Day At The Track

On The Rail with Sydney Weaver

06:36 AM 26 Aug 2015 NZST
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Art Zubrod and myself at the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Induction Dinner this year
Garnet Barnsdale Photo
Armstrong Brothers trophy case at Mohawk Raceway
Lisa Weaver Photo
William (Bill) Galvin and myself at Mohawk Raceway
Lisa Weaver Photo

Canadian Hall of Fame induction memories

Every year some of Canada’s most influential horses and people get inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. These people help to shape horse racing in Canada today, and the mark they made on the industry is indelible.

Every time I walk through the Hall of Fame I take a moment to think about how horse racing would be different if these great people and horses had not accomplished all that they had.

This time of year brings back numerous memories filled with smiles, laughter, and meeting some of horse racing’s greats.  I have had the honor of attending a couple of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame induction dinners, and how much it meant to me to be a part of such a special occasion.

I think of all the wonderful people who I have been fortunate to meet attending the Hall of Fame dinner, and I remember the honor I felt when the inductees took the time to talk to me and recount some of their experiences. I still see their smiles filled with genuine joy as they accept their induction memento in my mind.

I always look forward to going to the induction dinner, it is always a delightful night filled with celebration.

I always meet new friends at the induction dinner. Last year I met William (Bill) Galvin who was inducted into the Communicator category, and we had the opportunity to reminiscence about horse racing and writing and he told me how many years ago he started Racing Under Saddle (R.U.S) in Canada. Since that night we have kept in touch through email, and often see each other at the races. 

I still remember going to my first Hall of Fame induction dinner. It was in 2013 and my good friend Carl Jamieson was getting inducted into the Trainer/Driver category. It meant a lot for me to be there that night, and to celebrate with him and his family. 

My dad used Carl as a catch driver when Carl moved to Ontario. I have become good friends with him and his family, not only do I consider him a friend, he is a friend I look up to as I am an aspiring trainer.

Last year I was in attendance when Dr. Ted Clark was inducted into the builder category for his contributions to the industry of harness racing, and his part in the construction of Grand River Raceway. His induction was special to me because I have seen his dedication to Grand River first hand. I was happy to see all of his hard work and dedication being recognized.

 I often attend Grand River to watch some races, and he and his team do an incredible job of promoting the sport of harness racing. I always looked forward to racing Pinky there too! The backstretch is just as good as the grandstand. He truly lives up to the builder category for all he has done.

It must be hard to select who is inducted each year as there are so many deserving people and horses. All who impacted horse racing in Canada for the better and impacted the sport forever.  I always look forward to the time when the inductees for the year are announced because the curiosity of who will forever be immortalized within Canadian horse racing disappears.

 Inducted into the Hall of Fame this year there was an inductee I am happy to see, and that is Artsplace. Artsplace is Sydney Seelster (Pinky)’s maternal grandsire.

I had the opportunity to talk with Art Zubrod, who was the owner and breeder of the great Artsplace. He told me about Artsplace, and how he loved to be the center of attention, and how Artsplace loved the camera. I told him how Pinky has those same traits!

 With Artsplace being inducted, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame has become like a family affair for Pinky, because her sire-Camluck was inducted in 2003.  To add to that family affair, Cam Fella was inducted in 1986. So, that means both of Pinky’s grandsires and her sire are in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

All these family ties to the Hall of Fame make me wonder if one day Pinky or her foals will join her family and have their own place in the Hall of Fame!   

I always learn a great deal about Canadian Horse racing when I attend an induction dinner. There is so much history to be taken in.

Many years ago my dad took a horse named Ambro Cruiser on the road to race in a stakes series. I always like it when my dad recounts memories about being on the road with Cruiser.  So this year, when it was announced that H. Charles (Charlie) Armstrong was being inducted, I was glad because I have firsthand knowledge of their great horses.

H. Charles Armstrong was inducted into the Builders category. He helped to make Ambro Farms a legacy in harness racing. He joins six Ambro Farms racing talents; Ambro Flight (1976), Ambro Nesbit (1977),   Armbro Omaha (2005), Armbro Emerson and Ambro Feather who were both inducted in 2006. They were successful together, and will forever be celebrated together in the Hall of Fame!

I have been to Winbak Farms in Ontario, which was formally Ambro Farms. So although it is no longer Armbro Farms, their success helped to start another successful breeding farm.

Armbro Farms success is well noted. When you enter Mohawk Racetrack there is a tall wooden framed glass trophy case, and within the case is a trophy from every race in North America! At the very top in solid block letters ‘ARMSTRONG  BROS. COLLECTION’. Every trophy within that case was won by a horse Armstrong Bros. owned.

Every year around the Triple Crown, I think back to the night I met Hall of Fame jockey Ron Turcotte. I had the unforgettable opportunity to talk with him. He is one person I never thought I would meet. We talked about horse racing both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. I talked about Pinky and he told me about Secretariat. He was very interesting and very knowledgeable. I will always remember meeting him.

Roger Laurin was the 2015 Thoroughbred Trainer. He grew up in the business, his farther, Lucien, is also an accomplished trainer. Lucien was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978. Roger decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and will join him in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. 

James Bannon is the voice of the Hall of Fame and this year he joined all the people he has introduced over the years as he became an inductee himself. He was inducted in as a Communicator.

Once a Hall of Fame inductee, you do not just get a ring and a place on a wall. For the owner of a Hall of Fame horse, it’s not just a trophy and their horse’s name forever on a wall, but it is the everlasting honor and a place in history that goes with being an inductee. 

Every time a horse with a Hall of Fame blood crosses the finish line, the legacy of that Hall of Fame inductee lives on! Every time a story about horse racing is published, the legacy of Hall of Fame communicators is remembered because each and every one of them helped to promote the sport with their writing talents, and made future stories possible.

Each time a jockey mounts a horse, past jockeys are their giving them the strength to ride faster than they did. Each time a driver leans back in there sulky, past drivers are there whispering in their ear, encouraging them to reach for the milestones and drive to break records.

Each time a racetrack turns their lights on at the start of a night’s card, a builder is quietly thanked; because without the builder that small action that brings joy to so many would not have been possible.

I would like to thank all the people who make horse racing what it is today, for all of your hard work, and devotion to the sport of horse racing. I would also like to extend a thank you to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame for all that they do,   preserving our industry, and inspiring the dream of becoming a Hall of Fame inductee. Thank you for creating so many special memories for me that will last a lifetime.

Sydney Weaver is 15 years old and resides in Acton, Ontario, Canada. She has been involved with harness racing for years, grooms horses, jogs them on the track, owns a racehorse and has already won major youth writing awards. Sydney also has Cerebral Palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, but has never let her disability hold her back from achieving her goals.

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