Day At The Track

"On The Rail" with Sydney Weaver

11:44 AM 14 Oct 2014 NZDT
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Sydney Weaver, harness racing Sydney Weaver, harness racing Sydney Weaver, harness racing
Sydney Weaver interviewing Wally Hennessey
Lisa Weaver Photo
Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte and Sydney Weaver
Iron Horse Photo
Sydney Weaver with Bill Galvin
Lisa Weaver Photo

Among the busy hallways of Woodbine Racetrack, filled with people going this way and that, there is a room, steep in history; and in this room some of the greatest moments in Canadian horse racing are kept.

On the walls are plaques of heroes of our sport both past and present; from the great Secretariat to the great Keith Waples.  It’s a place where Thoroughbreds, Standardbred, drivers, jockeys, and people who devoted their lives to this sport come together to celebrate their accomplishments. Each year some of racing’s best and most honorable join this elite club. This is the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame!

As you walk through you can feel the energy, you can hear the horse’s hooves thundering home, the crack of a driver’s whip as he hits the shaft of his bike trying to urge his horse to go. Or the muffled voice of a commentator, maybe even the clicking of keys on the typewriter or now a days a computer laptop.

Or you can imagine the screams of fans because of builders who built our sport from the ground up, turning hopes into dreams; and nothing into something. You feel as though you have been brought back in time and are walking through history. Seeing milestones crossed, champions beaten and records broke.

Last year I had the honor of attending the Canadian Hall of Fame induction dinner. This dinner is where the year’s inductees and inductees of the past come together to congratulate each other on their success, honor and accomplishments, and it gives them a chance to connect and share stories and their memories with one another.

 I had the honor of being there when my dear friend Carl Jamieson was inducted in the Standardbred Trainer/Driver category. While I was there I met many people; but I had the pleasure of meeting two people in particular that I never thought I’d meet. They were; Chris Tweedy, the son of the lady who changed the sport forever- Penny Tweedy, with the idea to syndicate her horse Secretariat, who today is still one of the greatest horses our sport has ever seen.

The other person I met was someone who I never thought I would meet in my entire life; he was none other than the one and only Ron Turcotte. We talked for several minutes. We talked about Secretariat, his success as a jockey, me and my adventures in horse racing, and my hopes and dreams.

I told him about Pinky and shared our story. Sitting and talking with him was a true honor. He is so inspirational, the passion he has for the sport whether its Standardbred or Thoroughbred is extremely memorable; and I felt so privileged to have been able to meet such a person.

The class of 2014 is an incredible group of inductees. Their impact on the sport will forever be imbedded in our history, now and long after they’re gone, their memory will continue to live on. With great pleasure and honor I now introduce to you the 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductees;   

In Thoroughbred racing:

Apelia – Female Thoroughbred Inductee

A filly owned and bred by Steve Stavro, of Knob Hill Farm was the filly trained by the Hall of Fame trainer Phil England.  She always impressed her connections; in her 24 career starts she hit the board  a total of 18 times, with 12 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds and a bankroll of $621,708 CND.

The filly was unraced at the age of two, however she was undeniably one of Canada’s dominate female sprinter, a recognition and name she earned by taking on some of the world’s best fellow sprinters, against both colts and fillies.

Because of her impressive record she has a stakes race named in her honor. This race is run annually at Woodbine Racetrack, which is fascinating because Apelia won her maiden start at Greenwood in 1993 by seven lengths.

Also joining Apelia in the Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014 is Wando:

WandoThoroughbred Inductee

A multiple stakes winner throughout his career, Wando won Canada’s Triple Crown in 2003 at the age of two, all of which he did with in open length fashion. He was only the seventh one to win Canadian Triple Crown since 1959.

Wando was retired at age four due to a slight tear in the suspensory ligament of his hind left leg. He retired with a lifetime earnings of $2,566,060 CND, and a successful racing career that saw 23 starts and included 11 wins, 2 seconds and 2 thirds.   He passed away on January 22, 2014 at the age of 14.

