‘Destroy has produced nothing but winners for my father and it’s really a tribute to my father’s breeding program,’ said Jim Lawson on the eve of the award. It was the second consecutive nomination for the dark bay mare whose stakes winning progeny have earned more than $1.8 million. Destroy was well represented in 2010 by three stakes runners including Smokey Fire, Utterly Cool and Ghost Fleet.
Smokey Fire blazed a path to the winner’s enclosure in three stakes events last season at Woodbine including the Grade II Play the King, the Bold Venture and the Mt. Sassafras Stakes in a campaign that saw the Smoke Glacken gelding emerge as a finalist for Champion Male Sprinter, which was won by Hollywood Hit. Smokey Fire, who did not race at two or three, enjoyed a remarkable campaign winning races on both the polytrack and the turf for Lawson.
In the Grade II Play The King, the gray/roan took to the E.P Taylor turf course against a strong seven-horse field which included 2009 Sprint Champion Field Commission and 2008 Horse of the Year Fatal Bullet. The Sid Attard trainee stalked the pacesetting Fatal Bullet and Jungle Wave through swift fractions and responded with a ferocious kick when asked by jockey Jono Jones for the win. The top three finishers were separated by two necks in a competitive event in a solid time of 1:20.83 for seven furlongs over firm going.
Destroy is also the dam of Smokey Fire’s full brother, Utterly Cool, who captured the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes in July by a two-length margin.
Their half-brother Ghost Fleet, a son of Arch, was a finalist for two-year old Champion in 2009 with convincing wins in the Vandal and Swynford Stakes at Woodbine. As a three year-old, Ghost Fleet was a regular on the Canadian Triple Crown trail with his best result being a hard-trying second to Essence Hit Man in the Queenston Stakes.
The Sovereign Award capped off a remarkable year for the 87-year old Mel Lawson who earlier this year was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The Hamilton, Ontaio born Lawson was a multi-sport star in his youth having played junior hockey for the Toronto Marlboros, before gaining notoriety as the youngest quarterback to win a Grey Cup championship when he strong-armed the Hamilton Wildcats to victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1943. Lawson scored the winning touchdown in the big event.
Lawson entered the racing game in 1964 and has won a number of Canadian classics such as the Canadian Derby, B.C Derby, Canadian Oaks and Cup and Saucer. Arguably his greatest horse was the mare Eternal Search who won fifteen stakes races and three Sovereign Awards in a racing career that spanned 44 starts from 1980-83. Eternal Search would go on to success as a broodmare, which includes a mating with Eclipse Award Champion Housebuster that produced Destroy. Although Destroy was unplaced in her three career starts her mark on the game has been, and continues to be, indelible.