The Gang of Seven

Jun 11, 2014 | ASD History

Bert Blake

Albert Edward Blake. One of the best trainers ever at Assiniboia Downs.

by Bob

If you scan the list of the Downs’ all-time leading trainers you’ll find that seven of the top 20 never won a single-season training title. How is it that the best of the best were unable to win a training title?

The reasons for this are many and varied, but in the end aren’t all that important. Training titles are used as a numbered measure of success, but if you look carefully at the “Gang of Seven” you come to realize that their body of work is just as deserving of recognition.

Two of the seven trainers participated in more than 30 meets and another was only a couple meets short of 50. It may surprise you to know that Jack Robertson (35 meets), Glenn Ball (34 meets) and Bert Blake (48 meets) never won a leading trainer title.

Difficult to believe that their respective win totals weren’t enough to put them on top of the leader board in any given year since the Downs opened in 1958. But they all had their special moments with regards to developing exceptional horses.

Jack Robertson from Amaranth, Manitoba is ranked 8th on the all-time win list at the Downs and is still training. He’s won a lot of races and developed some awfully good horses over the years. Stakes winners Uene and Bobby Q come to mind.

Trainer Jack Robertson. Assiniboia Downs.

Jack Robertson. Won the Gold Cup with Uene.

Glenn Ball sits in 16th place overall and still lives just west of the track off of Highway #1. He retired a few years ago, but he’s another who ran some real beauties. In the 1970s I don’t think anyone had a stronger stable. Glenn’s major client back then was Marcel Chartier’s Wescana Stable, which included stakes winners Macale, Taboga, and De Cat, among others. His stable was small, but loaded with power.

And what can you say about Albert Edward Blake — who makes the list in 20th position — that hasn’t already been said? Sadly, we lost Mr. Blake in 2012, but he was always a high percentage trainer.

Blake ran a smaller, high quality stable, and had no regrets about not winning a training title. He might have felt he had missed out if he hadn’t won the Manitoba Derby twice, with Prime Time TV and Royal Frolic, but really, not winning a training title was no great loss for Blake.

The remaining four from our top 20 all-time leading trainer list that never won a title are Blair Miller, Sandy McPherson, Gilbert Ducharme, and the only woman to make the top 20 list, Lorna Gray.

Glen Ball. Taboga. Assiniboia Downs.

Trainer Glen Ball with his stakes-winning filly Taboga.

Six men and one woman whose careers put them on the Downs all-time leading trainer list, all very deserving of recognition despite the fact that they never won a training title.

Today we remember and congratulate them on their stellar careers, and wish still active trainers Jack Robertson, Blair Miller and Lorna Gray, continued success.

The “Gang” lives on!

Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, 2014