Win, Place and Show?

by JIM WELLS

A ONE-TWO-THREE SWEEP

It’s something you could imagine only in your wildest dreams – and certainly not talk about in public for fear someone might think you’ve lost touch.

Yet, there she was last Sunday, watching the first race at Canterbury Park and those very dreams become reality, right there on the computer screen. Moments later, her husband was on the cell phone from the track apron confirming this unlikely event.

“I was jumping up and down, screaming,” said Joyce Osborne.

A little background:

Joyce and Rick Osborne, in conjunction with Rick’s parents, John and Vera, breed thoroughbreds, then sell them as yearlings. The parents live on one part of the farm, Rick and Joyce on another. “We’re right next to one another, just a pasture apart,” Joyce explained.

The farm is just outside Cambridge and the operation is known as Osborne Farm.

What the Osbornes celebrated last Sunday evening was this unlikely occurrence:

They bred the first three finishers in the first race and the horse that finished sixth, too. All four fillies in the race were sired by Rick and Joyce’s First Edition. All four dams are owned by John and Vera.

How’s that for a family collaboration!

The order of finish in the six-furlong maiden claiming race: Storybook Doll, Most Useful, Bubbly Bubbles. And, in sixth place in the 10-horse field was Canterbury Rose.

“We’ve had several entered in the same race before and thought it would be neat if all of them came in, but it was just a dream,” Joyce said. “We can’t believe it happened.”

The thought crossed Rick’s mind once or twice as the race approached. “I thought it would be a perfect day if we could finish one-two-three,” he said. “But that’s something you don’t want to say out loud because you don’t want to sound silly.”

Some additional background on the Osborne family: John and Vera were reared in Bowbells, N.D., 90 miles northwest of Minot. “My folks and her folks ran horses in North Dakota when we were kids, back in the archives of time in the bushes,” said John, 82. “I rode racehorses for nine years and so did my wife.”

John and Vera relocated to Minneapolis about 60 years ago and then, in 1965, to rural Cambridge. The Osbornes, one generation or the other, have been breeding horses since.

The Osbornes raced a few horses in the early days of Canterbury but breeding was always the primary aim. Their best racehorse was Osborne to Run. “He was just a hard knocker,” John said.

Osborne Farm has stood four stallions over the years. “Late Edition is the best,” John added. They also had Charging Through as a stallion when his racing days for Frances Genter ended.

Late Edition has stallion company at Osborne Farm, which also stands Hero’s Pleasure. “He won the Grade III Manitoba Derby,” Joyce said. “We got him from Doug Oliver.”

Joyce enjoys talking about their unlikely purchase of First Edition. “We bought him in 2002 and where we got him is an interesting story, too.”

Late Edition is a Kentucky-bred son of Cryptoclearance out of a Storm Bird mare and was raised at Overbrook Farm in Lexington. He was stakes-placed with a second in the San Vicente at Santa Anita and a third in the Gotham at Aqueduct.

The Osbornes acquired him after he was shipped to a sale in Mandan, N.D. “It was my mission to find a quarter horse stallion at the sale to breed to a thoroughbred mare,” Joyce said. “When I saw Late Edition, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. He was all covered up in blankets, but I fell in love with his face and eyes. When I saw his pedigree in the catalogue, I simply couldn’t believe a horse like that was at that sale.”

Twelve of the 18 horses in training bred by Late Edition have started, producing five wins and seven placements.

The dam of Late Edition, Marine Page (by Victor’s Gent) never made it to the races. The Osbornes bought her as yearling from former St. Paul Pioner Press handicapper Phil Marudas. “We also got Osborne to Run from Phil,” Rick said.

There are more Late Editions on the way. He has a crop, his largest yet, of 15 two-year-olds.

Three of his younger babies are on the market next weekend, in the Minnesota Thoroughbred Assn. yearling sale.

JOHNSON JOINS QUARTER HORSE ELITES

Bob Johnson was hardly out of the winners’ circle Thursday night when he got a call from his parents, John and Shirley, in Lemon, S.D. He had a conversation with his sister-in-law, too.

They were calling to congratulate the 49-year-old quarter horse trainer who had just saddled the 1,000th winner of a career that started 30 years ago at Centennial Race Track in Denver. “They live on different corners of the ranch,” Bob explained.

Smashingly Classic won the second of the three trial races on Thursday’s card. “That mare’s really been consistent,” Johnson said. “She’s won four out of five.”

The 1000th win was beginning to seem kind of elusive. “That was an evasive number,” he said. The win was just the third of the meet for Johnson.

The milestone puts Johnson in some rather elite circles among quarter horse trainers. The AQHA in Amarillo, Texas, had him listed on Friday as the 25th trainer to saddle 1,000 or more winners during a career.

“I’m tickled to death he did it here,” said thoroughbred racing secretary Doug Schoepf, a long-time friend of the family.

“It’s good for Canterbury that he did it here.”

Schoepf had a personal interest in the event as well, a long-time friendship. “I used to ride for his dad in South Dakota when I was a kid,” Schoepf said.

So, how did Johnson celebrate?

When he answered his cell phone at 11 a.m. on Friday he was already in Fargo, N.D., with a load of horses. “I bombed out of there at 4:30 am. this morning,” he said. “I’ll be back there on Saturday.”

Johnson has been chasing futurities and derbies at quarter horse meets around the country for years. “He hauls those horses from one track to another,” said Schoepf. “He’s got some miles on that 49-year-old body of his.”

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