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The Thrill of Ownership

Trot Feature - 2017 Trot Magazine Fantasy Stable Winner

Holding the lead in the 2017 TROT Magazine Fantasy Stable challenge felt very familiar to Dave Deighton.

For the lifelong horse owner, it reminded him of the real thing. By Chris Lomon

As a longtime standardbred owner, Dave Deighton will tell you there's nothing better than watching an open-length win unfold. It's exactly what he experienced down the stretch of the 2017 TROT Magazine Fantasy Challenge handicapping contest.

His enjoyment of horses and horse racing began at a young age - he estimates by the time he was three or four - while his association with the handicapping side of the sport is much more recent.

"My uncle was Lorne Deighton," he said of the longtime standardbred racehorse owner. "Growing up in Dresden, you either owned a racehorse or you played hockey. I grew up with the horse side. My uncle had a horse called Dapper Duke Dee, who was well known in this area. You can definitely say I got bit early by the horse racing bug.

"After growing up, I went to university, graduated and got a job," continued Deighton. "I was thinking, 'I want to get back into the horse business.' At the age of 24, I claimed my first horse and I've owned horses ever since. I've taken a bit of a break since the fall. Ideally, I'd like to have three or four horses to own. But I don't have nearly as much experience with handicapping contests."

That said, Deighton is just as enthused over his newfound passion for researching and assembling a standardbred fantasy stable.

He has plenty of reason to be.

A native of Dresden, Ontario (he now calls Chatham home), Deighton trotted off with top honours in the annual TROT Fantasy Challenge handicapping contest, his True North Stable racking up $7,702,653 in earnings.

The contest is based on total earnings of selected horses and five percent of the earnings of selected trainers and drivers between May 20 and December 31, 2017. For the purposes of the fantasy bankroll, the winners (horses only) of the 2017 Breeders Crown Finals each received a $200,000 contest bankroll bonus.

Deighton bested his nearest rival by nearly $500,000. How would he equate the victory in horse racing terms?

"I think I won by 20 lengths," said Deighton with a laugh. "It was a pretty good feeling. As a horse owner, it's always nice to start making that walk to the winner's circle when they're at the top of the stretch."

The third time was indeed the charm for the owner of True North Home Health, a health care equipment company.

Deighton didn't fare nearly as well in his first two attempts at the TROT contest, including an admittedly dismal result in 2015.

"I did it for the first time two years ago," he recalled. "I would say because it was my third year, I put some more time into doing homework. I think I finished about 1,100th my first year. This time, I probably took an entire Sunday afternoon to look over things."

The extra effort certainly paid off.

A trio of horses delivered Deighton some serious horsepower this time around, headlined by Downbytheseaside, a multiple stakes-winning son of the late Somebeachsomewhere.

The Dan Patch Award winner in the three-year-old male category finished his campaign on a four-race win streak en route to leading the sport with $1.6 million in purses. The colt's victories included the Messenger Stakes, Progress Pace, Carl Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney Pace.

"When I was making my choices, I was thinking that you're always looking for that glamour boy horse," Deighton noted. "And Downbytheseaside stood out for me. I know a lot of people were looking to Huntsville at the beginning of the year as the better horse. I looked at it from the point of view that the three-year-old season is a pretty tough grind and I thought Downbytheseaside was a little bit more of a tougher, grinding type of horse. That made my decision to go with him, which I'm glad I did. When I knew the people closest to me had Huntsville, I thought, 'I'm going to pull away from this.'"

Deighton's stable also boasted trotting titan Hannelore Hanover, who became the first repeat winner in the Dan Patch trotting mare division since Buck I St Pat captured three trophies in a row from 2008-10, won 10 of 17 races in 2017.

Last year at age five, she posted the fastest mile in history by a female trotter and defeated male rivals in both the Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot. She received three Dan Patch Awards including the night's grand prize, U.S. Horse of the Year. Her connections also received trophies for Trotter of the Year and best older female trotter.

Hannelore Hanover was also named Canada's Older Trotting Mare of the Year and Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year at the 2017 O'Brien Awards.

It was two-year-old pacer Youaremycandygirl, a bay daughter of American Ideal, who gave Deighton his third seven-figure earner in the contest, banking $1,143,115 in purse earnings in 2017, courtesy of nine wins from 11 starts.

"I kind of thought Youaremycandygirl - she was a nice surprise," he offered. "She just kept going and going. She had no bottom."

And she no doubt helped put Deighton on top.

"You feel as though you're almost invested in the ownership of these horses," he said. "I've owned horses for almost 20 years. It gives you that same feeling. The contest is fun and it keeps you engaged in the sport, that's for sure."

Deighton's contest connection isn't over. As part of his TROT triumph, he's received entry into and travel to the 2018 World Harness Handicapping Championship, a prize valued at (approx.) $1,300.

The $75,000 guaranteed contest, to be held at Meadowlands Racetrack, features a $40,000 grand prize, plus payouts to the top 10 players, who also keep their bankroll.

Deighton will likely put in more than an afternoon's work in preparation for this one. He won't, however, alter his handicapping approach.

"As far as being a handicapper, I've never been really big on that," he offered. "I've always been a horse lover and I've always looked at the horse side of it. I always base my bets more in that approach. When I place a wager, I look at the soundness of the horse - which I know most people do - but being a horseman, it's sort of a different angle in how I go about it."

An angle that has already delivered Dave Deighton one high-profile trip to the winner's circle.

1 Comment

April 28, 2018 - 8:57 pmThrough the heart and soul of

Jim Brown SAID...

Through the heart and soul of the industry is the grass roots of racing, the foundation of the sport. The true foundation of young horses and drivers and trainers as well to hone their skills to find their way some day to the bigger stage. We now have a young man that's made his way through the grass roots of racing and the skills that he has learned through the process. He too has found his way to the large stage. Congratulations and have fun. This is something that should not fall on deaf ears, or to be forgotten about for the reasons above. The heart and soul of racing will always need to go through the grass roots of this great sport. To maintain the integrity of the sport and the path of generations that put down before us.

I, Jim Brown, nominate Dave Deighton to be the next ambassador of this sport of racing.

I'llHaveAnother, Ontario needs Racing and another Dave Deighton


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