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Oh, How I Remember Benburb

Earlier this month, Canada's 1992 Sovereign Award winning Horse-Of-The Year and champion 3-year old male, BENBURB, passed away. I'll remember his name forever. His accomplishments on the race track that season won't be forgotten either. Most notably his win in the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, Sunday July 26th. His victory that afternoon not only thwarted Queen's Plate winner ALYDEED from a successful bid for the Canadian Triple Crown, but it also denied me from cashing a winning Super-7 ticket.



Yes, you read that correctly, a "SUPER-7." The gimmick bet had been implemented at Fort Erie that season, and I was going to give it a crack on Prince Of Wales Day. Twenty-four hours prior, I purchased my copy of the Daily Racing Form and went about selecting who I thought would be the winners of races 2 through 8, with the last leg of the sequence being the annual showcase event of the Fort Erie meet. While methodically choosing my horses, I took into account that the area had received three days of rain and that the race track would be deep and wet.



After my handicapping was completed, just 10 horses were going to be used. Single selections in races 2--3--5 and 8. Two horses each in races 4--6 and 7. On Sunday morning, another downpour arrived and left the surface a muddy mess. If any of my choices were to be scratched, I was prepared to replace them with back-ups. But low and behold, when I arrived at Fort Erie none of my selections had been scratched. They were all good to go. So with that, I was playing the ticket I conjured up the previous evening. The total cost of my Super-7 wager was going to be a whopping $8 dollars.



Far in advance of the first race which was scheduled for 1:30 pm, I had filled out my Super-7 wagering card and took it to the teller's station. I handed over the required amount of money to cover the cost and grabbed the freshly printed ticket as it popped out of the betting machine, folded it and placed it in my wallet. I made my way up to the top row of the 2nd level of the Fort Erie grandstand and sat in the very end seat closest to the finish line. The seat was a very familiar one. I had sat there many times when accompanying my father to the track. The seating way up there offered a spectacular view of the entire racetrack. It was a great spot for race watching. People could see everything in a race unfold from that vantage point. I felt good, I felt very confident in my race selections. I felt I was truly going to win the Super-7. So, let the races begin.



After the first race had been declared official, it was time for the Super-7 sequence to commence, and I was excited. My solo pick in race 2, FLEETS REGENT, and my lone choice in race 3, OPERA GHOST, had both won easily. I know it's early, but my line of thinking is, I'm 2 for 2. I had gone with two horses in race 4 and one of my calls, CHEVELEY CHIEF, drew away to win by four lengths. And my ticket stood 3 for 3. Race 5 had one selection, and his name was PREP TIME. He opened up by 4 and a-half lengths at the three-quarter pole, only to hold on to win by a neck. It was good enough. Not only did I stand 4 for 4 at this point, but I was also betting on my choices to win. The payoffs were small, but the cash was adding up to a nice profit. One of two choices in race 6, SWEETLY VICTORIOUS, wired the field to keep the winning streak going. In race 7, MAJOR BARCLAY, one of two horses I liked came from fifth-place at the top of the stretch to win by a scant nose, keeping the dream alive. I now stood at 6 for 6.



I'm extremely nervous, I'm pacing erractically, my palms are clammy and my heart is racing (no pun intended). I'm just one win away from nailing the Super-7 bet. I don't know how much it will even pay, but I'm thinking five figures, maybe six. It all comes down to ALYDEED, the prohibitive 1-20 choice in the Prince Of Wales. The Kinghaven Farm owned and Roger Attfield trained colt had displayed outstanding class in his 3-year old season. He won the Derby Trial at Churchill, just missed winning the Preakness and was a runaway winner in the Plate Trial. As the overwhelming choice in the Queen's Plate three weeks earlier, he demolished his opponents by nearly a dozen lengths. Five of his victims that day were back to try again. He was a standout and an obvious single selection. A mere formality, right?



Over the muddy surface, ALYDEED stalked the early pace and grabbed the front by the half-mile marker. BENBURB (3rd in the Queen's Plate) bided his time racing in third. The two horses fought it out in a thrilling and intense stretch run. Both jockeys, Larry Attard aboard BENBURB and Craig Perret atop Alydeed, were imploring their mounts for everything they could give. BENBURB caught and passed the favorite at the sixteenth pole, but ALYDEED dug in and came back to pull even. However, BENBURB edged away in the final few strides to win by half a length sending shock waves through Fort Erie and all of Canada.



The horse that most everyone had come out to see win, had lost. With his defeat, there would be no Canadian Triple Crown. And for me, there would be no cashing in on my Super-7 ticket. Both dreams shattered by a 24-1 shot named BENBURB. Oh, how I will remember his name forever!



Note: There was a lone winning Super-7 ticket that day. The fortunate bettor that included BENBURB received $33,182.


Later that same year, BENBURB pulled off another upset victory in the Molson Export Million at Woodbine. He beat a stellar cast of equines, including eventual 1992 U.S. Horse-of-the Year A.P.Indy, Grade 1 winner Technology and his old nemesis Alydeed.


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That is a great story, unfortunate, but a great story!

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