Freedoms Traveller, a beautiful grey gelding, collected speed as he galloped around the track at Northlands Park on Saturday August 20, 2011. With a mile and a half to go, the patient jockey, Rafael Zenteno, made his move.

With the finish line in sight, the gelding overtook all the other horses to finish first by 5 ¼ lengths. And that’s how the 82nd Canadian Derby was won.aTravis1-sm

Known as the richest Thoroughbred race west of Toronto, the Canadian Derby is run each year at the end of August in Edmonton. The derby features 3 year old Thoroughbred horses running a distance of 1 3/8 miles.


This year’s winner claiming the $300,000 prize was Freedoms Traveller, the only Alberta-bred horse in the race. “Travis” is owned and bred by Randy and Donna Feddema of Carstairs, Alberta.

Randy caught the racing bug early; at a very young age he would go to Stampede Park with his grandparents where they would place small bets for him. The racing gene also runs in Randy’s blood. His uncle was Jackie Fosier who jockeyed from aTravis3-sm1949-1960 and they would talk for hours about his love for his job and the horses he rode.

After meeting Donna in 1978, they would go to Stampede Park together and bet on the horses. One day they decided it might be nice to own one. “We got one, then another, and here we are,” comments Randy.

Freedoms Traveller is by Peacenfreedom and out of Lunar Gem. The Feddema’s brought Peacenfreedom up from California. The stallion unfortunately had foot problems that would prevent him from racing but not from breeding.

Peacenfreedom’s sire was Horse of the Year in California and was a major competitor in the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.  Donna comments, “We figured with a background like this we must have something in Peacenfreedom and we should try and see what we could do with him.” They bought some mares and the result was a Canadian Derby winner!aTravis4-sm

Freedoms Traveller was born April 11, 2008 at Albert and Michelle Brewster's farm in Bowden, Alberta. Randy and Donna immediately knew he had potential.
When the day of the Canadian Derby came, Randy and Donna knew he had a shot but did not know that he would win. They say, “just being in the Canadian Derby was an honour and to win was a dream come true. The rush and the excitement is unreal - actually quite unexplainable, we are very proud of [Travis] and his accomplishments.”

aTravis6-smThe win was even more special due to the loss of their previous trainer, Barry Brown, who passed away from cancer a few months prior in May. The Feddema’s say, “We miss Barry Brown, he was a very good person as well as an excellent, honest trainer, very kind to his horses. We now have his life partner Lianne Knechtel training for us and we are very happy with her skills and knowledge of our horses.”

Lianne came to Alberta to race ride in 1975. She worked alongside Barry for many years. Although winning the race without him was emotional, she says “He sort of missed the Derby experience but not really.  I knew he was there even if just in spirit.”

It was the big grey gelding that made it all come together. “Well we think he's super,” Donna says, “he's feisty, friendly, has lots of heart, loves to run, and likes to win!”

With the will to win and a colourful personality, Travis is a barn favourite. Lianne says, “Freedoms Traveller is a very special horse but in my barn they are all special.  We try and bring out the individual personality and ability for each horse. They all get treated as best as we can and it does not matter what level they run at.aFeddema4-sm

“However, “Travis” is quite a character.  We have to be careful with him because he reacts to lots of things.  But he just feels so good most of the time.  He will buck and play in his stall and when out walking will try and go in every direction! We are very careful to not put him a position to hurt himself.”

Shortly after the derby, that very fear became realized when the vet found a hairline fracture. However, recent x-rays show that it has healed. Freedoms Traveller will race again next year after some rehab and spring training.

aTravis2-smThe 82nd Canadian Derby not only showcased a great horse with the talent and temperament to push himself for a win, but it also showed the whole racing community the stuff that Alberta horses, trainers, and owners are made of.
Lianne eloquently explains the importance of Freedoms Traveller winning the derby: “The significance of Travis winning the Derby becomes so important for Alberta racing because of him being an Alberta Bred.  More than that, that dam and sire are owned by Alberta people.  It helps the industry to upgrade their profile in the scheme of our province and because Barry is also from this province it makes it even more important.  Someone who is not from here and looking in at our racing world will see how passionate we are about our sport and provides a great story to tell.”

Race photos credit to Ryan Haynes.