Along with the boys there is also a filly going in:

Cool Mood- Female Thoroughbred Inductee

Cool Mood won the 1969 Canadian Oaks. She only had 8 wins in 41 starts but that didn’t matter because her success as broodmare was *quite * the record, and here is a sampling her foals success; With Approval captured the 1989 Canadian Triple Crown and Izvestia took the 1990 Canadian Triple Crown, along with Touch Gold who won the 1997 Belmont Stakes.

Her daughters also made good broodmares too! Five of her nine daughters also produced twelve stakes winners.

The final the Thoroughbred being inducted is a legend of the sport of the sport, meet Archworth:

Archworth- Legend Horse

In 1938 Archworth was considered Canada’s top two year as he had wins in a variety of stakes races 

 In 1939 Archworth won the Queen’s Plate but, he along with connections he also had a brush with royalty. As it was the first time in Queen’s Plate history that a ruling monarch had been present.  

On this day Archworch also galloped to a 10 length victory.  

Archworth was retired at the age of five, and stood stud a William H. Wright’s farm in Barrie Ontario. The same place as where he was foaled in 1937. 

At the end of his career he had 47 starts, and hit board in 31 of those, including 15 wins and finished second or third in 16 other races, with career earnings of $31,234.

There is also a remarkable group of Standardbred horses going into the Hall of Fame this year:

Albatross- Male Horse Inductee:

At two the colt had 14 wins in 17 starts, and impressive earnings of $183,540 and a mark of 157.4.  

In the early beginning of his three season he was syndicated for 1.25 million which in 1971 was a record for a horse at that time. Then Stanley Dancer took over, Albatross won 25 out 28 starts, making $558,009. His success continued into his four year old season where he collected 20 wins in 26 starts and made earnings of $459,921.

In 1972 he was retired and re-syndicated for 2.5million.  He held records of both fastest horse, with a mark of 1:53.4 and the richest in history for his breed.

He stood at Hanover Shoe Farms and sired more than 2,640 foals. Fan Hanover was one of them; who even today is the only filly to win the coveted Little Brown Jug.

Albatross died at Hanover Shoe at in 1998, the age of 30, due to complications from heart failure and colic. During his lifetime he was also named U.S Horse of the Year in 1971 and 1972, and was buried in the cemetery at Hanover Shoe Farms.

This year at the induction dinner I had the pleasure of talking to Murray Brown who worked at Hanover Shoe Farms, and got to work with Albatross on a daily basis, here is what he had to say about Albatross:

“He was perfect horse! He was kind gentle and had no bad manners; he was just an absolute great horse,” Mr. Brown said, “He was handsome and great gaited. He could have the post 8 on a half mile [track] and still win! I was lucky to have been able to meet such a great horse!

He continues. “When Stanley Dancer approached Hanover Shoe Farms about buying Albatross and the legal ownership (of even a percentage) Stanley Dancer said ‘all that mattered was the size of his testicles.” Murray Brown recalled with a chuckle.

Some racehorses hit the track and you know that they are going to be remembered forever, and that’s exactly what our next inductee did:

Rocknroll Hanover- 2014 inductee

Rocknroll Hanover is the only horse in history to win the Metro Pace, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown. In 26 career starts Rocknroll Hanover had 15 wins, 5 seconds and 5 thirds.

 At age 11 his stud career was cut short when he had to say goodbye in March of 2013 to the sport loved, and a sport that loved him back after he suffered complications from gastric impaction.  He will always be remembered as the horse who always wanted more. His memory and legacy will always live on through his successful children and grandchildren.

Our next inductee is one that I remember watching race, her grace and elegance was eye catching and her name is...         

Dreamfair Eternal-Female Standardbred Inductee

Dreamfair Eternal, The filly by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famer father Camluck out of J Cs Nathalie who is a United States Harness racing Hall of Fame inductee and now she herself has continues that legacy.  

  On the track Dreamfair Eternal was quite the champion, she had multiple stakes wins to her name including, the Breeders Crown for older pacing mare in 2010, and wins in the Roses are Red in both 2009 and 2011; as well as a number of other stakes races in 2010 and 2011, and the Artiscape in 2011 and 2012.

