Chad Joe is a successful owner of thoroughbred horses who is the first to admit his involvement in the sport was the furthest thing from his mind as recently as two years ago.
Joe, the president of Westcoast Mining Contractors in Sechelt on British Columbia’s sunshine coast, became interested in horse racing strictly by accident after an impromptu lunch at Hastings Racecourse with media relations director Greg Douglas.
How the two met is a story in itself.
It was back in 1981 when a national story in Maclean’s Magazine discussed the challenges of some of Canada’s poorest families. There was mention of a single mom on welfare in Whalley, B.C., who was struggling with raising five children.
Douglas was promoting a Vancouver visit by the Harlem Globetrotters at the time and invited the Joe family to be courtside guests.
Chad was 14 then. Some 32 years later, he contacted Douglas to thank him.
“It’s something I had promised to do dating back all those years,” Joe said. “Obviously it took me a while to follow through.”
Joe and his wife Christa were given a backstretch visit at Hastings after lunch and decided at that moment to get involved in the sport.
They were introduced to veteran trainer Craig MacPherson and hit it off instantly.
In 2013, Joe purchased his first horse — a three-year-old filly named Kate’s Posse — for $10,000 at the Ocala Breeders Winter Mixed Sale.
“She never made it to the starting gate,” Joe recalled. “After bowing a tendon before even racing we sent her back to Florida and bred her to a top stallion. It was part of the business we had no interest in getting into, but were forced to because of her injury.”
Their first runner was Miss Derek, claimed out of a race in California. She went on to win $160,000 with Hastings victories in the Vancouver Sun Handicap, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Supernaturel stakes.
Joe then purchased Florida-bred Reporting Star who won five races worth more than $500,000 in purse earnings.
He is the first to admit his success in the horse racing would not be possible without the people around him, acknowledging MacPherson, Woodbine trainer Pat Parente and bloodstock agents Mike Miller and Brendon Walsh as key contributors.
When Joe made the decision to become involved in horse racing, he had a five-year business plan in place.
“Last year, we had about 20 horses and whittled it down to about 10. We now have two at Hastings, four at Woodbine, two at Keeneland and a Roseburg yearling bought at the CTHSBC Fall Sale in BC and a few broodmares.
Joe’s latest purchase is Royal Story, a two-year old filly his trainer at Churchill Downs in Kentucky says has plenty of potential.
“In her first race, she goes right to the lead and wins by three lengths,” he said. “The trainer says her next race is an allowance race in two weeks. If all goes well, she will run probably in the Kentucky Oaks, so we have high hopes with her.”
As for that five-year plan, “Right now were already ahead and if things keep going forward as they are now, we’ll exceed those goals. The past three years there have been lots of people looking after us. Which is why I believe friends are a gift to yourself. You also realize the joy horses have also brought to me and my family. We’ve had a lot of kind people in the racing business looking after us. It’s been a wonderful ride.”