by Sandra Snyder
Since racing returned to Rideau Carleton Raceway in June, trainer Andrew Moore is batting .500 with his small stable. The Russell, ON resident has sent out eight starters and netted four wins, one second and one third.
Three of those wins have come from Déjà Vu Seelster and the other was courtesy of Springbridge Jim. Both horses were sired by Big Jim, but that is the only thing they have in common. Moore says Springbridge Jim is the fastest horse he has ever trained and Deju Vu Seelster is the most aggravating.
“The colt, I would have to go on record, he’s the fastest horse I’ve trained. He paced 1:49.1 his last start at Mohawk (July 4 – Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Leg),” said Moore, who shares ownership of Springbridge Jim with his father Allan Moore of Stratford, PEI, cousin Tommy Godfrey of Charlottetown, PEI and father-in-law Charles Farrell of Spencerville, ON. “And I guess it would be three weeks ago (June 18) he won over Rideau Carleton in 1:51.3 with Robbie (Robinson) driving, which anybody that comes to Rideau, they’ll recognize that’s a pretty good mile.”
Moore and Robinson stable alongside each other at Rideau Carleton Raceway, train their young horses together and lend each other a hand as needed. When it came to Déjà Vu Seelster, Moore says the assistance of Robinson and a few other friends was not just supportive, it was essential.
“Of all my years training horses she turned it around the most from 2 to 3, and I owe that to Robbie and Louis Gilchrist especially, and Al Thibert. She wasn’t my favourite, we’ll put it that way. There wasn’t a lot of love there some days, so the boys knew I wasn’t really too enthused or too happy with her so they took the lines most of the days for her,” said Moore with a laugh. “But physically she’s changed, mentally she’s changed, and I hate to say it, but she can rock and roll now. I didn’t know for a while, she liked to put me in snow banks or just do — what you didn’t want to do she would do — so I owe it really to them, they did a lot of good work with her.”
In four lifetime starts the filly has won three, pacing her fastest mile, 1:55.4, in her June 18 debut. Moore is sole owner of Déjà Vu Seelster, who was an $11,500 acquisition at the 2018 London Selected Yearling Sale. Springbridge Jim was a $14,000 purchase from the same sale.
“The last seven, eight years it’s been primarily just buying yearlings at the London Sale, Harrisburg or Lexington. And you know being a small guy, and sometimes I’ve bought them on my own, the budget’s not real big,” said the horseman. “But we do our homework, and one of my first baby purchases on my own was a mare named Maplelea (Sportswrite–Maple Lady). We were able to buy her for $7,000 and in her short career (2014-17) she was able to bang out a few dollars shy of $250,000.”
At present Moore has six horses in training. In addition to Springbridge Jim and Déjà Vu Seelster he has 4-year-old Shadow Play mares Springbridge Vision and Just My Shadow and two 2-year-old pacing fillies, one by Sportswriter and the other by Hes Watching.
“For the last number of years, and I don’t know why, but I seem to have more luck with pacing fillies. So in my stable right now there’s six horses in training and five of them are females. It’s kind of ironic, my daughter’s pony had a foal yesterday, it was filly, and our second is coming here any day and it’s another girl. I’m loaded with females,” said Moore with a laugh, noting that daughter number two was one day overdue as of July 14.
Moore and his “better-half”, Dr. Tiffany Richards, who co-owns the Russell Equine Clinic, were grateful for the support of Robinson, Gilchrist and Thibert this spring for reasons that went far beyond their handling of Déjà Vu Seelster.
“We’ve all had struggles with the whole COVID situation, but if it wasn’t for Robbie Robinson, Louis Gilchrist and Al Thibert I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in, because they’ve helped me out,” said Moore. “I had no day care, and my little girl Clara, she’s only three years old. It was kind of a strain, I guess you could say, to get the horses worked sometimes.”
With the impending arrival of Clara’s sibling, Moore has been sticking close to home since racing resumed, competing primarily at Rideau Carleton Raceway. While that has worked out well for Déjà Vu Seelster and Springbridge Jim, Springbridge Vision and Just My Shadow have not enjoyed the staycation quite as much.
“They raced in the Grassroots last year, and a couple Golds. They picked away, one made $107,000, the other one made $92,000,” said Moore of the two mares. “And right now one problem we’re having down here at Rideau, or I’m in a predicament I guess you could say, there’s no real place to race a mare. I gotta race the boys, so I’m getting no relief. I finished last the other night and last the start before, like she still paced in 1:54 and raced good, but when you’re in against the boys it’s a little different.”
As a result, Moore expects the pair will find themselves in a new home before the summer is over.
“My dad’s an accountant, cash is king,” said Moore, who co-owns both mares with his father, Godfrey and Farrell. “I have six there, in a perfect world I’d sell two or three of them.”
Moore has always owned horses with his father, who introduced him to harness racing as a child. On Saturday mornings, the young Moore would be in the passenger seat on the way to the Charlottetown Driving Park or to neighbor Ralph Frizzell’s Blue Meadow Farm. Moore’s interest grew in his teenage years, and after completing his post-secondary studies to become a teacher he and his dad went into partnership on two yearlings, Western Ideal daughter Habit Hanover and Island Fantasy colt Rigio Hanover.
“My father bought two, a colt and a filly, in Harrisburg for the grand total of $10,000 combined with the advice of Earl Smith from Prince Edward Island,” recalled Moore.
“I probably owe the way I train my young horses, and how I train a lot of horses, to Earl Smith. He was a very good teacher and a very good mentor,” said Moore. “Rigio Hanover was a bit of a challenge to get there, and Earl helped me with him. He was going all right and then he didn’t want to really pay attention and I thought he should be a gelding. Earl went with him and he said he was okay, and then he happened to get in the infield the next day, and he said it’s probably a good idea to geld him, and after that he was good. That’s one thing, I’ve been lucky with Robbie and Louis or different people around, you can’t teach experience. If they tell you something —they’ve driven more horses than I have to this point — you’ve got to take their advice.”
Rigio Hanover would compete at the Gold Series level in 2004, winning a Gold Elimination and a Flamboro Breeders division, and bank $156,000 in his five-year racing career. Habit Hanover earned $18,000 at 2, including a sweep of the Lady Slipper Stake Gold events at Summerside, but died suddenly at the start of her 3-year-old season.
“When she was trucking in in March as a 3-year-old she dropped dead in the trailer. So yeah, that’s why I say when the times are good… you know,” said Moore. “And to this day it’s the only horse my step mother Sandra owned. We felt pretty bad, my father and I.”
Moore’s mother Rose passed away in 1999 and as a tribute to her his gold, black and white racing colors are adorned with a gold rose on the shoulder. A sense of family and a connection to his roots seems to permeate the 39-year-old’s approach to both life and horse racing. The decision to stay close to home this summer and enjoy the new addition to his and Richards’ family was an easy one. He will admit however, to relishing the opportunity to race Springbridge Jim in a Gold event on his hometown oval when the three-year-old pacing colts make their stop at Rideau Carleton Raceway on Aug. 16.
“It’s a big advantage for me to be able to race on my home turf because now I don’t have to truck, and you know in July and August it can get quite tropical,” said the horseman. “Growing up Dr. Ian Moore was my father’s vet. He’s tough to race against; I’d love to beat him. We were in the same race (July 4), obviously he won with Tattoo Artist, and he says, ‘You know, your colt raced good.’ And I said, ‘Oh, maybe my luck will happen, and you can settle for second.’”