By Jennifer Starr, Breeders Crown — The emotions are running high for trainer Tim Twaddle as he prepares his prized pupil Fourever Boy for Saturday’s $600,000 Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Colt Final at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville, ON.
“Anytime you get a chance to race in the big ones is exciting, but to do it with friends and family around, it makes it more special,” said Twaddle. A former trainer and driver on the Ontario Jockey Club now based at The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, PA, Tim will be joined by his older sister, Cindy, and his father, Robert, as well as his wife Sophie and his kids. His mom, Patricia, is in a nursing home and won’t be able to attend. .
It will be a bit bittersweet to Tim as he lost one of his biggest supporters, his sister, Robin, just over a year ago when she passed away suddenly after a brief illness. She worked in the hospitality industry, both at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks, and in the early days at Greenwood.
“She had a bird’s-eye view of my career as it took off, and the downfalls, as well. She was a big fan, and with all the limelight and the hoopla that goes with these big events, she’d be eating it up like ice cream. But she’s with me all the time,” he said emotionally.
Fourever Boy heads into the Breeders Crown final off a fourth-place finish in his elimination, which was disappointing to Tim, and he took every precaution to make sure his colt’s health was good.
“I had trouble the last race at Lexington — he bled, I really didn’t expect it. He’s a Lasix horse, and we put him on it early in the year to help combat his allergy issues. It wasn’t because he was a bad bleeder. In the Tattersalls Pace, he was flat,” continued Twaddle.
Fourever Boy had some time in the field before the elimination to heal, and trained pretty strong on Lasix at Mohawk last Tuesday.
“He was superb, and he scoped clean after that training.”
On the Saturday after the elim, Tim felt the race was flat. He had his colt scoped again, and discovered heavy mucous.
“He had a real reason not to be great (in that race), and knowing what I know now, he did great to get to the final, so I’m happy about that.”
With 20 starts this year, and a lot of traveling, Fourever Boy ships well and doesn’t need to take his track with him.
“Even the best ones in the world, it takes a toll on them after a while, but he doesn’t seem to show any signs of wear and tear. Even Dexter (Dunn) made the comment when we were going out of the paddock the other night how good he looks. To look at him, you’d never know he had 20 starts. He’s alert, he’s sharp. He feels good.”
It has been more than two decades since Tim won a Breeders Crown trophy, and going into Saturday’s race card, he admits it’s not the same.
“Totally different vibe this time around! Winning the Breeders Crown in ‘94 with Hardie Hanover was a monumental moment in my driving career and an extremely gratifying accomplishment. However, Hardie was a great filly, a world champion as it turned out. She was heavily favored and my job was to not mess up. I think as a much younger me, I was more focused on driving her well and getting our business taken care of.”
The race took place at Garden State Park. Tim remembered. “Of course, it is now defunct. I had some owners in attendance (Ron and Lori Maruya of Martwest Stable), but no family. I basically was on my own to come in, drive and get out (under the radar as I wasn’t a headline act).”
With Fourever Boy, Tim is enjoying every race and every milestone with this special colt. “This time around I know how special an event like this is, and although we’ll be underdogs, we will eat up every moment! This colt is special to us on so many levels and seeing him compete with the world’s greatest driver guiding him is surreal.”
Until he’s back in Canada over the weekend, it’s business as usual back at the Meadows for Tim, and his fellow horsemen are stopping to offer their best wishes. “I was training horses at the Meadows Tuesday morning, and my friend Dr. Rick Balmer was speaking to me about the colt. I mentioned we were thinking about making the drive to Milton, ON for the draw (Tuesday evening). Doc says ‘when was the last Breeders Crown dinner you attended?’ I told him I’ve never been able to attend one. He stopped and asked ‘when will be the next one?’ And I said that I wasn’t sure there ever will be one.”
“His reply? ‘Exactly! Go enjoy every minute of this opportunity!’”
Tim IS enjoying every opportunity, and believes in his colt.
“I want him to race well. I want him to be a big factor. Let’s face it, he’s up against two outstanding colts. For Ronnie Burke to say [Bythemissal] is the fastest horse he’s ever had is a giant statement. If we were ever going to beat him, it probably would have been in the [Little Brown] Jug. We got to the front and the race was ours to win or lose, and he got out and got to us in the lane. Finishing second to him is no disgrace, that’s for sure. But they all get beat! Even Bulldog Hanover. If it’s the right day and the right situation, anything can happen. We didn’t draw terrible, and of course, Dexter is a magician, so we will see what happens.”