Thursday, 30 November 2023 17:18

Logan Park and Warrawee Vital: Canadian History-Making Horses in Corbeil's Stable

Warrawee Vital posing for a winner's circle photo, race 9, Oct 2, 2021 at Mohawk Raceway Warrawee Vital posing for a winner's circle photo, race 9, Oct 2, 2021 at Mohawk Raceway Woodbine YouTube Replays

Beaumont’s Blair Corbeil owns two of the fastest standardbreds in Canadian history.

This year Logan Park trotted in 1:50 3/5 on July 4 at Toronto’s Woodbine racetrack - one fifth of a second off the Canadian record.

Warrawee Vital paced in 1:46 4/5 this year on June 17 - equalling the Canadian record set by the brilliant Bulldog Hanover - when he won a Preferred Pace.

“I’m really proud of both horses,” said Corbeil, who races horses across North America -mostly in Toronto and New Jersey - including a stable of 13 horses in Alberta. “Those kind of horses don’t come along very often.”

“When you can say Logan Park and Warrawee Vital in the same sentence that’s pretty special.”

Logan Park amazingly trotted in 1:50 3/5 three times at Woodbine.

The five-year-old also achieved that mark in back-to-back appearances on October 2 and then again on October 9.

“He paced those three 1:50 3/5 miles with ear plugs in,” said Corbeil. “The drivers never even had to pull those plugs. He was that good.”

“Anytime you win a race, it's a highlight,” said Corbeil, who has so many horses he can’t even count them.

“Probably around 60,” said Corbeil, 59, who got into the business over 25 years ago when a friend, Mike McAllister talked him into getting his first racehorse at Northlands Park when they claimed a horse together in 1998.

“My first response to Mike was ‘I’ve never even been to the races before.’ But it sounded like fun so I did it.”

“If there’s anyone to blame for my involvement it’s him.”

“As anybody that's in the industry knows, there's a lot of things that have to go right in order to win a race,” Corbeil told Standardbred Canada.

Bought for $57,000 as a yearling at the London, Ontario Select Sale, Logan Park has won over $1-million for Corbeil, his partners and his wife Erna, with whom he has four children. “He just looked the part of a really good trotter,” said Corbeil, who, for the first time in many years bought 10 horses at the Alberta Yearling Sale. “He’s everything you look for in a trotter. You just can’t find a better trotting horse than him.”

“He’s by Archangel and we’ve had a lot of success with Archangel foals,” he said of the stud who was first or second in 27 of his 48 career starts.

One just has to look at All Wrapped Up to see that. Currently racing in Ontario, All Wrapped Up has won $512,000 for Corbeil and his partners. All Wrapped Up has been in the top three in 59 of his 146 starts.

One of Logan Park’s most spectacular races came in 2021 when, as a three-year-old, he equalled the all-age trotting track record at Rideau Carlton Raceway when he obliterated the three-year-old track record and equalled the all-age track record with a mile in 1:52 4/5.

“That track record performance in Ottawa was a heck of a race, but he had a lot of great races. There were a lot of good battles. There are some great horses in that program in Ontario. Those Gold finals in Ontario were all really good races and he put in some big miles there,” said Corbeil, who has been on the board of Horse Racing Alberta and Standardbred Canada.

Logan Park’s 1:50 3/5 record mile has since been broken twice - by the mare Atlanta and the seven-year-old horse Alrajah One It, who both went in 1:50 2/5 - the latter this past September. “But that still makes Logan Park the holder of the Canadian record on a mile track by a gelding,” noted Corbeil, whose horses have won 93 of 498 starts this year for earnings of $1,254,955.

“No gelding in the history of harness racing in Canada has ever gone faster.”

Logan Park is currently on a roll winning five of his last six starts. The only time he didn’t win during that span was when he finished fourth in the $600,000 Breeders Crown final at Hoosier Park, Indiana on October 28 when he set all the fractions but tired at the end and finished fourth - losing a photo for third - while being defeated by less than three lengths.

Logan Park won his Breeders Crown elimination leg.

“We were happy with the fourth-place finish,” said Corbeil. “It rained about 30 minutes before the race went and the when that happened the track didn’t favour the front-end anymore.”

After the Breeders Crown, Logan Park won his last start on November 20 as the heavy odds-on favourite.

Then there is Warrawee Vital. A $32,000 Lexington Kentucky Yearling Sale purchase, the six-year-old has been first or second in 37 of his 69 starts.

