12/08/2006 12:00AM

Sovereign within Gardiner's grasp


Gardiner Farms, one of Canada's top breeding and racing establishments in the 1960's and 1970's, has never won a Sovereign Award as the country's outstanding breeder, but that could change on Dec. 16.

Thanks to the exploits of talented 2-year-old stakes winners Midnight Shadow, Legal Move, and Dancer's Bajan, Gardiner will be favored to capture the Sovereign over perennial winners Sam-Son Farms and Adena Springs.

Gardiner, which is under the direction of president Dr. Michael Colterjohn, is the home to Canada's leading stallions Bold Executive and Peaks and Valleys, plus the red-hot Trajectory, one of this country's most promising sires.

The farm was built by George Gardiner more than 40 years ago and is a 350-acre operation located in Caledon East, Ontario.

Gardiner, a vice president and trustee of the Ontario Jockey Club for many years before his death in 1997, raced more than 40 stakes winners, including San Juan Capistrano Handicap winner St. Vincent and Canadian International winner Frenetico.

In 1976, the farm won the outstanding owner Sovereign, and the following year its mare Doris White won outstanding broodmare. Another Gardiner mare, Yonnie Girl, the dam of Grade 1 winner Runaway Groom, won the outstanding broodmare Sovereign in 1982.

The 2006 racing season has been a strong one for Gardiner-breds, who earned $1.8 million through Nov. 14, the cutoff for figures provided to Sovereign voters.

The Gardiner-bred juveniles ruled the roost with Midnight Shadow, Legal Move, and Dancer's Bajan combining to win six stakes during the Woodbine meeting.

Midnight Shadow, by Trajectory, is nominated as Canada's champion 2-year-old filly.

Other notable stakes winners bred this season by Gardiner include Are You Serious, winner of the Bold Venture Stakes, and Lady Angela and La Prevoyante Stakes winner London Snow, also by Trajectory.

This year's outstanding broodmare category features a reappearance by Artic Bleu, nominated for the Sovereign in 2004, who figures to battle for the award with Dream Smartly, owned by Bruno Bros. Farms.

Artic Bleu is the dam of 2006 stakes winner Millfleet plus stakes winners Norfolk Knight and Artic Squire.

Dream Smartly is the dam of 2004 champion sprinter Blonde Executive plus this year's nominated stakes-winning sprinter Main Executive.

Bossy Boots, the third nominee, was represented this year by stakes-winning sprint filly Bosskiri and 2004 stakes-winning filly Dressed for Action.

Regal Racing syndicate to launch soon

Attracting new owners to the industry is good news for the breeding industry, and Regal Racing, an exciting new syndicate venture created by Bethany Hammett, is sure to be a prominent fixture in 2007.

Hammett is aggressively pursuing the "financial sector" of the city of Toronto, hoping to give prospective syndicate members the true experience of racehorse ownership.

"We want to tie into the emotional involvement of the sport because I believe people should experience the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows," said Hammett, who has worked in the corporate sector for 11 years. "Sometimes in racehorse syndicates, you tend to get detached from the sport and it just becomes about numbers."

Hammett, who is developing the syndicate based on Team Valor's successful model in the United States, said communication portals will be available for syndicate members to talk to each other and webcams will be installed in stalls so owners can watch their horse.

Hammett, whose husband, Jody, is a top trainer at Woodbine, already has four horses ready to be syndicated and has been in discussions with horsepeople in Australia and England to purchase runners.

Hammett is also close to being signed up for marketing the syndicate with several venues associated with racing in the Toronto area - details will be announced soon.

"We're hoping to syndicate 50 horses with 20 investors each - that would bring 1,000 people into the business."