The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its 10 newest inductees at the 2015 Induction Gala on Wednesday (August 5) at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
Standardbred inductees include horses Artsplace, J Cs Nathalie and people H. Charles (Charlie) Armstrong, William (Bill) Gale and Harry Eisen. The Thoroughbred inductees are Mine That Bird, Robert (Bob) M. Anderson, James (Jim) Bannon, Stewart Elliott and Roger Laurin.
Artsplace, representing the Standardbred Male Horse Category, was the 1992 O’Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following a sixteen race, undefeated four-year-old season. He was a World Record holder in his two-year-old season, winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida. Under the care of trainer Bob McIntosh and driven throughout his racing career by Hall of Famers John Campbell, Bill O’Donnell, Cat Manzi and Bill Gale, Artsplace won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million. 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. Many of Artsplace’s sons and daughters have gone on to sire champions, including Art Major, sire of 2008 Meadowlands Pace champion Art Official, who won in 1:47, at the time a world record for three-year-old pacers, and the second fastest race mile in harness racing history.
“This is the penultimate honour for a horseman, and a horse that was so meaningful to us,” said Art Zubrod of Brittany Farm. “Thank you to Gene Riegle, Bob McIntosh and my wife Leah.”
Standardbred Veteran Horse Category inductee, 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 race record 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. In total J Cs Nathalie has produced 13 horses of which 11 have started and banked more than $4.5 million in purse earnings.
“First off, I’d like to congratulate all of the inductees to the Hall of Fame in 2015,” said Lamers. “This is emotional for me having claimed J Cs Nathalie when she was five years old and all the accomplishments she put on the track – Dreamfair Vogel, Dreamfair Eternal and Dreamfair Kogel, who passed away at the Little Brown Jug unfortunately.
“I’d like to thank all the people involved with J Cs Natalie and my operation, my wife Mary and my family.
“Every morning I look out and see J Cs Nathalie eating grass as healthy as can be. Hopefully she’ll be there for a long time yet. I’m grateful I got involved in the horse business many years ago and hopefully I’ll be involved for many years to come. Thank you.”
In the Driver/Trainer Category, William (Bill) Gale, 66 of Woodstock, Ontario, has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Gale 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 a driving career that spanned over 30 years, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. In the fall of ’91 at Pompano Park he won a pair of Breeders Crown Championships, as he guided King Conch to a World Record 1:56.2 win in the $300,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and reined Three Wizards to an upset victory over Die Laughing and Artsplace in the $357,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts.
In 1991, William Gale was honoured with an O’Brien Award as Canada’s Driver of The Year following a season where he exceeded $3.2 million in purse earnings.
“I would like to thank my wife Janice of 46 years for her support through good and bad times,” said Gale. “To the people that nominated me, I’m grateful for your determination and perseverance. I would also like to thank my fellow horsemen, they also played a part in my career. They placed me in a position to succeed.
“This honour is very humbling, and I accept it with great pride.”
H. Charles (Charlie) Armstrong, 93, of Brampton, Ontario, has been a true Icon in the Ontario and North American Horse Industry for 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. Of note, Charlie Armstrong and fellow Hall of Famer, Gustav Schickedanz were the breeders of champion trotter Goodtimes, who at the end of his 11-year race career was retired as the richest Canadian-Bred Trotting Horse of all time. Other notables include two-time Breeders Crown winner Village Jiffy, as well as such horses as Village Jove and Village Jolt. Stallions standing at the Armstrong breeding operation included King Conch, Camotion, Dream of Glory, Armbro Emerson and Adios Pick to name a few. The family company was dispersed in 2005; however Charlie, along with his daughters, continues to raise and race Standardbreds under the name Village Acres Limited. Charlie’s involvement in racing extended far beyond that of a breeder and owner and resulted in a long list of achievements for his commitment to the racing industry. In 1999 he was named Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame Honouree in 1999 and the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association presented him with the Van Bussell Award in 2003.
“I think that is marvelous,” said Charles Armstrong when he was presented with his Hall of Fame ring at his home prior to the induction ceremony.
“On behalf of Charlie, I want to say thank you to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for this honour,” said Charles Armstrong’s wife Lenore at the ceremony.
The 2015 Standardbred Communicator Inductee is the late Harry Eisen who spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario. 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. 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 and described his work as a “labour of love.” Eisen’s regular column, “Mostly About Horses” kept horse lovers in the loop. As a highly regarded handicapper, he also made the Western Fair selections for the Free Press. In 1980, he became the first non-horseman to be inducted to the Western Fair Raceway Wall of Fame.
“I owe a great deal of thanks to the people that made this honour possible tonight,” said Eisen’s wife Maxine. “It’s great to know he was honoured and appreciated. It’s a wonderful industry, just keep it going.”
Standardbred inductees H. Charles Armstrong, Harry Eisen, Bill Gale and J Cs Nathalie (with John Lamers)