This week's image in our historical rear view mirror belongs to Bobby Q and veteran horseman Jack Robertson from Amaranth, Manitoba.
Bobby Q first popped up on the radar screen with his performance in the 10th running of the Minnesota Derby in 1983. Sent postward at 16-1 he persevered in quarters so tight on the far turn that a Stewards' Inquiry was necessary. A review of the film showed nothing untoward and the "Official Results" sign was flashed.
BQ rewarded his owners Merle (Bobby) Quist and Bob Novotny, Double B B Stables by recouping their $5,600 investment plus a tidy $10,000 profit. Not to mention BQ paid $35.50 for the backers who held a two dollar ducat on him.
The Minnesota Derby was run at the Downs from 1974 to 1984 and some very nice horses came out of this race. In addition to Bobby Q, other winners of the race included: Hub Cap, Won by Default and Turn to Rule.
Jack bought Bobby Q at a yearling sale at Hollywood Park for Quist, who was looking to purchase a horse that could win Minnesota's derby. While not hard to get along with, BQ was an extremely nervous animal who didn't know his own strength. In an effort to calm him down Jack kept a goat with the horse, but BQ proved to be too rough even for the "Billy".
What I really love about Bobby Q and Jack was that they were together for his entire racing career, not something you see a lot of these days!
Jack's specialty and reputation as a conditioner of horses is taking on those which require the kind of care and attention that larger stables in the U.S. don't normally provide. Jack's a pro at reconditioning these horses. He knows how to bring them along slowly and get them back to the race track, ready to win.
With Bobby Q, Jack had the chance to develop the colt and what a job he did! BQ's career stats as a three, four and five-year-old are the envy of other thoroughbreds:
1983 - Three-year-old season: 11 starts - 3 wins, 3 seconds, 1 third
July 3 - Minnesota Derby ($35.50)
July 16 - Voyager Handicap ($21.70)
October 8 - Harry Jeffrey Handicap ($3.20)
1984 - Four-year-old season: 12 starts - 4 wins, 3 seconds, 1 third
July 8 - Wheat City Handicap ($35.10)
August 5 - Red River Handicap ($10.80)
August 19 - Whittier Park Stakes ($15.00)
September 30 - R. James Speers Handicap ($9.40)
1985 - Five-year-old season: 9 starts - 3 wins, 1 second, 2 thirds
June 9 - Free Press ($22.50)
July 1 - Allowance ($6.20)
August 4 - Allowance ($3.60)
Unfortunately BQ suffered an injury in his six-year-old campaign that required surgery. He was able to return to the track but he wasn't the horse he once was, but he found a home in the claiming ranks where he always gave a good account of himself.
Bobby Q raced until he was 10, which is a good age for any active thoroughbred. From age seven to 10 he still managed to post a pair of wins each year. BQ was then sold to western interests where he was used for breeding purposes. Jumping prospects, I'm told.
For my money the race that best typified Bobby Q was the 1984 1 1/16-mile Whittier Park Stakes. K5 Stables' Rockcliffe was the 13 to 20 favourite and prior to the race Phil Kives boasted with confidence that this race was just a "tune up" for the Gold Cup. Rockcliffe collared the front running BQ at the sixteenth pole, but Bobby wasn't done. Jockey Steve Schmidt was quoted as saying that his mount "got mad, pinned his ears, came on again and pulled away" paying a handsome $15 to win.
- Jack Robertson and Gary Danelson share the record for the most wins in the R. James Speers Stakes at five wins each. Jack won in 1984 with Bobby Q, in 1989, 90 and 91 with Kapalua, Portage and Feudal, and then again in 1997 with Copa De Ore.
- Bobby Q had 80 career starts and boasted 20 wins, 12 seconds and 9 thirds. All but three of his starts took place at the Downs.
- From 1983 to 1985 Bobby Q pretty much beat'em all including: King Midas. Cliffhouse, River Lord and Kinto. He also defeated Buck Domino, Sea Commander, Secret Cipher and Rockcliffe - twice. Finally, he bested Hub Cap three times and Major Enterprise five times!
- The name Bobby Q? Jack's wife, Gloria is reported to have tossed a bunch of names in a hat, including Merle Quist's nickname "Bobby Q" and we all know which name was drawn!
- BQ lost the Gold Cup twice to Buck Domino, finishing second in 1984 by 3/4 of a length and third in 1985 by less than two necks.
The man who deserves all the credit for Bobby Q's success is Jack Robertson. Jack is a patient trainer and not one to rush a horse. He knows just how much and how far to push a thoroughbred in order to achieve optimum results.
Jack's been in the business for more than 40 years and he's been around horses his whole life. In addition to horses, Jack's a cattleman, but ask him and he'll tell you that family comes first!
It takes talent to recondition a race horse, but it takes a special person to develop a champion. In the case of Bobby Q, Jack took a young colt, "built" him from the ground-up and cared for him for his entire racing career.
This week's historical salute to greatness goes to the "Man from Amaranth" and his charge Bobby Q!