On Monday, March 23, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame unveiled the names of horses and horsepeople which are on the Hall’s 2015 ballot.
A total of 30 horses and people comprised of 15 Standardbred racing candidates and 15 Thoroughbred racing candidates have been selected to appear on this year’s ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the winners in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 7.
Standardbred ballots representing this year’s five voting categories are as follows:
In the Standardbred Male Horse category, Artsplace, Blissfull Hall, and Majestic Son are the candidates.
Artsplace was the1992 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following an undefeated four-year-old season. He was a two-year-old world record holder winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida. He won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million during his racing career. As a stallion, Artsplace produced top horses from the time his first crop raced in 1996. To date, his progeny, including 18 millionaires, have accumulated over $173 million in earnings with an average of $126,372 per starter.
In 1999, Blissfull Hall captured harness racing’s elusive Pacing Triple Crown for owners Ecuries Daniel Plouffe, Inc. of Bromont, Quebec, trainer Ben Wallace, and driver Ron Pierce. A 31-race career over two seasons amassed a record of 19-4-6, a mark of 1:49.2 and earnings of $1.4 million before he embarked on a successful career as a stallion. To date his progeny have amassed over $67 million in earnings, including 205 horses with earnings over $100,000, and average earnings per starter of $92,461
Majestic Son’s race career consisted of 38 starts, stats of 22-5-3, a mark of 1:52.2 and $1,993,157 in purse earnings. A son of Angus Hall out of the King Conch mare Celtic Contessa, Majestic Son’s career was highlighted by wins in the premiere stakes for sophomore trotters including the Champlain, Goodtimes, Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown. As a sire, his progeny have earned $8.2 million including three $500,000 winners, seven winners of $250,000 and 20 winners of $100,000.
B Cor Tamara, Happy Lady and J Cs Nathalie are nominated in the Veteran Horse category.
Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000. Bred and owned by Bill Core of Dresden, Ontario, the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and granddam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall. Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.7 million.
Happy Lady, a daughter of Most Happy Fella, raced in 1977 and 1978 for owners Myra Masterson of St. Catharines, and Linda Lockey of Ridgeville, Ontario. Though her race career was brief, she won $528,825 in purse earnings and attained a mark of 1:55.2. Trained and driven by the late Jim Rankin, she was almost flawless in her juvenile campaign, winning 15 of 16 races. As a sophomore she won 19 of 24 starts.
As a broodmare, J CS Nathalie has produced two millionaires for owner John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ontario – pacing colt Dreamfair Vogel, and pacing mare Dreamfair Eternal. Dreamfair Vogel was a winner of 19 races and over $1.1 million with a mark of 1:49.3. Dreamfair Eternal, a winner of 56 races and over $2.5 million in purse earnings was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
The three candidates in the trainer-driver category are Jack Darling, Yves Filion, and William Gale.
Jack Darling, 62 of Cambridge, Ontario has enjoyed a successful career as a harness horse trainer in southern Ontario over three decades including campaigning 876 winners and conditioning horses to $17.3 million in earnings. In 1995, four fillies put Darling in the spotlight – Diamond Dawn, a winner of $175,000, Low Places (who would win a 1996 O’Brien Award), Faded Glory (winner of more than $250,000 as a freshman) and DieHard Fan (over $200,000 as a two and three-year-old). Other top horses included Northern Luck ($907,984), North America Cup champion Gothic Dream ($1,528,671), and Twin B Champ. Jack is also known for significant fundraising efforts on behalf of racing related causes, and was recently winner of the Lloyd Chisholm Memorial Award by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario as well as the recipient of the United States Harness Writers Association Unsung Hero Award and the Good Guy Award.
Yves Filion, 68 of Saint-Andre-D’argent, Quebec was one of his province’s premier trainer-drivers for close to 30 years, driving in almost 18,000 races with 4,362 wins and $26.5 million in earnings. Training credits include 248 winners and horses earning in excess of $3.4 million. Pacing colts Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama each became millionaires with Filion responsible for both training and driving. Filion bred, owned and trained pacing mare Rebeka Bayama, a multiple stakes winner who won 23 races and over $690,000 during her career.
