Kawartha Downs’ Lori Ferguson knows a thing or two about waiting on a trotter. It certainly paid off with her Hall of Famer Billyjojimbob, who remains the only Canadian-sired trotter to ever win the coveted Elitlopp in Sweden, as well as with her millionaire trotter Corn Cob Conch. They both took their time getting their racing careers underway but made the wait worthwhile.
Her latest trotter who has taken a circuitous route to the winner’s circle is Liam Needsome who tonight scored his second straight victory at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London, Ontario. The four-year-old was making just his fourth lifetime start.
“It’s been a long road but he’s been worth the wait,” Lori noted tonight.
Liam is the final foal from Lori’s King Conch mare Charlottetheharlot (Lori is well known for her ‘unique’ naming prowess.) That mare’s most successful offspring to date is the $366,000 winner Whatever Lolawants.
Charlotte is now retired from the broodmare ranks and enjoying life at the small breeding farm Lori and her husband Richard operate near Oakwood, Ontario. Lori shares ownership of Liam with trainer Britt Kennedy and Betty Roberts.
“I knew Britt through social media and met her at the All Equine show in London,” explains Lori who works part time at her local track of Kawartha Downs during the racing season in the marketing department. Brittany also competes with the Racing Under Saddle group and is a massage therapist in addition to training a small stable of horses.
“I knew Britt would take her time with him and not rush him. She’s told us we’re the best owners because we’re not pushy, we’ve never put any pressure on, we’ve just told her to do what she needs to do.”
The colt had a scare during his two-year-old season when he had to have emergency surgery due to a bad colic at the Milton Equine Hospital. “It takes quite some time for horses to recover from abdominal surgery,” notes Lori who is a veterinary technician.
“Then last year he had some issues with his immune system, likely as a result of the surgery, horses have sensitive immune systems, we learned that with BJ (Billyjojimbob whose career ended after an adverse reaction to a medication).
“These last two starts have made all that waiting worthwhile, I think we’ve earned it and Britt certainly deserves it, she’s worked really hard with him. You also have to keep in mind that tonight was just his fourth lifetime start, he’s still learning.”
The times of his recent victories haven’t been earth shaking, both were trotted over a track rated Good. But the horse showed poise as his rivals miscued around him in both contests where he was driven by Nick Steward. The first win was by three lengths, tonight by more than five.
Liam is the third generation of this family for Lori. “We were at the 1992 O’Brien Awards and I was talking to Woody (the late Hall of Fame trainer William Wellwood) and told him I wanted to get a broodmare. He had the Super Bowl mare Memories Of You and for several years we had a foal share agreement with her.” Liam’s dam, Charlottetheharlot was Memories’ third foal.