What a scamp, that One Bad Boy, who ran off so easily with the 160th running of the Queen’s Plate, making it look like just about anything is possible.
He made off with this gem of Canadian racing, worth one million Canadian bucks, pulling away at will from Canada’s top juvenile of last season, Avie’s Flatter, winning by 3 ¾ lengths, laughing.
And how crazy is this? In his brief career, he hadn’t run further than a mile. In took him three starts to break his maiden. He had run only four times, total. He had run on a synthetic track – Woodbine is a synthetic track – only once by accident, when weather conditions caused a switch from turf to synthetic at Golden Gate Fields in California. It was at a mile and another horse passed him. The buzz was that he was a miler, not a horse for 1 ¼ miles, like the Queen’s Plate.
This One Bad Boy won the Queen’s Plate in 2:02.98, and although the field didn’t break speed records early in the race, only 12 times in the past 63 years has this 1 ¼-mile race been won faster than 2:03 and this includes icons such as Victoria Park in 1960, Northern Dancer in 1964, Izvestia in 1990 (who holds the stakes record of 2:01.4); and Wando in 2003.
Jockey Flavian Prat said he really didn’t want to take the lead but when the field broke from the gate, nobody else seemed to want it. “I was surprised,” he said. “But I know he won on the lead [before], so I better take it when I can.”
Earlier this year the French-born Prat won the Kentucky Derby on Country House after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference on the final turn. This makes Prat the third jockey to sweep the Kentucky Derby and the Queen’s Plate in one year. Bill Hartack did it in 1964 with Northern Dancer and Kent Desormeaux did it in 1998, winning the Derby with Real Quiet and the Plate with Archer’s Bay.
Prat had never ridden in a Queen’s Plate before, although he won a stakes race at Woodbine several years ago. Nobody in this camp had ever entered a Queen’s Plate before. They are now batting 1.000 with a horse that came by his name honestly, known to rise up on his hind legs and deposit his riders unceremoniously on the hardpan.
Despite all of this, his connections coughed up a $5,000 supplementary fee and shipped him thousands of miles to run in a race they had never seen. The craziest part is the woman who spotted and bought him in the first place, part-owner and bloodstock agent Brooke Hubbard. She’s only 29 years old.
A year after she began to work as a racing manager and bloodstock agent for the group that owns One Bad Boy (Sayjay Racing, which includes Greg Hall and Stephen Young) Hubbard began to pick out and buy horses for them.
Her background that led to this moment? She started out working for his parents’ wrecking yard in California. But always there were horses. She tried everything. She started with western pleasure horses, then tried out three-day eventing, then dressage, and then hunters and jumpers. At the time, she was buying horses off the track to ride in these pursuits.
In the meantime, she went to college to earn a Bachelor in Business. The course required her to do an internship for a year. She ended up working for the family-run private recycling and corrugated packaging firm, the Allan Company, based in California. Young was its founder.
Eventually Hubbard quit, uninspired by the job. But six months later, in 2014, Young hired her to work with his new racing stable. Young asked Greg Hall, a native of Kentucky who had always loved horses to be his partner in this venture.
A year after Hubbard joined the racing stable, she began to buy horses for them as a bloodstock agent. She learned the ropes from the best, shadowing Dennis O’Neill, a bloodstock agent who purchased I’ll Have Another for Canadian Paul Reddam for $35,000. And then he purchased Nyquist for $400,000, also for Reddam. Both won the Kentucky Derby.
Part of her training with O’Neill involved “shortlisting,” in which she would go through, for example, a list of 400 horses in a sale, examine them, and bring the list down to 40 good candidates. She did this for two years until o”Neill “let her go.”
In other words, he figured that she had proven she had learned all she needed to succeed, particularly with her purchase of Blended Citizen, which, as a 3-year-old last year, won the Jeff Ruby Stakes, and the G3 Peter Pan Stakes for the same ownership group as One Bad Boy.
She had “graduated.”
