Dark horse

Ryan Cooke
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Truro owner turns free horse into lone mare in series final

TRURO – If you ask Jamie Ramsay about the beauty of gambling on a long shot, he’ll tell you it’s about finding a diamond in the rough.

Jamie Ramsay trots his latest harness racing success, Lifeinthecountry, around the track at Truro Raceway. Ramsay came into the horse for free, when he made a one-for-one swap with Steve Morton for Hutchison Hanover. Lifeinthecountry turned it on in a hurry, getting two a two-minute mile in just a month and qualifying for the final of the Harris Home Hardware Series for four-year-olds and younger.

When Ramsay pulled the trigger on a trade last year he had no idea what he was getting back in the deal. The horse, a three-year-old mare belonging to Steve Morton, had limited experience and even less success.

Ramsay had a similar situation going on with one of his own horses, Hutchinson Hanover. The seasoned horse was becoming stagnant, so the pair agreed to a swap – straight up, one-for-one.

Ramsay moved the horse to a stable in Great Village to enjoy a casual life in the sticks. As is the case with one-for-one deals, sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to kick-start success.

“That’s the joke I get around the track all the time,” he said. “Lifeinthecountry sure likes life in the country.”

Within a month, Ramsay had taken the once forsaken mare and trimmed her mile-time to below two minutes. With an eye on the Harris Home Hardware Claiming Series for four-year-olds and younger, Ramsay got Bernard (Pooker) McCallum behind the reins in hopes of riding the horse to the finals. Pooker wouldn’t let his old buddy down, picking up a third-place finish in last Sunday’s qualifier with a 1:59.1.

Lifeinthecountry will be in tough on Saturday night against horses as the only mare amongst a contingent of much bigger and more experienced colts.

“She could probably run underneath some of the horses she’s up against out there,” he said. “She’s just a small horse, but she’s got an attitude.”

As part of the relaxing country lifestyle, Lifeinthecountry is only in action two days a week.

“If she’s racing on a weekend, I’ll go there the day before and jog her for an hour, and that’s all,” he said. “She doesn’t need much else than that.”

Say it Again Sam, of Foxyhall Racing in Wallace, is the odds-on favourite to take the race, having won eight straight coming into Saturday’s final. The horse was winless in four Ontario starts as a two-year-old, before coming back East to tear it up. Prince Edward Island’s Jason Hughes drove Sam to a 1:56.4 win on Sunday to qualify.

While Ramsay knows his horse will be a stark underdog, to be in the race is an accomplishment big enough already.

“Just to be there on a Saturday night with all the crowd and your friends and family yelling out to you for a horse you got for free – that’s a win itself. Everything else is just gravy.”

With that said, it’s not like he doesn’t want to win.

“I wouldn’t be devastated if there’s a big wind storm and they shut down the bridge and ferry so Jason and the fellas can’t make it,” he laughed.

Organizations: Harris Home Hardware Claiming Series

Geographic location: Great Village, Wallace, Ontario Prince Edward Island

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