Day At The Track


10:57 PM 27 Jul 2005 NZST
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Gene's Prize
Gene's Prize
Chrissy Koeppen Photo - 2004 Orange & Blue Stake final winner for 2YO Colts - Gene's Prize won the Orange & Blue Stake final at Balmoral Park in 1994. Dave Magee drove the son of Prize Sarnel to victory.

Golden Cindy was not the fastest horse to ever wear a Barbre harness. She was also not the richest. However, she will always be fondly remembered.

Golden Cindy is the reason the Barbre Family implemented a harness racing business into their already established farming industry.

"It all started with Rick and Gary buying part of Golden Cindy in 1980," said Tim Barbre, trainer for the family's 11 racehorses.

"Bill Mears had horses back then so Rick and Gary decided to get into the horse business."

It wasn't long until the fever had spread into the entire Barbre Family.

That fall, Tim, Rick, Gary, and Vernon were off to the yearling sales in Chicago where they purchased a few potential prospects, including a filly named Missy Reed.

The $2200 purchase earned her keep on the track, but her biggest payoff came years later when she foaled a Prize Sarnel colt named Gene's Prize.

Gene's Prize showed promise from the beginning.

His biggest payout was recorded in the prestigious $300,000 Orange And Blue Stakes in Chicago at the age of two.

The talented colt polished off his career with more than $350,000 and 27 wins with his career best time of 1.51.1 taken at the DuQuoin State Fair.

Gene's Prize was retired in 2001.

He joined his mother, Missy Reed, and several other brood mares on part of the family's 1600-acre farm near Centerville. However, his retirement time was cut short.

"Gene's Prize died two years ago," said Vernon Barbre.

"He contracted the West Nile Virus and died. We still have Missy Reed. She's in good shape and is now 26 years old."

Gene's Prize will be remembered once again this year as the 127th annual White County Fair gets underway.

He is the track record holder for the pace, rounding the half-mile oval with an 11-length advantage at the wire in a time of 1.58.2.

Tom "T" Tetrick drove Gene's Prize to victory. His success was admired by several people around the Carmi area, who would pack into the off-track betting parlour at Grayville each time he took to the track. He also attracted interest from afar.

"A few years ago, we were talking to our cousin, Erwin," said Tim.

"He had always liked horses and would ask about them. He said he'd like to buy one, so he went to the yearling sales with us. He bought Lady Ry Ann and eventually ended up with an interest in six horses."

Erwin, who serves as senior vice president for Thompson-West Law Group out of Minnesota, is now in his third year of racing. He makes the nine and one-half hour one-way trip to the county fairs in southern Illinois when time allows.

In addition to Erwin, Gary and Rick continue to own several of the latest racehorses from the stable. They both hold regular jobs away from the farm.

Gary serves as the principal at Grayville Elementary. Rick has a Country Insurance business in both Grayville and Carmi.

However, after hours, both of them are very involved with the racing portion of the family business.

Gary keeps the track in excellent condition. Thanks to his efforts, the track has been recognised as one of the top racing surfaces in southern Illinois. As a result, it has received a "Double A" rating in the Egyptian Colt Stakes, attracting bigger purse money and better horses for the series.

Gary also serves as secretary-treasurer for the White County Fair, following in the footsteps of his father John, who was a long-time member of the board for the fair.

Rick serves as president of the White County Agricultural Society. He donates his free time to promoting the White County Fair and overseeing its business details.

The Barbre Stable will have six or seven horses in action during all three days of harness racing at the White County Fair. What began as a hobby is now a full-fledged business, keeping them racing year round.

They have four brood mares on the farm and raise colts to break and train each year.

They also continue to purchase several yearlings at the sales each fall. Their racing portion of the business includes two full-time grooms, Susie Jockim of Palestine and Beth Rigg of Bone Gap, who has been with the stable since it expanded three years ago.

Harness racing kicks off Sunday, July 31 with the rich Illinois Stallion Stakes.

The Egyptian Colt Stakes will highlight the Tuesday, August 2 card.

The final night of racing will be held Wednesday, August 3.

Courtesy Of Tammy Knox for White County Fair

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