Joanne Colville of Moffat, Ont., wears several hats in the Ontario harness racing industry. She's the program coordinator for the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, the agency charged with finding new homes for retired Standardbreds.
Joanne also operates a breeding farm and is an accomplished rider serving as outrider at racetracks. Saturday night at Mohawk she'll have her owner's hat on, as a filly she co-owns with longtime friend Nancy MacNevin of Essex, Ont., will compete in the second of five $18,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots divisions for 3-year-old pacing fillies.
Bet Ya, a filly by Jereme's Jet, will leave from post two in the sixth race. Joanne's father, Frank, handles her training while her fiancée Jack Moiseyev, will drive.
Bet Ya comes into the contest with four wins, two seconds and a third in 10 starts so far this year.
In the first Grassroots event of the season for this group, Bet Ya was a winner in a life best 1:53.2. She wasn't as successful in her most recent start, an overnight at Mohawk, where she was ninth, five lengths off the leader, after cutting the mile.
"In the Thoroughbred world you'd call that a bounce. We really have no answer, hopefully we can dismiss it,” noted Colville, who was in the news last fall when she and the horse Digga Digga gave Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne a ride around Grand River Raceway on a two seated jog card prior to the Premier's announcement regarding the five-year plan for racing in Ontario.
The story of Bet Ya begins a few years back when MacNevin was at a mixed sale and bought her dam Star Princess, a daughter of Astreos, as a 2 year old.
"Nancy fell in love with her, and I think felt sorry for her when she wasn't selling for much so she bought her. Nancy and I have been friends for 30 years.I grew up in Toronto, but we had a cottage near Kawartha Downs. We were more interested in horses than boating and water skiing, so we spent a lot of time with the LaRush family and I met Nancy when I was a kid and she worked at one of the breeding farms near Peterbough,” recalled Colville, who worked alongside MacNevin for a number of years at the Canadian Trotting Association (now Standardbred Canada).
"Nancy put Star Princess in training, she was a retirement project for her. But when her husband Norm got sick with cancer I took the mare for her and we bred her to Jereme's Jet.”
The resulting foal was Bet Ya, who was called Betty when she was young and Nancy turned that nickname into Bet Ya on the official papers. In keeping with the Flintstones theme, the mare's current yearling and weanling colts are known as Barney and Fred in the barn.
While Bet Ya is fairly easy going she does have a few quirks. "She won't wear a head check, she won't let you put one on her. She loves her food and she's a really nice going filly, a natural. But you have to be on your toes with her in the paddock. She can be a handful on race day.”
The two friends are hoping that fractious temperament can translate into victory tomorrow night at Mohawk. The OSS fillies are featured in races 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 on Mohawk's program. (ONSS)