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Whippet Good Retired From Racing

Published: February 25, 2016 11:53 am ET

Last Comment: February 27, 2016 9:11 am ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

It's virtually unthinkable that a $4,700 purchase would become both the richest and fastest performer of his sire's offspring. Especially when the trainer is a part-time horseman who looked at the unraced two-year-old because of his hip number.

However, that is the story of Whippet Good. After 365 starts, 50 lifetime wins and more than $922,000 in earnings, the hard-knocking pacer has concluded his racing career.

A son of Island Fantasy - Whippet, Whippet Good was bred in Ontario by Glengate Farms, and was a $32,000 yearling purchase of Bill Boden, Martwest Racing Stable and Jim Ainsworth in the fall of 2003. A July 2004 qualifying effort showed a mile in 2:01.1f at Hiawatha Horse Park. The next month, the horse was listed in the 2004 Summer Sizzler Mixed Sale. He was catalogued as Hip 213.

Jim DeChellis had been a part-time horseman for years, but the steel mill that employed the Welland resident closed in 2003.

"I used to work in a plant and horses were just part-time to me. When the plant shut down, that's when I bought him. Me and my son [Nino] claimed this filly out of Windsor for $5,000. We raced her in Woodstock the day before the sale, and she didn't go too good," DeChellis told Trot Insider. "So I come in and he said 'we're not going to make any money with this one, we better go to that sale tomorrow. We've got $5,000, that's it.' If she would have raced good that day, who knows. Life's like that, anyway."

Born on February 13, DeChellis started his research at the 2004 Summer Sizzler with Hip 213: Whippet Good. The father-son duo had a $5,000 budget, and Whippet Good came in just $300 shy of that ceiling.

On the surface, the early stages of Whippet Good's career didn't show war-horse or open-class abilities. The horse made less than $1,000 as a freshman, winning one race but being set down for interference and eventually placed seventh.

"When I first got him, for the first seven or eight starts I don't think he passed a horse. And then one day at Flamboro he won a race...he went around everybody and kind of caught on but they threw me out, they said I cut somebody off," noted DeChellis. "That made me eligible to the London series by $100 so it was kind of a good thing they did...he made like $30,000 there."

That series in reference was the 2005 Middlesex County Pacing Series at Western Fair. He ended his three-year-old year just over the $64,000 mark. And that $23,950 purse cheque Whippet Good earned in the Middlesex Final would turn out to be the single biggest purse cheque the pacer would earn.

Over the next nine years, Whippet Good would ply his trade predominantly on the WEG circuit. DeChellis estimates that nearly 300 of Whippet Good's 365 starts came on the nation's premier circuit, and he's right: 301, to be exact. He'd work his way up to the top level, racing in the Open at age five. That would be his best single season for earnings ($210,710) and the age at which he took his lifetime mark (1:50.1s). Whippet Good's only win in the Open came in September of that year. The field included sub-1:50 performer Northern Trail and four multi-millionaires: Boulder Creek, Escape The Wind, Ramegade Bruiser and Secrets Nephew. In his normal grinding style, Whippet Good was able to hit the wire first in a time of 1:51.1s. It was a special night for Team DeChellis as it was also the birthday of his long-time caretaker, Michelle Sinclair.

"He had his moments. That one night when he won the Open I think those six horses had like $10 million made," DeChellis recalls about the field (from which double millionaire Silent Swing was scheduled to race but subsequently scratched). "He's beat about 20 millionaires, but they beat him too."

Four years later, Whippet Good was one of the horses involved in a horrific accident at Woodbine on October 4, 2011. Miraculously, the horse was back on the track -- and winning -- later that year.

"He really healed good. That accident he was in, that was bad. He had like 50 cuts, the hair was off half his face. Five weeks later, you couldn't see anything...everything grew back."

Whippet Good would continue to make his regular WEG circuit appearances on Saturday nights, lodging more than 40 seasonal starts each year after that accident. DeChellis always knew he'd have plans for the weekend, and that suited him just fine.

"We've been like Saturday night buddies for 10 years. My wife used to say I was going out on a date every week."

Limited to just five starts in 2015, Whippet Good made his last start on June 11 and came up lame according to DeChellis.

"That was the first time he'd come out of a race where he was I just stopped with him," said the trainer. "I thought that was it. I gave him three or four months off in the field, he started running and kicking and bucking so I started jogging him again.