Along the way she also set four records along the way including a world record on a half mile track; which she took at Flamboro Downs which was 1:51.4.

Her career best was 1:49 at Tioga Downs it came on her eighth and final year on the track.

Her career also saw 140 trips behind the gate, 56 of those resulting in trips to the Winner’s Circle, 18 seconds, and 13 thirds.  

But as a youngster she was quite the handful. She made dirty breaks, and top drivers didn’t really want to steer her.  But that didn’t deter her owner and breeder. He knew that she was special. But at the age of four John Lamers made the tough decision to put her in a mixed sale with a reserved bid of $85,000, when that price was not met he brought his mare back home and that resulted in the Dreamfair Eternal we know today.

The wonderful horses that we have already mentioned would not have gotten where they are today if it wasn’t for the humans that trained, drove or rode them. So meet the 2014 Hall of Fame trainer, driver and jockey inductees:

Horatio Luro- Thoroughbred Trainer

Horatio Luro, moved to the United States in 1937 from Argentina, with him he brought four race thoroughbred horses which he later grew into a stable.

He was a good horsemen, he was fair with his exercise riders, jockeys and other people he worked with, and always took their opinions into consideration when training his horses.

Luro was a three time Queen’s Plate winner; he was also the first to ship a horse from United States to Canada to compete in the Long Branch Championship; which today is known as the Canadian Championship. That is when his connection for Canadian racing began. 

He trained the great Northern Dancer. Luro also trained both of Northern Dancer’s parents, and this colt took him on the trip of a lifetime, when he won the Kentucky Derby in record time, followed by a win in the Preakness and finishing third in the Belmont.

Horatio Luro died in 1991 but among the many things he will be remembered for, he will always be remembered as a trainer that believed in his horses and a true gentlemen.

Robert Landry-2014 Jockey

Robert Landry was one of Canada’s top riders he had career that spanned 30 years. He captured his first lifetime win at the age of 19 aboard Hammy Hubert at Fort Erie Racetrack on June 21st 1981. That would be the first of many trips to Winner’s Circle for Landry, the first of 2,045 trips to the Winner’s Circle to be exact With 167 of those wins being stakes races; he first stakes win came in 1982 when he rode La Salle Park in the Fair Play Stakes.

 His career exploded in 1992 when he won 102 races; this would also be the first of seven years that he would win 100 or more races. His best years were in 1993 where he won 176 races; and 1994 where he won 178 races. And because of those two very impressive years he was also a Sovereign Awards in both years.   

It wasn’t easy getting those mounts; it took lot patience, dedication, and determination, but Landry had plenty of all three and he was strong-willed and wanted to succeed.  Along the way he suffered from serious injuries including breaking his back on two separate occasions.

He made the decision to retire in 2011. His last stakes win which would also be his last career came on August 8th, 2014 aboard Rahys Attorney in the Approval stakes.

Even though he might have retired from riding, he is still doing what loves, and that is working with horses as Chiefswood Stables General Manager.

I had a chance to sit down with Robert Landry and reflect on his career with him; here is what he had to say:

“Being inducted was the ultimate! I have been lucky enough to do what I love to do. I have had the opportunity to ride so many great horses and win so many great races.”

Then I asked him, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?”

He smiled, thought about and then said “My greatest accomplishment would have to be being so fortunate and always trying my best and being able to promote the sport as much I as I been able to.

Wally Hennessy- Trainer/ Driver

Wally Hennessy was born and raised on Prince Edward Island and saw most of his success come in the United States. His career is quite impressive; he has 8,500 wins and has $58,000 000 (million) in purse earnings. Each year for the past 25 he has won more than 200 races and banked more 1, 000,000 in purses; he has had the opportunity to drive in major races all across the globe. In 2005 he drove Driven To Win in the 46th edition of the coveted Gold Cup and Saucer.

I have actually had the opportunity to meet Wally Hennessey in person. It was at Legend’s Day at Clinton Raceway in 2011. On that afternoon I talked to him and he signed my keepsake poster along with the other legends who had signed it. My parents and I were watching the races, and after the featured ‘Legend’s Day Invitational Trot’ they called all of the drivers for a group photo, and Hennessy was walking back from doing an interview when he heard the announcement.

