The Gass family of Cornwall first ventured into standardbreds when Andrew, a mixed farmer and butcher became part-owner of several horses including Bobby Brook and Splurge in the early 1960s. Son Ronnie dove into horse ownership as a teenager and starting driving at age 18 in 1966. Slowly he attracted good owners and by the 1970s was operating a large public stable racing throughout the Maritime region at Charlottetown, Summerside, Saint John and Halifax. Ronnie had success in the local stakes program with top colts Roving Robbi and Travelling Robbi for his cousin David MacPhail and top overnight horses like Good Tracy and Kir Grade. Ronnie drove Awjo to a third place finish in the Gold Cup in 1986. The winner of over 1300 races, in 2016 he had one of his most successful seasons with over $100,000 in earnings by his stable highlighted by Beau’s Cowboy the Atlantic Breeders Crown champion sophomore pacing colt.
Over the years, Ronnie and wife Diane expanded the family farm to accommodate a large breeding operation and stood stallions such as Flarewave, Whata Monster and Forceful Revenge. Dusty Lane Farms would produce a number of top horses over the years. Ronnie campaigned Dusty Lane Dillon to top trotting honors in 1992 and 1993, and another homebred Dusty Lane Connie was Maritime champion three-year-old filly. More recently Ronnie was an important partner with the late Brian and Bill Andrew in their Meridian Farms East operation.
Ronnie and Diane’s two children were intimately involved in the family operation from young ages. Daughter Shelley was a popular breeder and horseowner who is deeply missed by the Maritime horse community after her passing in 2017. She was recognized for her many achievements as both Owner of the Year and Horsewoman of the Year by the Prince County Horsemans Club and was the first winner of the Louis McIsaac Spirit award.
Stephen, a former driver, worked alongside his father trucking horses for many years. Recently Stephen has taken over training duties for the stable and campaigned the undefeated filly Magical Mistress in 2018.
Ronnie’s brother Danny got involved with a horse called Nice Boy in the mid-1970’s. He trained and drove himself and then dabbled in the breeding side of things, striking gold with a mare he purchased from Stanley Mayhew that produced three stakes winners, Chet’s Pride, Lazer and Buckaroo. Always among the leading percentage drivers on PEI, Danny later raced Dusty Lane Hawk a winner of the Premiers Pace during Old Home Week in 1990 . He curtailed his involvement in the mid-1990’s to concentrate on business interests.
Stephen’s daughter Alexis is the fourth generation of her family’s involvement. Active as an owner with horses like Dusty Lane Zendaya and Smiley Bayama, Alexis is also one of the top local caretakers.