Apaches Fame, the pacer that many would consider to be the Standardbred that helped elevate the Ontario Sires Stakes program to a world-class producer of harness racing talent, has passed away at the age of 26.
Bred by Robert Chapple of Chatham, Ont., the son of Apaches Circle - Dovers Skip turned heads from the moment he stepped onto the racetrack in 1989. In his first pari-mutuel start at Greenwood Raceway, Apaches Fame and trainer-driver Bud Fritz reeled off a win in 1:57.4 in the Kindergarten Series. He moved onto the OSS ranks and dominated his foes there, finishing his rookie season with 10 wins in 14 starts and a mark of 1:54.1 taken at Windsor Raceway. That mile was just one-fifth of a second off the world record at the time.
Expectations were high for his three-year-old season as Apaches Fame stepped up to race against North America's best three-year-old pacers in Grand Circuit competition - a rarity for a horse from the OSS program. Against open opposition that year he tied the track record at Greenwood in winning the Burlington Stakes in 1:52.4, and also posted wins in the Motor City Pace, Confederation Cup, Little Brown Jug Preview, as well as and the Provincial Cup and Prix d’Ete eliminations. But his biggest win was a win for the province, if not the country. Facing divisional standout Beach Towel, Apaches Fame made harness racing history by becoming the first Ontario-bred and sired colt to win the prestigious $1 million North America Cup.
Busloads of fans from Southwestern Ontario flocked to Greenwood that day to take in the race and witness history, and the winner's circle celebration harkened back to the days of the Cam Fella Express in popularity.
Apaches Fame ended his season with 20 wins in 26 starts, which earned him the O'Brien Award as the best three-year-old colt in the country.
Returning to the races at age four for Dovers Venture II Stable (Chapple, Dr. Jan Venclik, Ross Cushman, Tom Lightbody and Gary Nolte) Apaches Fame won the Grand Prix Quebec, Blue Bonnets Challenge, Des Smith Memorial and William Haughton Memorial Series at Yonkers before being retired in January 1992 at the age of five. After 67 career starts, Apaches Fame amassed a record of 39-11-9, a mark of 1:51.4 and earnings in excess of $1.76 million.
Apaches Fame stood for stallion duty in Ontario and produced the winners of more than $38 million. With 777 foals, 612 made it to the races with 81 per cent of those horses taking race records. Among his most notable performers are the 1998 O'Brien Award winning Horse of the Year Odies Fame, 2000 O'Brien Award winner Legacy Of Fame as well as Twin B Champ, Stonebridge Galaxy and more recently, Twin B Warrior.
In 2000, Apaches Fame was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame for his contributions to Canadian horse racing both as a standout racehorse and sire.
In June 2013, Standardbred Canada honoured Apaches Fame with a special video tribute to commemorate his historic North America Cup victory by visiting the stallion at his Chatham, Ont. home, where he resided at the farm owned by breeder Robert Chapple's son Rob and his wife Becky. The Chapples were joined by Venclik and Doug Nash, who helped manage Apaches Fame through his stallion career at Glengate Farms.
"Apaches Fame was the horse that legitimized the Ontario Sires Stakes program of being worthy of producing horse that were world class," said Nash. "When he won the North America Cup, it changed things around forever within the industry, where trainers and owners recognized the Ontario-breds as being capable of campaigning on the world stage."
Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcanada.ca