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Ed Calf Robe remains active in racing at Lethbridge

July 22, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Ed Calf Robe
(photo by Garry Allison)
By Garry Allison

The Horses, RMTC, Lethbridge—He has worked his way from a groom to a trainer and owner, and now as a retiree - almost – Ed Calf Robe still remains involved with race horses. Ed has been running horses at Whoop-Up Downs for “30 odd years,” in a career that has seen him take on every chore along the backstretch except that of a jockey.

He did drive chariots, though, with a two-horse hitch.
“We had a lot of fun during those chariot days,” he says with a laugh.

“When I started to race I ran horses on a lot of those old bush tracks, like Milo, Bassano, Gem, Patricia, Picture Butte, Taber Grande Prairie, Enoch, Hobemma, Drumheller, Vegreville, Coronation, Lethbridge and even the big tracks at Calgary and Edmonton. I won a few at Calgary and Edmonton. Now we maybe go there maybe one weekend a year, run, and come right back to Lethbridge."

While Rocky Mountain Turf Club at Whoop-Up Downs is now home to Ed and son Noran, who heads up the family business, Ed will likely run at least one weekend in Calgary this season, perhaps with N D N Storm, who has had a good Spring - except for an off-day on a very sloppy track early this month.

“He used to slow down when he hit the stretch and we didn't know what to do. Then we put a tongue-tie on him and he runs well now. That's how it is with them. You experiment with things like wraps, blinders or ties. You come to know your horses and what they like and don't like."

Ed was born on the Siksika Nation near Gleichen - the Calf Robes on the Blood Reserve and at Browning, Montana are no relation - and went into racing at a young age.

When he got married he took on a steady job in the horse racing business with Jim Marsh and his dad Charlie. For a number of years they ran in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, Ed working as a groom, learning the ins and outs of the horse racing industry.

“Jim used to own Count Latham and he won the Canadian Derby with him. That was something nice," says Ed. “After my years with Jim I went back to the reserve for a while. I had bought one horse off him and I started racing him on my on the bush tracks. I can't remember that horse's name (which is rare for horse owners or trainers), but he was a nice one. I even hooked him on the chariot once in a while."

Ed doesn't remember the first horse he ran at Lethbridge more than 30 years ago, but he believes it was a Quarter horse.

“I ran Quarter horses for a while but then I started with the Thoroughbreds. Those Quarter horses are a little more expensive to run because you have to pay to be eligible for the big races. You need real good horses to enter those big races."

Ed and Noran have two Thoroughbreds running at the RMTC track this year, N D N Storm and Satellite Dancer. Through the years he's had more than, but now he just keeps his hand in with two good, solid horses. In past he's had some good ones, like Charlie O, Don Cronarch and Phenlo.

“I bought all my horses. I didn't raise them. I used to train, feed, care for and do everything for them, but now I've turned most of that over to Noran. He does most of the training now. I'm 67 and those horses are getting a little too strong for me."

Ed feels at home at Whoop-Up Downs, under the RMTC umbrella.
“I think this track here is one of the most friendliest I know, not like Calgary. The people there are different…I'd rather run in Lethbridge. When I was young I always wanted to have a horse able to run in the Canadian Derby, but I never got there. I guess I'm still trying."