Thursday, 07 December 2017 09:45

Tajmeallover finding opposition tired of racing for second

Written by Curtis Stock
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Dominance, it appears, comes with a price. And so it is with the six-year-old superstar mare Tajmeallover.

They wouldn’t race against her at Northlands. And now, after she strutted her stuff and won the Nov. 26 Lady Elements stake at Fraser Downs in a breezy gosh-that-was-easy romp - for the second straight year - they won’t race against her in B.C. either. It’s not that the other mares didn’t like her personality or her political beliefs.  The fact is: she’s simply too good and everyone else was tired of racing for second money.

Like Roberto Duran in his 1980 fight against Sugar Ray Leonard, her opponents collectively turned to the racing secretaries and, in unison, cried ‘No Mas.’ They couldn’t find anyone to oppose Tajmeallover last week and they wouldn’t race against her this coming weekend either. Her opponents simply had enough. And, really, can you blame them?

Just how many times can you take getting dirt kicked in your face and getting a strained neck watching her blow by you? Never mind getting so dispirited that they probably would all like to find a shrink to console them.

“I’m forced to give her a break which I hate to do because she’s pretty lightly raced and she’s so good right now,” said Jean Francois Gagne, the horse’s driver and co-owner along with Peter Van Seggelen, Carl Warner and Tapron Holdings and a mare trained by his wife, Marjorie Dumont.

“Good?” How about great? Tajmeallover won 13 of her 20 starts this year and if it wasn’t for a horrendous trip on Oct. 20 when she got gapped - “Gapped badly and couldn’t get live cover,” added Gagne - Tajmeallover would be going into her ‘enforced’ exile with nine straight victories. If anything Tajmeallover was, if at all possible, even getting better which is saying a mouthful because just about every time Tajmeallover showed up at a racetrack it was about as one-sided as a fox hunt.

There was more suspense watching ‘The Godfather’ for the 17th time and wondering what was going to happen to Santino "Sonny" Corleone at the toll booth.

“Most power from a mare I’ve ever sat behind,” said Gagne, who started driving harness horses in Quebec in 1992 and came to Alberta in 1998. “She’s just a very fast horse,” which is as much an understatement as saying that Oilers forward Connor McDavid is pretty quick too. “She’s pretty athletic. It’s effortless. It’s raw speed and she doesn’t wear herself out.”

Now she is being forced to the sidelines. “My hands are tied,” said Gagne. “I’ve turned her out. I’ll give her a month to six weeks off and then start slowly with her over the winter and we’ll see what next spring will bring. “Maybe I’ll try and qualify her at the end of the Northlands meet in February.”

Missing almost all of the rich two- and three-year-old races, Tajmeallover never raced until November of her three-year-old season. “She just wasn’t ready until then. She lacked maturity,” said Gagne. But once she got to the track she immediately showed her potential. In just her third career start she won the Northlands Filly Pace elimination, moving from sixth place and almost 10 lengths off the pace at the half mile pole to win going away by two lengths.

The Filly Pace Final, however, was a disaster. “For starters we drew the eight hole. I took her back and when I pulled some dead horses pulled in front of me,” said Gagne. “The track was jammed; there was nothing she could have done. “The track was also very heavy - heavier than heavy. No horses came from behind on the whole card that day.”

Finishing last it was the first of only two times in her entire career to date that she would finish out of the money. The rest of her races have been sublime. In 2015 she started 21 times and won 14 of them.

Last year, Tajmeallover won 14 of her 27 starts and was voted both Alberta’s Horse of the year and, unequivocally, Alberta’s aged mare champion. This year has been another mirror image: 20 starts, 13 wins, three seconds and a pair of thirds. Add it up and she has a phenomenal record of 42 wins in 72 career starts. Her career earnings are $301,263 despite only contesting five stakes race finals.

“She’s done it the hard way,” said Gagne. As well as the afore mentioned Lady Elements stakes races and the Northlands Filly Pace, the only other stakes races Tajmeallover has appeared in during her career are the 2015 $30,000 Bev Sears - when she finished second after encountering traffic problems and was forced three wide early - and the 2015 $14,000 Prairie Girl which she won easily.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Tajmeallover is that Gagne said “She’s never been passed by another horse. “She obviously didn’t win every start but another horse has yet to pass her. When she lost she mostly just ran out of room.”

The converse is equally true. “She just loves to pass horses.” Remarkably, only once in her career has she gone wire to wire. “She’s very manageable. You can leave and settle into a hole or you can take her back off the gate. “To be honest, she pretty well drives herself. “She has so much desire. She’s always asking me. It’s not me asking her. She’s going too fast for that to happen. “She just loves to race. She can’t wait to get out of her stall. She definitely enjoys the sport.”

Tajmeallover comes by her talent honestly. Her sire is champion Tajma Hall, who, with Gagne at the controls, set Northlands track record of 1:50 3/5 in 2008. Amazingly, it still stands today. More amazingly, Tajma Hall was 10 years old at the time making him the fastest 10-year-old in harness racing history to pace a record mile over a five-eighths mile track. He would win 62 races and earn $764,000.

Meanwhile, Tajmeallover’s dam, Watch Over Me - a daughter of champion As Promised, was purchased at the Alberta Yearling Sale for $35,000 and was Alberta’s two-year-old filly champion of 2005. “She was also one of the finalists for three-year-old filly of the year,” said Gagne. “She equalled Northlands track record for three-year-old fillies (1:53 2/5) and won $280,000. “She raced a little bit as a four-year-old but then she got injured so we turned her into a broodmare.”

Watch Over Me, whose dam Keeping Watch, was also a champion in Alberta in the late 1990s, has also excelled as a broodmare. In addition to Tajmeallover, Watch Over Me produced Watch My Luck (by Camluck), a stablemate of Tajemallover and a solid performer in her own right winning 15 of 47 starts for earnings of $154,326. Five-years-old, Watch My Luck even defeated Tajmeallover three times this year. One of those occasions came on May 20 at Century Downs when Tajmeallover had to go three wide and just couldn’t get to Watch My Luck with the race going in 1:52 4/5.

Another daughter of Watch Over Me was Watch and Pray who paced in 1:53 1/5, made $100,000 and lost the 2012 Western Canada Pacing Derby by a head. “Watch Over Me has been an unbelievable producer,” said Gagne. “Her first three foals to race have already won over $550,000. Unfortunately, two full brothers to Tajmeallover didn’t survive their birth when they were born breeched.

But Gagne does have a full brother weanling to Tajmeallover, who he said looks the part. “Tajmeallover is a champion, her mother was a champion and her grandmother was a champion. “Hopefully, when the time comes, Tajmeallover will keep the tradition going in the breeding shed.” Given her racing career and her bloodlines, the odds on that happening would appear to be very favourable.

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