The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its 10 newest inductees at the 2016 Induction Gala on Wednesday (August 3) at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
Standardbred inductees include horses San Pail and Odies Fame and people John Ferguson Sr., Yves Filion and Bruce Johnston. The Thoroughbred inductees are Wise Dan, Dahlia, Mark Casse, Dr. Michael Colterjohn and Daryl Wells, Sr.
San Pail, bred by co-owner Glenn Van Camp of Port Perry, Ontario and co-owned by trainer Rod Hughes of Dunsford, Ontario, is one of the sport’s most popular horses in recent years. He officially retired in September 2015 following a career that saw him win 52 of 114 races, record a mark of 1:50.4 and earn over $3.1 million.
Partnered with regular driver Randy Waples, San Pail dominated Canadian harness racing in 2011, topping the charts for older trotting horses in North America with over $1.2 million in earnings and 14 wins in 16 races, highlighted by victories in every stakes event he competed in. The season included his third consecutive victory in the Maple Leaf Trot and and a Breeders Crown Championship where he defeated a world class field of trotters and was joined by hundreds of racing fans and supporters in the winner’s circle. In December 2011, San Pail was honoured at the Trotteur Francais International Awards in Vincennes, Paris. Voted the O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse in 2009, 2010 and 2011, he also won O’Brien Awards and Dan Patch Awards as Horse of the Year and a Dan Patch Award as Trotter of the Year in 2011. Reaching beyond harness racing, San Pail was named Equine Canada’s Canadian Bred Horse of the Year in 2011 and was inducted into the Scugog Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“On behalf of San Pail I’d like to thank the committee of the Hall of Fame,” said co-owner/breeder Glenn Van Camp, who also offered a huge thanks to the San Pail Posse, Standardbred Canada, and Randy Waples “who drove him like a true professional.”
Trainer/co-owner Rod Hughes then added, “Who would have thought I’d be standing here ten years ago?”
Hughes also thanked his family, the fans as well as the media and the photographers, who were great to work with. He also stated he wouldn’t be here without Randy [Waples] as San Pail’s driver.
Odies Fame, purchased for $7,500 by Buddy (Harold) Wellwood and Dr. Norm Amos at the 1997 Forest City Yearling Sale, raced 77 times from 1998 through 2001 and managed 26 wins, 13 seconds, 9 thirds, earnings of $1,410,720 and a mark of 1:52 while under the care of Wellwood.
A daughter of CHRHF member Apaches Fame, she posted six track records at age two, set a World Record of 1:52.3 on a five-eighths mile track at Rideau Carleton and was almost unbeatable in the Ontario Sires Stakes where she won seven of nine events and earnings of $247,800. She received two O’Brien Awards being awarded Canada’s Horse of the Year and Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. At age three, she had 8 wins in 21 races, just under $800,000 in earnings, and scored victories in the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown Championship. She was again a divisional champion in the Ontario Sires Stakes, winning five of eight events and over $161,000. Named the Canadian Sportsman’s Readers’ Choice Award winner as the 1999 Horse of the Year over triple crown winner Blissfull Hall, Odies Fame also added another O’Brien trophy to her collection as she was voted Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year, as well as the Dan Patch Award for her division, despite not setting foot in the U.S. Odies Fame raced as a four and five-year-old, mainly in Woodbine Entertainment’s top fillies and mares class and an injury forced her into retirement in September, 2001.
“I just want to say thank you,” said Linda Wellwood. “I know that Bud [Wellwood] and Norm [Amos], or “Doc” as we called him, would be very proud and honoured to receive this honour. Thank you to all that nominated and voted for her.”
Yves Filion, 69 of Saint-Andre-D’argent, Quebec, a member of one of Canada’s greatest harness racing families, was one of his province’s premier trainer–drivers for close to 30 years, driving in over 18,000 races with 4,387 wins and $26.7 million in earnings. Training credits include 273 winners and earnings of almost $3.7 million.
He bred many successful horses at his Bayama Farms including Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama. Yves trained and drove Runnymede Lobell to victory in the 1988 North America Cup, his richest of 31 career wins to go along with over $1.6 million in earnings. Filion also bred and trained Goliath Bayama to 25 wins and earnings of over $1.5 million in his career. After his two-year-old season, Yves turned the driving duties over to his son Sylvain. The pair combined for a runner-up finish in the North America Cup in his three-year-old campaign.