Hubbard was the one who checked out One Bad Boy at the Keeneland yearling sales in 2017. She had already acquired his half-sister Miss Bad Behaviour for the group, and although the filly had raced only once before the sale of One Bad Boy, Hubbard was impressed. “She just blew everything away that she worked with,” Hubbard said. “We had a good idea she was a nice horse.”
When One Bad Boy was offered at the sale, Hubbard saw he was a son of Twirling Candy, a horse she liked. (He won $944,900 in his career, and seven of 11 starts including the G1 Malibu Stakes, the G2 Del Mar Derby, the Oceanside Stakes, the G2 Strub and the G2 Californian. He also finished second to Acclamation in the G1 Pacific Classic.)
After examining the horse, she called Young and told him that One Bad Boy was crooked in one leg, and had a little bit of a pot belly. But he had lots of leg, more than Miss Bad Behaviour had. She bought him for $65,000.
Before the Queen’s Plate, One Bad Boy had just earned back his purchase price in four starts. And he had finished second to one-time Kentucky Derby favourite Omaha Beach by nine lengths. That had been his claim to fame so far. Now he’s won more than $650,000.
Because the colt was a Canadian-bred (Ron Clarkson), Hubbard knew he was eligible for the Queen’s Plate. “Brooke really picked this race out, probably back in December-January,” Hall said. “Before One Bad Boy had even run.
“We knew he was really good training, but we just couldn’t find the right race for him. We felt he could have been a horse for the Triple Crown in the U.S., but he just didn’t have the points and hadn’t raced enough. “
They became excited about the Canadian race and began to point him to it three or four months ago.
This year Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is offering a $500,000 bonus for any horse that wins the Canadian Triple Crown, which includes the $400,000 Prince of Wales over a dirt racing surface at Fort Erie on July 23 and the $400,000 Breeders Stakes on the turf Aug. 17. There have originally only seven Triple Crown winners (New Providence in 1959, Canebora in 1963, With Approval in 1989, Izvestia in 1990, Dance Smartly in 1991, Peteski in 1993 and Wando in 2003) but officials have since accepted five previous winners of the three races before they had been cobbled into a series (Queensway in 1932, Archworth in 1939, Uttermost in 1945, Ace Marine in 1955 and Canadian Champ in 1956.)
The Fort Erie dirt may stymie the Californians. “We kind of think he’s definitely more turf than dirt,” Hubbard said. “That’s our only concern if we do decide to go the next leg. We’ll definitely have to have a little strategizing party and talk it over.”
And the Breeders is at a mile and a half. Can One Bad Boy squeeze out another quarter of a mile?
“The thing is, a lot of people thought he wouldn’t run a mile and a quarter,” Hall said. “And that a mile was the max because of what happened in the Alcatraz [Stakes at Golden Gate].
“But that was a lot of things. He had blinkers on and he couldn’t see the other horse coming up.” (The blinkers came off for the Queen’s Plate.)
But on this June day, One Bad Boy proved that he could pull away in that last sixteenth of a mile, a powerhouse of an animal. “That for me was the most exciting thing, other than winning the race, was that he can go long,” Hall said “That was good for all of us.”
Up in the stands, Hall watched the race, not nervous at all throughout the humid day. But when Avie’s Flatter began to loom up against One Bad Boy’s side at just the point that many thought One Bad Boy vulnerable, jockey Prat asked him for more. And One Bad Boy gave it, pulling away.”When I saw Flavien lay down and then the horse took off, I went: ‘We got this,’” he said.
“This one,” Hall said, pointing to Hubbard, “has the greatest eyes for a horse in the world of horses.”
Hubbard called California trainer Richard Baltas, who did not attend the race. Not many words came out. A few tears did. “Congratulations” was one of them.
He told her to get off the phone and enjoy the win. “We’re going to have a great time tonight, I’ll tell you,” Hall said. As for the horse, “He’s special,” Hall said.
I can’t resist this, from one of my very favourite bands, who unknowingly created this horse’s theme song: Nazareth, singing “Bad Bad Boy.”