By: Chris Lomon
Whenever Roxy’s Vision
(photo by Emily Shields
) leaves the gate, the five-year-old Ontario-bred’s connections know the end result will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Literally.
At the finish of the 1 1/16-mile race contested over Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course in late June of 2016, the bay gelding sent off at 7-1 crossed the wire seventh, 11-plus lengths behind the winner.
The poor result would be, however, the start of something good for the son of Court Vision.
“Early on his career, he had an injury where he lost part of his foot,” said assistant trainer Jeff Bowen, who works for decorated conditioner Ian Black. “That really hindered his progression. We ended up sending him to Fort Erie after he healed and he just continued to progress from there. He wanted to race so badly, so we just brought him along the right way. You could see his confidence grow after each start.”
Stringing together one win and a trio of runner-up finishes in four appearances at Fort Erie from late July to mid-October two years ago, Roxy’s Vision’s connections set their sights on a return to Woodbine.
On November 12, 2016, at odds of 17-1, Roxy’s Vision romped to a 5 ¾-length score at seven furlongs on the Toronto oval’s main track.
It launched a streak of four wins in five starts.
By the end of the 2017 Thoroughbred season, Roxy’s Vision had reeled off 11 consecutive top-three finishes, including a third and second, respectively, in the Overskate and Sir Barton Stakes.
“We trained his mother, Glitter Rox, and she was a very nice race mare,” offered Bowen. “She won a few stakes races and earned over $500,000. Any time we got a horse out of Glitter Rox, we kind of expected a little something good. Him being a Court Vision – the combination of that sire and Glitter Rox – we thought we’d have a very good turf horse.”
They also discovered early on the type of competitor they had in their barn.
“He lets you know when he’s ready,” said Bowen. “Certain horses do that. He’s full of life. By the same token, every day he walks out to the track, there are two or three places he likes to stop and take everything in. Some horses go in and out of the barn, to the track and back to the barn, and it’s a 10-minute set. With him, he’s out of the barn for half an hour or more every day.”
It’s something Bowen and Black had seen before.
“It’s funny because Roxy’s owners (Ellie Boje Farm, Mitch Peters, Dean Read and Jim MacLellan) had the great Rahy’s Attorney, who was the same way,” noted Bowen, of the Sovereign Award champion who won the 2008 edition of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. “He takes his time and he soaks in everything. He stands where he wants to stand and enjoys being out there. He just does his thing.”
Rahy's Attorney (Michael Burns Photo)
Roxy’s Vision also does “his thing” whenever the gate opens.
“Eleven in a row in the top three is pretty amazing considering it was on two different racetracks, over three different surfaces,” noted Bowen. “He popped a splint this year and he missed a fair bit of time. To come back off a long layoff and to be right back at it at that same level is pretty impressive. It’s a credit to his training and to him.
“He runs against (major Canadian Horse of the Year candidate) Pink Lloyd and (multiple stakes winner) Mr Havercamp, and he never gives up. He’ll win one of those stakes one day. He’ll do that because he shows up every single time. He’s a cool little dude. He’s very gentle and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. But he has a certain amount of presence.”
Just like the star athlete Bowen likens Roxy’s Vision to.
“He reminds of José Altuve,” said Bowen, in reference to the Houston Astros second basemen who was named 2017 American League MVP. “The type of athlete that can do it all and shows up every day.”
And one who has a penchant for always making it to the podium.
“To know that every time the gate opens he’s going to give it his all – it’s a great feeling,” praised Bowen. “Some horses might run three good ones in a row and bounce. This one just doesn’t. And he’s had every right to. But he just shows his character every time.”
Making every bit of it look as easy as 1, 2, 3.