“I’m very proud to be here, to be in the Hall Of Fame,” said Yves Filion. “And one thing I am very proud of is joining Herve in the Hall Of Fame. I’ve been working at Bayama Farms for 30 to 40 years. I work hard all the time. I consider myself to be a workaholic because I think I was born and raised in a stall with the horse. I love horses.
“I raised three nice kids while working,” he added. “The reason I’m here tonight is there’s somebody behind the scenes that worked just as much as me. I’m here because of that person. She took my place as a father. She was a super mother and grandmother. I want to thank all the people who inducted me to the Hall Of Fame. I’m very proud to be here tonight.”
Yves, the brother of Hall of Famer Herve Filion, is the youngest of eleven children. His son, Sylvain Filion, was Canada’s Driver of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
The late John B. Ferguson may be best known for his time in the National Hockey League, but his passion for Canadian horse racing was drawn from early years spent with his father and grandfather, both Thoroughbred horsemen, at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC. During his time with the Montreal Canadians, he became a fixture at Blue Bonnets Raceway. He ventured into harness horse ownership in the early 70s as a partner with Del MacTavish Sr. and Roger White in trotter Harlan Marv and later teamed up with the Stall Family in forming Double Two Ranch to campaign horses such as Keystone Sandra and Comet Angus. On the advice of Hall of Fame Breeder Elgin Armstrong, Ferguson began purchasing fillies with breeding potential. He eventually sold most of the mares except Lady Kin Hanover, the dam of Merger, who Ferguson bred. Merger was syndicated at the age of two for over $8 million before going on to win the 1982 Little Brown Jug.
As an owner, Ferguson’s best horse was Hardie Hanover, Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 1994, a winner of the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown and over $718,000 in purse money.
In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson was involved in track management. He was hired by Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal, Quebec, and after leaving the NHL became the President of Windsor Raceway. He was also one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and assisted with researching and writing the by-laws.
“On my father’s behalf and the family’s behalf, I want to thank everyone,” said John Ferguson Jr. “Horse racing was in his blood from a young age. Our summers weren’t complete with a trip to Saratoga. Wherever we went, a trip to the track was involved.
“He got such a charge out of the journey of winning a race,” he added. “He was in his element as much on the track as on the ice. He takes great pride in this honour, as we all do.”
In 1976, Bruce Johnston of Aylmer, Ontario, acquired The Canadian Sportsman, ‘the oldest turf journal in America’. His editorial policy was to promote harness racing and to suggest proposals, such as those that resulted in improvements to the Ontario Sires Stakes format in 1991. Under Johnston’s leadership, The Canadian Sportsman became one of the sport’s leading publications. His “Short Turns” column was known for its wit and tales of fictional racing characters.
Johnston was also involved in various racing related lobbying efforts and was an active member of the Ontario Agriculture and Horse Racing Coalition. He was posthumously named winner of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society’s General Achievement Award for 1993, recognizing excellence, leadership and contributions to the Canadian Standardbred breeding industry. That same year the Johnston Cup was established in his memory and is awarded annually to the leading trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes. Johnston owned several horses including Sam Fella and Pickerel and one of his broodmares produced the $127,000 winning trotter, Dream Of Ironstone. Johnston died suddenly in May, 1993, from a heart attack at age 59.
“Bruce was a lawyer but grew to love racing, and eventually owned a farm and horses,” said Bruce’s son, Ian Johnston. “We all thought it was crazy when he announced he was leaving law to run The Sportsman. We haven’t got a call from the Lawyer Hall of Fame. Thank you for this honour.”
The Thoroughbred inductees in the CHRHF class of 2016 are:
Wise Dan’s racing career concluded in 2014 at the age of seven after 23 wins and two seconds in 31 starts, amassing a bank account of $7,552,920 for breeder/owner Morton Fink and trainer Charles LoPresti. Included in these impressive statistics for the multiple graded stakes winner, were back-to-back wins in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (G1) in 2012 and 2013. The chestnut gelding’s 2013 victory in that race was in an impressive course record of 1:31.75. Wise Dan also had back-to-back wins in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) 2012, 2013 and was honoured as Eclipse Award Horse of the Year in both 2012 and 2013 as well as Champion Grass Horse and Champion Older Horse in the U.S. in those two years. Wise Dan’s bloodlines can be traced back to the great Northern Dancer and his pedigree also includes 1973 Triple Crown winner and two-time Horse of the Year Secretariat, who is the grandsire of Wise Dan’s dam Lisa Danielle, also owned and campaigned by Fink.
“I’m standing here today with my mom [Bonny Marcus], representing my grandparents,” said Morton Fink’s granddaughter, Lisa Marcus. “I want to congratulate the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame on their 40th anniversary and all of the 2016 inductees.
