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The doors may be closed at Meridian Farms in Milton after the untimely passing of Brian Andrew, but the achievements the standardbred nursery achieved makes them the breeder of the decade.
It was one of the categories I asked horse people about in a poll of the decade series I am writing about.
From 2010-2019, Meridian Farms’ P.E.I. location overwhelmed their opposition by stats alone, producing more Atlantic Breeders Crown champions than any other breeder. Ran by the duo of brothers William and Brian Andrew, with the latter running the Island operation, Meridian Farms continuously had the most horses in each yearling sale, but the death of Brian in late 2018 saw the operation make a major downturn, with the final Meridian yearlings selling at auction last fall in Crapaud.
Since their inception in the early 2000s, Meridian Farms brought in a number of top stallions, including Pang Shui, Ameripan Gigolo, Ambro Barrister, Tad The Stud, Northern Bailey, N Xample and Camystic.
The Andrew family was also well known for their generosity towards racing, sponsoring events across the region as well as the P.E.I. Matinee Racing Program. This philanthropy led to William receiving the Cam Fella Award for extreme effort and dedication to Canadian racing in 2015.
During the past decade, Meridian Farms has produced champions like Dixieland Band, Tyne Valley, Buddy White, Sock It Away and Tequila Tuesday. Pappy Go Go is likely to be the Island operations biggest success story, as the Maritime champion has gone on to race the top level in North America, banking more than $100,000 last season and now sits with $50,000 in 2020 earnings and an unbeaten record from three starts.
The Meridian Farms legacy will go on, just not on the East Coast. William still runs a breeding operation in Alberta, Brian’s son Blake has started a farm in New York focussing on trotters, while daughter Rachel races horses in Ontario.
What they said:
Here is what horse people said about Meridian Farms.
“I can’t say enough about what they have meant to racing in the Maritimes. A footnote in harness racing in Canada for sure.”
Driver Mike McGuigan
“Great supporters of racing in the area. It is possible that the best was yet to come with Pang Shui and some of the mares they had before dispersal. It will be a long time before we see supporters like this outfit.”
Driver Ryan Campbell
“Meridian Farms was a great boost for the Maritime breeding and stakes industry moving a lot of horses into the area.”
Driver Corey MacPherson
“To be named breeder of the decade is a fitting end to the Meridian Farms era. The Andrew family has provided opportunities for a number of individuals in the Maritimes and their (success) on the track will be difficult to replicate.”
Trainer Bo Ford
“This family, and this company, has done so much for the harness racing community on and off the track.”
Lee Drake, Red Shores manager of marketing and brands
By The Numbers
Atlantic Sires Stakes champions by breeder
1. Meridian Farms, Milton 9
T2. Wendell Williams, Ellerslie 4
T2. Woodmere Farms, Marshfield 4
T4. Windemere Farms, Hampshire 3
T4. Pictonian Farms, Pictou, N.S. 3
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.