By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: An Emerald Downs ‘Royal Family of Racing’ will be represented with three entries in today’s 59th running of the $75,000 Ascot Graduation for two-year-olds.
Kay Cooper, daughter of the late Washington Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jim Penney, has been carrying on the family tradition with husband Bryson.
“We try to make it to Hastings every year at the end of our season in Seattle,” Kay says. “We missed last year but we’re back with seven horses now and look forward to renewing our friendships with so many people in the industry here.”
It certainly is familiar territory to Bryson, who’s career as a jockey from 1970 thru 2005 included memorable riding assignments at Hastings Park during the Jack Diamond era.
“I always wanted to win the BC Derby but missed by a neck to a horse named Decidedly D ridden by Alan Cuthbertson in 1972,” Bryson recalls.
Kay and Bryson’s son Geoffrey was also a successful jockey at Emerald Downs from 1994-99 and he, too, made several riding appearances at Hastings.
The Penney family’s legacy in Washington racing goes back four generations with the arrival of A.E. “Gramps” Penney in 1901, one of the 16 original founders of the then Washington Horse Breeders Association.
Grandson Jim Penney saddled a record five winners of the Longacres Mile and is the only trainer to have won titles at Emerald Downs, Longacres and Yakima Meadows. He was also the trainer of record for 2004 BC Derby winner Flamethrowintexan in 2014.
Kay had worked as an assistant trainer for her Dad for many years and when Mr. Penney passed in 2017 at the age of 82, Kay inherited the number one trainer’s position with Bryson’s ongoing support.
Kay and Bryson, along with Kay’s sister Jill and her husband Jack Fabulich, own and operate Homestretch Farm, a thoroughbred training centre in Edgewood, WA.
Kay and Bryson under the Cooper colors will be sending Lolo Paniolo, Turntheclocktozero and Forty Smooches to the post this afternoon in the 12-horse Ascot field.
At Hastings, their presence runs much deeper than the ‘Hands Across the Border’ tradition. It’s a decades-long family connection that perhaps could be referred to, if you’ll pardon the pun, ‘Hoofs Across the Border’.