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Now that's a wedding gift! Two generations of Arthur harness racing family cash in on big win

The Cecchin family are $500,000 richer after their horse took home the top prize at a harness racing event
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Desperate Man, trainers, owners and supporters after his big win at the Pepsi North American Cup.

ARTHUR — A small investment and a wedding gift became a huge payoff for an Arthur family on the weekend

The Cecchin family is still reeling after their horse Desperate Man scored an unexpected win at the million dollar Pepsi North American Cup, one of harness racing's richest races.

Desperate Man took home $500,000 in a thrilling race Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park bringing his total to over $850,000 won for his owners. 

Kathy Cecchin and her husband John run a small horse operation near Arthur with just a few horses including Desperate Man.

She said in a phone interview Monday their feelings have been like a roller coaster since the win. 

“I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet but we’re all pretty much emotionally drained today, it was so exciting,” Cecchin said. 

“You dream of winning a race like this but it’s not a reality, you know, and it’s just hard to believe that it actually happened."

Cecchin co-owns the horse with her husband, daughter and son-in-law but it was only recently the younger couple became co-owners, part of their wedding gift.

Cecchin said they gave the newlyweds a choice of money toward a down payment on a house or half ownership of Desperate Man. They bet on the horse.

It appears they made the right call. 

“Sharing it with them, it just makes it way more special,” Cecchin said. 

It’s also not something she had ever expected out of the horse she trains as he was bought for just $20,000 in 2019. 

“This horse is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, he really is,” Cecchin said. “Horses like him just don’t come along and they sure don’t cost $20,000.”

She’s also glad the cup gets to stay in Canada and as a win for their small Wellington County operation.

She said she has respect for all the horses that ran in the race but knew the horse who had the best trip — meaning the least amount of trouble on their chosen route on the track — would win the race. 

“Our driver, Trevor Henry, gave the horse the absolute perfect trip,” Cecchin said.

Desperate Man went off at 7-1 odds but came from sitting third in the stretch to pull out the win.