"Around the first of November he trained in 2:10 and was about the soundest he ever was. But I figured if I quit now, he'll be sound for the rest of his life. He only had one year left anyhow....and he wouldn't have been ready until May or June."

So with that in mind, DeChellis made the decision to retire the horse he easily considers the best he's ever trained at the age of 14. He fondly looks back on the horse's resume, one which boasts a win in the 1:51 range every year after his three-year-old season. His final win came on October 16, 2014 at Woodbine with driver Shane Weber at the lines. DeChellis was quick to credit Weber for teaching Whippet Good "how to be a racehorse" and help him achieve a career with 50 wins.

Of those 50 wins, DeChellis pointed to a couple of races that stick out but admitted that so many of his wins blended together because they were won in the same fashion: Whippet Good would be in last or second last at some point of the mile, and he'd persevere his way to victory.

"He had a lot of ailments, but that's why they put him in a sale in the first place, I guess," stated DeChellis. "What he had wasn't life-threatening but it was always little things. He had ulcers, he had EPM there for a while, he'd get sore feet, but when he raced he'd always bounce back.

"He wasn't the fastest horse around but he had to be the toughest one I've even seen...A little bit has to be genetics but he was just a nice, tough horse."

One of the key attributes to Whippet Good's longevity has to be his attitude, or perhaps lack thereof.

"He's a really tough horse and he really takes care of himself. When you jog him, if you didn't make much noise he'd stop. He'd jog really slow. When he'd go to the races, he'd have a different demeanor altogether than at home. At home, he didn't even like going out to the paddock...the horse really liked to rest.

"He was just different. One day I was jogging him, and I came back to the barn with just the jog bike. Everyone came running out figuring something had happened. But he was walking so slow I just got off, unhooked the jog cart. He just stayed out there and ate grass with his bridle on and everything. He was a really, really relaxed horse...Every time I go to another barn and look at a horse, they seem so ordinary."

Whippet Good's consistency helped him develop a fanbase both in and outside of the harness racing community, something that also amazed his longtime trainer-owner.

"When I go anywhere in this town, I live in Welland, it's not 'hi, Jim!" it's 'how's Whippet?'" DeChellis admitted. "The other day I went to a restaurant in Milton and his picture was on the wall. I don't even know the people!"

With his on-track career concluded, Whippet Good is now enjoying a second career as a riding horse. He's at Double Duty Farm outside of Cayuga, Ont. and in the care of Julia Stewart.

"It only took her a few days [to break him to ride], and she really likes him."

Judging by the story behind Whippet Good, she's not alone.

(L-R: Whippet Good's first day under saddle, and being ridden with ease. Photos courtesy Julia Stewart.)

February 27, 2016 - 9:11 amThanks for all the memories

Thanks for all the memories old friend and for taking all of us on the ride of a lifetime. You are a dream come true!

Love Nino, Mary, Ava and Gianna

February 26, 2016 - 1:29 pmEnjoy your retirement

Enjoy your retirement Whippet. An amazing career and had raceed with so many great athletes. Loved playing Whippet and watching him race.

Congrats on a job well done. I will miss you Whippet Good.

Best wishes

February 26, 2016 - 9:03 amSo nice to see he has a good

So nice to see he has a good home to retire. They should all have a life like that.

February 25, 2016 - 2:12 pmVaya con dios my old Saturday

Rob MacKay SAID...

Vaya con dios my old Saturday night friend...

February 25, 2016 - 2:05 pmOne of the best stories on

One of the best stories on the WEG circuit the past many years. A hardknockng horse for a smalltime guy with a great ending. Best of luck to this wonderful animal in his retirement days. It would be nice to see WEG give him a retirement ceremony for his longevity on the circuit.

February 25, 2016 - 12:36 pmOne of those unsung warriors

One of those unsung warriors that brought it night after night. Looks like he'll make a perfect riding horse and get to enjoy a much deserved retirement! Good stuff!

February 25, 2016 - 12:18 pmGlad to see the old horse go

Randy Copley SAID...

Glad to see the old horse go out sound and happy to live the rest of his days in peace.

February 25, 2016 - 12:02 pmGreat story :)

Dan Fisher SAID...

Great story :)

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