06/17/2011 12:04PM

Fort Erie senior citizen has stolen Davies's heart


FORT ERIE, Ontario – Trainer Norm Davies remembers how his father, the late breeder and trainer Stewart Davies, felt about his horses – and one in particular.

“Dad loved his horses,” said Davies, “and one of his all-time favorites is still in my barn.”

Davies, 55, was referring to his 10-year-old mare Cent T Mint, one of five claimers who make up his small stable at Fort Erie.

“My father treasured this mare and I have the same feelings for her,” said Davies. “She is getting on now, but over the years she has been as honest as they come. Her record of 50 percent in the money testifies to that fact. She loves to race and tries every time.”

Cent T Mint has started 102 times in eight years, winning 9 while taking home place and show money a total of 44 times. She hasn’t won in just over a year, but her late-closing style has allowed her to continue to pick up checks and she finished third in a $4,000 claiming sprint in her last race.

“She is a funny kind of horse, always looking around and a bit spooky in strange surroundings,” said Davies. “A few years back, we had an exercise rider here nicknamed Crash, who was not afraid of anything. But the mare dropped him in a wink. That is the way she is.”

Davies has been around Thoroughbreds for as long as he can remember. Following a stint as a jockey, Davies followed in his father’s footsteps and began training horses.

Davies exercises his own horses , using a jockey only occasionally.

“I gave up serious riding when I lost my heart for it,” he said. “There came a day when I knew it was time to put away my jockey’s tack. I had begun counting the number of runners in front of me and behind me. I rode scared. It was time to quit.”

Today, Davies is as relaxed as they come and he is known as a man of few words.

“I’m happy with my small stable,” he said. “There are no allowance runners in this barn, just low claimers and lots of hard work. I arrive early every morning and enjoy every day.”

Davies has one win in 19 starts at the Fort Erie meet and looks forward to the rest of the season.

“Runners like Cent T Mint are worth the time and effort,” said Davies. “She is what it’s all about.”

◗ Father’s Day at Fort Erie will feature an autograph session with the female riders from 11 a.m. until noon. There also will be free health checks for fathers.

◗ The Tiki Bar, located next to the winner’s circle, officially opened last Tuesday to a good crowd and a lively band. Band concerts will be on the schedule every Tuesday following the twilight racing card.

◗ Betty Jo Williams won both turf races here on Tuesday, upping her total wins at the meet to five. Enjoying the two grass victories while relaxing by the Tiki Bar, Williams said, “I have decided to stay with the Fort and make it my home base for the rest of the year.”

◗ Saturday, July 2, is the start of four straight days of racing at the Fort. Quarter Horses will be on tap for Saturday, then mixed cards will follow on Sunday and Monday, and Thoroughbreds return on Tuesday.