Thank you for this incredible honour,” added Lisa, who also recognized Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood and Riddle and trainer Charles Lopresti for their work with Wise Dan.
“We especially want to thank Wise Dan for his phenomenal career,” added Lisa. “He breathed life into my grandfather.”
Bred in Kentucky by Nelson Bunker Hunt, french-trained Dahlia was regarded as an equine pioneer of international racing. The filly was under the tutelage of Maurice Zilber from age two through five. She was later owned by Allen Paulson and trained by Charlie Whittingham. She won Group or Grade 1 stakes in five different countries including Canada, when she won the Canadian International in 1974 as a four-year-old. That Canadian victory brought international attention to the race and subsequently resulted in other European horses making the trip to Toronto for the annual turf event. She spent much of her race career taking on the boys, doing so 35 times in her 48 starts, and was the first female horse to surpass $1 million in career earnings. Total career stats include a record of 15-3-7 in 48 starts with earnings of $1,489,105. As a broodmare, she produced three Grade 1 winners – Dahar, Rivlia and Delegant.
“On behalf of my family, my very sweet mom, and Dahlia, I accept this great honour,” said Nelson Bunker Hunt’s daughter, Betsy Kurd. “Dad always called Dahlia his favourite redhead, but she was hands down my mother’s favourite horse. For my 87-year-old mother, it brought tears to her eyes to receive this award.”
Reflecting on Dahlia’s Canadian International victory, Kurd explained that her father was very particular about the care of his horses and praised Woodbine for knowing their horses.
“We met wonderful people in Canada,” she added, acknowledging the Sikura and Stafford families.
Mark Casse, to date is the winner of seven Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Outstanding Trainer and ten leading-trainer titles at Woodbine. Born in Indiana in 1961, he took over his father’s Kentucky operation at the age of 18 and soon after scored his first winner as trainer at Keeneland. A 69-win season in 2002 earned Casse his first Woodbine trainers’ title. Since then, he’s trained a number of Sovereign Award winning horses including three Horses of the Year – Lexie Lou (2014) bred by fellow 2016 inductee Dr. Michael Colterjohn, Uncaptured (2012), and 2013 CHRHF mare Sealy Hill (2007), the only filly to win the Canadian Triple Tiara. Other champions include My Conquestadory and Marchfield. In 2011, Casse won a record 119 races, surpassing the previous mark of 89 victories by Frank Passero in 1995 and collected a then-record $6.6 million plus in purses. He saddled Lexie Lou to win both the Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Oaks in 2014. 2015 was Casse’s biggest year yet, as he amassed $13.6 million in purses with 159 winners including Breeders’ Cup Grade 1 wins with both Tepin, 2015 Eclipse Award-winner as Champion Turf Female, and Catch a Glimpse, who is a 2015 Sovereign finalist as Canada’s Outstanding Two-Year-Old Filly. Other achievements on Casse’s training resume include 8 Canadian Classic wins, 46 graded stakes win and 170 stake wins. In addition, he has trained three winners of the Woodbine Oaks, three Prince of Wales winners and one Breeders’ Stakes winner. Non-training roles in the racing industry include that of Director of HBPA and Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada.
“I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame and its voters,” said Casse, who also thanked his wife, family, staff, owners and his late father for getting him to this point of his career. “To think my name mentioned in the same breath as these trainers in the Hall of Fame is a dream come true.
“The decision to move to Toronto was one of the most important decisions in my career,” added Casse. “When it comes to memories of racing in Toronto, it would be Lexie Lou winning the Queen’s Plate.”
The late Dr. Michael Colterjohn, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, immigrated with his family to Canada at the age of 11 living in Lindsay, ON, where his father Duncan was a family physician. Michael grew up surrounded by horses, fostering a passion for show jumping and fox hunting which inspired a career as one of Canada’s top equine reproductive veterinarians. He joined Gardiner Farms in 1987 and was soon named farm President. Under his management, the Caledon East farm became one of the country’s most well-respected and accomplished breeding operations. He built a quality broodmare band to elevate the farm into a significant player in the Canadian-yearling market.
