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Having The Time Of Their Lives

Published: February 22, 2020 4:11 pm ET

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Ask anyone there: the table that had the biggest reaction to winning at the 2019 O’Brien Awards was most definitely the one that sported the connections of pacing colt Century Farroh.

Certainly a colt whose ownership group didn’t expect to be in that position a year ago, Century Farroh was the poster boy for the Ontario Sires Stakes in 2019.  The son of the late Mach Three won 12 of 16 races as a sophomore, including five in the provincial program and bankrolled almost $720,000 in earnings.

“We certainly didn’t think we were going to win that award,” owner Dave Ratchford told Trot Insider. “Happy and thrilled and blown away actually by the fact that we did win, but we certainly didn’t go in with any expectations that we would.”

Despite the fact that Ratchford and his family went into the 2019 O’Brien Awards with low expectations, they definitely didn’t pass up the chance to celebrate the nomination. Ratchford and his clan came to Ontario from Nova Scotia, and the group enjoyed the black tie gala from wire to wire.

“We (Dave and his wife Marguerite) have four daughters and they were all there. They were born into a horse family, so they know what’s going on. They know the breeding, they know what I’m buying and they’re interested. They all came; they all wanted to come.

“We certainly had fun, that’s for sure. That was part of the excitement at our table,” Ratchford continued. ”I wasn’t surprised but I was definitely impressed by the presentation of the whole evening actually from start to finish.”

Century Farroh kicked off his 2019 season with a four-race win streak, including the Somebeachsomewhere and an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Division. He took his lifetime mark of 1:49.1 in the North America Cup Consolation and initiated another four-race win streak which included another OSS Gold division.  One of his more impressive victories came in the Simcoe Stakes where he tackled Grand Circuit competition with a 1:49.3 victory, but it was his trip to the Hoosier State that impressed Ratchford the most.

“It’s a toss up between the consolation of the North America Cup and the Jenna’s Beach Boy. I actually think the Jennas Beach Boy to me was more impressive,” noted the longtime horseman. “He got away in the second tier and was sitting back fifth or sixth, and he moved in the second quarter...The consolation was there, but you always have to mention both I guess.”

Century Farroh’s season had more marvelous moments to mention than most. Along with his 12 wins, he posted two third-place finishes and only missed two cheques -- once after a traffic-mired trip in his North America Cup elim, and once after a hard-fought battle in his Breeders Crown elim.

“He never had a bad night actually; he had nights that wasn’t quite up to par but certainly not bad.”

The eternal billion-dollar question for any horseman is what makes a good horse good, and Ratchford certainly doesn’t have the answer. What he could say is that Century Farroh was a good horse from the minute he was hitched after he was transported back to Cape Breton from the 2017 London Selected Yearling Sale after being purchased from breeder Century Spring Farm for $17,000.

“When I go to those sales I mark quite a few that I might be interested in, depending on their conformation, and he fit the bill. I don’t normally go to the stall before, so I try to watch them coming into the ring when they’re in the back hold or wherever they may be. And we liked the look of him. I’m not sure when I was going to stop. I certainly wasn’t going to go to any major extreme dollar wise to get him, but he fit the bill on the pedigree and his conformation and obviously the price suited us well.

“He was a nice colt right from the time we broke him. The second time I qualified him we thought ‘Oh well, he’s certainly good enough to go up’ and we weren’t quite sure what he would do. We thought he would fit somewhere in the Ontario Sires program.”

Ratchford thought enough of the colt at two to pay him into the 2018 Metro Pace. But at the end of August when eventual 2018 Metro winner Stag Party was winning Grand Circuit events at Woodbine Mohawk Park in 1:52.2, Century Farroh was finishing fifth in a Grassroots event at Hanover Raceway and pacing in the 1:57 range.

“To be quite honest it took him a bit of time to adjust to something down there... I wasn’t surprised when he was able to pull off some wins in the Grassroots [at two] and that certainly suffices his purchase price and our expectations; we surely never thought for a minute that we’d have this kind of a horse. In fact, I was only just thinking now that the longer it goes and the more exposure that was coming, I was starting to think ‘Ah geez, this is a pretty nice horse.’ It’s almost hard for us to believe.”

Now that he’s pinched himself and gone over to touch the bronze bust of Joe O’Brien once or twice and confirmed that he’s in fact not dreaming, Ratchford will look ahead to Century Farroh’s four-year-old season. The pacer started jogging about a month ago for Moore in Florida, which is about the same time he started back in 2019 as a sophomore.  

“We’ll stake him to the majority of four-year-old races, both U.S. and Canada,” confirmed Ratchford. “I’m questioning whether we should go to the TVG or not, I’m not really sure. But most of the other ones he’ll be eligible.”

He’ll be eligible, and the harness racing world will possibly see if Century Farroh will be competitive in about two months time. That mid-April timeframe was about the time that he qualified at three, and it’s also around the time Moore ships his stable back north from Florida. Ratchford noted the possibility of a start at Pompano Park before heading home.

“In the back of my mind I think he could possibly race once or twice at Pompano, but it just depends on when he’d be ready.”

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