09/27/2006 11:00PM

Saga of Destiny's Home adds to Oaks


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Trainer Quint McCabe, who won the Grade 3 British Columbia Breeders' Cup Oaks with $49 longshot Real Candy last weekend, will try and pull off another upset with Destiny's Home in the $100,000 Sadie Diamond Futurity at Hastings on Saturday.

The owners of Destiny's Home, Mark and Patti Lesage and their three children, Sara, Nicole, and Christopher, would obviously like to win the Futurity. Nonetheless, they feel a memorable journey was already completed when Destiny's Home won a maiden special weight race Aug. 26.

The Lesages own the 401 Motor Inn, which is located right on the Vancouver-Burnaby border on Boundary Road. Norman McLeod, who was a regular guest at the 401, introduced them to horseracing a few years ago.

"Norman would come up from Seattle for the races every weekend and we became very close to him," said Patti Lesage.

McLeod convinced the Lesages to get involved as owners, and they ended up with one of the more colorful trainers at Hastings, Terry Marshall, who died in 2004.

"Norman introduced us to Marshall when we first got into the game," said Mark Lesage. "When I met Terry he said 'If your not going to gamble and you're not going to drink then you're in the wrong barn.' Of course, we remained good friends until he died a few years ago."

Meanwhile, the bonds between McLeod and the Lesage family grew stronger, and McLeod made a gesture to show how much he cared for them.

"He really became part of our family, and I think because of that he decided to give our children a horse," said Patti Lesage. "He had bred one of his mares and when the foal was born this was to be our kids' horse."

The horse was named Sanich Lady - "Sanich" made up from the first two letters of Sara, Nicole, and Christopher's names. Indeed, the Lesage family's stable name is Sanich Stables.

Not long after Sanich Lady was foaled McLeod died.

It appeared that Sanich Lady wasn't developing very well, and since it was McLeod who had been guiding the Lesages through the breeding business, they weren't sure what to do with the young horse.

"We had a few horses in training at Hastings, but we knew nothing about the breeding end of things," Patti said. "Sanich Lady was on a farm in Washington and the woman who was taking care of her told us she wasn't going to be much of a racehorse, so Mark told her to just keep the horse."

The Lesages forgot about Sanich Lady until one day when Mark was searching the Internet and came across her name in the entries at Bay Meadows.

"I was completely surprised," he said. "She had actually won a race and she was entered in an allowance race."

Lesage was happy to see she had made it to the races, but he didn't follow her career after that. Sanich Lady, who made her first start in a bottom-level maiden race at Emerald Downs in 1999, ended up winning eight races and retiring with $84,245 in earnings. Not bad for a horse that didn't appear to have much of a future.

"This is where the story gets really bizarre," said Lesage. "A couple of years later, Marshall calls me up and tells me he claimed this mare that can walk better than she can run, but that he just loved her because she had so much heart. It turned out to be Sanich Lady. He knew nothing about our connection to her and he couldn't believe it when I told him the story."

Marshall, who claimed her for $4,000, won a couple of races with Sanich Lady before losing her for the same price.

"The trainer that claimed Sanich Lady told his new owners that she was done," said Lesage. "They came back to Terry and asked him to train her and he told them the same thing."

Lesage told Marshall to buy Sanich Lady. He brought her back to B.C. and sent her to a local breeder, Ben Ternes, who recommended giving her a year off before breeding her.

"We eventually bred Sanich Lady to his stallion Vying Victor, and Destiny's Home is her first foal," said Lesage. "We really owe a lot to Ben for how well he took care of her, because, like Patti said, we still don't know anything about the breeding side of this business. Ben's basically done everything for us."

With Marshall gone, Patti and Mark weren't sure who they wanted to train Destiny's Home. That's when the children stepped in.

"They were adamant that Quint McCabe train her," said Patti. "Quint has been so good to the kids over the years that there just wasn't any question in their minds about who was going to train their horse. They were right, of course, and Quint's done a great job with her."

As far as Mark and Patti Lesage are concerned the story is over.

"It's nice that she'll get to run in the Futurity," said Patti. "But when she won the allowance race it completed the circle for us."