By Jennifer Morrison
James Bogar was missing the farm life. Born in Lindsay, ON, he grew up on a hobby farm owned by his parents but with adulthood came professional life, marriage and children. He moved to the city of Oshawa in the 1990s, worked at the family business, Cameron Steel, and raised a family.
A little more than six years ago James, wife Tina and kids headed back to the country, purchasing a 118-acre property in Lindsay and close to the head office of Cameron Steel. He added a few Quarter Horses to play around with before learning about Quarter Horse racing in Ajax.
It didn't take long for Bogar to test the racing waters, starting his first horse in a race in 2015. His first winner came the following spring and by 2018 his small stable won eight races.
And following the 2019 Ajax Downs season, the Bogar horses, all trained by Barry Wood, earned him the High Point Owner trophy by the Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario thanks to 16 wins and 55 seconds and thirds.
Heading in the 2020 Ajax Downs season, which begins May 10, Bogar is excited about his 15-horse stable, which includes Ontario-sired and bred horses he raised himself.
“I love running my horses and I have a goal for the stable,' said Bogar, who is hands-on each race day, assisting Wood bringing his horses over to the saddling enclosure. “I am looking at racing the horses I breed and trying to improve the quality.”
It was his father who introduced him to horses when the younger James was a teenager. “My Dad had horses growing up in Hungary; horses were used for work mostly.”
Once settled in Lindsay, the elder Bogar took his son to a farm, showed him a selection of horses and asked him to pick one.
“I think he bought the horse for himself,” laughed Bogar. “But we picked a yearling and we went to visit him and just play around with him.”
His family soon bought a farm, built a barn and house and populated it with a handful of cows and horses.
When Bogar set off his own, however, the family sold the farm.
“We really missed it,” said the father of three. “So in 2013 Tina and I bought the farm we have now.”
His father and mother spent a brief time back in farm life before they passed away a year apart in 2014 and 2015.
On one fateful day when their horses feet needed trimming, their blacksmith Kate Romanenko mentioned Quarter Horse racing at Ajax, Bogar quickly became interested. At first he was dabbling and then upped his game by purchasing a few mares who produced his first homebreds in 2017.
Those 2-year-olds raced in 2019 and included one of the top youngsters of the year, stakes placed A Lone Hand, a son of Bogar's favourite mare Special Royal Takeon
A Lone Hand (also know as 'Fin') was the year's runner-up for High Point 2-Year-Old Colt or Gelding. Bogar also privately purchased some older horses and one of those is the gritty grey gal Ghost Pines, was the High Point Older Mare of 2019.
Bogar has trimmed down the racing stable for 2020 but has already welcomed three foals this winter at the farm and expects to welcome 11 in total. Special Royal Takeon produced a colt on Mar. 9 by Bogar's own stallion Caviar n Corona.
The Bogar runners are in good hands with Wood, who has been training horses in Ajax since the opening of Picov Downs in 1968.
“Barry is dedicated and a great trainer. He takes care of things during the day, training the horses with our rider Brian Bell.”
A Lone Hand, who Bogar says is “bigger, stronger, faster, like the 6-million dollar man” this year, will no doubt be a force in 3-year-old events. Other 3-year-olds he is excited about are Up Your Bet and the filly Royal Hatrick.
Ghost Pines, bred by Gary McNichol and one of several horses Bogar purchased off that top Ontario Quarter Horse breeder, is set to race again this season as a 6-year-old while the very popular gelding, Channelislandsflyer, previously owned by Wood, is expected back at the age of 10.
Laurie Overton photo
There are a trio of 2-year-olds that Bogar is excited about, including the black colt Blue Eyed Merlin, who does indeed have a blue eye), a son of the exciting, young US stallion He's Relentless.
“It was nice to win High Point Owner but that kind of thing doesn't really matter that much to me,' said Bogar. “I would really love to have a Horse of the Year.”
And what he really would love is for Cameron Steel to eventually “run itself” so that he can spend more time with his horses.
“I don't get enough time right now working in the office all day,” said Bogar. “It's nice to come home and see the horses in the paddocks and give them a pat. I look forward to race-day when I get to spend the most time with them.”
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