Day At The Track

Cosa TV honours Flamboro Downs' signature event

05:54 AM 19 May 2020 NZST
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As the harness racing world anticipates the return of racing, Sunday evening's episode of COSA TV honoured Flamboro Downs' signature event -- the Confederation Cup, which due to COVID-19 is postponed to a later date in the season.

Host Greg Blanchard was joined by guests Ken Middleton and Ken Warkentin, and together the trio discussed the history behind the race created by the founder of Flamboro Downs, Charles Juravinski, who built the half-mile oval in Dundas, Ont. in the 1970’s.

The episode also included a virtual Confederation Cup race which featured eight of the greatest past champions. The Farm Games team, headed by Ryan Clements, developed the simulated race.

Track announcer Ken Middleton was first to offer up some insight behind the experience of the coveted event.

“The paddock and grandstand were flooding with people. In the early days of this race, people would be lined up 20 deep. It will always be a race that holds a lot of stature. The afternoon cards to me, were the best because the undercard of the day featured many Ontario Sires Stakes events and then you had three straight races of the Confederation Cup -- two eliminations and a final. There was always an Invitation type of race and for any race fan it was just a very enjoyable experience.”

Warkentin also shared similar feelings on the event.

“We had a lot of coverage, back then the Confederation Cup was covered by TSN, they would bring in a live crew and the quality of the card was just incomparable. You had the best three-year-olds and the best drivers were always there to drive in the race as well. John Campbell, Bill O’Donnell, those are drivers that would show up at Flamboro Downs to drive in the Cup.”

The duo of announcers answered questions from viewers while giving a special honour to the founding father of the Confederation Cup, and revisited some of their most favourite memories of the race.

“Charles was always very supportive of me, he always was the first one to give you a pat on the back and rarely ever got mad about anything, he could always come up with great zingers,” noted Warkentin.

“Aside from my father, one of my biggest supporters was Charlie. I think he took a great sense of pride in knowing that he helped us all become successful. He’s a role model and an inspiration to anyone. He came from such humble beginnings and worked hard for every nickel he made and then when he had all those nickels, he gave them all away to a great cause. The biggest thing about Charlie was that he gave everyone opportunity. He is someone who means a great deal to me,” Middleton said with a smile.

Middleton and Warkentin also entertained viewers with an insightful outlook as to what it takes to prepare for a major race card such as the Confederation Cup.

“You vacuum up all the articles that are written and you get all the background information on all the horses in the race, For a race like the Hambletonian, I have a separate binder where I keep all my notes and press kits. A lot of it is in your head but you have to have it in front of you because there are a lot of distractions and there is a lot going on. You can get easily distracted because in your heart you are a racing fan, but you still have to work, pay attention and do your job. So, that's why I find it very handy to have all that information in front of you. I do a lot of preparation prior to big events,” said Warkentin.

“Everybody does things different, sometimes there is a lot of preparation work that goes into the big races. For me, it's the records -- speed records. I try to be cognizant of race records, track records, Canadian records. After that, I just watch the race, if there's a 1-9 shot, everyone is going to expect that horse to win, but there are times where there is an upset horse that you need to be watching for. There have been many horses who have upset race favourites. I think the best way to do it as an announcer is not worry about having scripted lines but just go with the flow, stay relative with what you are saying in front of you -- be spontaneous and just call the race," Middleton added.

The virtual running of the Confederation Cup, which consisted of the greatest past champions, was won by none other than one of the greatest horses to ever step foot on a racetrack, Somebeachsomewhere -- who nosed out another of the greatest equine athletes to step foot on a racetrack, Cam Fella.

The virtual race consisted of:

► Abercrombie – Glen Garnsey
► American Ideal – Mark MacDonald
► Art Major – John Campbell
► Cam Fella – Pat Crowe
► Jate Lobell – Mark O'Mara
► Matts Scooter – Mike Lachance
► On The Road Again – Buddy Gilmour
► Somebeachsomewhere – Paul MacDonell

The interactive feature is produced by Curtis MacDonald’s CUJO Entertainment and is available for viewing below.

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