In this series sponsored by Southern Bred Southern Reared, Bruce Stewart looks back on some of the great racing stock that’s come out of the Southern region.
Whilst last year he profiled horses from the south that have become millionaires, this series is about other pacers and trotters that that were bred, reared and raced for part of career in Southland, and made an impact in the Harness Racing industry.
Age: 1969 Bay Gelding
Sire: Young Charles
Dam: Loyal Trick (Hal Tyrax)
Owners: Des and Bud Baynes (New Zealand) and Bud, Des, Martha and Diane Baynes (America).
Trainers: Bud Baynes, Clem Scott and Charlie Hunter.
Southland bred pacer Young Quinn was successful in a period when the sport of trotting was particularly strong.
He raced with great success in New Zealand, Australia and America and his name will long be remembered in all three countries.
Young Quinn was foaled in 1969 and was by Young Charles out of Loyal Trick who was by Hal Tryax (USA).
He was named after Brian “Snow” Quinn, a champion New Zealand shearer and for the majority of his career he was trained and driven by Charlie Hunter.
His first win was in the 1972 EF Mercer Stakes at Addington where he beat Willie Win. His other wins at two included the Forbury Juvenile Stakes, Timaru Nursery Stakes, Kindergarten Stakes, New Zealand Juvenile Stakes and The New Zealand Sapling Stakes.
At the end of his two year old season he was the country’s leading two year old, having won eight of his ten starts.
At that point he was becoming very familiar to a man that was to take over his training.
“My first impressions of him was racing against him as a two year old. I had a pretty nice filly that year called Hillcrest. Young Quinn came to Auckland and beat us up badly a couple of times. He impressed me a lot,” said Charlie Hunter.
At that point little did Hunter know that the promising youngster was going to join his stable until the phone rang one day.
“I got a phone call and this voice said ‘My name is Bud Baynes and I own Young Quinn. Will you train him for me?” And with that Young Quinn began a lifetime involvement with his new trainer.
“He came up for the May meeting because the Derby was in June – that’s why Bud was sending him up. But under the old handicap system he was in the open paces against a couple of good Jack Smolenski horses so it was a difficult task for him.”
Young Quinn’s three year old season only yielded two wins from twelve starts and he ran fifth in the 1972 Derby won by Willie Win.
“He had a bit of a problem with a knee at the time and wasn’t at his best. Bud left him with me for the next season.”
At four (1974) he was finding his feet winning six of his nineteen starts.
However his best season was to be in 1975 when he was named New Zealand Pacer and Horse of the Year.
In that season he won 19 races and was placed twice in twenty two starts. His wins included the Stars Travel Miracle Mile, Auckland Cup, Wellington Cup, three heats of the Interdominion Championship and the Grand Final.
“As a five year old he just grew another leg. He was tremendous. The miss was in Auckland and I blame myself. He was a horse that took quite a bit of work. I’d backed off, thinking I couldn’t keep working him hard and racing him hard. After that I resumed the regime and he just went on from there. He was one of those athletic type horses that enjoyed work and raced well off it.”
In the 1975 Miracle Mile at Harold Park, Young Quinn won from Barrier Six, the outside draw on a very tight track, beating the two Australian champions Paleface Adios and Hondo Grattan.
“It was very special winning the Miracle Mile in Sydney. That was my first drive on him after getting my hands out of plaster following the Interdominions. It was a huge crowd that night and he was regarded by the scribes as not being a chance because he’d drawn the outside, he hadn’t raced at Harold Park and I hadn’t driven there. He just went magnificent and won easy.”
In the Inter Dominion Final in Auckland he started as short-priced favourite and was driven by John Langdon, following the injury to Hunter.
He went on to beat Hi Foyle and Speedy Guest.
“There was a little bit of pressure because he’d won his three heats so there was this expectation from everybody including us that he could win the final. It put a fair bit of pressure on John but he handled it well and drove him well.”
Langdon also won the Trotter’s section of the Inter Dominion, driving the Hunter-trained Castleton’s Pride.
Later that season Young Quinn had his last start in New Zealand before heading to America in May 1975.
In summary his 19 wins in New Zealand that season set a new record with the previous best being held by another Southland pacer, Robalan (12 in the 1973-1974 season). The 19 wins by Young Quinn also included a winning streak of 10.
