Tammy Samuel-Balaz found managing her family’s Sam-Son Farm breeding and racing operation to be more than just a job. “I manage the horse operation because it is what I truly love,” she said before her death on Jan. 5, 2008. She was 47.
That labour of love was at the heart of the outfit’s success during the time she was in charge. Under her direction as president and general manager, Sam-Son maintained a position as one of North America’s premier operations. Tammy’s late father, Ernie Samuel, started the Sam-Son racing operation in 1972. She took charge following his death in May, 2000. Her racing responsibilities didn’t end there. She served as a director of the Woodbine Entertainment Group; was a member of The Jockey Club of Canada and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
At the heart of Tammy’s initiative for Sam-Son was first and foremost the respect and on-going care for her beloved Thoroughbreds, retiring many horses to a
well-deserved life on the farm.
A Toronto native, Tammy was introduced to equestrian events at a young age. She fell in love with the magic of the Thoroughbred. She developed into an accomplished rider that continued to compete as an adult.
Her dad started the farm in the 1960s and it originally housed equestrian horses. The transition from show jumpers to thoroughbred racing was no problem. “It really was a natural transition. A lot of our show jumpers were Thoroughbreds, so we knew something about what we were getting into,” observed Tammy years ago.
For years, Tammy worked alongside her father at the family’s farm in Milton, ON and the training centre in Ocala, FL, sharing the family passion and pursuit of horse breeding and racing. She was privileged to experience the evolution of Sam-Son Farm, witnessing the calibre and craft of an outstanding team of farm managers, trainers and their crews and, most importantly, the vision of her father.
At the time of her death, Tammy and her team had more than sustained the reputation and record of Sam-Son: winning Sovereign Awards for Horse of the Year with Quiet Resolve and Soaring Free, Outstanding Owner four times and Outstanding Breeder five years in a row. She was in the winner’s circle on Queen’s Plate day in 2000 and 2001 with Scatter the Gold and Dancethruthedawn.
It was under Tammy’s leadership that 2009 Queen’s Plate winner Eye of the Leopard was bred. One of the many Sam-Son success stories was in full force in 2007. Smart Strike, a Sam-Son homebred Grade 1 winner during the days of Ernie Samuel, was North America’s leading sire by progeny earnings that year as well as 2008.
Tammy was an unabashed ambassador for Canadian horse racing, extolling its quality wherever and whenever she could. She seized every opportunity to highlight Canadian accomplishments and greatly valued the respect given to Sam-Son horses with their inductions to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “Tammy was interested in the industry as a whole as well as Sam-Son,” said the outfit’s trainer, Mark Frostad. “She did a great job after taking over from her father and expanded the operation. She was attuned to the breeding industry, and certainly knew her pedigrees and obviously loved the racing part of it, as did her father.”