His 1:46 4/5 mile this summer came via a victory of more than seven lengths when he went wire-to-wire through splits of :25 3/5 seconds; :53 for the half and 1:20 1/5 for three-quarters of a mile.

As mentioned that tied superstar Bulldog Hanover’s record which the latter did twice.

The first time was in the $650,000 Canadian Derby at Woodbine last September. The second came in last year’s $810,000 Breeders Crown at Woodbine.

Bulldog Hanover, the first harness horse in history to pace in under 1:46, won 28 of 37 starts for earnings of $2,789,271.

Bulldog Hanover’s 1:45 4/5 record came in the William Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

To equal the Canadian record with a horse like Bulldog Hanover, who is now standing at stud, is extremely superlative.

Warrawee Vital, who won the Simcoe, Somebeach and a leg of the Graduate, and Logan Park were both finalists for the O’Brien Awards for Canada’s top standardbreds.

Logan Park will almost certainly be a finalist again this year.

Warrawee Vital, who has been turned out for a while, is believed to be the only horse in Canadian history to pace sub 1:48 miles as a three-, four-, five- and six-year-old.

In 2020 Warrawee Vital paced in 1:47 1/5 winning a leg of the Blue Grass at Lexington; 1:47 3/5 in 2021 in a preferred race at Woodbine; 1:47 1/5 last year in an Open Pace at Woodbine and then 1:46 4/5 this year.

Out of a dominating dam, Great Memories, a 2021 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Warrawee Vital is a half sister to Warrawee Ubeaut, who won over $2 million including the Jugette for three-year-old fillies at Delaware, and a half brother to Warrawee Needy, an O’Brien Award winner who won $1.25 million.

Both Warrawee Vital, who fulfilled Corbeil’s long yearning of competing in the Little Brown Jug, and Logan Park are trained by Corbeil’s longtime partner and friend Rob Fellows and Rob’s wife, Yolanda. In Alberta, Corbeil’s horses are trained and co-owned by Kelly Hoerdt.

Perennially one of Alberta’s top trainers Hoerdt and Corbeil were named Alberta’s best standardbred owners four times: 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

They have also combined to win Alberta’s most prestigious harness race, the Western Canada Pacing Derby, three times.

The first came in 2007 when Trust The Artist, with Hoerdt driving, led every step at odds of 4-1 to win in 1:52 4/5 over favourite Barona Ferrari.

Trust The Artist won over $587,000 with 53 wins in 169 starts.

In 2014, with Phil Giesbrecht driving, Corbeil and Hoerdt won again - this time with Outlaw Gunpowder. Third early, Outlaw Gunpowder came first over and held off longshot Comes Home First in 1:54 4/5 by a head.

Outlaw Gunpowder won 67 of his 262 starts. Then came Kneedeep N Custard in 2019.

Hoerdt and Corbeil flew in one of the world’s top drivers, Jody Jamieson, for that Derby.

Still racing at Northfield Park, Ohio, Kneedeep N Custard, after a perfect pocket trip, won by two lengths in 1:51 2/5 which at the time was a track record at Century Mile.

Kneedeep N Custard has won 35 of his 122 career starts. The Derby was the first of nine straight wins for Kneedeep N Custard.

“Horse racing is just a lot of fun,” said Corbeil, who also owned C VS Fella, a hard campaigner in Alberta who raced in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“I’ve met a lot of great people. I liked the fact that we can have a horse that raced against friends, sit down after the race, replay the race and there are no hard feelings.”

“None of us is going to own a professional sports team but horse racing is as close as you can get,” said Corbeil, who grew up in Saskatchewan and moved his family to Alberta in 1991. “You go out scouting - looking at babies, draft them at the sales ring and hope that one of them takes you to the Stanley Cup and doesn’t have to go into the minors.

“That’s the way I view it anyway. You can have partners. You can just have a small piece of a horse.”

“It takes a lot of work. Takes a lot of time. But in the end you can have a great time,” said Corbeil, who owns Superior Buildings and Design and, until last year, owned the elite Bedrock Training Centre in Beaumont.

“It puts a smile on your face and it warms your heart.”

“They say don’t fall in love with horses. But it’s hard not to do that. They all have their own personalities.”

“My daughters would come back to the barn after they raced.”

“The sport has given me a lot of joy.”

“Hopefully I will continue doing what I’m doing for the forceable future.”

“My wife and I have had a blast.”

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