08/14/2013 12:19PM

Hastings: Recent addition to owner ranks traces it back to Harlem Globetrotters


VANCOUVER, British Columbia – As a 14-year-old kid 32 years ago, Chad Joe was inspired when his impoverished family received free courtside tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters game.

Greg Douglas, media director at Hastings, set up Joe’s memorable experience. Because of the close relationship that developed after Joe contacted Douglas in 2011 to thank him, Joe has become a major player in the horse racing scene at Hastings. He races under the stable name Copper Water Thoroughbred Company.

One of Joe’s recent purchases, Reporting Star, will be one of the favorites in the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park on Saturday.

In 1981, Douglas was a freelance promoter and was involved in bringing the Globetrotters to Vancouver. After being moved by a magazine article depicting Joe’s mother’s struggles to raise five kids as a single parent, Douglas arranged for the family to go see the Globetrotters.

“I was just a kid and never got around to thanking Greg,” Joe said. “When I saw a Globetrotters poster and I just thought it was time to return the favor.”

Douglas had no idea who was calling when he was contacted by Joe.

“Chad called me up out of the blue and told me he wanted to send a deserving family to a Vancouver Canucks game around Christmas time,” Douglas said. “I thought he might be some kind of nut, but something about the Globetrotters clicked, so I told him to get in touch with me if he was ever in town. I was sure I would never hear from him again.”

Joe is the real deal, though. He started working in the mining business when he was 20 and now owns Westcoast Mining Contractors, located in Sechelt, British Columbia. After a meeting with Douglas at the Sutton Hotel in downtown Vancouver, they arranged for a widowed mother and her two children to go to a Canucks game. One of the stipulations Joe insisted on was the family being picked up by a limousine.

“When my mom told Greg we didn’t have a way to get to the Globetrotters game he sent a limo,” Joe said. “Going to the game in the limo made a big impression on me. Life experiences like that help shape you as a human.”

Joe’s involvement in horse racing came after Douglas invited Joe and his wife Crista to a brunch at Hastings.

“It was never our intention to get involved, but we thought it was all pretty interesting,” Joe said. “I love being around the horses and watching the races from the backstretch. You can hear everything going on in the race. The sound of their hooves gives me goose bumps.”

Joe and Douglas were thrilled when Dr. Sport won a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds at Hastings last Sunday. Joe named the horse, a son of Half Ours, after Douglas, who was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame under the sports-media category in 2010. He’s been known in Vancouver media circles as Dr. Sport for years.

When Joe decided to get involved as an owner, he went from zero to 60 in a short span. Douglas hooked him up with trainer Craig MacPherson. With MacPherson’s guidance, he bought seven horses in Florida last January. He now owns 13 horses. He has a couple of 2-year-olds at Calder with trainer Kathleen O’Connell. The first horse she started for Joe, El Mono Verde, won his debut in a $25,000 maiden claiming race Aug. 2. O’Connell was the trainer of Reporting Star when he finished second to Verrazano in the Grade 3 Pegasus at Monmouth. Joe purchased Reporting Star following his second-place finish in the New Jersey Derby on July 20, and the horse will make his first start for MacPherson in the Canadian Derby.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but serous about supporting the local horse racing industry, Joe said he will spend “all the money Reporting Star earns winning the Canadian and B.C. derbies plus what Miss Derek receives for winning the B.C. Oaks” at the local Canadian Thoroughbred Society’s sale in Langley on Sept. 10.

MacPherson recommended Joe claim Miss Derek for $75,000 at Santa Anita in March. When she won the $50,000 Supernaturel at Hastings on July 1, Joe couldn’t restrain his unbridled enthusiasm and bought Reporting Star. Miss Derek will likely be favored in the $50,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club at Hastings on Sunday. The Hong Kong Jockey Club is the final prep for the $100,000 British Columbia Oaks on Sept. 8.

“I think of myself as a pretty level-headed person,” Joe said. “After Miss Derek won the Supernaturel and Reporting Star became available, I just thought it was an opportunity to win the Oaks and Derby in the same year.”

MacPherson has been Joe’s tutor through his first eight months in the Thoroughbred business, and he has felt the need to temper some of Joe’s enthusiasm.

“Believe me, he’s driving the bus and he’s very smart,” MacPherson said. “But at first he was a bit too keen, and I want to make sure he stays in the business for a long time.”

Joe is a breath of fresh air in a trying year at Hastings. Because of a shortage of horses coupled with a virus that hit the backstretch, five scheduled racing days have been lost. Joe’s enthusiasm is infectious, and he is encouraging other people he knows to get involved in owning horses.

“There should be twice as many horses here, and there are a lot of successful people I know through my business who could enjoy being involved in horse racing by making educated decisions,” Joe said. “Hopefully, I can get some of them involved in this wonderful sport.”