One of the most prestigious honours that can be given to a member of the Manitoban harness racing community is the Ron Waples Award.
This award is given out to the individual that goes above and beyond the call of duty to better the harness racing industry in the province of Manitoba.
One of this year’s co-recipients was Dean Rey. Rey has been a long-time harness racing driver, trainer, owner, and breeder in Manitoba. The distinguished honour is greatly deserved, and it came with little shock from other members of the community.
For those that do not know, the Rey family in general has been an integral part of the harness racing industry for a long time in Manitoba. The name Roland Rey (Dean’s father) has been a long-time member himself along with his two brothers, Richard and Arthur. The three brothers all have children and grandchildren that are involved in several different aspects of the industry. Dean himself started officially training in 1994 and driving in 1995 but the story begins before that.
“I started when I was 8 years old,” Rey explains. “I started jogging horses and it just kept going on from there. I didn’t play hockey or anything like that. It was only horses. It’s all about the horses here.”
Rey has made 2,607 starts in the bike and has visited the winner’s circle on 410 occasions. He has earned over $877,000 in purse winnings and has a lifetime UDRS of 0.315. These are very impressive numbers for predominantly only racing on the fair circuit in Manitoba. He has even had the chance to race in other provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and even Ontario.
Rey has been teaming up with his fair share of horses over the year. After they have success in Manitoba, many of them move onto bigger circuits and tracks. One of the more recent horses that Rey found success with was Dontchase Justpace (Charms Shark).
Rey trained and drove her during her two- and three-year-old campaigns. The duo won both the 2018 Manitoba Great Western Stakes and the Silk Lace Stakes. She moved on and had several races in southern Ontario.
Another horse Rey had good success with here in Manitoba was Milliondollardesign (Million Dollar Cam). Rey captured the 2012 Manitoba Great Western Stake when Milliondollardesign was a young colt. Later the pacer moved into another barn and had a few races at Woodbine Racetrack. Then he moved to New York to finish off his racing career.
His off-the-track accomplishments have also had a great impact on the sport. Rey currently serves as a director of Manitoba Standardbred Sires and Breeders Association and a director of Manitoba Standardbred Racing Industry, Inc. Rey has put in many years and hours of hard work on and off the track in the hope of bettering the harness racing industry in Manitoba. Rey has been a vocal voice on the various boards and has continued to be one of the influential members of the team.
Rey has won every harness racing event in Manitoba at least once if not multiple times and now after receiving the Ron Waples Award has left not much more for him to accomplish. However, that is not going to stop him from doing what he loves. Rey hopes to continue to grow the sport not only for himself but for future generations to enjoy.
“You just start out and then you try to help keep the industry alive,” Rey said. “The hope is you can make it for everyone and give everyone a chance at it. I’m trying to make sure I can give my kids a chance and even other people’s kids. I want to make sure all these young people can have their chance at racing and even their kids one day. I just try to make sure that I can do my share to keep the industry alive and make sure everyone has their own opportunity to race.”
The snow continues to blow in Manitoba just like the rest of the continent and harness racing won’t be able to return for several more months. But Rey is still grinding away at his offseason preparation and he is chomping at the bit to return to the track.
by Trey Colbeck, for Harnesslink