By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Scotty Bowman, the hockey czar who won an NHL record nine Stanley Cups as a head coach and five more as a member of management, famously insisted “statistics are for losers”.
Leading trainer Phil Hall for a third consecutive year at Hastings, might tend to disagree. In his case, statistics can certainly be for winners and you need not look any further than his pace-setting record as the 2019 thoroughbred racing season approaches the finish line.
Heading into this next-to-last weekend, Hall has made 51 trips to the winner’s circle and 11 of those have been the result of victories in featured stake races.
The all-time stakes record at Hastings is held by Hall of Fame trainer Troy Taylor who registered an incredible 18 during the 2012 season working alongside owner and best friend Glen Todd.
Here’s a stat that could change even the brilliant mindset of Scotty Bowman: through the course of this year’s now-completed 35 stakes schedule, Hall’s horses finished second nine times. On one occasion – the John Longden 6000 on June 16 – the first-place finisher Apalachee Bay and runner-up Calgary Caper were both Hall-trained runners.
That’s how close Hall came to extinguishing Mr. Taylor’s long-standing stakes accomplishment.
Four of Hall’s second-place finishes in stakes competition this year came while trying to beat the brilliant filly Here’s Hannah owned by BC Stables and trained by John Morrison. Frustrating as it was, they happened on a once-a-month basis: the Vancouver Sun on May 25; Strawberry Morn on June 15; Monashee on July 13 and BC Cup Distaff on August 5.
The Hall team of Phil and daughter Sara began their stakes-winning run on Opening Day May 4 with Good Luck to You in the Brighouse Belles and Summerland in the Ross McLeod.
Summerland also went on to capture the Emerald Downs and Supernaturel while the others included Awhitesportscoat (George Royal), Apalachee Bay (John Longden 6000), Catchacougar (Spaghetti Mouse), At Attention (BC Cup Nursery), Calgary Caper (BC Cup Classic), Above the Moon (CTHS Sales) and Bear (Delta Colleen).
With all due respect, Mr. Bowman, when it comes to stakes purses in horse racing, 11 wins and a blanket full of seconds hardly fall into the category of statistics being for losers.