Written by: Kim Izzo
With a foot in both the show and racing worlds, Stacey Krembil has been a powerful advocate for the Thoroughbred and has a homebred favourite in this weekends Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.
On the show circuit, her son, Jake Krembil, was a successful young rider who trained with Eric Lamaze before deciding to pursue a Business Masters. Stacey has continued her influence in the sport by sponsoring the LongRun Hunter Classic at Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario, for the past several years. Open to thoroughbreds with a valid tattoo or papers from the Jockey Club or CTHS, the classic offers two heights, 2’6” and 3’, and consists of two rounds, with top-10 scores returning for round 2.
There are currently four shows in the East, and a Western division in partnership with New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society from Vancouver. These Thoroughbred hunter series give riders a forum to demonstrate the fruits of all the hard work and dedication it takes to retrain an ex-racehorse into a new career in the show ring.
In the racing world, Stacey is married to Mark Krembil, one of the owners of Chiefswood Stables, and a major force in Canadian Thoroughbred racing. Stacey was a co-chair at LongRun for nine years before leaving to start Chiefswood Stables Aftercare Program (CAP), which sets out to find adoptive homes for their own racehorses once their career on the track is finished.
This Saturday, August 18th, you will find Stacey and her husband at Woodbine where Chiefswood Stables’ homebred colt, Neepewa, is set to run in the Breeders’ Stakes, the third and final jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown. First run in 1889, at a distance of a mile and a half the Breeders’ Stakes is longer than both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, and is the only leg of the series run on the turf.
Neepewa is a large dark brown gelding by Scat Daddy, the same sire as this year’s Triple Crown winner, Justify. Chiefswood general manager, Rob Landry, describes the colt as, “Very kind, with a great disposition, especially for a stallion.” If Landry’s name sounds familiar that’s probably due to his illustrious career as a jockey. When he retired in 2011 he had amassed over 2,000 career wins, 17,000 career mounts, and purse earnings of close to $70 million.
Landry’s last Queen’s Plate winner was in 2004 on a stallion called Niigon, who happened to be owned by Chiefswood and who also happens to be the grandfather of Neepewa. Mark Krembil and his brother, Robert, offered Landry the top job at Chiefswood after he retired. Given how well the horses are cared for, it was the perfect match.
“Our horses want for nothing, they are raised exceptionally well and they’re handled from a young age,” Landry says. “We strive to give a horse every chance they can to be their best. We go through the process, we breed, we raise, we break and race them all in-house. And we’re hoping to raise a champion.”
While Neepewa only finished tenth in the Queen’s Plate, Landry says not to discount him for the Breeders’ Stakes. “The Plate wasn’t a true gauge of his ability, it was a strong pace out front,” Landry explains of the disappointing results. “Both horses [stable mate Rose’s Vision] came back and ran exceptional races next start. They were a victim of the fast pace. I drew a line through that race for both horses.”
Neepawa is trained by racing legend Mark Casse; his assistant trainer, Kathryn Sullivan, agrees with Landry’s take. “He has been running well, but I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. We have always thought of him as the kind of horse who will get better as he gets older,” she explains. “He hasn’t gotten that big win yet, and hopefully this will be it.”
Adding to the optimism for Neepawa’s chances to be in the winner’s circle at the Breeders’ is the footing. “He loves the turf, he ran in the Toronto Cup, which was 1 mile 1/8 on the turf and we’re confident the extra distance shouldn’t hurt him,” says Landry. “He has stamina and is coming into the race in good order. He has a good chance of winning.” Place your bets, folks.
Breeders’ Stakes 101
Event: Breeders’ Stakes – third and final jewel of the OLG Canadian Triple Crown
When: Saturday, August 18, 2018
Horse Type: Three-Year-Olds foaled in Canada
Woodbine Racing Starts: 1p.m. ET
Distance: One-and-a-half miles
Track Type: Tapeta
Location: Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, ON
Race Record: Charlie’s Dewan (1995) 2:26 2/5
Television: On TSN at 5pm