AJAX DOWNS, OCTOBER 10, 2022 - Ontario bred HAD TO BE IVORY left no doubt as to who the best Quarter Horse in the country is, as the strapping 7-year-old gelding cruised to a 2 1/2 length victory in the $50,830 Alex Picov Memorial Championship at Ajax Downs in front of a huge crowd on Thanksgiving Monday, October 8.
Owned and bred by Carol Robertson and daughter-in-law Jaime of HIllsburgh, Ont., Had to Be Ivory completed his remarkable 2022 campaign undefeated in six races which also included wins in the Picov Maturity, the Ontario Bred Maturity, and two legs of the Distance Series.
The 49th Alex Picov Championship, run at 440 yards, had a field of four with the late scratch of Spy for the Senate. Had to Be Ivory, trained by Bryn Robertson, was sent off as the heavy 1 -5 favourite by the holiday crowd at Ajax Downs.
Ridden by Josh Scott, the big gelding broke fast and straight from post position one and was never challenged, stopping the clock in 21.508, just missing his own track record he set for the distance on Sept. 21. His speed index was a hefty 110.
Streakinlilwagon, who ran the race of her life when second to Had to Be Ivory in his September track-record setting victory, again finished second with Eye Live for Candy, the top 3-year-old filly of this year a neck back in third. Jessaprimadonna finished fourth.
The Championship was the 22nd career win from 28 starts for Had to Be Ivory, a son of Ivory James from the Robertson's top mare Had to Be Fandango. The $26,067 winner's share of the purse boosted his career earnings to $363,310.
"We got in the gate and he stood in there so good," said Scott. "We got out clean and that was it. A horse like this is once in a lifetime and it's a blessing to ride him."
Bryn and Carol Robertson, who have been involved in Quarter Horse racing in Ontario from the sport's very early days have owned stakes winners over the years but none as good as Had to Be Ivory.
The Robertson family and friends celebrate Had to Be Ivory's victory.
"The fact that he is a homebred, born on our farm, makes us very proud, " said Bryn. "We just try to keep him happy, fed well and he just goes out there and does it."
Had to Be Ivory was the 2019 Horse of the Year at Ajax Downs but caught a virus in 2020 that was serious enough that the Robertsons thought the horse would not recover.
"He was very sick and was in Guelph at the equine hospital for a couple of weeks. He came back in 2021 and he was good but this year he came out firing and we are tickled pink."
The Robertsons said Had to Be Ivory will be back to race again in 2023.
The Thanksgiving Monday day of racing, which included a pumpkin giveaway for the kids and a visit by the headless horseman, got off to an exciting start when stakes winner MARYLAND MAGIC won a 770-yard 'hook' allowance race (around a turn) for Milena Kwiecien and trainer Jason Pascoe.
Ridden by Diego Benitez, Maryland Magic was making his first start in a turn race in his 51st career start and battled three-wide all the way before edging clear to win by two lengths in a time of 41.649 for an 85 speed index.
Trained by Jason Pascoe, Maryland Magic, who doubles as a stallion and has sired many winners in 2022, was winning for the 16th time in his career.
There are two racing dates remaining in the 2022 Ajax Downs season - October 19, featuring the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby and October 26, highlighted by the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity for 2-year-olds.
49th Alex Picov Championship replay
More Top Racing Headlines