08/11/2016 9:30AM

Alert Bay can give Redekop long-awaited Longacres Mile win

Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography
Alert Bay has won five graded stakes, including the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile in April (above).

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Real-estate developer Peter Redekop has led a varied and colorful life in several countries. Redekop has been among the most successful horse owners in the Pacific Northwest for decades, but he has yet to reach one of his goals – win the Longacres Mile.

Redekop has a good chance to fill that hole on his résumé with Alert Bay in Sunday’s running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

Trained by Blaine Wright, Alert Bay figures to be one of the favorites in the Mile. He is the top money earner in the race and came close to winning the Mile last year, finishing third after moving too soon into a torrid pace. This year’s edition attracted 11 horses, with O B Harbor the likely favorite.

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Redekop’s best finish in the Longacres Mile was a second in 1969 with California, a horse he owned with his cousin Peter Wall. They raced under the stable names Cossack Farms and Tara Stables.

Redekop was born in the Soviet Union in 1935 in a Mennonite colony in what is now part of the independent country of the Ukraine. His family was very religious, Redekop recalled, and they fled their home in 1943 to escape Communist oppression. They ended up roaming around Germany until the war was over in 1945. Eventually, they settled on a farm in Abbotsford, B.C.

He got interested in horse racing when he saw his first race as a young adult at Exhibition Park, now Hastings.

“Growing up in Europe in tumultuous times, I had never seen a horse race before,” he said. “I thought it was one of the most exciting things I had ever seen, and I still think it is.”

Redekop obviously wants to win the Mile, but he isn’t as obsessed as he was with winning the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby. After many failures, he won the B.C. Derby in 2012 with Second City. He won it again with Title Contender the next year and got the hat trick with Alert Bay in 2014.

“We brought horses up from California, and it seemed like every year they would be favored, but most of them finished last,” said Redekop. “One year, we decided to try and change our luck by celebrating the night before the derby. It didn’t help. We had a lot of fun, though. Farrell Jones was our trainer in California, and he was a real character.”

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Redekop bought Alert Bay for $65,000 at the January all-ages sale at Keeneland in 2012, and when he tried to sell him that September, Alert Bay didn’t reach his reserve.

Alert Bay finished second in a maiden special weight race at Golden Gate Fields in his first start at 2. Since then, he’s won nine stakes – five graded – the latest coming on turf in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate on April 30.

“Not selling him worked out pretty good,” said Redekop. “When he went into training, we could see that he could run a bit.”

With Alert Bay having won 12 races and earned $1.12 million, that might be a bit of an understatement.