His name means ‘The Storm’ in Spanish, and Lisa Balaz’s eight-year-old Thoroughbred gelding has certainly approached both his careers with cyclonic enthusiasm. A product of the iconic Ontario racing stable Sam-Son Farm, the homebred son of Stormy Atlantic out of Torreadora first raced at Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, ON, in the summer of 2017 as a two-year-old. The year 2019 produced a flurry of wins for the handsome bay; he won the Grade 2 Connaught Cup at Woodbine, then was a stunning longshot winner in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva. In the fall he contested the prestigious international Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in California, where he placed 6th. His lifetime stats show 17 starts, four wins and four second-place finishes, with career earnings of $816,106.

So how did this champion racehorse whose barn name is Eddie, described as having “thoroughbred work ethic, bravery, and athleticism,” end up popping around courses in the jumper arena? HorseSport talked to Lisa Balaz, whose dad is Rick Balaz, longtime president of Sovereign Award-winning Sam-Son Farm, who was married to the late Tammy Balaz (Samuel), the daughter of farm founder Ernie Samuel. Lisa has also been instrumental in launching the exciting new Thoroughbred Jumper Series at Caledon and Angelstone.


El Tormenta racing at Woodbine.

El Tormenta during his racing days at Woodbine. (Michael Burns Photo)


How did you come to own Eddie?

Eddie is a Sam-Son Farm homebred, so he’s always been in the family. We were lucky enough to be there for his races, including his big win in the 2019 Woodbine Mile, and running in the Breeder’s Cup. After he finished his career on the track, our racing manager and Florida farm manager Tom [Zwiesler] asked my brother Mike and I if we would be interested in keeping him, since he has such a great personality and seemed like he would make a great riding horse. He was always a farm favourite, so he was hoping that we would be able to keep him in the family. Mike and I decided to take over his ownership in 2021, and I’m now his sole owner since my brother is currently very busy with his exciting career as a commercial helicopter pilot.

Tell us about his early off-track training.

After a few months’ break from racing, we sent Eddie to eventer Kaitie Veltkamp based in Ocala, Florida, to start him for us. She did an amazing job and was able to bring him along really quickly. She really worked on the foundations with him and in a short time was able to take him to some jumper and dressage shows. When the time came closer to Eddie being ready to come back to Canada with us, we sent him to Carly Campbell-Cooper, who I had ridden with in the past, so that Eddie could start getting some experience at the bigger horse shows. After that winter when it was time for Eddie to come north, we sent him to Peter Gisborn’s. He has been at Peter’s for about a year now and I couldn’t be happier with the progress that Eddie has made, and all of the work and care that Peter has put into him.

Lisa Balaz standing with bay horse Eddie.

Lisa and Eddie. (Laurel Jarvis Photography)

Is Eddie your first OTTB?

He is my first OTTB! Back when I was a kid my mom kept a few of the race horses after their careers at the track with the goal of giving them a second career in the show ring. I was very young at the time and those horses ended up going to different show homes, but that was my first time being around OTTBs.

What is Eddie’s personality like?

On the ground and in his stall, he is a really sweet horse who loves a good snuggle and face rub. Once you are on his back, he is all business and knows that it’s time to get to work. That is what I mean by his thoroughbred work ethic. Eddie doesn’t have a lazy bone in his body and he is always excited to get going as soon as you sit in the saddle. I think that’s also why he has been able to progress so quickly ‒ he is so willing to learn and do whatever we ask of him. It is really a treat to ride a horse who is so happy to put in the work.

What is his strongest asset?

I would say his strongest asset is his bravery – another classic thoroughbred trait. He has never thought twice about any jump we have taken him over. Just last week he jumped a liverpool for the first time, his first time ever jumping around the Grand Prix ring at Angelstone, which can be a spooky ring for a lot of horses. He was not phased at all. It was a huge testament to his good brain, and that gives me the confidence to take a green horse into the show ring. I know he’s got my back.

What are your immediate, and future, plans for him?

This season my plans are to keep jumping around the junior/amateur 1.0m jumpers and compete in the new Thoroughbred Jumper Series. I would love for us to keep learning together and hopefully put in lots of nice rounds. I haven’t thought too much about the future yet, but I would love to see how big we can jump together. He is extremely athletic and 1.0m is very easy for him, so we will see where it goes!

What is the Thoroughbred Jumper Series and how did it come to be?

The Thoroughbred Jumper Series is a fun new series created to celebrate the OTTBs in their second careers and promote what great partners they can be. When I was starting to compete with Eddie last summer, I noticed that there was a Thoroughbred Hunter class, but nothing on the jumper side. I thought it would be a great initiative to start since so many of the breed’s qualities naturally lend them to the jumper ring. With that in mind, my good friend Danielle Kendall, who is Angelstone’s Sponsorship Director, and I came up with the idea for the series and took it to Keean White, founder and president of Angelstone. He was happy to support the series and host it at their shows. I’m very grateful that my dad, Rick Balaz, and step-mom, Cindy, are sponsoring the series this year. The feedback from the first class has been amazing to hear and really heartwarming. I’m really excited to watch the series grow throughout this season, and hopefully for years to come!

How does the series work?

The Thoroughbred Jumper Series classes are held over a 1.0m track in Classic format. Each class features $2,000 in prize money, with a special $5,000 Final being held at Caledon Equestrian Park in September. The winner of each class receives a Champion cooler, the top three finishers receive neck ribbons, and prize money is awarded to 8th. Special details for the Final are still to be announced.

Show Dates:

June 25 – The National @ Caledon Equestrian Park
July 22 – Caledon Summer CSI2* @ Caledon Equestrian Park
August 13 – Major League Opener @ Angelstone Tournaments
Sept 3 – Labour Day Classic @ Angelstone Tournaments
$5,000 Final Sept 24 – The BFL Caledon Cup CSI2 @ Caledon Equestrian Park

Would you consider bringing along another OTTB sometime?

Based on my experience with Eddie, I would definitely consider bringing along another OTTB; however, I tend to keep my horses for a very long time and I prefer to only have one or two horses at a time, so it will just be Eddie and my mare Zyfra for a while!