Left his Footprint

JOHN SHORT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Almost as soon as this year's crop of three-year-olds hit the turf last spring, Real Simard was at his chatty best.

The veteran rider, who already owned a Canadian Derby, which he earned on the back of A Fleets Dancer, told all who crossed his path that Footprint would be a major factor in the Canadian Derby.

"I don't know if Footprint can win it, the positive-thinking rider told me, "but I'm sure he can go the distance (1 3/8 miles) and he just keeps getting better."

Some jockeys are noted as lousy handicappers - knowledge can be a dangerous thing - but in this case, Simard was right.

Footprint's impressive victory over a small but tough field was the stuff of which memories are made.

So impressive was the three-year-old gelding in the Derby and in the major tests leading to it that most Horse of the Year voters in these parts promptly set the award in Footprint's stall, mentally at least.

Many of the same voters started in their minds to polish some silverware for trainer Joan Petrowski, too.

It's impossible to disagree with such logic. Footprint has earned an amazing $280,000 in his brief and flashy career, with Petrowski in charge of conditioning and Simard in the saddle for every race.

But it also unfair to overlook the other top thoroughbreds who have toiled at Northlands Park and at Calgary's Stampede Park for the past several months.

Littlemiss Allison is a good example.

The two-year-old filly has a perfect record here and could well show her stuff again on Fall Classic Day, Sept. 29.

If a major award could be presented on the basis of one appearance, True Metropolitan would be a candidate, too.

The well-travelled gelding blew away all competition in the $100,000 Speed to Spare last weekend, prompting Quincy Welch to describe him as "the best thoroughbred I ever rode."

Welch is still young. Perhaps, one day, he'll change his mind. Or not.

One thing is certain: True Metropolitan's brilliance over a difficult track will be remembered for a long time by all who saw him in high gear.


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