He stopped in front of us on the opposite side of the fence. He said hello and we exchanged pleasantries; then he placed his helmet and gloves on the ground and asked if we could watch his belongings while he went for the picture. I agreed delightedly (after all it was Wally Hennessy) so when he returned to collect his possessions we continued chatting and then he took his gloves out of his helmet and passed them to me.

“Here you go.” I was in a state of pure amazement as he passed me his royal blue driving gloves. “Thank you” is all I could say. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. He winked and said “you’re welcome.”

And I knew my mom had a sharpie marker in our bag we had brought, and so before he walked away. I said “Mr. Hennessy before you go can you please sign these before you go? As I had handed him back the gloves he had just given me. He nodded and smiled and he pasted the gloves back to me, and then he was off.

I wore the gloves for the rest of the day and I wore them with such pride. When I slipped them on, they felt like they were magical, they gave my hands this tingly sensation, this aura of honor, the things their previous owner had accomplished were only dreams of mine.  When I got home I put them in my mom’s china cabinet so they wouldn’t get damaged or lost.

I sat down with Wally Hennessy at the induction ceremony and chatted with him and reminisce about his career and here is what we talked about:

“Mr. Hennessy is there one horse that you have driven that you will always remember that special horse to you?”

He smiled and said “as a matter of fact there is.” The horse that I will always remember would have to be Moni Maker. It defined my career as a driver, and she sent me on a ride of a lifetime! You just can’t compare something like her to anything else. “

“What does being inducted to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame mean to you?”

“Being inducted to the Hall of Fame means everything to me. It is overwhelming and very humbling. I didn’t get to where I was by myself, I am very grateful for the support my family has given me. I am very fortunate for the longevity and consistency of my career and I am very lucky that I have not had setbacks in the sport that have hindered me from doing what I love - driving”

Our sport wouldn’t be without the fans and enthusiasts, and if it wasn’t for our builders we would not have a facility to race at or a place where fans can come to watch the races. And without our communicators those fans would never have known about the sport of horse racing so without a further ado I would like to introduce you to the 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame builders and communicators:

Dr. Ted ClarkStandardbred Builder:

A veterinarian by profession Dr. Clark is now the General Manager of the racetrack he helped to build. He gave up his practice in 2002 in order to devote his life to the sport of standardbred.

 He has a deep passion for what he does. He’s dedicated and wants his costumers and horsemen to both be happy while at Grand River Raceway. During the construction process he taught himself how to read blueprints so he would know what the contractors were talking about.

One night at Grand River I had the humbling opportunity to sit one on one with Dr. Clark and I asked him about his induction, here is what he had to say:

“Being inducted is a surprise, and it’s not just me that made things possible for me do the things I am being recognized for milestones many people made possible. I have fortunate to have able to apart of many great times in racing, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been apart and I appreciate all of them because they have helped me get to where I am today.”

Grand River is a family affair for Dr. Clark and his daughter Carrie who also works there as the equipment judge and I asked her about what her dad’s induction meant to her and her family, here is what she had to say:

“It was a once in a lifetime thing, and it was so great to see him be recognized for all the things he has done and continues to do he helped both our track and our industry rebuild and find a way to survive: to reinvent the Industry. So by definition and practice, he has been, and continues to be a builder. Builders are survivors. he just keeps going. It means so much that his work has not gone unnoticed. As a family, we are very proud of him.”

Without Dr. Clark racing for me personally because during the summer I race my horse Sydney “Pinky” Seelster at Grand River Raceway, it is such a nice place to race. It is perfectly set up for both the patrons and horsemen. 

Robert Murphy- Standardbred Builder           

An O’Brien Award nominee in 2006 for Canada’s Breeder of the Year, built and owned a Serta mattress manufacturing plant along with a couple other businesses and manufacturing plants.

