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Breeding Trio Highlights COSA TV

Published: April 28, 2020 2:20 pm ET

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A unique trio of faces was featured on the Wednesday evening (April 29) episode of COSA TV.

The biggest Standardbred breeders in harness racing -- Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky (of Hanover Shoe Farms), Ann Straatman (Seelster Farms) and Pat Woods (Winbak of Ontario) joined host Greg Blanchard to fill viewers in on how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as discuss some of their most impactful stallions and broodmares.

Dr. Jablonsky initiated the conversation with an update on how Hanover Shoe Farms is dealing with the unprecedented times at hand.

“The foals are still coming, the mares are still getting bred as farm life goes, things are going pretty business as usual.”

Jablonsky then provided insight towards how Hanover Shoe began its legacy in the industry.

“The farm got rolling in 1926 so we are coming up on 100 years doing this. It’s a brand, I think our namesake -- Hanover, is very recognizable not only in the industry but in the town as well, people that visit the region where we are, visit our farm, we’re a tourist attraction as well. We welcome guests and are one of the stops on the county tour. I think Hanover Shoe Farms is associated with greatness and working here was my first job out of vet school and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Ann Straatman of Seelster Farms and Chair of Board at Standardbred Canada discussed with fellow breeders and host Blanchard how things in Lucan, Ont. are going.

“We had another foal born this evening actually. They’re born at all times of the day but mostly in the evening and at night.”

Straatman, who holds many roles in the harness racing industry, continued to enlighten viewers on the family history behind Seelster Farms.

“The farm started with my grandfather, my father and my two uncles. It’s been a love affair for us since we were tall enough to look into the stalls.”

That scenario is different for Pat Woods as he is a rather new face to Winbak Farms, a uniquely large operation that operates in multiple jurisdictions.

“Our main farm is in Maryland, but we also have a breeding station in Delaware, New York, and we have the farm up here. We’re spread out but the farm runs as one unit.”

Woods also commented on how the farm has kept the same appearance throughout the years as it did when it was formerly known as Armbro Farms.

“The farm is very much the same still, the layout is very similar. We have about the same space that Armbro did but it works well enough. We keep about 35 mares here but our main focus of mares is at our Maryland farms. Here we focus more so on the stallions.”

Blanchard then took the trio of breeders down memory lane to revisit some of the most impactful stallions that have stood at their farms through the years.

For Straatman, the stallion with the most profound impact on Seelster Farms would be the great Camluck, who arrived at Seelster in 1993 and without question is one of the greatest pacing sires in Canadian history.

“He was certainly the most intelligent sire we have ever had and he passed that down to a lot of his foals. It’s nice to be able to see how quickly they can learn and I believe that it’s bred into them rather than being taught. Camluck was a great sire but he is now also a great broodmare sire. It’s nice to see that people think of him that way -- he is still with us and he will continue to be with us in pedigree’s for a long time.”

While Pat Woods has seen and worked with a number of remarkable stallions throughout his career, the sire with the greatest impact on Winbak Farms is the one voted as harness racing's pacing sire of the 2010s: Bettors Delight.

“He is just a freak of nature. He should be slowing down and he just isn't. I don’t know if it’s because he's grumpy all the time and he's just one of those grumpy old men that just keep on going but he just does it all the time. Whatever breeding shed numbers he has to cover -- he just does it. His semen quality is still as phenomenal as it’s ever been. He’s 22 now and we have a lot of pride in him because he also is a Winbak-bred horse. He’s not a very big horse but he passes on his good gait and willingness to win. We couldn't be more proud to have him with us and proud of what he has accomplished.”

For Dr. Jablonsky, while choosing a particular stallion may be a difficult task, there is one that she holds closely to her heart -- a Standardbred generally considered to be one of the greatest horses to step onto a racetrack -- Somebeachsomewhere.

“To me, I love the yearling part. I love prepping them and watching them race but I also love the stallions. It is amazing to be around them. When Brent walked him off the trailer that day I had many mixed feelings. I was excited and so in awe but I was nervous because when they hand you that lead shank or put the horse in the stall, the responsibility is now yours.

“He [Somebeachsomewhere] was a gift. I think it is going to take a couple more years for the industry to realize what we lost when we lost him so young. He had so much more to give and his legacy will live on in his sons that will become and are sires and he is already becoming a broodmare sire but he was well on his way to becoming the most dominant pacing sire ever. You would look at a stake race and there would be five horses sired by him in the same race. He was one of those rare horses that was a freak on the racetrack and went on to become a freak in the breeding shed. His yearlings were such early bloomers, his weanlings looked like yearlings and his yearlings looked like two-year-olds -- they were precocious and I think that's one thing that really helped him. It was so devastating to lose him but at the same time we were so fortunate to have had him.”

The highly-entertaining and informative episode of COSA TV which provided fans with a different outlook and appreciation of the Standardbred breeding industry was produced by CUJO Entertainment and is available for viewing below.

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