Before leaving for America he held numerous New Zealand records.
- Mile (1.57.0)
- 2200 metre stand (2-47.2)
- 2200 metre mobile (2-48.8)
- 2600 metre stand (3-18.1)
- 2700 metre stand (3-27.4)
- 3200 metre stand (4-06.7)
In America he started his racing career in June 1975.
“The first few starts he wasn’t that good. We didn’t have enough time to prep him to meet the best horses and to be fair he wasn’t that good on the wee half mile tracks like Yonkers.”
The highlight of that initial season was winning the $50,000 Western Free For All in 1-56 and becoming the world’s fastest race gelding and fastest Standardbred produced in Australasia.
He then faced a vintage crop of pacers in the $100,000 American Pacing Classic and starting from barrier 8 he pipped American superstar Rambling Willie in 2-12 and 4/5 for the nine furlong race.
“We got to Chicago and beat all the best horses they had to offer in the Governor’s Cup at Horsesmen’s Park. He then went onto Hollywood Park and won a leg of the US Pacing Championship. He then went to Canada and won their feature Free For All Pace the Provincial Pace which Cardigan Bay also won. He finished that year winning the American Pacing Classis against all the best pacers on offer.”
During Young Quinn’s racing days in America, Hunter and good friend Brian Meale were operating Central Standardbreds and were exporting lots of horses to America and getting then ready for sale.
“It was good having Young Quinn there because he was a bit of an advert for New Zealand horses. Bud wanted me to stay with him and I was quite happy to. My wife and two daughters spent all of 1976 and 1977 over there with the team we were preparing and selling, and with Quinn.”
In 1977 Young Quinn went winless. While in 1978 he won three races, and in 1979 he won twice.
“We qualified him for a race in February 1977 and he came out of the qualifier with a ruptured ligament in his hind leg. He virtually lost most of that season which was so sad but that was the reality of it. I came home and we sent him across to Jim Doherty and he won three races at the Meadowlands at the beginning of 1978 then the leg gave him trouble again and later that year we brought him home.”
By the end of his American career he’d raced 63 times winning 22 races and $479,260.
“I think winning a leg of the International Pacing Series in Chicago and proving he could beat the best was a meaningful win.”
Young Quinn returned to New Zealand in 1980 for a few starts prior to being retired in May 1980.
It was later revealed by cardiograph tests that Young Quinn’s heart weighed 13 lb, only 1 lb less than that of the great racehorse Phar Lap.
For part-owner Des Baynes Young Quinn was a once in a lifetime horse providing him with lots of highlights.
“Winning three heats and the final of the Interdominions and going to Sydney for the Miracle Mile. Also winning in New Zealand, Australia and America in the same season. He was just one of those once in a lifetime horses and makes a lot of the other horses you have look fairly ordinary. It probably ruined it for me a bit (laughter),” Baynes said.
And he said owning him made you realise how tough it can be for the top horses.
“When you’ve got a good horse you realise how tough it is for them and how good they have to be. When those good horses get an edge they’re just about unbeatable.”
And he said the best thing he and his father ever did was to send Young Quinn to Charlie Hunter.
“Charlie was not only a good trainer but a very honest fellow and he did the best for us and the horse. We had full confidence in Charlie all the time. He looked after the horse and that looked after us really.”
Young Quinn raced in an era when there were a host of very good horses competing in all three countries.
“He was a lovely horse to handle. He ate well and rested well. The things that you really wanted in a horse. That carried on right through when he went to the States. He didn’t mind being confined to stalls and stables. He looked after himself pretty well.”
He also set numerous records including one world record.
“He won at the Meadowlands when it was a new track. He won one of the opening features. At the time he went 1-55 which doesn’t seem so great now but it was a world record for a gelding and a track record.”
In all, Young Quinn started 133 times recording 59 wins and 36 placings for NZ$752,587 in stakes money.
“He had high speed. In New Zealand he could tail a field in the back straight and loop them as he did in the likes of the Wellington Cup and races in Auckland. He could be in front by the time you got out of the back straight and then just carry on to the post. It was the same in the States. He didn’t have to be cuddled up. He could rough it if he had to.”
Young Quinn was a truly remarkable durable racehorse indicative of many great horses from the very south of New Zealand.