The trainer and jockey combination of Joe Tavares and Brian Bell has been a successful pairing in Quarter Horse Racing in Ontario for decades. At the original Picov Downs racetrack, the J-shaped strip in Ajax, ON that started the sport in this province 40 years ago, Tavares and Bell were dominant in their categories. Even today at Ajax Downs, the two continue to rule the roost in a much more competitive business.
It was at Picov Downs when Tavares and Bell combined with a remarkable mare who regularly bossed around her opposition whether they were fillies or colts. That mare, Go Smashing Baby, a 27-time winner, is the horse that changed their lives.
“She was the one who helped pushed us forward in the industry,” said Tavares, whose wife Christine owns and raises most of the horses in the stable. “We have had a lot of great horses over the years but she was one of the first good ones.”
Bell also credits Go Smashing Baby as the horse that had a significant impact on his career in Quarter Horse racing.
“We won a lot of races together,” said Bell, who rode the mare in all but one of her 39 career starts. “Winning on her helped me get better horses to ride.”
Go Smashing Baby, a foal of 2001, was bred in Oklahoma by Norma and Jerry Donaghey. Tavares admits he does not remember if there was much about the sorrel filly by Smooth First Down that stood out to him.
“I was just looking for horses that could compete, pay the bills,” said Tavares. “I liked her so I bought her."
Go Smashing Baby debuted at Picov in June 2003 and was 9-5 to win that maiden race. She finished third and in fact, would race another four times before she finally won her first race.
She would win her next 11 consecutive races on her way to an incredible record of 39-27-10-2 and $148,000 in earnings. The gritty mare regularly competed in stakes events and had numerous triple-digit speed index efforts including a 119 SI in one of her three track record-setting performances.
“A Quarter Horse making almost $150,000 back then? It was unheard of,” said Tavares. Go Smashing Baby is now having babies of her own for the Tavares’ at his farm in Enniskillen, ON.
“I broke her as a yearling and traveled to other tracks with her,” said Bell. “She did a lot for my career.”
More For The Love of Racing