The "Pride" of Stoneacres Farm was one flashy filly!
Who was the greatest filly or mare to ever race at the Downs?
Questions like this are fun. They inspire debate and good-natured banter, and let’s face it; there just isn’t a “right” answer. Essentially we all start with a pool of logical choices or at least those we can recall at the time, but in the end it really comes down to our individual biases.
Who are our favourites!?
My pick among fillies and mares would be June Sifton’s Manitoba-bred multiple stakes winner Liz’s Pride. Over the years John and June Sifton raced some nice horses and a great many of them were bred at their Stoneacres Farm in Oakbank. Following John’s death in 1969, June carried on with the operation, enjoying many successes, but none better than Liz’s Pride.
In May 1978 Liz’s Pride won the first race of her career, a three furlong Maiden Special Weight race over a heavy track. Who could have imagined what the future held for the 2-year-old filly by Wing Out-June Too by Fleet Nasrullah? The Winnipeg Free Press modestly reported that Sifton “unveiled an impressive filly.”
In July Liz’s Pride registered her fifth win in as many starts when she covered six furlongs in 1:10 4/5, a record for juveniles, and the first time a 2-year-old had won five consecutive races at the local oval. But as sweet as her fifth win was, victory number six, the 49th running of the Winnipeg Futurity, was better.
The bay filly defeated Jean-Louis Levesque’s heavily favoured entry of Medaille d’Or and Vent d’Quest in the Futurity and the winner’s share of the purse ($41,480) brought her earnings to $52,082, giving her bragging rights as the richest and winningest 2-year-old in the nation!
Liz’s Pride’s time for the six panels was 1:10 1/5, which eclipsed the previous Futurity record of 1:11 set by L’Enjoleur in 1974. Irwin Driedger, her regular rider, often referred to her Futurity win as one of his biggest thrills.
How popular was Liz’s Pride at the betting windows you ask? Well, in August 1978 she won the 3rd running of the La Verendrye Stakes and paid $2.10 to win, $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show!
History would record that in 1978, her 2-year-old season, Liz’s Pride won all eight of her starts at the Downs. This dream season is believed to be a record for any horse that ever raced at the west end track, never mind a 2-year-old filly.
In December 1978 Liz’s Pride was named top 2-year-old filly in all of Canada, making her the first Sovereign Award winner bred in Manitoba. On the local front she dominated the H.B.P.A. awards, winning five of the 10 awards honouring horses for their performances at the Downs in 1978 including:
- Best Manitoba-Bred 2-Year-Old
- Best 2-Year-Old
- Best Filly or Mare
- Manitoba-Bred Horse of the Year
- Horse of the Year
In 1979 Liz’s Pride finished second to Easters Memory in the 1 1/8-mile Manitoba Derby, a decent result considering that she had never won going further than seven furlongs. Liz’s Pride was retired at the age of five to the broodmare ranks, but “dates” with Overskate and Codex produced no champions, once again showing that breeding thoroughbreds is like a lottery.
It will be a long time before we ever see another like Liz’s Pride, and with all due respect to female champions like Taboga, Northern Diamond, Electric Fever, Astral Moon, Picatune, Body Works, Coral Prospect, Miss Missile and Preservata, she gets my vote for the greatest filly or mare to ever race at Assiniboia Downs!
Who’s your choice?
Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 14, 2013