Have you ever noticed that when the subject of Manitoba breds comes up, it almost sounds like you find yourself having to apologize for the breed? To varying degrees, many of us have done that, but when you think about it, there have been some very good Manitoba-breds over the years.
Some of the best Manitoba-breds ever can be found in the history of previous winners in this week’s featured stakes, the 37th running of the $50,000 Agassiz for Manitoba-bred colts and geldings.
Something that really stands out in the history of the Agassiz are the repeat winners of the race. Only 27 horses have won the previous 36 Agassiz Stakes – you do the math -- there have been a few repeat winners.
Northern Debut won the Agassiz twice (1991, 1994), Gus Again won it three times (2001, 2004, 2006) and Brinello won it four times (2007 through 2010). You would think that Brinello’s four-bagger would be a record, but while owner Dr. Ross McKague has every right to be proud of his “boy”, Brinello’s four wins only tie the record for victories in the Agassiz. Victor’s Pride won the Agassiz four years in a row from 1976-79.
Today I’d like to take a look back and remember this tough handicap horse owned by June Sifton.
Victor’s Pride owned the Agassiz the first four years it was run, beginning in 1976. And he only ran in the race four times. He was retired after the 1979 season to concentrate on his breeding duties.
A chestnut stallion by 1966 United States Champion Sprinter Impressive out of Modesty Handicap (G3) runner-up Lady Amigo by Amerigo, Victor’s Pride was nominated for the 1975 Kentucky Derby no less. These plans were scuttled when he broke a sesamoid bone in his left front leg during a workout. Fortunately for Victor's Pride, he had people like Stoneacres farm manager Harry Kube and trainer John Cizik to look after him.
Forget the Manitoba-bred label, Victor’s Pride was one tough, classy horse, and when when he was "right", there were none better at the Downs. His regular rider, Irwin Driedger commented after winning his third Agassiz in 1978, “He’s just a super horse.”
On August 16, 1978 Victor’s Pride set a track record for seven furlongs, winning the Red River Purse in 1:23 1/5, a record that still stands today. In that race alone he beat Island Fling, Merry’s Jay, Macale, Sunraysed and Turn to Rule, as good a group of handicap horses as we’ve ever had at the Downs at one time.
Victor’s Pride was named the HBPA’s top Manitoba-bred older horse in 1978 and 1979. And does anyone remember June Sifton’s fast stakes-winning filly One and Only? Well, Victor’s Pride was her daddy!
Victor’s Pride was a fine horse and no apologies need be made because he was a Manitoba-bred!
He certainly never made any on the racetrack.
PS: If anyone has a photo of Victor’s Pride that they are willing to share, please contact me c/o ASD and I will arrange to copy your photo and return your original unharmed. Many thanks! Bob