Hightstown, NJ — Dave Ratchford was 16 when he bought his first horse.
“And I’ve never been without a horse since then,” the 75-year-old Nova Scotia resident said.
Good thing. Otherwise he would have missed the opportunity to own a horse like Century Farroh.
Century Farroh has won eight of nine races this year and competes in Saturday’s (Aug. 10) $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial Invitational for 3-year-old pacers at Northfield Park. The colt goes to the Milstein off a 1:49.4 win in an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold event, beating multiple-stakes-winner Bronx Seelster by a neck and Meadowlands Pace champ Best In Show by a half-length at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
At 7-2 on the morning line, Century Farroh is the second choice behind 5-2 favorite Bettor’s Wish.
“He doesn’t seem to want to get beat,” Ratchford said about Century Farroh, who has a four-race win streak. “I like some of the grit he has. Most of his trips have been hard-nosed. He’s on the front end, he’s doing the road work, and he just seems to keep on going.”
Ratchford, who owned an insurance agency before retiring about 10 years ago, has trained and driven horses for much of his life and still works with a small stable.
He purchased Century Farroh for $17,000 at the 2017 London Selected Yearling Sale in Ontario. The colt is a son of Mach Three out of the stakes-winning mare Beachy Girl. Century Farroh, who has earned $293,128, is the richest of Beachy Girl’s four foals to reach six figures in earnings. All seven of the mare’s foals have won at least one race.
“The pedigree is fairly good for the budget I like to use; I like between $15,000 and $30,000,” said Ratchford, whose other recent successes included $10,000-yearling purchase Ms Mac N Cheese; the winner of more than $600,000 on the Ontario circuit. “I like the challenge of one on the lower end of it. He was one of maybe 30 colts or fillies I had marked in the catalogue to look at. He came by and he fit the bill. I was in the right place at the right time, I guess.”
Century Farroh was turned over to trainer Dr. Ian Moore after Ratchford prepped and qualified the colt in Nova Scotia. He competed primarily on Ontario’s Grassroots Series circuit in 2018 and finished his season with four wins in 10 starts. All four victories came in a row to close his campaign, including a triumph in the Grassroots final.
“He was a nice colt right from the time we broke him,” Ratchford said. “I wasn’t sure if he would be this kind of a horse, we’re not used to that, but he’s never done anything wrong. He’s a nice gaited colt. He’s good mannered. Everything is good about him.”
Ratchford staked Century Farroh lightly this year, focusing on races in Ontario. In addition to the Ontario Sire Stakes, he made the colt eligible to the North America Cup and Simcoe Stakes. Century Farroh’s only loss this year was a seventh-place finish in his Cup elimination, when he started from post nine and missed a spot in the final by a half-length despite a :26 last quarter-mile.
“It was nobody’s fault; it was just the way the race went,” Ratchford said. “Nothing went his way. It just wasn’t in the cards.
“There is some thought we might supplement him somewhere later on,” he added. “We’re not really sure. We’ll just see how it goes. I don’t have any regrets at this point. I’m very happy with what’s taken place, and hopefully what is going to take place.”
Century Farroh will start the Milstein from post two in a field of eight. The group includes Art Rooney Pace winner Bettor’s Wish (who also has been second in the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Cane Pace), Adios champion Southwind Ozzi, multiple-stakes-winner Workin Ona Mystery, and New York Sire Stakes standout American Mercury.
“I’m considered a pretty lucky guy, I suppose, as far as acquisitions are concerned,” Ratchford said. “We’re trying to make it happen. I don’t expect this is going to happen again in a lifetime, so we’re riding it while it’s here. It’s just starting to sink in what this horse is.”
Racing begins at 6 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Northfield Park. The Milstein Memorial is race 10 on the card. Following is the field.
1-Captain Victorious-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-8/1
2-Century Farroh-David Miller-Dr. Ian Moore-7/2
3-Bettor’s Wish-Dexter Dunn-Chris Ryder-5/2
4-Yankee Boots-Dan Noble-Steve Carter-15/1
5-Workin Ona Mystery-Tim Tetrick-Brian Brown-4/1
6-Rockie Got Framed-Ricky Macomber Jr.-Jamie Macomber-20/1
7-American Mercury-Tyler Buter-Chris Oakes-12/1
8-Southwind Ozzi-Brian Sears-Bill Mac Kenzie-9/2
The race is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. The Milstein family operated Northfield Park until July 2018 when MGM Growth Properties purchased the racetrack from Milstein Entertainment, LLC.
In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, that purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980s. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984 he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year.
Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing’s top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing.