Had To Be Ivory, perfect in 2022, makes his Ajax Downs season debut Wednesday

Published May 16, 2023 at 2:00 pm

The remarkable Had to Be Ivory makes his 2023 debut at the Norman Picov Maturity at Ajax Downs. Laurie Overton photo

Superstar Quarter Horse Had To Be Ivory, the 2022 Horse of the Year at Ajax Downs, makes his 8 year-old debut Wednesday in the $30,375 Norman Picov Maturity for 4-year-olds and upward at 300 yards.

The Norman Picov Maturity is the final dash on a six-race card with a first race post time of 1:30 p.m.

Had to Be Ivory, one of the richest Ontario-bred Quarter Horses in history, comes off a spectacular, undefeated season in which he won all six starts – five of them stakes races – and set two track records.

Owned and bred by Carol and Jaime Robertson and trained by Bryn Robertson, Had to Be Ivory was also named the Canadian Champion of 2022 by the American Quarter Horse Association. The son of Ivory James has 22 career wins from 28 starts and comes into the Maturity off two fast workouts and is the favourite at 3-1.

Josh Scott will ride from post position 2 in the 7-horse field.

Set to take on the champ is last year’s High Point 3 year-old filly Eye Live For Candy, winner of the Picov and Princess derbies in 2022, third behind Had to Be Ivory in the Alex Picov Memorial Championship in October and at 4-1 in this race. A Wyoming-bred by A Revenant, Eye Live for Candy is trained by Jason Pascoe of Pontypool, ON, and owned by Milena Kwiecien.

JB Botello will ride the filly from post five.

The top two 3-year-old colts of 2022, COLD WAVE (5-1) and NIGHT LEADER (9-2) will be meeting Had to Be Ivory for the first time. First Cold Wave, owned by Robert Bailey, was the 2021 Horse of the Year and last season won the Ontario Bred Derby. The Ontario sired and bred son of Cold Hard Dash was nosed out in his final outing of last season, the Ontario Sired Derby, by Night Leader, owned by John Wilson.

Diego Benitez will ride First Cold Wave for the first time while regular jockey Cary Furlonger is aboard Night Leader.

This is the second racing day of the 2023 Ajax Downs meeting which takes place on Wednesdays, with one ‘Special Event’ Sunday each month in the summer. Admission is always free at the fan-friendly track and you can also watch and wager on the races at www.HPIBET.com.

10th NORM PICOV MATURITY (Race 6, May 17)

Purse $30,375, 300 yards, 4-year-olds & upward


1 JEZZABELLA Jose Cruz James Bogar 10-1

2 HAD TO BE IVORY Josh Scott Bryn Robertson 3-1

3 FIRST COLD WAVE Diego Benitez Jason Pascoe 5-1

4 PRETTY RUNAWAY Tony Phillips James Bogar 7-1

EYE LIVE FOR CANDY JB Botello Jason Pascoe 4-1

6 BODHI Alexis Sanchez Lauren Spada 15-1

7 NIGHT LEADER Carly Furlonger Scott Reid 9-2

With files from Jennifer Morrison

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