A $2,000 bargain yearling, the "Bull" was fast from the start
The 37th running of the $30,000 Golden Boy Stakes, which showcases the finest 3-year-olds at the Downs going six furlongs, ran Wednesday evening, and was won by the classy Stormin Monarchos, trained by Joel Berndt and ridden by Adrian Ramos.
Past winners of the Golden Boy include Manitoba Derby winners Prime Time TV, PC’s Bluff, Royal Frolic, Plenty Chilly and last year’s winner Balooga Bull.
You might think that this illustrious group, along with other notable winners such as Proven Reserve, Northern Spike and One and Only, would make it difficult to decide who to spotlight for this week’s history piece, but it didn’t.
Our weekly trips down memory lane are about a horse, trainer, jockey or owner who has left an indelible mark on Assiniboia Downs’ history. So for this week’s blog we are going all the way back in time to the winning connections of last year’s winner of the Golden Boy, Balooga Bull and his 10 time Assiniboia Downs leading trainer, Ardell Sayler.
And although this week’s trip back in time is a short one, it is very special. The tandem of Balooga Bull and Ardell Sayler are two local racing stars that have left giant footprints at Assiniboia Downs, that the sands of time will never erase.
Before we get to the Bull, let’s start by telling you a bit about his conditioner, Ardell Sayler.
Sayler was born in Ellendale, North Dakota to Fred and Emma Sayler on June 16, 1952. Fred Sayler was a buyer and seller of horses and as a result Ardell has been around horses his whole life. Actually horses and racing is just a part of the family gene pool.
Ardell’s first trip to the Downs came years before he started training at the local oval. He came to the Downs in the ‘60s with his trainer-brother, Melbert. In addition, older brother, Vernon rode at the Downs in the late ‘60s. It would be several years later, 1990 to be exact, before Ardell would sell his sweeping business and move his training operation to the Downs.
These days Sayler calls Rapid City, South Dakota home, and a record setting 10 leading trainer titles later (1994, 1997, 2000-2002, 2004-2006, 2008 and 2011), he sits in second place behind Gary Danelson in terms of all-time wins at the Downs. But no one has won more leading training titles than Sayler. His closest rival is the now “retired” Clayton Gray, who won seven training titles at the Downs.
As for Balooga Bull, believe it or not he was a $2,000 bargain yearling that Sayler bought for owner Paul Brandt. In only his second work from the gate, Sayler knew he had something special. The Bull’s career stats, nine wins, a second and a third from 11 starts, bear this out.
There are so many things you could say about Balooga Bull, but for my money one of his more amazing performances was his win in the 2011 Winnipeg Futurity. In that race he covered six furlongs in a very sharp 1:10 3/5. Try to find the last time a sub 1:11 six furlong time was run at the Downs, ignoring for the moment that he did it as a 2 year-old. Trust me, I looked, and let’s just say it was a very long time ago.
But the Bull wasn’t done after that, far from it. He saved what was arguably his most impressive win for last year’s Manitoba Derby, when he demolished all would-be contenders, giving Ardell his first win in Manitoba’s most prestigious race!
So this year we salute Balooga Bull and trainer Ardell Sayler, last year’s winners of the Golden Boy, and a very special tandem that are, and always will be, an important part Assiniboia Downs’ history.