Breeder, owner and trainer, Doug Oberg is a familiar name on the Thoroughbred racing scene in Alberta, especially with the success of Oberg-bred Thoroughbreds over the last few years. From humble beginnings growing up on a farm near the tiny hamlet of Meeting Creek in Camrose County, Alberta, Doug went on to work for Loram Construction for fifteen years up to 1985 and then Canada Post for 20 years. He then retired with his “not a horse person” wife, Dianna, at their current farm just outside the north Calgary city limits, where he has lived for over 30 years since purchasing the property in 1991 with “not one light on north side of Nose Hill, now there’s a whole city.”
Although Doug had saddle horses and cattle at the farm, he bought his first racehorse in 1994 after a friend that Doug hauled hay and straw for suggested he should “buy a horse, it gets more interesting.”
The first racehorse Doug purchased was a standardbred but a difficult suspensory injury meant Doug broke him to ride instead as he was “dead quiet but had a mouth as hard as this table.” Eventually, Doug sold the standardbred and the horse went on to a successful career with Banff Trail Rides as a mountain trail horse. In 2001, his friend Del Danielson suggested “you should come with me to Kentucky” and that was the start of a passion for the world of breeding and owning Thoroughbreds.
Doug travelled to Keeneland in January of 2002 to the Horses of All Ages sale and purchased his first Thoroughbred and the first Indian Charlie bloodlines in western Canada, a horse named Charlie’s Bullet. Doug recalls he brought the colt back to Alberta in minus 30 weather and kept him at the farm for the summer before starting him as a three-year-old. Ironically, Darcy Hawkes claimed Charlie’s Bullet from Doug in 2006 even though the colt was “my only horse” and fast forward to 2021 where Darcy is now Doug’s trainer. Charlie’s Bullet spent five seasons racing, mainly in Alberta, and became a leading horse for Doug earning U.S. $33,845 with Doug as owner.
After apprenticing as a groom under Tom Murphy in 2004, Doug took his trainer’s license test in Edmonton and trained from 2005 through 2010. As a trainer, Doug had his top earning year in 2008 finding success with horses that included Cedar Fever, Josejimmynjack, Frieda’s Girl, and Dianna’s Choice.
As a breeder, Doug has had tremendous success recently with the outstanding Alberta bred horses, Light Fast Feet, Maskwecis and Dune D’Oro.
The Declassify filly, Light Fast Feet, is both owned and bred by Doug and was the winner of the 2020 Sturgeon River Stakes giving Doug a 2020 Alberta breeders’ award of excellence with earnings to date of US $36,490 and a record of 11-2-0-3.
The Atreides gelding, Dune D’Oro, has won numerous stakes races including the 2021 Red Diamond Express Handicap, the 2020 Golden Boy Stakes and 2020 Shanghied Overnight Stakes at Assiniboia in addition to the 2019 Alberta Premier’s Futurity and the 2019 CTHS Alberta Sales Stake. Dune D’Oro is out of the Dynaformer mare, Barney’s Mistress, a 2016 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale purchase for Doug. Dune D’Oro was sold by Doug through the 2018 CTHS Alberta Sale and to date, the gelding now has US $157,460 with a record of 25-9-5-2 for owner Mitch Sutherland.
The five-year-old runner is nominated in a total of four award categories in the upcoming Night of Champions in celebration of the 2021 Alberta Thoroughbred achievements – Four Year Old and Up, Claimer, Sprinter, and Alberta Bred. Dune D’Oro has also earned Doug a nomination for the Alberta breeders’ award of excellence for his outstanding performances last season.
Maskwecis won the City of Leduc stake in his first season out as a two-year-old and went on to earn the title of 2020 Champion Alberta bred for his outstanding three-year-old season which included wins in the Western Canada Handicap and the Beaufort Stakes, along with a third place finish in the black type Count Lathum Handicap. The Jimmy Creed gelding had a second-place finish in the black type Journal Handicap with only two starts in 2021. The multiple stakes placed runner was bred by Doug and sold as a yearling through the C.T.H.S. Alberta Sale.
Doug purchased the dam of Maskwecis, the Aptitude mare Maidstone, at the 2016 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale, at the same time as his purchase of Barney’s Mistress, the dam of Dune D’Oro. The four year old now a record of 10-5-2-1 with lifetime earnings to date of US $94,758 for owners Jim and Carole Barker and Red Ron Farms.
Doug laughs that, as a foal, Maskwecis was not an easy horse to raise, “He was a really hard colt, he was a nice colt but boy, he could find things! The day before the sale, he banged himself and I went out in the morning and the blood was running down his leg. I have good fences but he could find things that you couldn’t dream of!”
Doug ventured into stallion ownership in 2015 with the purchase of the graded stakes winning son of Orientate, Declassify, from the 2015 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale. Bred in Kentucky by Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds out of the Tale of the Cat mare Mir Cat, Declassify was a half-brother to Excelsior Stakes (G3) winner Life’s a Parlay , a son of Uncle Mo. Declassify won the 2014 Triple Bend Stakes (G1) for owner Kaleem Shah and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert before he retired in 2014.
Declassify was represented by his first winner in 2019 when Dark Cloud Racing’s homebred, Tucker Time won his maiden special weight at Marquis Downs. The successful homebred Declassify filly, Light Fast Feet is out of the Wilko mare, Wilko Rose and was the three year the winner of the 2020 Sturgeon River Stakes.
Sadly, Declassify had to be put down two years ago at the age of ten due to complications from laminitis. Doug still has a three-year-old by Declassify out of his Vindication mare, Vintage Moon, who along with Wilko Rose, is one of the first two mares he purchased in Kentucky at the 2013 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale. The youngster named Chris’s Command is one of the last horses by Declassify and is “a big, strong, gangly colt close to 17 hands” who will likely not start until this season as a three year old.
Doug bought another quality mare, the Malibu Moon mare, Envious Moon, at the 2017 Keeneland Breeding Stock Sale in foal to Liasion. He sold the resulting Alberta bred foal, Moon Amour, through the CTHS Alberta sale to Shot in the Dark Racing Corp, Redlands Racing and DHA Tbreds Inc. A full sister to Moon Amour, the stakes winner Moonlight Romance, earned over US $400,000. The Alberta bred filly will be one to watch as she won her only start out in 2020 and placed second in her only start to date this season. Doug sold her dam, Envious Moon, in foal to Declassify at the 2019 Keeneland Horses of All Ages sale and and Public Record, the 2019 Declassify colt out of Envious Moon recently sold for $50,000 at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Yearling Sale.
Doug believes strongly that the future success of Thoroughbred breeding programs in Alberta may be determined by the quality of the female side of the pedigree, “we’ve got to get better mares” and he tries to bring in mares that “I like, that fit with the stallions up here.” He also thinks that the local racing industry programs must ensure that program dollars are finding their way down to the bottom of the running order, so that all participants feel they have a chance to make some money.