Runaway Groom

Hall of Fame Inductee, 2001


In the spring of 1982 Runaway Groom began his career as an unraced 3-year-old for owner Albert Coppola of Schenectady, N.Y. Coppola had never owned a stakes-class horse or had ever raced in Canada. Little did he realize the spectacular year that lay ahead for him and this gray colt by *Blushing Groom. Bred by Gardiner Farms of Caledon, Ont., the son of Yonnie Girl was purchased in 1980 at the yearling sales in Kentucky for $39,000.

Unaware that he was eligible for several stakes races for Canadian-bred juveniles, Coppola made sure Runaway Groom was nominated for the 3-year-old races. He was bred to run a distance, but wasn’t considered a threat in the Queen’s Plate as in four races that spring in Kentucky he’d never gone past seven furlongs, winning twice before being shipped north to Woodbine. However, before the year was over the colt’s ability to go a distance in classic races was evident. After placing second in the Plate at odds of 38-to-1 he then captured the other two-thirds of Canada’s Triple Crown – the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie and the Breeders’ Stakes on the turf at Woodbine for jockey Robin Platts and New York trainer John DiMario.

DiMario won an allowance race with the colt at Belmont, then shipped him to Saratoga for the prestigious Travers Stakes to run against the winners of the three U.S. Triple Crown races – Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol, Preakness champion Aloma’s Ruler and Conquistador Cielo, winner of the Belmont Stakes. Sent off at odds of 13-to-1, the colt, ridden by Canada’s Jeff Fell, rushed from last place to win by a half length. It was the first time all three Triple Crown event winners had started in one race. Runaway Groom won a Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion 3-year-old colt. Conditioned initially by George (Rusty) Arnold III before DiMario assumed his training, Runaway Groom was later handled by Charles Whittingham.

At stud Runaway Groom has been a huge success. He’s the sire of Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Cherokee Run and three other millionaires – Down The Aisle, Wekiva Springs and Machikane Hokushin.