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Court Vision inducted into Hall of Fame

August 7, 2023

“Court Vision…it’s his day today.” – Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle calling the 2010 Woodbine Mile

And it will finally be Court Vision’s night on Wednesday when the son of Gulch is formally inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame as an honoured member of the class of 2022 (due to the pandemic, the classes of 2020 and 2021 were inducted in 2022, while the classes of 2022 and 2023, will be celebrated at this year’s event).

Court Vision winning the 2010 Woodbine Mile (Michael Burns Photo)
Court Vision winning the 2010 Woodbine Mile (Michael Burns Photo)

Bred by William S. Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred partnership, and initially campaigned by Winstar Farm LLC, Court Vision showed immediate promise. Under American Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, Court Vision won 3 of 4 starts as a 2-year-old, breaking his maiden in his second career start at Turfway Park, then scoring in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, before wrapping his juvenile campaign with an electrifying rally at Aqueduct to win the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes. His ability to ship and win early foreshadowed his eminent class.

“He was a very straightforward horse, very uncomplicated,” recalled Mott, who rerouted Court Vision to the turf after a disappointing 13th-place finish in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. The dark bay colt, with the diamond star on his forehead, would salvage his 3-year-old campaign in style, authoring back-to-back triumphs on the lawn; in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont, then a dynamic wide rush from last to win the 10-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at the now defunct Hollywood Park.

Court Vision was winless in 5 starts to begin his 4-year-old campaign under Mott and was transferred to the barn of Richard Dutrow, Jr., who determined that the colt didn’t enjoy summer racing. As the mercury dipped into fall, a freshened Court Vision made his debut for Dutrow, Jr. in the Grade 1 Shadwell at Keeneland. Ridden by Robbie Albarado for the first time, Court Vision hooked Karelian in deep stretch and wore down that foe to give Dutrow, Jr. an early highlight.

“To win a Grade 1, off the bench, after getting him from Billy Mott, we thought, ‘Wow, we’re doing good with this horse,” said the still affable Dutrow Jr.

The fall highlight of Court Vision’s 5-year-old season was a 7-1 win in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, which came after another three-month summer hiatus and remains a fond memory for Albarado.

“My first day back after a 4-week break from a broken collarbone, Dutrow asked if I wanted to go ride Court Vision in the Woodbine mile. I wasn’t quite healed yet, but it was Court Vision, he’ll get me around there. And he did, coming from way back to win… much the best,” said the rider via email.

Unhurried in arrears, Court Vision rallied inside, as Albarado deftly angled him out for a clear run, surging to the lead in deep stretch to win going away.

“We were giddy,” said Dutrow Jr. “We won a Grade 1 in Canada. What a great ride home.”

In August 2011, Court Vision was sold privately to Spendthrift Farm, in whose silks, he ran the final two races of his career.

“One of the things that struck me and still strikes me today is just how pristine his x-rays were,” recounted Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey. “As an older horse who’d run a heck of a lot of races in his life, he had the x-rays of a much younger horse.”

Spendthrift purchased Court Vision as a stallion prospect in August 2011 but were keen on letting the 6-year-old finish out his racing career in proper fashion.

Sent up to Woodbine by new trainer Dale Romans to defend his Woodbine Mile title, Court Vision ran a deceptively good seventh, coming off his now annual summer interlude. The penultimate start served a greater purpose; it tuned the veteran up perfectly for the greatest win of his illustrious career.

The week of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, a throng of media were permitted inside the rails to watch turf training up close. With Albarado on board, Court Vision zipped five furlongs in a sparkling 1:01 and change around the dogs. His dark bay coat gleamed in the Louisville morning sunshine, but with his dull form earlier in 2011, had anyone noticed his peaking trajectory?

Albarado, who rode Court Vision in 12 of his last 14 career starts, confided to the new connections that the horse had felt the best he had in some time.

“We thought it was a tough Breeders’ Cup mile,” said Romans. “But it looked like a lot of the horses were tailing off instead of going forward and we looked like we had one good one left.”

Breaking from post position 9, Court Vision sat 12th of 13 at the half-mile mark.

“The third Breeders’ Cup in a row against Goldikova, I decided not to follow her or move when she moved, and let Court Vision move when he was ready,” Albarado vividly recollected.

Around the far turn, Court Vision quickened sharply and was fanned out 6-7 wide turning for home. He brushed sharply with Mr. Commons but was undeterred, sustaining momentum and unleashing his patented kick. Outside the 1/8th pole, Albarado adroitly angled Court Vision to the left to pull alongside the superstar filly, who had struck front and was seeking an incredible fourth straight win in the Breeders’ Cup mile. After surging past Goldikova, Court Vision was confronted on his outside by the grey Turallure, who had dethroned him to win the 2011 Woodbine Mile.

In a frenetic finish, the two Woodbine mile winners hit the wire together in the brilliant twilight. Jockey Julien Leparoux, aboard Turallure, was fist-pumping, believing he had won. Ironically, Leparoux had ridden Court Vision for the first three races of the colt’s career, breaking his maiden and winning a Grade 3 over the Churchill main track. However, on this afternoon, the photo finish camera sided finally, by a nose, with Albarado and Court Vision coming out on top.

The $2 win ticket returned a lucrative $131.60, one of the largest win payouts in Breeders’ Cup history.

“I don’t think anyone in our organization placed a pari-mutuel wager on the horse,” lamented Toffey.

Romans noted the personal and historical accomplishments of Court Vision.

“He gave us one of the greatest thrills of my career winning a Breeders’ Cup for B. Wayne Hughes. “It’s a pretty good horse that wins Grade 1’s with three different trainers.”

Albarado concurred, “Great horse, sort of a throwback.”

In an ultra-gritty career, Court Vision won nine races and hit the board another eight times while competing in graded races in 28 of his 31 lifetime starts. He won graded races on dirt and turf and notched his maiden win on synthetic. He competed at 12 different racetracks, winning at eight of them while notching five Grade 1 wins and earning over $3.7 million for the various interests who campaigned him.

Post career, Court Vision has enjoyed moderate success as a stallion, first in Ontario at Michael C. Byrne’s Park stud, followed by stints at spendthrift in Kentucky, later in Louisiana and is now in his third breeding season with Judy Pryor at Pryor Ranch in Omaha, Nebraska.

“He is the King Tut and he knows it,” said a doting Pryor, who will be on hand to represent Court Vision on his big night at Wednesday’s Hall of Fame induction. “Anything Court Vision wants, he gets.”

By Phil McSween for Woodbine Communications

Watch Phil talk Court Vision back in 2012 here:

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