Gardiner Farms Limited bred numerous stakes winners including Kitty’s Got Class, winner of the Fanfreluche Stakes and Victorian Queen Stakes, both at Woodbine, for Colterjohn and Denny Andrews. Gardiner Farms Limited’s other stakes winners as breeder include Are You Serious, Bear It’s Time, Cocney Lass, Legal Move, London Snow, Midnight Shadow, Rare Friends, and Top Ten List. Following the sale of Gardiner Farms 2008, Colterjohn along with his wife Dr. Moira Gunn and farm manager Sherry McLean, purchased the Gardiner livestock he had spent so much time and effort amassing and the three partners launched Paradox Farm Inc. The long list of Paradox-bred horses include 2014 Queen’s Plate winner Lexie Lou along with venerable Ontario Sire stakes performer, Pender Harbour.
“It’s an absolute honour to be standing here accepting this honour on his behalf,” said Dr. Michael Colterjohn’s son, Duncan Colterjohn. “When thinking about my father, the thing that comes to mind was his passion. Every single day you could find him on the farm doing what he loved. His passion was infectious.
“I want to thank everybody at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame and my family for being here,” he added.
The voice of Daryl Wells, Sr. became as much a part of Ontario thoroughbred racing as the track where he honed his craft. His career as announcer for the OJC began when the Etobicoke, ON track opened in 1956 and the assignment also included calling races at Fort Erie and Greenwood. Twenty years later, he began focusing exclusively on races at Woodbine, providing an opportunity for his son Daryl, Jr. to take over at Fort Erie. Wells’ broadcast career began as a disc jockey at the age of 15 in British Columbia, moving east several years later, working in the sports department at radio station CHML in Hamilton, ON in the 1940s and ’50s, eventually becoming the sports director for Hamilton’s CHCH-TV. Working with another radio/TV legend Norm Marshall, Wells co-hosted the first four races live from Woodbine during weekday afternoons. In so doing, he provided easy-to-understand commentary which truly enhanced racing’s image and dramatically boosted its popularity and increased the sport’s fan base. His calls of Northern Dancer winning the Queen’s Plate in 1964 as well as Secretariat’s final race at Woodbine in 1973, live on in the memories of racing fans everywhere. Following his death in 2003, the headline in the Toronto Sun read, “Woodbine loses legend. Long-time announcer dies”
“I want to let everyone know how happy the Wells family is to be here,” said Daryl Wells, Jr. “It’s been a fantastic run. We’re proud of this honour.
“How many kids got to go sit in the announcer’s booth for a Saturday afternoon then go meet the jockeys? My sister and I loved it,” he added. “I recall watching CHCH and a movie would be on, and that movie would be interrupted by racing from Fort Erie. He loved to promote the sport.
When asked for the most memorable moment of his father’s career, the younger Wells was quick to recall a race that many racing fans will always remember.
“Most memorable moment, 1973. I had a hockey game that afternoon but Secretariat was running his final race,” recalled Wells. “I sat in the booth when Secretariat came down the stretch, fans started running onto the dirt course. It was like fans running to a rock star.”
And like any good father, the famous announcer gave his son some sound advice that he used during his career in the booth.
“He always told me to stop and talk to the fans after a race card,” said Wells. “They’re the reason why we’re here.”
Located at Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, ON, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is a national organization dedicated to honouring the best in Canadian horse racing as we preserve the history and heritage of the sport.
Male Horse Category: San Pail – Breeder, Glenn Van Camp, Port Perry, ON; owners Glenn Van Camp and Hughes Stable Inc., Dunsford, ON.; trainer, Rod Hughes; driver, Randy Waples.
Female Horse Category: Odies Fame – Breeder, Glengate Farms, Campbellville, ON; owners, Buddy (Harold) Wellwood and Dr. Norm Amos/Linda Wellwood, St. George, ON; trainers, Harold Wellwood, Lyle McArthur; primary driver, Dave Wall.
Builder Category: John Ferguson, Sr. (deceased), born in Vancouver, BC, resident of Montreal, QC, & Windsor, ON
Driver/Trainer: Yves Filion, Saint-Andre-D’argent, QC
Communicator Category: Bruce Johnston, (deceased), Aylmer, ON
Male Horse Category: Wise Dan – Bred and owned by Morton Fink, Chicago, IL; Trained by Charles LoPresti, Lexington, KY
Veteran Horse Category: Dahlia (deceased), bred and owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt, trained by Maurice Zilber, later owned by Allen Paulson and trainer Charlie Whittingham
Trainer Category: Mark Casse, Ocala, FL
Builder Category: Dr. Michael Colterjohn (deceased), Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, resident of Lindsay, ON and Caledon, ON
Communicator Category: Daryl Wells Sr. (deceased), Born in Victoria, BC, resident of Lewiston, NY
(Standardbred Canada with files from the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)