07/05/2001 11:00PM

O'Connell purchase a stakes horse after all

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Godoliphin Road earned his way into next Sunday's $35,000 Jim Coleman Province Stakes for 3-year-olds with an upset win over $50,000 optional horses going 1 1/16 miles last Monday.

Godoliphin Road looked like one of those horses who had good speed, but after a couple of disappointing efforts against straight maidens, it seemed that he was headed to the claiming ranks. "I take some of the blame for that," said his trainer, Brian O'Connell.

"I thought he would be a better horse if I could get him to come from off of the pace," O'Connell said, but jockey Brian Johnson said the horse "had fought him all the way and that we might as well let him run on his own."

Left to run his own race, Godoliphin Road responded with a front-running win over straight maidens sprinting on June 17 and followed that up with a win in his first attempt at 1 1/16 miles.

O'Connell wasn't surprised that Godoliphin Road ran such a big race going 1 1/16 miles. "One of the reasons I bought him was because he's by Free at Last and Robbie Anderson had a couple of horses by him that improved when they went long. He's also out of a Fighting Fit mare and he's a good Kentucky stud."

O'Connell bought Godoliphin Road as a yearling at the B.C. Breeders October sale for himself and his brother Boyd, but when he went to the sale, Godoliphin Road was not on his list. "I was just standing around talking to Ralph Therres when somebody else that was looking at him brought him out of his stall. I was immediately impressed and after finding out who he was, I decided that I would bid on him."

With only $10,000 to spend at the sale, he almost didn't have enough money to buy Godoliphin Road, but after a quick call to his mother, Kathy, funding was secured and he took the horse home.

Kathy, who works in the admissions department at Hastings Park, was also there when O'Connell had problems with drug addiction. "She put up with a lot from me but she never gave up on me no matter how low I got," he said. Also, O'Connell said, trainer Rosann Anderson "was always very supportive when nobody else wanted me around the racetrack." O'Connell also credits the Winners Foundation for a large part in getting his life back on track.

The O'Connell brothers race under the stable name Nite & Day Stable, and if that name sounds familiar it's because their late father, Sonny, also used it for his stable. Sonny was the president of the Horsemen's Benevolent Protection Association for many years and was usually among the leading trainers in British Columbia.

O'Connell learned a lot from his dad and had fond memories of a trip they took to California in the early 1980's.

"He had more confidence in me than I did," he said. "We went down there with a horse called Morning Duel and a young jock nobody had heard of named Chris Loseth.

"The horse won and he paid $49. After that my dad came back to the room with his pockets stuffed with money and he told me that he was going home and that I was in charge."

One of the things that O'Connell learned from his father was that horses will tell you when they are ready to run and not the other way around.

"He had a lot of little sayings and that one has really stuck with me," he said. "I'm still not sure if I'll run Godoliphin Road next weekend because it would be three races in a month, but if he shows me that he's ready, I guess we'll give it a shot."