Day At The Track

It's hard to keep a 'good' horse down

05:27 PM 02 Nov 2011 NZDT
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The Whippet Good story is a feel-good Whippet Good and Jason Brewer
The Whippet Good story is a feel-good - one for co-owner and trainer James De Chellis.
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Whippet Good and Jason Brewer - nearing the finish line.
New Image Media

Although he's never posted a world record, raced in the Ontario Sires Stakes harness racing program, or owns a speed badge of 1:50 or faster, Whippet Good has certainly been a feel-good story for co-owner and trainer James De Chellis.

Purchased for a mere $4,700 in 2004 at the Standardbred Canada Mixed Sale, Whippet Good has gone on to bank $765,751 lifetime the hard way for De Chellis and his son, Nino.

Whippet Good has had plenty of good fortune on the racetrack over his career, but is currently on the road to recovery after being involved in a race accident on October 8, which sent the seasoned veteran to the sidelines.

The nine-year-old was interfered with and fell to the track while unseating regular driver Jason Brewer in the process. Whippet Good remained loose for several minutes at the Woodbine oval before being caught.

“That was a terrible night,” recalled De Chellis, of the incident that left the bay with multiple cuts and bruises. “No one ever wants to experience it, but the good news was that he didn’t break any bones. I’ve driven in races before and I know accidents do happen. I’m just glad he’s healing well.”

The prognosis for a full recovery is encouraging.

“He’s back jogging now for about a 10 days. He doesn’t need much work or training and I plan to have him back in mid-December if everything goes well,” De Chellis said.

Reflecting Whippet Good’s career, De Chellis remembered how he found his star pacer.

“It was a bit of coincidence as to why we bought him,” he said. “I did like him at the sale, but he was hip number 213 and my birthday is February 13. I like to think it was meant to happen.”

Now, seven years later, the son of Island Fantasy-Whippet has been what every trainer hopes for - a regular Saturday evening competitor on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit. The iron-tough gelding has marched to the winner’s circle 42 times from 231 efforts.

“I always knew what I was doing on Saturday nights,” De Chellis said. “It was either racing him (Whippet Good) at Mohawk or Woodbine. I never complained about it, that’s for sure.”

With a lifetime best of 1:50.1, De Chellis knows a horse like Whippet Good doesn’t come along every day.

“There are a lot of horses that are better than him, but then again, he’s better than a lot of them, too. He’s such a tough horse. He took his lifetime best as a five-year-old and now at nine he’s still pacing in (1):51 and (1):52. Not many horses can do that.”

The goal of De Chellis is simple: to see Whippet Good surpass $1 million in earnings.

“I know he’s nine-years-old, but he’s a sound horse and I can see him racing until he’s at least 11 or 12. He has showed no signs of slowing down and I think he could come close to reaching a million. What a milestone that would be.”

It would be a well-deserving and well-earned milestone, one that proves you can’t keep a good horse down.

Greg GANGLE

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