William Gale, 66 of Woodstock, Ontario, was one of Canada’s leading drivers for a period that spanned the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Between 1982 and 1997, Gale recorded 16 consecutive $1 million+ seasons. During his career, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. In the fall of ’91 at Pompano Park when he won a pair of Breeders Crown races, he guided King Conch to a world record 1:56.2 win in the $300,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and piloted Three Wizards to an upset victory over Die Laughing and Artsplace in the $357,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts.
Candidates in the Builders’ category include Charles Armstrong, John B. Ferguson and Ted Smith.
Charles Armstrong 93, of Brampton, Ontario, has been a true icon in the Ontario and North American horse industry over 60 years. Following the death of his father, Elgin, Charlie and his wife, Lenore, took over the operation of Armstrong Bros. Farm, and as chairman of Armstrong Holdings Brampton Limited, he oversaw the growth of the farm into the second largest Standardbred breeding operation in North America. The ‘Armbro’ name was ever-present in the winner’s circles of prestigious races for both trotters and pacers, producing such champions as Armbro Flight, Armbro Feather, Armbro Omaha and hundreds of others. Stallions standing at the Armstrong breeding operation included King Conch, Camotion, Dream Of Glory, Armbro Emerson and Adios Pick to name a few.
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 at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC. In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson also took a role 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 driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Ted Smith, of Rockwood, Ontario is the fourth generation of his family to have a passion and interest in horse racing. In 1976 he began working at the Canadian Trotting Association, leading many initiatives and developing many processes and procedures in areas that included freeze branding as a means of identification of Standardbreds in Canada, online systems for maintaining race lines and horse registration data. Ted was also responsible for the management and administration of the amalgamation of the Canadian Trotting Association and Canadian Standardbred Horse Society and became Standardbred Canada’s first president and CEO in 1998 where he remained until his retirement in 2010.
In the Communicators category the election committee will make their selection from Paul Delean, Harry Eisen, and Marie Hill.
North Bay native Paul DeLean, began his career as a horse racing writer in the late ‘70s at the Barrie Examiner where he met Bill Rowe and was in turn introduced to Standardbred racing. He has worked for The Gazette in Montreal since 1981 and was once referred to as the ‘English language voice of harness racing in Quebec.’ For owners, breeders, trainers, drivers and fans, Delean was the man on the front line telling what they needed to know about the racing game in the province. In addition, Paul was a frequent contributor to the many trade journals in racing. At age 61, Paul has compiled an impressive body of work in covering the sport in Canada.
The late Harry Eisen spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario. As a lifelong journalist, he spent many years exposing the sport to the public, including the majority of his 40 years at the London Free Press. Eisen who once said he saw his first harness race when he was “three or four years old,” sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a boy. He was inducted into Western Fair’s Wall of Fame in 1980.
Marie Hill, a native of Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick became involved in harness racing as a youngster, she began writing at the age of 13 and had sporadic columns in The Canadian Sportsman. She followed racing in the Maritimes and during her teen years became friends with Joe O’Brien who she later penned two biographical books about, ‘Gentleman Joe, The Story of Harness Driver Joe O’Brien’ and ‘The Horseman from Alberton.’ Other books she wrote include ‘Single G the Horse That Time Forgot’, ‘Adios, The Big Daddy of Harness Racing’ and ‘The Delvin Miller Story.’ In 2007, Marie was inducted into the Communicators Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, becoming the first female author to receive this honour.
The voting ballots for Thoroughbreds will feature:
A Thoroughbred Male Horse ballot comprised of Joshua Tree, Mine That Bird and Quiet Resolve is offered for election committee consideration.
Irish-bred Joshua Tree’s career statistics feature earnings of $3,851,594 in 37 starts (7-7-4). The son of Montjeu achieved wins in multiple graded stakes around the globe including the Qatar International Invitation Cup (G1) in 2011 and three victories in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes (G1) in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Mine That Bird, the 2008 Sovereign Award Champion two-year-old bankrolled $2,228,637 in 18 starts (15-2-2). His Juvenile year began at Woodbine with an impressive four wins in five starts. He gained international attention with his performance came in the 2009 Triple Crown winning the Kentucky Derby, a second-place finish in the Preakness and third in the Belmont.
