From Overlooked To The O'Brien Awards

2023 O'Brien Award finalist Emmetts Buddy
Published: January 7, 2024 11:00 am EST

When Manitoba breeder Arthur Rey, a hobby horseman for about 50 years, put his stakes-winning homebred up for sale at the end of the colt's three-year-old campaign, no one took notice. 

But Rey is pleased now that the pacer was initially overlooked for what turned out to be a bargain offering price of $20,000 after he has gone on to garner national attention while racing his way into the harness history books and becoming an O'Brien Award finalist.

"We raise the colts," said the St. Claude, Man. horseman, explaining his stable's operations in an interview with Portage Online. "We have broodmares. We raise the colts, break them, train them and usually sell them because there isn't enough racing here in Manitoba to keep them here."

Rey has produced many stakes winners in his home province and earned accolades including being named Horseperson of the Year at the 2018 Manitoba Harness Racing Industry Awards. But the enjoyment he gets from his longtime hobby comes from working with the babies and the seeing them develop into racehorses.

"You get home. Sometimes, it's a bit of a challenge because the days are short, but still, you hitch up a horse and you go and jog," said Rey. "It's kind of relaxing compared to your day's work, especially with young horses, which is what I prefer; to see them develop. You never know what you're going to have. So, you just keep training and training them down and see how fast they can go, which is what I find interesting."

After raising and campaigning Emmetts Buddy to victory in the 2022 Manitoba Great Western Stakes, Rey soon found out just how fast his future O'Brien Award finalist could go.

In fact, the In The Irons gelding became the fastest Manitoba-sired pacer in harness racing history.

Following a successful start with Rey competing in Manitoba fair stakes action during his debut campaign as a three-year-old, Emmetts Buddy joined the stable of Mike Kwietniowski in Ontario and climbed the conditioned ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 2023, taking a lifetime mark of 1:49 and earning four Preferred wins.

Emmetts Buddy put together a four-year-old campaign that included 12 wins, six seconds and four thirds from 36 starts while banking $224,190.

Among his dozen victories, the 1:49 mile on Aug. 26 at Mohawk marked a historical moment in harness racing as Emmetts Buddy became the first Manitoba-sired performer to break the 1:50 barrier.  

"It is certainly an honour to have," said Rey. "And lucky. I have to say, we have to be lucky to have these horses. I think there's certainly help from above. We don't do that all by ourselves."

Emmetts Buddy's contributions to Canadian racing have put him in the running for a 2023 O'Brien Award in the Older Pacing Horse division as a finalist alongside multiple Grand Circuit stakes winner Tattoo Artist.

The winners will be announced at Standardbred Canada's O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, which will take place at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Rey said he will be on hand to celebrate the achievements of his first ever O'Brien finalist. 

(With files from Portage Online)

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