Day At The Track

Hutchisons enjoyed the ride with Holiday Shopper

04:57 AM 18 Mar 2015 NZDT
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Holiday Shopper
Holiday Shopper - A daughter of Camluck

Trenton, NJ --- In 2008, veterinarians Randy Hutchison and his dad, Robert, visited the Standardbred Horse Sale. It was the first time the father and son went to inspect and actually purchase a harness racing yearling on their own.

Call it instinct, good horse sense or just plain beginner’s luck, but the Hutchisons were about to go on a nice little seven-year ride that ended last Friday night (March 13). They purchased a female pacer named Keystone Linda for $4,000, renamed her Holiday Shopper at the urging of Randy’s daughter Anna, and the mare proceeded to win 30 times and earned $403,649.

That’s a pretty good bang for the buck, and it concluded at Miami Valley Raceway in Ohio with a second-place finish on Friday.

“She raced well and she gave it her best, she didn’t embarrass herself,” Randy Hutchison said. “We decided that would be her last race because over the last two to three months we just started to see the number of races and miles she raced over the last six years starting to catch up a little bit.

“We always said she’s been too good of a horse to just watch her go around the track. We were going to let her go out with some dignity.”

The laid-back daughter of Camluck carried herself with dignity throughout her racing career, first under the training of Ivan and Duke Sugg, and for the last four years under Jeff Brewer.

Ivan Sugg was with the Hutchisons at Harrisburg when the filly entered the auction ring. She was sitting at $3,000 and Sugg felt she was definitely worth that much. Randy and Robert bid $4,000 and had themselves a horse.

“She had a good video and was put together well,” Randy said. “Some thought she was too small, but we have never really found that to be a huge problem.

“We kind of have a certain standard we look for. Are they anatomically correct so they have the chance of holding up to the rigors of racing? We watched hundreds and hundreds of yearling videos. She just had something about her, she had the anatomy and athleticism we liked, and her breeding.”

After the name change -- because Anna liked the name Holiday -- the horse began racing as a 2-year-old, started out decently and remained consistent up until her finale.

“She’s gone strong,” Randy said. “Even last year she won 11 times. That first year, she had some races in the stakes program in Ontario. There were a few races where she really started to show her heart and competitiveness and we realized we did have something more than a regular horse. We thought she was just something that might be a little better than what we expected.”

Actually, she was a lot better than expected. Some of her highlights were finishing second as a 2-year-old in the $92,000 Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots final and racing in the Jugette in the Hutchisons’ home state of Ohio.

“We like to race pacing fillies. That’s our goal to get to that race, and she got us in that race,” Randy said. “She didn’t do anything in it (finishing sixth in her opening heat). But just to be in there and being in that barn and being part of that was fabulous. All her sire stakes races in Ontario were great. Just really the whole thing over all seven years. And because she’s the first one we picked out ourselves it made it even more special.”

Robert, who lives in North Ridgeville, Ohio, had been an owner for nearly 30 years before he and Randy (of Avon Lake, Ohio) teamed up for the purchase. They have bought several others on their own and have parts of six horses now. Holiday Shopper is the most successful of them all, and is also a friend of the family.

“My whole family knew her, knew who she was,” Randy said. “For my dad for Christmas we had a painting of her done. She was the best horse (results-wise) we’ve had and she provided not only excitement, but a lot of great family moments with my dad and myself, my wife and my family.”

Holiday Shopper raced primarily in Canada before finishing up in Ohio the past two years. She will now be a broodmare and the Hutchisons are hoping they might be able to race one of her offspring.

One thing is certain, if she does as well giving birth as she did on the track, some good horses are on the way.

Asked if they ever expected to earn 10 times as much as they paid for Holiday Shopper, Randy said, “No, never. It’s kind of one of those things, it just happened. You look at her winnings, she’s won almost the same every year, we never would have thought that.

“I mean, she hasn’t won $2 million. But to us, she’s special.”

by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

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