Quiet Resolve, winner of the 2000 Sovereign as Champion Turf Horse and also named Canada’s Horse of the Year the same year, was a winner of $2.3 million and a homebred for Sam Son Farm. His race 10-6-4 career over 31 starts included multiple graded stakes wins highlighted by victories in the Atto Mile (G1), and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes (G2)
Stewart Elliott, Richard Grubb and Mickey Walls have been selected to appear on the Jockey ballot.
Toronto-born, second generation jockey Stewart Elliott made headlines around the world when he became the first jockey in 25 years to win the Kentucky Derby in their first appearance when he partnered with 2005 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. During a career consisting of over 29,000 starts, horses ridden by Elliott horses amassed earnings in excess of $93 million with wins in 4,650 races. In 2010 he was named the winner of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.
Born in Kitchener, Ont., Richard Grubb began his riding career in 1966 at the age of 16 and won the first race he ever rode in as a professional, the first of 1,607 career trips to the winners circle. The following year he was Canada’s leading Jockey with 230 victories. That same year (1967) he won seven straight races on an eight-race card, a feat never duplicated. Richard rode some of the country’s most time-honoured stars including 1968 Sovereign Award – Horse of the Year, Viceregal, Mary of Scotland, and Rouletabille. During his career, Grubb won over 100 major races and was presented the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award in 1997. Following his retirement from racing in 1989, he became a senior steward with the Ontario Racing Commission.
Mickey Walls of British Columbia was born to a horse racing family. His parents Joe and Carol Walls are well-known owner and trainer on the backstretch at Woodbine. In 1990, when Walls was just 16 he won his first Sovereign Award as Canada’s Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. His 1991 efforts saw him become the first apprentice jockey to be voted the Sovereign Award and the United States’ Eclipse Award in the same year. In addition, he was voted the overall Canadian Champion Jockey. An early season injury forced him to sit out most of 1992, but he bounced back in 1993 to become leading riding for the second time at Woodbine. In the mid 1990’s he competed in the USA at various tracks before returning to Canada in 1996, winning the final two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown. Among his accomplishments in 1999 he rode Queen’s Plate winner Woodcarver. Career stats include earnings of over $37 million between 1990 and 2002
Election Committee members will select between Thoroughbred Builders Robert Anderson, Michael Byrne and Michael Colterjohn.
Robert M. (Bob) Anderson was a longtime horseman based in St. Thomas, Ont. As president of Anderson Farm, he was involved with breeding, racing and selling both Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses for 41 years in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. A former director of the Woodbine Entertainment Group (formerly the Ontario Jockey Club) and past national president of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society from 1981-82, he was also a board member of Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in the U.S.A, a steward of the Jockey Club of Canada as well as a member of the Ontario Racing Commission Advisory Board, the first chairman of the Guelph Research Centre for Equine Research and member of the E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund. He bred and matured over 1,400 Thoroughbreds including champions Pinafore Park, Larkwhistle, and Prince Avatar. He was the breeder of successful sires Ascot Knight, National Assembly and Alydeed.
Michael C. Byrne emigrated from Ireland in 1970, and quickly found a job with Thoroughbred owner George Gardiner. Twelve years later, Byrne opened his own operation in Orangeville, Ontario, Park Stud, that became home to Ontario stallions such as Brave Shot, Geiger Counter, and Bold Ruckus. In time Byrne took on a larger role in the industry, serving six years on the Ontario Racing Commission, and was a director of the Ontario Jockey Club for a decade. Other industry positions included steward of the Jockey Club of Canada in 1993, chief steward from 1996-2005. He helped form the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee in 2000 and is also a member of the International Cataloguing Standards. He founded his own sales company, Canadian Breeders’ Sales in 1990, and subsequently took over the CTHS sale at Woodbine for 11 years.
Dr. Michael Colterjohn, one of Canada’s top equine reproductive experts joined Gardiner Farms in 1987 and soon became 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. 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 performer, Pender Harbour.
