We live on in what we leave behind

When I go to social media, only Facebook really, it’s just to catch up with friends and family, read some gossip and so on. I don’t care much for the ads and usually scroll past them for the most part… Mark Zuckerburg doesn’t need my help lining his pockets.

There has been an ad on there lately however - for the Royal Ontario Museum I believe - that has caught my eye. I have no reason to click on it, but I’ve read it several times. It simply says ‘We live on in what we leave behind’. Being a parent, the phrase obviously struck a chord with me.

For many of us, it’s all about our kids - wanting it to be better for them than it was for us… regardless of how it was for us. Wanting them to be safe, successful and happy. Many of you know exactly what I’m saying.

Just over 14 years ago, my son and I were traveling to Cooperstown, NY with his Cambridge Cubs Peewee baseball team, so he could play in a magnificent tournament at the Cooperstown Dreams Park. It was a great week, but when everyone else on the team headed home, he and I headed south… to The Meadowlands.

I still had a project horse at the time, that I was training on the side out of Baycairn Training Centre, and we had a famous neighbour in the barn next door who was racing in The Meadowlands Pace eliminations that Saturday night. Back in Ontario, the horse’s trainer, Brent MacGrath, had kindly let my son interact with Somebeachsomewhere on a number of occasions, once even letting him hold the leadshank while the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle (in my opinion) munched on some grass. We were headed for a weekend in Jersey to watch our friends race.

The big horse won easily the night we were there, and when we entered the winner’s circle afterwards both Paul [MacDonell] and Brent were surprised to see us but welcomed us right in. The photo remains framed and hanging on our living room wall to this day.

A week later we screamed frantically at the TV in our family cottage, some 900 kms away, watching the best-worst race we had ever seen, as SBSW was beaten for the only time in his career, in what was probably his best performance.

Most of you know that race well, and you probably remember where you were when you watched it. A lot of you were as crushed by the result as we were, but we all knew it was just part of racing. And in many cases, the equine hero known to most as ‘The Beach’ was only adored more following that one defeat.

On Saturday, July 16, 2022, I sat with my son once again, and watched a Hollywood script unfold right in front of us as a colt from the last crop of Somebeachsomewhere won the only race his dad couldn’t, for the same trainer and most of the same owners that felt that heartbreak in New Jersey 14 years earlier. 

We, like most Canadian horsepeople I’m sure, were cheering for Beach Glass, maybe in-part to avenge his father’s only loss in some way, or simply just because it made such a great story. But as the first half of the race unfolded we both noticed an eerie similarity to that 2008 edition, as shown in these partial chart lines below:

BEACH GLASS                                 (PP  -  ¼  -  ½ ):  6      4°/2T        1°/1

SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE  (PP  -  ¼  -  ½ ):  2       4°/2H       1°°/NS

Of course in the 2022 version they hit the half in :53.2 and not :51.4, Beach Glass assumed control and the rest was history - an open-length victory in 1:47.2. The MacGraths, Schooner II Stable, Yannick Gingras and most of Canadian racing cheered.

Was there vindication for The Beach though? Did people feel just as happy for him as they did for Beach Glass? It depends who you ask I guess. 

I personally felt a little - I cannot lie. The result of the 2008 Pace had left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth all of these years.

Yannick Gingras even mentioned it in the winner’s circle afterwards when he said that he had felt a bit guilty over the years because he was largely involved in the speed battle up-front that led in-part to Beach’s defeat.

When asked, Brent MacGrath told me, “I do actually feel some vindication for Beach. Not because we had held onto it for all these years or anything though. I was fully prepared for him to get beat back then… they all get beat. No, I feel a bit of vindication because his fans feel it, and if they feel it then it’s real… then there is vindication for him, whether I say there is or not. It actually really doesn’t matter what I think.”

What about Paul MacDonell, the man who drove Somebeachsomewhere, trained and drove Beach Glass’s dam, Im With Her, and gave Beach Glass himself his early life lessons, while driving him for his first six career starts.

I’ve known Paul for many years, and he’s a man that usually let’s his actions do the talking, so to me, it was more than fitting that approximately 10 minutes after Beach Glass hit the wire first in the Meadowlands Pace, Paul MacDonell was in the winner’s circle at Woodbine Mohawk Park with Mappos Lion - a horse he trains and drives. By the way, Mappos Lion is a son of Sunshine Beach, making him a grandson of… you got it… Somebeachsomewhere.

We live on in what we leave behind.

Dan Fisher - [email protected]