Most of you have probably never heard of Broad Zone, and for good reason. His story began back in June 1956 at old Polo Park race track and climaxed at the "new" Assiniboia Downs in August 1961. Overall his career wasn't all that remarkable -- with one exception -- one very major exception.
Broad Zone was your usual garden-variety low-level claimer, but somewhere within this little brown gelding was a one-time competitive explosive charge that, when ignited, resulted in the greatest win of his life. And it gave him bragging rights as the first horse to win the longest race in the history of horse racing in Canada, at 2 1/4-miles.
Our little hero was owned by the savvy veteran horseman, Wendell Holmes Mustard of Gladstone. The altered son of Unthwarted out of the mare Prairie Maid broke his maiden at Polo Park on June 25, 1956, as a 2-year-old. He caught a lucky break that day, when race leader Goldie's Son, who seemingly had the race won, bolted to the outside fence and faded to finish next to last.
Broad Zone's real time to shine, however, came on Wednesday, August 16, 1961. He was entered in the second running of the Winnipeg Free Press Handicap at a distance of 2 1/4-miles. The race was billed as the longest race to be run at a recognized track in Canada. The inaugural running of the race, won by Quick Count, was almost a "sprint" by comparison, at 1 1/2-miles.
Broad Zone was trained by popular horseman Ivan Dowler and would carry all 100 pounds of jockey Jimmy Reil, so he had a nice edge at the weights for a trip that would see the field pass in front of the Assiniboia Downs grandstand three times!
Broad Zone pressed the pace throughout the race, gained the lead leaving the backstretch and defeated favourite Ku Kee by 1 1/2-lengths. The brave gelding rewarded his backers handsomely, paying $18.10 to win.
What made his feat even more remarkable was the fact that this was his first win in two years! He returned to defend his crown in 1962, but came up short, finishing third.
Wendell Mustard's horse racing career spanned four decades, but it was Broad Zone's win in the 1961 Free Press that gave the Mustard family their biggest thrill in racing. Wendell's son Doug said the marathon winner was eventually sold to the Schellenbergs, also of Gladstone, who ran him in "chariot" races at local fairs for years.
Little Broad Zone will forever have a special place in the hearts and memories of the entire Mustard clan for his win in the grueling Free Press marathon.
And as long as there's a Mustard family member on this earthly planet, Broad Zone's run for glory in August 1961 will fondly be remembered as the day the little guy dug deep, to find that unique combination of strength, stamina and desire, a thoroughbred requires, for the ultimate victory.