It was a very emotional day for Aldergrove thoroughbred race horse trainer Phil Hall.
Following in the footsteps of his late father, Bobby Hall, Phil won his first futurity race Sunday at Exhibition Park.
Exactly 50 years ago Bobby and his Emerald Acres farm in Aldergrove were making history with George Royal. In September of 1966 George Royal pulled ahead of his opponents at Ontario’s Woodbine track to win for the second year in a row — for an astonishing $283,712 in total career earnings, in 1966 dollars.
Phil Hall has been training horses for most of his life, and with Spirit Bay’s win at the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity at Vancouver’s Exhibition Park, Phil is also aiming for a winning streak.
The $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity is a six and half furlong race pitting the best two-year-old fillies.
Engaged in a two horse battle from the outside of Sheri Sugar Rush right from the get go, Spirit Bay was able to obtain the advantage over her rival by the head of the lane and drew clear by two lengths entering the stretch.
From there it was a dash to the cash with the fast closing Anstrum and Yukon Belle in hot pursuit.
While the margin of victory over Anstrum was a diminishing half-length at the wire, it was good enough to haul down the winner’s share of the $55,000 purse money.
Yukon Belle, after a mainly troubled wide trip, was another length back in third.
Spirit Bay was expertly ridden by Denis Araujo for his third win on the day, setting the very sensible pace fractions of 22.84, 47.15, 1:12.00 and thereby leaving enough energy to get home in 1:18.93 on the good rated track, which was a little slower than normal.
Owned by Dennis Tucker, Spirit Bay is sired by Gayego out of the Wild Wonder mare River’s Reach.
Bred in B.C. by Rollie Embree of Embree Farms Ltd., Spirit Bay (8.90, 4.00, 2.70) is trained by Philip Hall, who in winning his first futurity race wore his Hall of Fame father Bobby Hall’s tie for the first time.
It was clearly a very special moment and a very special win.
The winner of the two-year-old Jack Diamond Futurity ($100,000 purse) was Kermode, a gelding owned by Bryan and Carol Anderson of Kermode Farms.
Currently Aldergrove trainer Mike Anderson is first with 34 scores, and an excellent 25 per cent win rate. Craig MacPherson holds second with 22 wins, while third place John Snow’s 20 victories are four clear of Barb heads (16), who is one ahead of Nancy Betts and Phil Hall, whose 15 wins each have them locked in a tie for fifth in the standings. Betts and Hall have achieved impressive win rates of 22 and 27 per cent, respectively.