Amazing, Grace.

Tears flowed in the winner’s circle following the 91st Canadian Derby (G3) as REAL GRACE was led in after his front running, 18 to 1 upset of the Alberta classic while his co-owner and Manitoba trainer Shelley Brown watched from a hospital in Winnipeg.

Brown, a leading trainer in Manitoba for many years and first woman to win a title at Assiniboia Downs, was unable to be at Century Mile in Nisku, Alberta on Sunday, September 27 as she battles cancer. Brown was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer earlier this month. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with her medical expenses as she hopes to leave the country to seek treatment.

Real Grace put on a show for his ailing trainer as the 3-year-old gelding went immediately to the front under apprentice jockey Mauricio Malvaez. The dark bay set fractions of  23.53, 47.30 and 1:11 and was clear early. He was then joined by favoured Synergy on the turn for home, fought him off and then lasted to win by a head over Something Natural from the Robertino Diodoro barn. The final time was 2:03.77. At 18 to 1, Real Grace paid $38.80 to win.

Brown shares ownership of the son of Mineshaft – True Way of Grace by Yes It’s True with Jean McEwan, Bette Holtman and Bernell Rhone. He has been in the care of Rod Cone Racing Stable in Alberta. Rod’s comment after the race was “That’s the best win of my life!”

Track announcer Shannon Doyle said as Real Grace was greeted in the winner’s circle by his owners and Brown’s team, “Congratulations Shelley, we are all with you.”

It was Brown who brought the gelding to Manitoba from Canterbury Downs in early July from the Rhone barn. The gelding had been second in two dirt maiden races at Tampa Bay Downs and Canterbury. He promptly won the Manitoba Derby Trial in his first start for Brown, taking that 1 mile race by 5 lengths. Real Grace landed 5th in the Manitoba Derby itself after an early pace duel and then went to Alberta for the Count Lathum Stakes on Aug. 16, He finished a good second in that event and then fourth in the Arctic Laur Stakes against older horses.

The gelding was a $100,000 Fasig Tipton July yearling purchase two years ago. He is the third foal to race for True Way of Grace, winner of the Barretts Debutante Stakes in 2010. The female family is that of graded stakes winner Evil’s Pic (3rd dam).

For apprentice Mauricio Malvaez, who was born in Edmonton, this was his 10th career win as a jockey. He won his first race in June. An accomplished boxer who went as far as Olympic qualifiers, Malvaez is the son of successful jockey Marcos Malvaez, who is now a trainer.

Shelley Brown is one of western Canada’s most successful trainers.