Faces at the Races: Glenn Harvey

In 2003, three years after Glenn Harvey sold his business and retired young, Kelynack Farms was born on a 200-acre spread in Burlington, Ont.

Thumbnail for Faces at the Races: Glenn Harvey

In 2003, three years after Glenn Harvey sold his business and retired young, Kelynack Farms was born on a 200-acre spread on the Niagara Escarpment in Burlington, Ont.

“I tried golfing and was bored to death. I thought I’d better do something. This is more than just a hobby, it’s a passion,” Harvey said via phone from Kentucky where he is shopping for another 10 horses to add to an operation where 80 per cent of the stock is focused on racing.

On Sept. 9 at Woodbine, two-year-old colt Brazen Sky — trained by Ricky Griffith and ridden by Quincy Welch — broke his maiden and scored Kelynack’s 99th career win in just six years of racing.

Though the farm is a relative newcomer in Ontario, its name goes back more than 400 years. “Kelynack is the family farm on my father’s side back in Cornwall, England,” said Harvey, who has traced his relatives back to 1608 on that property in the southwest corner of the UK. “In honour of my dad, I renamed this one over here Kelynack. There’s always been a farm called Kelynack in the family.”

None quite like this one, which has one of the few private Thoroughbred training tracks in the province.

“I’d been in racing for about two years (before the farm was built),” Harvey said, “and keeping my horses at the track. I honestly didn’t believe it was healthy, physically or mentally, for a horse to be at the track all the time in stalls.

“I wanted to have an ability to bring them off the track, let their head down, give them a couple of weeks off after a race to get back to normal, roll on the ground, do what they’re supposed to be doing and then freshen themselves up so when they go back in they’re ready to go again. They’re athletes, they’re not machines.”

Harvey said his racehorses get their foundation work at the farm before being shipped to Woodbine. “We can do all the groundwork at the farm in an atmosphere where we can do it at the horse’s pace as opposed to the racetrack, which is very regimented in the amount of time you have to do things,” Harvey said.

The farm has campaigned a number of stakes winners, including: Heyahohowdy, winner of the Belle Geste and Flaming Page Stakes in 2003 and the Zadracarta in 2004; Open Concert, the winner of the 2003 Labeeb; Quick in Deed, winner of the Bold Ruckus and Achievement in 2005; San Diego Blowout, the 2003 Colin champion and Sheer Enchantment, winner of the Halton in 2006.

Heyahohowdy is Harvey’s favourite. “I love the turf and that was Howdy’s forte,” he said.

Heyahohowdy is now 12 and still queen of all she surveys. “Heyahohowdy is my alpha-mare,” Harvey said. “She’s the matriarch of the whole property.”

Even as a broodmare, Heyahohowdy does things her own way. “She produces every second year. She won’t catch when she has a foal at her side, which is interesting,” Harvey said.

“Her first baby was training somewhere down in the States for Lee Baker and it was injured on the track. Unfortunately, it broke a leg in training. I’ve got a yearling now and I’ve got a Midnight Lute out of Howdy that just foaled this year. She produces very, very good-looking foals, much in the image of her and that’s what I like.”

There’s about 80 horses on the farm right now — those owned by Harvey and others for about three “select clients.” Last year, Harvey started a partnership with Steve Duffield. “We bought our first 12 horses together and we’ll probably buy a similar number this year. He’s a long-time horseman, more from the handicapping side. He’s a very knowledgeable individual about it and he’s very interested in the game. Again, it’s one more piece of the puzzle to make it enjoyable.”

Another piece was Griffith, who began training for Kelynack about 18 months ago. “It’s been a partnership made in heaven. He’s very, very good at what he does and there’s good chemistry between the two of us,” Harvey said. “I’m new to it. I’m only eight years into it now. So, I’m still in my infancy learning the game. I think I’m acquiring quite a bit of knowledge. He’s helped me to learn a lot more since I’ve been with him.

For a man who calls Kelynack’s colours “Woodbine blue,” the ultimate goal should be obvious.

“I would love to win the Queen’s Plate,” he said. “I think that’s everyone’s dream up here.”

Should that day arrive, the man with the master plan envisions it as a beginning, not an end. “This is a sport that every time you win it all renews itself again and you want to keep going. It’s the best game around,” he said.