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Alberta siring legend As Promised dies at 24

August 20, 2013

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The cornerstone sire of Alberta's harness racing industry, the stallion As Promised, has passed away at the age of 24. For many years, As Promised excelled both on the racetrack and in the breeding shed.
Purchased by Keith Clark, Blaine Dickson, Robert Carswell, and Charles Campbell in 1990 at the Kentucky Standardbred Sale, the son of Abercrombie-Promised Princess was well-bred but a less than perfect individual.

"I went to Kentucky and I was just looking at him out of interest as there was a brother to him racing in Alberta, a real nice horse--a half-brother [On To Royalty]," Clark told Standardbred Canada's Trot Insider "He should have brought around $100,000 because he was bred that way. He had a crooked hind leg, kind of a curby-looking hind leg but being around lots of curbed horses and seeing lots of them, I thought he might sell a little cheaper.

"I hung around to watch him sell and I ended up with him for $16,000."

As Promised won nine of 10 races as a freshman and $32,800. The colt came close to dying in California early in his 3-year-old year but recovered to dominate the Alberta circuit with neither sickness or his bad leg being an issue.

"He never took a sore step on it. He actually did pop a curb on it later on, just getting ready for the Nat Christie. He picked the worst time," continued Clark. "That leg never, ever bothered him until just before the Nat Christie, about three weeks before and it bothered him through the Nat Christie because you have to take a little time...they're easily fixed but they take a good month."

When that curb popped just before the Nat Christie, in which As Promised finished seventh, it broke a 10-race win streak. After a third-place finish his next start out, As Promised went on a rampage, winning his next 18 straight starts.

"He was pretty much unbeatable at home here in his good years, he was too good for here," said Hall of Famer Clark. "And he gave me a lot of thrills, he was a great horse and a beautiful horse to drive."

Running out of competition in Western Canada, As Promised was shipped to the Meadowlands where he took his lifetime best 1:50.2 race mark.

"The hock had been X-rayed a few times because I almost sold him when he was down in the Meadowlands, when I sent him down to Ray Remmen," continued Clark. "They vetted him all out but everybody was always scared of that hock which never, ever bothered him."

Perhaps that bad hock was a blessing for Alberta. Clark campaigned As Promised through the age of seven when he retired with 71 wins, multiple stakes titles, and earnings of over $669,000 before retiring to stud duty. Clark stood the horse himself, breeding small books of mares, and then decided to sell him.

"I ended up selling him because he was getting busy as a stud and I just didn't have time for him with racing a ton of horses," said Clark. "He bred and bred, and raised tons of good ones. He was good to me all the way through."

Dr. David Dyrholm's Sky West Farms purchased the stallion in late 2000. In 2003, As Promised was the leading sire of 3-year-olds in North America in the category of average earnings with $71,238. His popularity as a sire propelled him to be Canada's most prolific stallion, breeding 307 mares in 2005 for a North American record.

"He showed his capabilities when he was racing with Keith," stated Dyrholm. "He was a very wise, quick to learn horse and totally dependable."

Some personal highlights for Dyrholm include the seasons he shuttled to Australia for stallion service (breeding over 100 mare per season), the 2006 Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame induction, and the number of times he'd look at entries for an Alberta stakes events and see every horse sired by As Promised.

When asked what made As Promised the Hall Of Fame horse he was, Dryholm noted "his willingness to do whatever was asked of him and his dependability and performance, both in racing and in breeding."

As Promised has sired Alberta's Horse of the Year on multiple occasions, and numerous provincial divisional champions. He was Western Canada's first stallion to produce a Breeders Crown champion with 2000 Aged Pacing Mare winner Rons Girl, also campaigned by Keith Clark. As of publication, As Promised sired 102 $100,000 performers from 735 starters with total progeny earnings in excess of $35 million (Canadian).

Don McNeil bought into As Promised five years ago, and in his limited time connected with As Promised he fully understands the magnitude of his impact on Canadian harness racing.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's the foundation sire for the province of Alberta. He's totally dominated the stakes series, prolific in the number of foals he's produced, " stated McNeil. "He's a world class horse. If he'd been standing in New York or Pennsylvania, he would have been just unbelievable. That's my pride, being involved with an animal with that kind of ability."

While not being connected with the horse directly, Clark clearly has a special place in his heart for As Promised.

"He was the first really well-bred horse that I ever bought, he was the calmest horse ever and just a beautiful horse to be around." (Standardbred Canada)

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