A Special Interview with Colleen O'Hagan

Oct 25,2018 Orianna Scheck

Colleen O’Hagan is a successful Thoroughbred trainer. The 31-year-old Saskatchewan native started riding at a very early age and started training racehorses just five years ago.  She has raced at several racetracks including Marquis Downs, Assiniboia Downs, Northlands Park and Turf Paradise in Phoenix. This fall, O’Hagan made the trip here to race at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino with a five-horse stable and has had a very successful race meet with five wins in just 12 starts. 

Rewind to 2015! O’Hagan bought an unraced three-year-old Thoroughbred gelding named Midst of Chaos, aka ‘Zach’ from horseman Rob Chabot. At the time, the gelding had a cracked knee so he was a gamble for O’Hagan. 

“Zach was very tough to gallop but he quickly became my favourite horse,” said O’Hagan. “He always got the number one stall in the barn and had his share of treats which included Rice Krispies and Fruit Loops.  There was a lady at Marquis Downs that would bring him homemade Rice Krispies squares every weekend.” 

After some hard work and perseverance, Zach made an awesome start to his racing career at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon where he won his first two races by an impressive 10 lengths. O’Hagan has also had victories with her loved pupil at some of the bigger tracks and he achieved over $25,000 in lifetime earnings. 

Last winter, O’Hagan shipped her stable down south to Phoenix to race. “Someone convinced me to run Zach cheaper than I had ever ran him and he got claimed,” stated O’Hagan. “I was crushed and I remember crying the entire night. I finally messaged the people who claimed him and they sold him back to me. I then decided to retire him because I couldn’t stand losing him. Reasoning with myself, I realized that if I wanted horse racing to be my career, I would need to stop thinking of every horse as my pet. I decided that I would keep Zach as my riding horse and him being the only horse I would allow myself to do this with. He will be my forever horse.”

“I had heard about the Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky and thought it would be a fun thing to do and give me a goal and a purpose for him. Zach has always been a brave and willing horse to ride and catches everyone’s eye. His only downfall is he still is a racehorse at heart and still has a lot of energy. I don’t think he will ever lose his ‘racy’ behaviour but I feel completely safe on him in every situation and I trust him with my life,” said O’Hagan.

After extensive training, the duo packed up on September 28 and headed down to Kentucky which took three days of travel. The events were held from October 3 – 7 at the Kentucky Horse Park. They competed in Eventing and Field Hunters.

“The weather was a little extreme,” said O’Hagan. “It was over plus 30 and very humid. But Zach was amazing and received some top marks in all his jumping events. We went off course in my dressage test, so over all we did not make the top placing but we scored well in classes of 100 horses plus and I’m so proud of him,” boasted O’Hagan. 

“Zach and I will also be entering the Saskatchewan Makeover as well and I hope to take Zach to the US to show this winter and get some shows in next summer,” said O’Hagan.

O’Hagan also owns a boarding stable in Saskatoon and has re-homed all of her Thoroughbreds to great homes. “I think it’s very crucial to make sure they get good retirement homes because they serve us so well” said O’Hagan. “Most of my borders are horses I have sold off the track. I have re-homed well over a hundred Thoroughbreds. Every horse that goes through my stable ends up with a good forever home and this is very important to me.”

We wish continued success to both O’Hagan and her beloved OTTB ‘Zach’!

For more details on O’Hagan, head over to Century Downs’ YouTube channel or Facebook page (@CenturyDowns) for the full video on this story.


Join us for our Spooktacular Events on the last day of Thoroughbred racing on October 28 for a spectacular family fun-filled day! We’ll be having spooky special guests, face painters, a candy scramble, a pumpkin carving contest and a pick-a-pumpkin pumpkin patch (first come, first served by donation to Prairie Sky Equine Assisted Therapy)

See you at Century Downs!