshine and Bob Brook.
“Andys” summary for the 1965 season showed a remarkable 35 wins, the most of any horse in North America, and in 45 starts which included seven wins in nine days. What is even more remarkable is that he accomplished the feat racing top aged horses on the go in the Maritimes at that time. Milton Downey had a pair of standouts in Royal Salute and Comte Richelieu, the great Greenbrier Farms owned mare June Byrd, the Cape Breton sensation Bob Brook, and a host of crowd pleasers in Hurrah, Dominion Byrd, Dees Boy, Landy, Edgewood Scott, Miramichi Fred, and Jim Fashion to name a few. While Bret Hanover was packed the fans into racetracks in the USA, Andys Son was doing the same for the race game in Atlantic Canada.
The following season it was more of the same as Andys Son again dominated the Invitational ranks. Wherever he raced, the Whebby Staable owned standout drew fans that wanted to see him up close and personal and the little cozy half-mile tracks suited the fans and Andy perfectly. Maritimers even to this day love the harness racing game and excluding the great Somebeachsomewhere, Andy may be the most beloved race-horse of all time. He set the track record of 2:05 at Summerside, and toyed with the fields in winning the Dosco Pace at Sydney, Nova Scotia and the Alexander Memorial at Saint John, the only major races he didn’t win the previous year. From July of one year to July of the next, he won every major race in the East.
Sackville Downs had been so successful with the Race of Champions that they opted for another edition which brought great horses and drivers from Yonkers and Roosevelt to tackle Andys Son. When the dust had cleared Sharon Irishman (Charlie King) had lowered the Sackville track record to 2:02 for driver Charlie King. Peerswick (Stanley Dancer) was Mars N ( Joe O’Brien) were among the field while Andys Son gave a great account of himself - a fast closing third after being locked in by Miramichi Fred on the backstretch. Had he enjoyed any kind of racing luck, he’s would have made the outcome very tight.
In 1967, Andys Son moved to Blue Bonnets and Richelieu Park facing the top class horses like Cap Hanover and Gay Parader but returned to the Maritimes for the one big race, the Alexander Memorial which he won in the track record time of 2:04:2 for the great driver-trainer Rufin Barrieau. Andys Son and Rufin ventured into Yonkers and Roosevelt for the Fall Meet facing some of the best half-mile track horses in the world including Rum Customer, the first US bred horse to earn $1,000,000; let’s remember, the Meadowlands had not yet opened. The best horses and drivers on the go raced at Yonkers and Roosevelt in those days, and Andys Son did not look out of place. Also on the go in those days, 1966 Little Brown Jug winner Romeo Hanover who had posted Jug heat wins of 2:01:2 and 1:59:3 under ideal conditions at Delaware, Ohio on Jug day, different than the Invitational racing at Yonkers and Roosevelt which were carded at night. Looking through the old programs, we should remember that the times Andys Son posted against Sharon Irishman, Mars N, Pocomoonshine, High Level at Sackville Downs were very comparable to the New York top classes. During this same era in the United States, Bret Hanover was the “ star” horse that packed fans in everywhere and he posted a three year old record of 1:55 on a mile track, and a 1:53:3 mark on a Time Trial at Lexington. By todays standards, those times are modest. Regardless of times, Bret Hanover is still regarded as one of the greatest horses of all-time; Andys Son the greatest ever to campaign at two and three in the Maritimes.
With Andy racing at Blue Bonnets and Yonkers and all points in between, Eric and Harry Whebby still had plenty of power and for the next two decades ruled the Maritimes with standouts like Willies Adios, Amortizer Direct, Wild Chance, Borderview Renown, Borderview Bob Lee, Joe Tizer, Prince Abbott, Teachers Pet, Quick Baron, the extremely fast Gon’s Butler and a great two year old in Amberjack.
By the fall of 1970, Andys Son’s career seemed over as he was shipped back to his Dartmouth, Nova Scotia home from New York, supposedly all done, so lame he’d never race again. Early in the summer of 1971, word from the mainland was that Andys Son was back in training, “sound as a nut” and racing free legged, minus the hobbles. He won a few prep races in Nova Scotia, and shipped to Prince Edward Island for the 1971 Gold Cup and Saucer where Saint John owner Milton Downey was looking to finally win the big race with Don Juan N. Andys Son was easily the sentimental favorite but certainly not the betting favorite as the field started behind the gate. At the half, driver Elmo White tipped Andys Son to the outside and he cruised up alongside the leader looked him in the eye and drew away at the head of the stretch to win the Gold Cup and Saucer just as easily as he had done it in 1965 and 1966.
Later that fall, Andys Son shipped to Saint John where promoter Ingham Palmer had arranged for a match race between the Whebby owned duo of Andys Son and speedster Gons Butler.
It was a chilly afternoon, cold for late October when they got the word “go” and the Butler horse with Willard Carr driving could not handle the first turn forcing a Recall. They tried it again a second time and again the Butler horse went on the run but this Andys Son went it alone. He still had something left when he hit the timer in 2:00, a new track record for Exhibition Park and first 2:00 mile in Atlantic Canada history. Andy’s day was not done yet as he was put on a truck and headed to Brunswick Downs in Moncton where a tough field waited for the aging super-star. Again Andy’s Son prevailed winning his way, “ out and moving early in a take no prisoners” approach to racing; he won just as he pleased in 2:02:2 a new Brunswick Downs track record. It It was quite a day for Andys Son, up early in the morning until late at night, becoming the first 2:00 horse in Maritime history and winning two Invitational races on the same day, at two different cities. They don’t make them like that any more.
Sadly, Andys Son passed away the next Spring but the Whebby Stable journeyed on with a string of outstanding horses. Miraculous Moment and the high- powered Sherwood Abe, who held the Freehold track record of 1:53:1h at one time and banked in the vicinity of $400,000 while racing the likes of Frugal Gormet, Jade Prince, Run the Table, and Laag carried the Whebby Stable to more great achievements. No Whebby list of top horses would be complete, however, without a paragraph or two about Waveore, the first horse to break the 1:55 barrier here in the Maritimes when he upset Blue Bonnets star Boomer Drummond in the $50,000 Monctonian, the mile 1:54:2- the year 1985.
If Eric Whebby were alive today, he’d talk about Waveore, Miraculous Moment and Sherwood Abe, but I’m quite confident he’d tell you that Andys Son was the greatest race horse the Whebby Stable ever owned. He was not only fast for his era, he was as game a race horse as ever lived. It didn’t make any difference what post position he drew, he liked to race and he preferred an overland trip where he could break the spirit of those on the front. Coming back after serious injuries and at age nine, taking a lifetime record of 2:00h on a cold, chilly day in Saint John, and becoming the only race horse in history to ever win the Gold Cup and Saucer three times, tells me Andys Son is the greatest Maritime based race horse all-time.
Fred MacDonald, Atlantic Post Calls editor, was Race Secretary at Fredericton in 1971, but previously had served as Sports Editor for the Evening Patriot sponsor of the Gold Cup and Saucer and before that worked at the CDP pari-mutuals in the Andys Son era.
There have been a few absolutely great Maritime horses that I truly love and admire, horses like Kilkerran Ingle, Firms Phantom, Power Baron, Kilkerran Fury, and Southview Kramer come to mind, but at the end of the day, Andys Son is still a notch above these, the Greatest of all-time.