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Garnet Barnsdale

Garnet Barnsdale

January 1, 2019
Garnet Barnsdale
(photo by Dave Landry)

San Pail brought a lump to a lot of throats the night he won the 2011 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack.
“You’ll never hear a crowd that loud at Woodbine Racetrack if you live to be 1,000,” said veteran handicapper and racing writer Garnet Barnsdale. “You can’t see the horse there’s so many people in the winner’s circle picture.”
One of those people was Barnsdale’s sister, Linda, a harness racing fan who loved Rod Hughes’ Ontario Sired trotter above all others.
Three years later, shortly after Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 53, Garnet called the Hughes family hoping to get a photo of San Pail to give to his sister.
“I was blown away when they said, ‘Why don’t you bring her to see the horse?’” Garnet said.
On Dec. 14, 2014, Garnet arrived at the hospital to take Linda to Dunsford, ON.
“I wasn’t really telling her where we were going and about half-way there it kind of clicked and she said, ‘Is it something with seven letters?’ I said, ‘Uh huh.’ She started crying and I started crying. It was emotional even driving there,” Garnet said. “She really loved that horse. She felt part of it. You almost feel like a part-owner with a horse like that when they take you in and let you participate that much and go into the winner’s circle.”
That December day at Hughes’ farm, Linda petted San Pail, had her picture taken with the horse and then was invited inside to look though old photos and memorabilia belonging to Rod Hughes’ father, Jerry, San Pail’s caretaker.
“We took my sister back to the hospital and she looked up at me when we dropped her off and she said, ‘Thank you. It was the best day ever.’ It was really nice to be able to give her that one day.
“That was the last day she ever left the hospital. She died less than two weeks later.”

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