Logan Park is owner Arpad Szabo’s horse of a lifetime

by Melissa Keith

On July 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Logan Park (5, 1:50.3s; $670,759) broke a four-way tie for Canada’s fastest mile by a trotting gelding. He stepped out from third to challenge leader H P Mama B first over to the half, clearing with ease before trotting a :27.1 third quarter on the front end. Pressed by an advancing Oney Hall, the 1-5 favorite held him off, drawing clear of next-best Patriarch Hanover and Perfetto down the stretch.

The 1:50.3 win was a WMP divisional record and the fastest win by a trotting gelding of any age on a Canadian track. It equaled King Of The North’s (3, 1:50.3s; $1,171,385) Canadian record for ungelded male trotters, set when he captured the 2022 Breeders Crown final at Mohawk as a 3-year-old colt.

King Of The North has since retired to stud, while Logan Park is dominating his division on home turf so far this season.

“I think he’s getting better with age,” said Arpad Szabo of Bradford, ON, who co-owns the gelding with the Outofthepark Stable, Rockwood, ON and Reg Higgs, Strathroy, ON. “He raced pretty well last year, but this year I think he’s at the peak of his career.”

Logan Park was bred by Reg and Donna Higgs, and sold at the 2019 London Selected Yearling Sale for $57,000.

Szabo entrusted Rob Fellows with the task of finding a good young horse in that sale, which he did not attend himself because of COVID-19 precautions.

“I bought [Logan Park] as a yearling,” Szabo said. “I leave the decisions up to Rob because I’m kind of new in the racing business. I was gambling all my life but I got into the racing industry about 15, 16 years ago. So, we bought quite a few yearlings and I had some luck with some other horses. I had Piston Broke [p, 5, 1:48.3s; $505,788]. That was another speedy horse.”

The 80-year-old racing aficionado did not anticipate how fast, or profitable, his yearling would eventually become.

“You don’t get into it to make money,” he said. “It’s just a hobby. I actually have some horses on the farm here. My wife has a riding horse and we have a couple of mini horses. She loved horses since she was a child, so I bought her a horse for her birthday, even though she doesn’t ride too much anymore.”

Szabo got involved as a standardbred owner by design, after enjoying considerable success in his own wholesale food service business.

“I wasn’t a big gambler, but I love horse racing,” he said. “I was at opening night at Mohawk, 60-some-odd years ago, so I’m an older person… All those years, I’d go to races here and there, but I decided for my retirement, I’m going to start another hobby.”

He immigrated from Europe to Canada with his parents in 1957, becoming a milkman at age 23.

“I was independent, selling milk house to house,” Szabo said. “That was years ago. Now we’re brokers. We’re selling all kinds of dairy products. My kids are running the company [Mr. Dairy and Food Distributing Ltd.]. We have over a thousand different products. We branched into everything from juices to cheeses to ice cream to eggs. You name it, we have it for full-service wholesale delivery institutions, stores, golf courses, whatever.”

The savvy businessman said he is retired from Mr. Dairy. Most of the time, anyway: “Well, I do go down and check things over. Something you’ve worked hard at, you still like to check up on it once in a while, keep it going the right way.”

Racehorse ownership has appealed to him as a leisure activity, particularly in partnerships, including one for Logan Park. He was introduced to Fellows by a mutual friend, and has had horses with him as trainer for the past 15 years.

“I don’t own the horse by myself,” said Szabo, in reference to Logan Park. “I’ve owned some horses by myself, but I think it’s better this way. If you’re a winner, you’re a winner. If you’re a loser, you don’t lose as much.”

He said the gelded son of Archangel—Rite Outa The Park is the fulfillment of his dream to own a top racehorse.

“I never thought I was going to have a horse like this,” Szabo said. “We had another Gold winner in [Ontario Sires Stakes] finals, who died on us: a 3-year-old, Keystone Concrete [p, 2, 1:52.0s; $165,011]. He won the Super Final [at age 2]. I was part owner of that horse, so that was a big disappointment. He had a stroke or something on the training track. It’s up and down in this business. You get used to it, I guess.”

Szabo said Fellows deserves the credit for selecting Logan Park.

“Yes, he did pretty well,” Szabo said. “He picks the horses most of the time. I know about milk and he knows about horses!”

The dairy entrepreneur also owns All Wrapped Up (6, 1:52.4s; $363,518) with Rockwood, ON-based Fellows; Blair Corbeil, Leduc, AB; and Mike McAllister, Beaumont, AB.

“He’s an Archangel as well,” Szabo said. “So [Fellows] is buying a lot of Archangels.”

The remainder of the 2023 season is up in the air for Logan Park, who has not missed the Mohawk exactor in eight starts this year, all but the first at the free-for-all level. He has six wins at his home track this year, all in line to Doug McNair.

“They don’t write the preferred too often,” said the top trotter’s owner. “I don’t know; maybe they don’t have enough horses. I still wish he could get a race.”

Logan Park has not made a start since his Canadian record mile.

Hitting the road hasn’t been successful in a few previous tries.

“You never get the right drives, it’s hard to get the right driver and then it’s a long travel for the horse,” said Szabo. “It’s a risky business to take him down there [to the U.S.], so we try to keep him [racing] locally but haven’t got enough races for him. All the races right now are 2- and 3-year-olds, all the [Ontario] Sires Stakes, you know… Not too many races for good [older] horses right now.”

Logan Park is a likely contender in the 2023 Maple Leaf Trot.

“I think we’ll put him in there if he stays sound,” Szabo said. “Then at Georgian Downs, they have the Earl Rowe. That’s an invitational. I hope we get invited to that one. Right now, he’s the holder of the track record at Rideau Carleton.”

As for Hoosier Park this fall: “We might go down to the Breeders Crown, yes. Hopefully we’ll get it there.”

Georgian Downs is the closest active track for Szabo.

“I enjoy going there and I enjoy Mohawk as well,” he said. “We have a big family. We have 10 grandchildren and they like horses. They come to the races once in a while. We lived close to the Barrie Raceway, so we used to go there a lot until they finished it off.”

As much as he loves Woodbine Mohawk Park, he would like to see more done to ensure it maintains popularity into the future.

“You go to Mohawk — I take my grandkids, they’re pretty young — and they’ve hardly got an ice cream or anything cheap to buy, like a hamburger for them,” Szabo said. “Nothing for the young generation to actually get to watch horses… I’ve been going for a long time to the races, and I think they should start to do something to get the younger generation not to gamble, but to be interested about horses.”

Szabo said he has encountered that kind of interest from all generations on Canada’s east coast, most recently two weeks ago.

“Actually, I was on holiday; I was visiting my daughter in Nova Scotia,” he said. “We were watching it online there. So, I couldn’t make it to the racetrack, but I was kind of thinking he was right there [in range of setting a new record]. He was close to it before, once. This time he did it.”

Recognition for Logan Park came in an unexpected place.

“Actually, for my birthday, my son got me a hat and he put Logan Park on it, so I wear it once in a while,” he said. “In Nova Scotia, we were in a bar and people said, ‘Oh, you’ve got a horse?’ And I told them about Logan Park, and they knew about him.”

In a lifetime of following the sport, it was refreshing to be on the receiving end, owning a trotter with followers of his own.

“Logan Park is the best, yes,” he said. “It’s something to be proud of, anyway. I tell the kids, you know, I always said, ‘I’m going to own a good horse,’ and I got it.”