Driven by Scott Zeron
In 2009, Judy Farrow, a horse breeder from Hemmingford named a 2009 colt Intimidate because, she says, “he used to intimidate me and all of his other buddies out in the field.” He has continued to embody his namesake during his racing career by intimidating the competition with his signature move of coming from behind to win some of the richest races in the sport.
Intimidate was recently named the Canadian Bred Horse of the Year for 2014 by Equine Canada which was presented at the Awards Gala held on March 27 in Gatineau. In February, Intimidate received the O’Brien Award for the Older Trotting Horse of the Year category. During the 2014 season, Intimidate was in 14 races and earned over $655,000 for his owners. Though Farrow is quick to point out that the earnings are divided out between the owners, with a percentage going to the trainer and driver. Afterwards, the money ends up being put right back into paying for other races as well as maintaining the horse. Farrow marvels at where the experience has brought her and at 74 years old says, “In my twilight years, to have a grand circuit race horse is just incredible!”
Farrow shares the breeding credit of Intimidate with Luc Blais who also serves as the trotter’s trainer. They chose stallion Justice Hall, to breed the mare, Fabulous Tag. Blais originally co-owned Intimidate before selling his share to Determination Stables. He is still the trainer though, and has the final say in deciding what is best for the horse. Farrow has a great deal of respect for him because she doubts whether Intimidate would have developed into the racer he now is without Blais as a trainer.
When asked to describe what it is like watching her horse compete, Farrow who is otherwise articulate, struggles to find the right words before pulling out her laptop and saying “I’ll show you, then you’ll understand.” As she pulls up Intimidate’s 2012 Simcoe race she exclaims: “I still get goosebumps watching it!” It was his “first race against the big boys” she says and continues: “it made us realize we had something special.” He placed second and this performance motivated them to put the money up to have him compete in that year’s Breeders Crown. An underdog to say the least, he went on to win the race in 2012.
When asked about whether she ever dreamed one of her horses would earn such accolades, she responds “No” with a laugh and goes on to say her dreams were much more modest: “I just hope, when I sell my babies, that they make it to the races.” Standardbred Canada has a virtual stable site that helps her keep track of the careers of all the horses she’s sold. It is the success of Intimidate though, that has made fans out of many of her friends and family from all over the world. Many of them also have created virtual stables to get updates and also follow the Facebook page that has been created for Intimidate. Farrow explains that she went into the business to breed and sell horses, not to own them … However, she sensed that Intimidate was something special.
It is easy to deduce that Farrow is not one for sitting on the sidelines, she likes to be a part of the action. She first got into Standardbreds at the encouragement of a friend and because her partner, Wayne McNaughton, had always wanted to get into Standardbreds as well. They began by boarding and breeding horses for others, but eventually bought their own. The vet used to do the inseminating, but Farrow has since taken a course to learn how to do it herself and the vet has encouraged the venture. The vet does however still come in to do an ultrasound when the mare appears ready to be bred so that the semen is sure to be ordered at the right time. Farrow also has a pedigree matching program that helps her to decide which bloodlines make for the best breeding options. McNaughton passed away in 2006, but Farrow is still running the farm.
Farrow is eagerly anticipating Intimidate’s 2015 racing season. She says of watching the races and seeing Intimidate’s successes: “It’s just so fun!” She is just content to keep riding the wave of the horse’s success and takes it all one day at a time, appreciating the experience for all that it is because, she says “there will never be another Intimidate!” he’s accomplished a feat that is “almost impossible to repeat.”
Despite all of the success of Intimidate, and the substantial earnings reaped for his owners, Farrow insists that she still has her feet firmly planted on the ground. This is reinforced when she is asked about what the favorite part of her job is. Without even a hint of hesitation she responds: “When the babies are born.” Smiling wide she tells of how she is there for every single birth making sure it goes smoothly.