Fan Club Promotions
Contests & Winners!
Fan Club Honours MacDonald
The I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club recognized trainer/driver Anthony MacDonald of Guelph, Ont. as the Fan Club’s 2016 Ambassador of the Year in a winner's circle presentation at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday night (April 22).
Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada, made the Ambassador of the Year presentation to MacDonald following the second race on Saturday.
The Fan Club ambassador is an individual within the industry who has made a significant contribution to the sport and inspires other to get involved. MacDonald is founder of the award-winning fractional ownership program The Stable. The program simplifies buying and owning a horse with the ultimate goal of helping to promote horse ownership and harness racing. With more than 241 owners spread over three continents and six countries, The Stable is easily one of the fastest growing ventures in North American horse racing.
In addition to The Stable, MacDonald is also known as a prominent and successful harness racing trainer and driver with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Since 2010, he has twice placed among the top 10 drivers in Canada for purse earnings. He has been a regular blogger for Standardbred Canada’s website and was recently honoured by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association with its 2016 Lloyd Chisholm Achievement Award. MacDonald continues to generate awareness and interest in the sport and dedicate his free time to ensure that harness racing succeeds across the country.
Standardbred Canada, the I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club and Mohawk Racetrack would like to congratulate MacDonald on being named the Fan Club’s 2016 Ambassador of the Year!
Charamonte Wins 250 Contest
The 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada is a significant milestone that our industry has the opportunity to celebrate.
The Fan Club received several submissions with many great ideas to celebrate this occasion and they will be passed along to racetracks and associations across the country providing inspiration when planning their 250 events.
After much consideration, the judges selected Frank Charamonte of Stouffville, Ont., as the winner for his idea to bring harness racing back to the fairs where harness racing once lived.
Here is Frank’s submission:
To celebrate 250 years I would bring "fair racing" back to the fall fairs in Ontario that have a venue for harness racing, organizing a one or two-day meet during their fair. Some examples could include the Markham Fairgrounds and Port Perry Fairgrounds. Today, both sit empty during fair season since harness racing at fairs was taken away. Bringing it back and showcasing the product and history to new families and young children to teach them about the history of the sport could possibly get them involved someday as drivers, trainers or grooms. I remember as a young child sitting in the stands at those fairgrounds and the look of "awe" on my face as I watched the horses come charging down the stretch. The I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club could also be at the fairs to promote racing and talk about its history to a new crop of people who haven’t experienced it before. Pari-mutuel wagering could be offered, drivers and trainers could interact with the fans, horses could be jogged during breaks and tours of the backstretch could be offered. Bringing back racing to its roots could give it life once again in 2017 and would celebrate the 250th anniversary of horse racing in Canada.
Frank has been involved with harness racing since he was a young boy, going with his father to Greenwood Raceway where he worked as a mutuel teller. Years later Frank followed in his father’s footsteps also getting a job at Greenwood in the late 80’s and early 90’s and he’s been hooked ever since.
“I have always loved the sounds and excitement that the racetrack would bring, from the smell of the food at the concessions to the horses pounding their way down the stretch and the people cheering on their horses.”
Although Greenwood no longer exists, Frank still has many memories that he will keep with him for a lifetime.
“Back in the day at Greenwood I would love watching a horse called Shady Hill Pride race, this horse would always get away at the back of the field and would be more or less last by the 3/4 pole, but then all of the sudden the driver would tip this amazing horse to the outside and like a train he would get into another gear and unleash an amazing amount of speed to win the race from last to first more often than not.”
This summer Charamonte will travel with his wife to enjoy live harness racing at Georgian Downs, Hanover, Clinton and Grand River Raceway.
For winning Frank will receive a swag package of Fan Club and 250 merchandise and a $50 gift certificate to Woodbine Racetrack, the Canadian harness racetrack of his choice.
The Fan Club would like to thank everyone who submitted their ideas and suggestions. We have created a list with the best ideas and will be sharing them with racetracks and associations across the country to give them inspiration for The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame's 250 miles for 250 years initiative.
Meet Our April Calendar Photographer: Mary Leeson
Mary Leeson of Cambridge, Ont., has been involved off and on in harness racing throughout her life and managed to capture this striking image featured as the April photo in the I Love Canadian Harness Racing's Fan Club's Heart of Harness Racing Calendar. The photo is of her trotting filly Jayport Rosita as her most recent participation in the sport is as a new owner.
“It’s very easy to take great shots such as this one of Jayport Rosita since the camera seems to love her,” says Leeson. “She was turned out at Neil Gibbons’ farm when I got this particular shot and I called her name and she stopped to "pose" for lack of a better word!”
Leeson recently retired from office work but spent the majority of her younger working years as a Standardbred groom. She worked for multiple Canadian trainers -- the late Bill Wellwood being the first. She spent many years (after learning the trade here in Ontario) working for Clint Galbraith who was based in New York doing the Grand Circuit in the summers and Florida during the winters.
Mary jogging two-year-old Speedy Crown filly Anthem Hill at Ben White Training Center in Orlando when she worked for Clint Galbraith "back in the day"
“It was a lifestyle that gets in your blood and never fades which was why I was so thrilled to get the opportunity to get in on the SBOA’s New Owners Group with Bill O'Donnell as our mentor. Does it get any better than having a dual country Hall of Famer as your mentor? I think not! The group of nine new owners are great and it has been a positive experience all round!”
Leeson has been the photographer for the SBOA group, known as the Magic Man Stable, snapping shots of Jayport Rosita as much as she can. “Unfortunately some of our owners live too far away to come and see 'Rosie" as much as they would like,” she explains, “hopefully my photos help them see her progress even if they cannot be there in person. In the past I have exhibited my photography (not of horses) and have been fortunate enough to have sold my work in local art galleries.”
Left: Mary and Jayport Rosita as a two-year-old at Classy Lane.
Right: Jayport Rosita training at Mohawk with Matt Bax prepping for her qualifier.
2017 Calendar Photographers
January Calendar Photographer - Trish Dooling
February Calendar Photographer - Evelyn Sabraw
March Calendar Photographer - Kyle Burton