TORONTO, October 17, 2020 – It won’t have been a well-liked selection, or perhaps a consideration for many on the time, however Mel Lawson knew it might be an ideal match.
As a horseman with a well-earned and well-deserved popularity as one in every of Canada’s most profitable owner-breeders, the person with a secure chock stuffed with Thoroughbred stars had a choice to make again within the early to mid Eighties, one that may be a recreation changer for his Jim Dandy Secure.
There was no scarcity of trainers that Lawson might go for – seasoned veterans of the game, up-and-coming abilities, diamond-in-the tough kinds – to guide his string of horses.
The person who had led the Hamilton Wildcats to Gray Cup gridiron glory in 1943 didn’t need to name an audible when he named Janet Bedford to marketing campaign his secure.
For Jim Lawson, Mel’s son, and CEO of Woodbine Leisure Group, the choice, looking back, was audacious, however undoubtedly the correct one to make.
“It’s fascinating now after I look again and give it some thought… perhaps it’s in mild of what has occurred in latest months within the media concerning the concentrate on variety. Hats off to my dad after I consider the occasions 40 years in the past when he determined he wished a lady coach in a backstretch that was fully dominated by males. Janet had labored for [Canadian Hall of Fame trainer] Ted Mann, and I feel my dad simply felt she knew the horses, and he had confidence in her.”
It’s one in every of many reminiscences he has of Bedford, who just lately handed away.
“Now that I consider it, 40 years later, it was most likely a daring transfer. I didn’t consider it that approach on the time. I’m undecided whether or not he did, however trying again to these days, I feel he noticed her as very succesful, reliable across the horses, and positively knew them effectively. It was a pure factor for him to do. I don’t suppose most of the house owners on the time with good horses – and he had good horses – would have finished that. I don’t know. It’s very fascinating to look again on that now. I now look again and say, ‘Wow… that was a superb factor.’ She positively deserved it.”
The elder Lawson, inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Corridor of Fame in 2010, noticed Bedford as a great orchestrator for horses like Let’s Go Blue and Everlasting Search, a dynamic Jim Dandy duo that had stamped themselves as bona fide abilities.
Let’s Go Blue, a son of Bob’s Dusty who gained the 1984 Plate Trial and completed second within the Queen’s Plate that very same yr, went on to win Alberta’s Canadian Derby and Hastings Racecourse’s Grade 3 BC Derby. As a four-year-old, he took the Grade 3 Dominion Day and the Pace to Spare at Northlands, a race he gained once more in 1986 together with the Truthful Play Stakes. He was additionally third within the Stuyvesant (G2) at Aqueduct earlier than he was retired with over $750,000 (US) in purse earnings.
Up till the 1984 Queen’s Plate, there had solely been two ladies trainers to saddle a horse within the iconic Canadian race; Estelle Giddings, widow of Henry Giddings, an eight-time Plate winner, briefly took over the reins of her husband’s secure and had a starter in 1950, whereas Olive Armstrong despatched out a starter three years later.
Everlasting Search, Mel’s sensible three-time Sovereign Award successful mare of 15 stakes races, got here to Bedford’s barn in 1983 and went on to win the Nassau Stakes at Fort Erie. The Everlasting Search Stakes is run yearly at Woodbine.
“We had an opportunity to journey with Let’s Go Blue a number of occasions and Everlasting Search as effectively,” Jim recalled. “That’s when you may see how a lot Janet doted and the way a lot she cared for her horses. I feel she most likely liked Everlasting Search greater than something.”
Apparently, it’s not winner’s circle journeys that first come to thoughts for Jim when talking of Bedford’s coaching exploits.
“At the beginning, it was her love for the animal, a real love for horses, that stands out for me. That’s the factor that first involves thoughts in my reminiscence of her. When she’d go away with the horses, she’d just about need to sleep proper beside them. She was simply so passionate in caring for her horses. I feel in some way there’s an intangible there. When somebody cares about their horses – rubs them like that, walks them like that – you understand they’re beneath the very best of care. At some stage, I feel that’s necessary to a horse, that they know they’re so cared for.”
The top outcomes for the a number of stakes successful coach had been 193 profession wins and $4.6 million in purse earnings.
Past these numbers, nonetheless, is a much more important stamp Bedford has left on Thoroughbred racing, particularly at Woodbine Racetrack.
It’s one thing Jim, and plenty of others, are appreciative of.
“We have now a really disproportionate variety of very succesful, very profitable ladies trainers at Woodbine in comparison with different racetracks all over the world. There are such a lot of names at Woodbine, so I gained’t attempt to record all of them. I feel to ensure that that to occur, there wanted to be a pathway. There are plenty of ladies that work within the Woodbine backstretch, and to have somebody who would pave the way in which like that, and say, ‘You are able to do it,’ is a credit score to Janet. I feel, partly, she has helped Woodbine foster so many nice ladies trainers. It’s a really good factor for our business, and a really good factor to acknowledge Janet for having a number of the credit score for that.”
Catherine Day Phillips, Josie Carroll, Barbara Minshall and Gail Cox are a number of the quite a few Woodbine-based feminine conditioners who’ve skilled success at residence and on the world stage over the previous 30-plus years.
A a number of graded stakes winner, Day Phillips, whose stars embrace Grade 1 champion Jambalaya, and graded stakes victors A Bit O’Gold, and Mr Havercamp, is grateful for Bedford and the others who helped open the gates for girls trainers.
“My first considered Janet is her affiliation with Let’s Go Blue,” mentioned Day Phillips, whose mom Dinny Day was additionally a profitable coach. “She was one of many first feminine trainers I keep in mind, and he or she was a pioneer in that approach. She helped pave the way in which for feminine trainers, particularly for these of us at Woodbine.”
Round 4 or 5 years in the past, whereas he was cleansing his mother and father’ home, Jim got here throughout a bit of nostalgia from the halcyon days of Jim Dandy Secure.
The second he stumbled upon it, he considered Bedford.
“I hadn’t seen Janet shortly. It was most likely 4 or 5 years in the past, after I was cleansing out my mother and father’ home, and I discovered an previous Jim Dandy Secure jacket. Janet was strolling hots for Sid [trainer, Attard] and I took that jacket – which regarded just about model new – to her. It was in my dad’s closet and it had by no means been cleaned out. He died in 2011, so this was round 2015 or 2016. I took it to Janet and he or she practically burst into tears. It was indicative of how a lot that period of coaching meant to her.”
And simply as she was in her function as Mel Lawson’s coach, the jacket was an ideal match.
“She proved herself, liked the horses and took care of them,” mentioned Jim. “I feel that’s what my dad noticed in her.”