As the racing season at Assiniboia Downs reaches the midway point, trainer Martin Drexler looks down his barn and sees a stable of mostly good results, except for one underachiever.
Drexler is tied with Carl Anderson for second in the trainer standings with 12 wins apiece and is alone in second in money won with $124,979 so far. But, he has also seen his big attraction this summer become a big flop.
An impressive-looking specimen, Shadow Rush came to Drexler's stable from Woodbine in Toronto with a couple hundred thousand dollar price tag and the anticipation of having a great season.
It turns out, though, Shadow Rush is a massive animal that is lacking the gusto champion horses possess.
"He's a little bit gutless. Some horses will run through a wall for you, he won't," Drexler said yesterday. "He lacks heart.
"I knew he looked the part, but now I know why they didn't want to keep him out there.
"I honestly expected better because he has the physical ability."
In the only stakes race he has run this season, Shadow Rush finished second to last in the $45,000 event and his reputation is that he doesn't do well in traffic.
"If he gets out by himself, he could win by 10 lengths," Drexler said. "Otherwise he's just out there for a gallop."
Despite the poor performance of his was-to-be stud, Drexler has seen other horses do very well. Dexler won three races, finished second in two others and picked up a third place finish in another last weekend. Included in his weekend was Empress Pegasus finishing second in the Canada Day Stakes.
On the horizon, Drexler has Emma's Touch geared up for the Assiniboia Oakes, where she will take on Chantilly Stakes champ Des Moines, who is touring around the Midwest United States and Western Canada for select stakes races.
"I wouldn't trade my horse for that horse," Drexler said, noting Emma's Touch is a distance runner.
"I would rather she's (Des Moines) not here, but there's nothing I can do about it."
Drexler added a few horses from the States could also end up in his barn for stakes races later on this season.
As for the trainer standings, Drexler feels Clay Brinson can be caught for the top spot.
"With the difference in the number of starts we run, you can catch him," Drexler said.
"I think it's going to come down to me, Carl (Anderson) and Ardell (Sayler)."
Brinson has 18 wins to lead the standings, while Sayler is sixth with nine wins in a Downs-high 86 starts.
"I always hope to be in the top three," Drexler assessed.
But winning isn't the only way to be in the money. Drexler has 13 second place finishes this season, but it isn't always a walk in the park.
"It's a lot of work and can carry a lot of aggravation," Drexler said, "but it's always worth it in the end."