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SC Rewind: Rothmans Stakes (1/2)

Published: January 14, 2017 8:41 am ET

Last Comment: January 17, 2017 9:43 am ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith recalls the Rothmans Stakes from July 1985 held at Toronto's Greenwood Raceway. Many of the top three-year-old pacers of that season put on two exciting nights of racing in order to crown a "King" and a "Queen" of this once popular series. This is the first of a two-part series; the second night's action will be covered in an upcoming Rewind.

Opening Night Stars Of Rothmans Ontario Week of Racing



The cover of the July 25, 1985 edition of The Standardbred featured four of the eight winning efforts in the once-popular Rothmans Stake series held at Greenwood on July 22. In case anyone has forgotten Rothmans was a brand of cigarettes very popular back then. A crowd of 8,612 were on hand to take in the action; yes back then they counted the number of people in attendance and made it public. The pari-mutuel handle was $1,444,722.

Top left - Driver Wm. McElroy steers Village Secretary to victory in the three-year-old filly division in 1:59.1. He was also a co-owner along with three others who formed the Border Crossing Stable. Above The Crowd and driver Terry Kerr are shown finishing second; Expensive Evening was third. McElroy stated that he had a serious interest in this filly when she sold as a yearling for $17,000 but did not buy her. After racing in the John Hayes stable at two she was again offered at auction and was purchased for $10,500 by the current owners. At this point her earnings for 1985 were at about $50,000 indicating that the strategy of waiting paid off.

Top right - Bold Talent, a grey son of Smog, wins the second colts and geldings division with Ron Henderson in the bike for trainer Bob McIntosh who shared ownership with the Warner Stable of Alvinston. The pair were seriously challenged in the lane by Kesons Beau and driver Lyle McArthur, who actually overtook the leader at one point but faded a bit to finish third with Noble Talent second for Trevor Ritchie. Time was 1:57.1.

Bottom left - H F Alice, owned and bred by Bill Fleming of Clinton and handled by Ray McLean, captured another filly division for a purse of $28,505. The daughter of Tarport Count trained by George "Butch" Elliott was timed in 1:59.3 with second spot going to Spring Filly (Jerry Duford) and third was Frantic City (Don McElroy). This performance was not exactly unexpected as this filly set a Canadian record just a week earlier as she toured the Flamboro half-miler in 1:57.2.

Bottom right - Jambo Maker, on the inside with driver Steve Condren and obscured by Wilcos Comet (Ron Henderson) turns in a mile in 1:56.1 to win the three-year-old colt division. Both colts came into the night's action sporting red-hot winning credentials. Jambo Maker had won 11 of 14 seasons starts while Wilcos Comet had just captured a two-heat victory at Rideau in the Governor's Cup. The result of the race was in doubt even after the finish as the judges carefully studied the finish. Condren was so certain of the outcome that he suggested to Henderson that he should head back to the winner's circle, but even he was proven wrong by the photo finish camera. The final part of the race was described as "one of the most thrilling stretch battles in recent Greenwood history."


​Jambo Maker and driver Steve Condren were winners on the opening night of Ontario week at Greenwood in a sparkling 1:56.1. The owner of this top sophomore pacer was David Harrington of Hamilton. This photo was taken in a previous start.

In the other four divisions the results were as follows:

Colts and Geldings - Armbro Dryden, recently purchased for $75,000, earned back a nice bit of change winning for the White Whale Stable and driver Harold Stead in 1:57.4 with Fish (Doug Brown) taking second and Responded third. In the other division, Twin B Playboy and driver Doug Brown defeated a field shortened by a couple of scratches. Second went to Armbro Dick and Steve Condren with CW Weir taking third with Gord Rayner in the bike. This race went a much slower 1:59.2.


​Driver Harold Stead takes a glance back at the competition as Armbro Dryden reaches the wire a winner in the colts and geldings division of the Rothmans Stake.

Fillies - The winners were Off Colour driven by Terry Kerr with Emerald Chip second for Paul Walker and third place finisher was Kamilla Seelster (Murray Brethour) in a time of 2:01.2. In the other race for the three-year-old misses the victor was Armbro Delight taking a new lifetime best of 1:59.4 for driver Norm McKnight Jr. and trainer John Burns. The winning owners were John Burns Stable and Helen Southgate. Second spot went to Majors Choice (Wm. Wellwood) and third belonged to Gloria Skipper.

A total of 39 fillies made appearances on opening night; many were impressive with the odds makers feeling that HF Alice was the one to beat in the championship round.



​Off Colour driven by Terry Kerr slips between horses to take one heat of the fillies division. Finishing second for Paul Walker is Emerald Chip (4).

About a week later on the evening of July 28th, the finals of this series were held at Greenwood as well. Eliminations in each division were followed by the finals which produced some rather interesting results. A number of owners were faced with the decision to supplement their entries for the final at a cost of $10,000 as some had not been kept paid up.

The Finals were held on the following Saturday. The outcome of that evening's races will be reported in an upcoming Rewind.

January 17, 2017 - 9:43 amI remember Rothmans holding a

Garth Gordon SAID...

I remember Rothmans holding a golf tournament at the Burlington Springs golf course in the 80s. They did that for a few years. I remember playing in a foursome with Charlie Armstrong one year. Nice to see the big crowds back then and a pretty good bet too.

January 14, 2017 - 6:04 pmRothmans had a draw for a

Rothmans had a draw for a yearling or some cash and named the colt Rothman. A man in Toronto won and took the horse. He quit his job and sent the horse with Stew Firlotte to Ben White Raceway in Orlando. The man worked with us for Stew that winter down in Florida. He should have took the cash because the horse didn't amount to much !!!

P.S. Good article Robert, can't wait for the 2nd installment.


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