by Garnet Barnsdale
The buzz surrounding Forbidden Trade’s historic Hambletonian win hasn’t died down much north of the border.
The unaltered son by Hall of Fame stallion Kadabra out of the $1.4 million-earning mare Pure Ivory upset of heavily-favored Greenshoe produced many firsts, including rising star driver Bob McClure’s first Hambletonian win in his debut in the world’s biggest harness race. But it also provided a milestone for breeder Tara Hills Stud, a landmark achievement not lost of Tara Hill’s proprietor, David Heferring.
When HRU caught up with Heferring, he was cutting grass and he said that last Saturday he was also working when the race went off.
“To tell you the truth, I was doing hay that day,” he said. “I was repaying a favor to a neighbor and I kind of forgot a little bit about what was going on, then I looked at my watch and thought: the Hambletonian must have gone off, the results should be up by now; it was about 5:30.”
But Heffering didn’t need to check any websites for the results. “Just as I looked at my watch, my phone rang and it was my farm manager, Matt (Harrison),” Heffering said. “He said, ‘Oh my God, did you see what happened?’”
Heffering obviously had not.
“I said, ‘No, I’m over unloading hay,’ and he replied, ‘Forbidden Trade won the Hambletonian!’
“I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Then the predictable congratulatory barrage began.
“My phone just started blowing up,” he said. “I was getting texts from all kinds of different people. It was a pretty emotional thing for me.”
Heffering explained why this particular win by Kadabra’s son meant so much to him.
“This was a horse that my father picked out,” he said of Kadabra. “He got a bunch of guys to go together to buy him, and you know, he’s really worked out well for Ontario and we’ve had a lot of support from both Canadians and Americans.”
Heferring’s father Peter – who died in 2012 – would have been elated said David.
“Dad would have been really happy for sure,” he said of the man who was both a Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame inductee. “He would have been very proud.”
“For me, I don’t have the stomach for racing, but I really enjoy the breeding side of the industry and ever since we’ve been in this business this has always been my dream,” he said. “It’s the Holy Grail to own a stallion that is able to produce a Hambletonian winner.”
Indeed Kadabra – who earned $2.19 million from 25 wins in 36 starts and took a lifetime mark of 1:51.3 – eclipsed his stellar racing career with consistent exceptional performance in the breeding shed. He has sired seven millionaires – led by outstanding 2013 Dan Patch Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who earned more than $4.19 million.
“He’s got a little more than $91 million earned by his offspring and he’s a Hall of Famer,” Heffering said of his 20-year-old stallion. “What more can ya ask?”
If The Hambletonian was the “more you can” ask for, Heffering need not ask any more. Forbidden Trade, McClure and trainer Luc Blais combined to take care of that last Saturday, and the rest, as they say, is history.