Over more than 30 years Robert Murphy owned more 400 horses, either in part with other owners or by himself and together they made other $100 million. In 2007 Robert Murphy owned more Standardbred horses than anyone in Canada.

He said goodbye to the sport he helped build and strengthen in February 2010 when he died at the age of 77.

William “Bill” D. GrahamThoroughbred Builder

William “Bill” Graham is the owner of Windhaven Farms in Caledon Ontario. He also helped to build Woodbine Racetrack’s E.P Taylor Turf Course.

The horses he bred, were bred to be champions. The fillies that were bred at Windhaven were no less than impressive. In last 40 years there has rarely been a race for fillies or mares that hasn’t been won by a Windhaven bred.  They also have multiple Sovereign Award winning fillies to their credit.

Graham himself is a Sovereign Award winner. In 2012 he was a Sovereign Award as a Canadian Outstanding Breeder.  He is also a member of the Brampton (Ontario, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame, Vice- President of (H.B.P.A), director of (C.T.H.S), a steward of the Jockey Club of Canada, a commissioner of the Ontario Racing Commission (O.R.C), a member of Woodbine Racetrack’s Board of Directors and now a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Arthur (Art) W. Stollery - Thoroughbred Builder

Arthur W. Stollery served in World War II as a flying officer; after returning home ran Angus Glen Farm.  He took developed broodmares from Canada, the United States, and South America and bred them to top Canadian stallions.

His successful ran for more than two decades. It included many multiple stakes winners, and a few were even award winners.

He died in 1994 at the age of 80.

E. King Dodds - Standardbred Legend and Communicator

Edmund King Dodds, who went by E., founded the Canadian Sportsman, a magazine that covered everything sports (including horse racing) and later the publication switched its focus to strictly horse racing. The Canadian Sportsmen was published for 143 years, and recently stopped publication, so his induction came at the perfect time.    

He lost his sight completely and still managed to write for his publication for 5 years and was fully able to publish a book on horse racing. His book included his experiences that he witnessed through the years and even included stories as early as the 1840’s and at the time it was published it was welcomed and praised as “one of the first and best serious attempts to record sports history.”    

Our next and final inductee is a gentleman I had the pleasure of keeping in contact with since his induction. We have met at the races a few times and shared a countless amount of stories. It is with true pleasure and honor I introduce to my good friend Bill Galvin;

William (Bill) Galvin - Standardbred Communicator

Bill Galvin has seen and done pretty much everything thing there is to see in harness racing. He is a lifelong enthusiast of the sport and has devoted his life. He always had a love for horses. He groomed horses as a teenager, then he went to University of Detroit for English, and there he began tell people about harness racing.  

He brought the sport of Racing Under Saddle (R.U.S) to Canada, and applied to have it has a wagering event and was turned down back in the 80’s. He organized a day of ice racing on the Rideau* Connell in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada); an event where Standardbred horses raced over the frozen Connell. On this day 4,000 spectators gathered to witness this event, including the Prime Minister of Canada; on this momentous occasion a very large storm came about as Galvin recalled.

The list accomplishments and things this remarkable gentleman has done are endless. He has worked with the Horseman’s Chaplaincy at Woodbine for many years, and was recently appointed to the Standardbred Chaplaincy Board of Directors; and now he can add a 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee

When I asked him what his greatest accomplishment was he paused and thought about it for a moment and said;

“My greatest accomplishment would have to be the fundraiser I started for the Race Against M.S. I have been so fortunate to do what I love”, he added with a smile.”

Here you have it, your 2014 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductees! If you want to learn more about them or more about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame or want to learn about this year’s inductees, or inductees of the past; please visit:

http://www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com/

Thank you to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for giving me this opportunity, thank you for letting me use your resources. Thank you to all the people who have helped me make this story possible, from my fellow writers who gave me expert advice when I needed it, to the inductees who took the time to sit down and answer my questions, to my editor for all of his patience, I really appreciate it.  

And to Linda Rainy and Andrea Magee, and everyone else at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame thank you for letting me be a part of your special event, and creating so many memories that I will never forget! 

Sydney Weaver is 14 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, co-owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

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