Day At The Track

Frank Salive's memories of Sudbury Downs

12:24 AM 24 Nov 2012 NZDT
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May I please ask to have my voice included in those offering memories of Sudbury Downs if indeed, Saturday evening witnesses the final live harness racing program in track history. This would be a very sad, tragic, and unnecessary development if it transpires due to the changes to gaming in Ontario everyone is now well aware of.

Personally, it is highly unlikely I would have enjoyed the career I had in Ontario harness racing if it were not for the chance Pat MacIsaac and Ken LeDrew generously took on me in the mid-1970's. They allowed me to learn the track announcer function while I was a struggling young reporter/announcer at what was then CKSO radio and TV in Sudbury. These career foundation experiences were directly responsible for the next move in my career in the late 1970's to CBC Windsor and the now defunct Windsor Raceway. It is also hard to believe for those in my generation to accept that Windsor Raceway has also become a page in Ontario racing history.

Here is my own trip down memory lane from Sudbury Downs. Topping the list was the privilege to announce the track's first $50,000 race in history when the Ontario Sires Stakes attracted legends such as Bill Wellwood and Jack Kopas to town with 2 year old colt pacers Scott's Wonder and Alberton. Other top Sudbury performers of that era were Jim Vollett's Peblo Khan, and in the $1,000 purse weekly feature Darrell Munro's good mare Flying Baroness always held her own against the boys. Ken LeDrew's memory banks will also have vivid memories of stalwart SD performers of that era such as Jimmy The Butler, Cedar Crest Champ, Siouxland Star and Lincoln's Laddie. I also had the privilege to conduct trackside interviews and make trophy presentations with George Hawke after an outstanding season for Montego Jeremiah and with the then youthful top local young gun in the bike, Mike Noble.

At present, I am on a winter sabbatical holiday in Tobago and I had hoped to return to Ontario and Canada in 2013, although it is very unclear as to whether there will be many harness tracks left to come home to. I understand as a non-resident of Canada at this time I may not have standing to say so, but shame on the government of the day for gutting an industry which was the envy of the world. I heard that often from all manner of visitors from outside Ontario during the 15 year tenure I had the privilege to enjoy at the (former) Greenwood, Woodbine, and Mohawk circuit.

In closing, I full intend to be watching online on Saturday night, although, like so many in Ontario, it will be with a very heavy heart if it is indeed the final program in history for Sudbury Downs.

Frank Salive

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