Friday, August 28, 2020
Cooler Mike was almost the one that got away.
The father-and-son duo of Mike and Nick Nosowenko had thought they had sold their big chestnut yearling by Giant Gizmo - Executive Affair by Bold Executive at the 2016 Canadian Premier yearling sale for their reserve price of $58,000.
Minutes later, however, they learned the winning bidder declined to sign the sales ticket and bidding started over again. When bids did not reach the reserve the second time, the Nosowenkos took their horse back home to their Bowmanville farm.
What followed has been four years of joy for the horse-loving family who named their homebred after Mike's decades-old tradition of bringing a red cooler of beer to the barn to salute horsepeople after race days.
Cooler Mike showed he had talent plus a love for racing immediately, winning his career debut in 2017 in an allowance race before finishing second in the Simcoe Stakes for CTHS sales graduates. He blossomed into one of the top Canadian-bred/Ontario-sired 3-year-olds of 2018 and took the Nosowenkos to the biggest Canadian race of them all, the Queen's Plate. Not only that, but Cooler Mike finished a game third to eventual Horse of the Year Wonder Gadot and came back with another good run in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, landing third to Aheadbyacentury.
Cooler Mike was just getting started. In the summer of 2019, Cooler Mike provided the Nosowenkos with their biggest thrill in racing – a trip to the infield winner's circle at Woodbine.
It was the OLG Halton Stakes in late August, a $100,000 stakes race for sales graduates held just days before the 2019 Canadian Premier Yearling sale, and Cooler Mike was on top of his game. Stretching out to 1 1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor turf course, Cooler Mike and his rider Luis Contreras contested the early pace before getting clear of his rivals on his way to a two-length win, the first stakes score for the Nosowenkos.
And that victory started an amazing ride for Cooler Mike and his peeps as the gelding went on to win two more stakes races, the Bunty Lawless and Sir Barton, before 2019 was done.
The popularity of the gelding has grown too, thanks to his achievements on the track, his popular connections, and the entertaining videos and photos that Nick posts on social media. Do a search in Twitter and you will see Cooler Mike playing with a green jolly ball, slapping his lips together to make a steady beat and blowing bubbles in his water pail.
“He's got a huge heart and he is the kindest horse you will ever meet,” said Nick. “He wants his mints, he plays with everybody and, well, he's just an all-round good horse.”
There is a yearling half-brother to Cooler Mike offered in the Sept. 2 Canadian Premier Yearling sale. Consigned by Dr. John Brown's Spring Farm, the colt is hip no. 221 and is by Big Screen. If this young fellow is anything like Mike, he is going to have a bright future.