TORONTO– Homebreds hold a special place in an owner’s heart because you’re along for the ride every step of the way. From the mare being confirmed in-foal, to the first time in the gate on race day the journey creates a special connection between human and horse.
When Rondure, a Borders Racing Stable homebred, enters the gate in the 163rd Queen’s Plate, he’ll be the stable’s first starter in Canada’s biggest race.
Borders Racing Stable is a partnership of Hazel Bennett and Harry Dobson. Bennett is an investment advisor turned horseperson. Dobson is a Scottish mining executive and lifelong horse racing fan. The pair were connected in the 1990s via Canadian owner and breeder John Toffan.
“Having a homebred in the Queen’s Plate is just so amazing, and I’m so nervous because he does have a really good chance to win,” said Bennett. “And I know with him, if he doesn’t win, it won’t be because he didn’t give his best effort.”
Bennett is a resident of Calgary, Alta., and Dobson has lived in Monaco for over twenty years. Their global partnership choosing to breed and race in Ontario is a testament to the quality of programs in the province.
“We race in Ontario because of the benefits of having an Ontario bred,” said Bennett. “Getting those (Breeders Awards) in the mail is instrumental for us staying in racing, and Woodbine is such a kind track, and it has the best turf courses in North America.
When Bennett and Dobson began breeding in the 1990s, they had a single broodmare in California. Their story since is a testament to the “it takes a village” adage applying to breeding racehorses.
Currently, they have a band of a dozen broodmares with Ontario breeders Susan Foreman, and Bernard McCormack, and over the years they have developed a friendship with Tanya and John Guenther, of Glennwood Farm.
Tanya – who was responsible for the mating of Triple Crown winner Justify – now advises Bennett on her program. But, when it comes to the mating that produced Rondure, Bennett was the one who spearheaded the endeavor.
The story began when Bennett booked Carat Weight, her personal favorite mare, to Big Blue Kitten, but twice she failed to catch.
“Obviously she didn’t like him, and the next top-two we wanted were Oxbow and Keen Ice,” said Bennett. “We already had a mare in foal to Keen Ice, so we picked Oxbow, and she got in foal right away which was great.”
Carat Weight was brought back to Foreman’s Tottenham, Ont., farm to foal Rondure, and the rest is history. The Oxbow colt will enter the Queen’s Plate rested and ready to contend. He won the G3 Marine his last time out on July 2 and was first and second in his two additional starts this year.
“For me it’s so special because of Carat Weight. If he does well then she does well, and she’s my baby,” said Bennett. “She always looked the picture of health and anybody who saw her work thought that she was a colt. I was able to spend more time with her than some of the others which is why she has been one of my favorites.”
Ontario Racing Press Release
Main photo: Rondure wins the G3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine on July 2 (Michael Burns Photo)