The three Communicators appearing on the Election ballot are Jim Bannon, Curtis Stock and Tom Wolski.
Toronto’s Jim Bannon, was part of the first Simulcast Racing TV Show in North America in 1981. His natural comfort in front of the camera and extensive Thoroughbred racing knowledge propelled Bannon into a career that includes television analyst, commentator and handicapping expert with followers at racetracks and living rooms across North America. He has been the face of the CBC’s Queen’s Plate and Breeders’ Cup shows and in 2010 he was rewarded with a Gemini Award as Canada’s Best Sports Analyst. For the past 40 years he has published the Woodbine Journal, a staple for bettors. In addition to his journalistic endeavours he gives generously of his time as an educator in handicapping seminars, as well as an instructor at Humber College’s Canadian Racing Official’s Course. He is head of the Chaplaincy Program at Woodbine and is also a director of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Curtis Stock, originally from Calgary, got his start as a horse racing reporter while still in university, before working at Woodbine with CHRHF member Bruce Walker. He returned to Alberta to take over the publicity, marketing and advertising at Northlands Park and is now with the Edmonton Journal. Stock’s affection for the horses, jockeys, trainers and horsepeople in general, is reflected in his writing. His reporting has resonated with Sovereign Awards judges. Stock was the recipient of back-to-back Sovereign Awards for Outstanding Feature Story in 1993-94 and beginning in 1985 took home an unprecedented eight Sovereign Awards for Outstanding Newspaper Story in Canada.
BC based Tom Wolski has been involved in Thoroughbred horse racing for 40 years, during which he has worn many hats including jockey, radio-television sportscaster, racing columnist, racetrack media and publicity director, film actor and public speaker. Wolski is the recipient of multiple Sovereign Awards in the category of Outstanding Film &Video Broadcast as writer/ producer in 1998, 2001 and 2011. He was also honoured with the USTA’s John Hervey Award in 2004, which recognizes the best in harness racing television and radio journalism.
The Veteran Person category will be contested by Roger Laurin, J.G. (Jerry) Lavigne and Robert A. (Red) McKenzie.
Roger Laurin, the Montreal-born trainer, came into prominence in 1964 when he took charge of the race conditioning of a filly named Miss Cavandish for Harry S. Nichols. Miss Cavandish became one of the top two fillies racing in the United States that year. From there the list of graded stakes horses he conditioned reads like a who’s who of 1960s and ‘70s racing. He trained Drumtop who won numerous top stakes and who broke three track records in 1971 for John Moseley while at the same time achieving conditioning the 1971 two-year-old Eclipse champion filly Numbered Account for Ogden Phipps.
J.G. (Jerry) Lavigne’s career as a trainer began in 1958. His achievements included 68 stakes race wins with 22 stakes winners, as well as two Queen’s Plate races with Almoner in 1970 and Son of Briartic in 1982. He was the conditioner of Canadian Champion colt Nice Dancer, a multiple stakes winner on the turf; Lost Majorette and sprinter Park Romeo. His trainee Fabe Count had a stellar record over four years as a multiple stakes winner at nine different distances over both turf and dirt.
Alberta-based trainer Robert A. (Red) McKenzie has literally spent a lifetime on the racetrack, joining the backstretch community at the age of 11 before becoming a jockey at age 16 and going on to be a leading rider in western Canada in the mid-40s. When McKenzie grew too big to be a jockey, he took out his trainers’ licence. He had early success at Bay Meadows, Golden Gate, Hollywood Park, Meadowlands, Assiniboia Downs, Hastings Park, as well as the Ontario tracks in the fall. In later years, he concentrated on racing in Alberta; at Calgary, Edmonton, or Whoop Up Downs and Grand Prairie.
McKenzie won both divisions of the Alberta Derby in 1965 with the filly Chariot Chaser while Chopstick won the other division. Chariot Chaser would go on to win the Prairie Triple Crown that year, a record that stood for 34 years. McKenzie also won 29 races with the venerable campaigner Grandin Park.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.
(Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)