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SC Rewind: Remembering 1967

Published: December 9, 2017 10:40 am ET

Last Comment: December 13, 2017 1:23 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith takes a look back 50 years ago to Canada's Centennial Year of 1967. As 2017 -- the year of our Country's 150th anniversary -- gets closer to an end, he offers readers another reminder of the events, people and other happenings as he did back in July of this year. The
topics in today's piece were not a part of the July offering.

As a reminiscence of 50 years ago I have chosen at random several different short stories and a few old photos to recall the year of 1967 which somehow seems not so long ago. My recollections cover both Canadian and U.S. topics.

Windsor's Second Provincial Cup

By the year 1967, the sport was blessed with one of the most famous and exciting horses of that era. Cardigan Bay, a wonder horse from New Zealand, infused new life into the sport in both Canada and the U.S. Racing for one of the top stables in the business -- that of Stanley Dancer -- Cardigan Bay made his first visit to Canada a memorable one.

On March 8, 1967 Cardigan Bay electrified a Windsor audience of 8,434 wildly cheering fans [including this then much younger writer]. Despite the 36 degree temperature, the "Down Under" horse turned in a mile in 2:01 and turned back his seven opponents. The track was so full and congested that night that cars were turned away. The official crowd of 8,434 was understated as hundreds more jumped the fences and parked on area roadways. Some who made the trip from a distance never got to see the race.

Left: Cardigan Bay and Stanley Dancer. Right: Hugh Wemp (L) of Centreville was Belleville's leading driver and received a trophy from local lawyer and supporter Robert Temple

Belleville Holds Social Evening At End of 1967 Season

The Quinte Driving and Riding Club had another successful year in 1967. A total of 17 nights were scheduled with two dates cancelled due to heavy rains. The wagering total was just over $199,000 -- a sizable increase over any previous year but racing officials were disappointed at the crowds based on the population of Belleville and area. President Gerald Vance was credited with doing a fine job leading the management of the track but indicated he would not be standing for re-election. He did however pledge his assistance for the incoming executive.

Several awards were handed out with Hugh Wemp getting the points trophy, while leading percentage driver was James Cochrane of Colborne. Leo Law, handled locally by Don Heath, was horse of the year and owners Cliff Howie and George Thomas of Belleville received a cooler as their award. Driver Al Vance received the O'Keefe Brewing Co. trophy for achieving the meeting's fastest mile which was 2:09 with Campbell Chief, an indication of just how well the track was maintained. Purses were higher than ever before with the total on some nights reaching $1,400 for a nine-race card. The Black Diamond Cheese Stake held during the annual fair was a highlight of the 1967 season and was won by Tip Cee Chief.

C.S.H.S. Has First $100,000 Plus Sale

Horseman Ken Galbraith, originally from Tara Ont., appears with the crack trotting colt Bradley Song. As a yearling this son of Dick Song out of the producing mare Nancy Van topped the annual C.S.H.S sale and helped raise the overall total past the $100,000 mark for the first time ever. The top bidder at $5,200 was Toronto sportsman Bruce Smith, owner of Galleon Stables who owned the colt's full brother Danny Song A., an aged trotting star for many seasons.

​The sale, which was held at the CNE Centre on November 22 and 23, saw a total of 204 horses of all descriptions go through the auction. The final total was $100,225 which meant an average of $491 -- well below the previous year. Sales manager Wm. McDonnell said, "I was personally hoping to see us top that $100,000 plateau and we did; just barely though."

Unlike some sale toppers Bradley Song soon lived up to his expectations. In 1968 his season started on August 10 with a third place finish in a qualifier at Greenwood and proceeded through to the end of September. His two-year-old campaign consisted of a total of just six starts but they were productive ones. He won four races and finished second in the other two. His biggest triumph came in September when he captured The Supertest Stake which carried a very attractive purse of $10,965. At season's end, he had banked a whopping $20,439 which was almost unheard of at that time. Returns such as this gave new hope to everyone in the sport.

Dexter Cup Harness Racing's All Time Richest Race

In October of 1967 history was made when Flamboyant (1) with Bill Haughton at the reins won the $183,465 Dexter Cup by a half length over Halifax Hanover (7) owned by Armstrong Bros. The scene of the world's richest harness race was Roosevelt Raceway in Long Island, New York. The mile time of 2:04 3/5 seems slow by today's standards but 50 years ago it was very appropriate. The record for the Dexter at that time was 2:03 3/5 set by Armbro Flight and Joe O'Brien in 1965. It was quite a year for Haughton at Roosevelt as he also won the Messenger Stakes, Realization Trot and Commodore Pace. (Hoof Beats)

As a matter of comparison other top paying races that year were as follows with their respective purse in brackets. The Hambletonian ($122,650), Little Brown Jug ($84,788), Centennial Pace held at Blue Bonnets ($50,000), Canadian Pacing Derby at Greenwood ($18,900).

Assinaboia Downs Has Successful Season

Buddy Brae with Wilbur Thompson takes a close decision on the outside of Brisac Champ and Ray Remmen in a rapid 2:05 mile.

Centennial year was a banner year for Winnipeg's huge 13/16 mile oval, living up to its claim of "the fastest track in the west." The records showed that no less than 123 miles in better than 2:10 entered the books. Leading the way in nearly all categories was the splendid pacing son of Champ Adios, Brisac Champ. Owned by Art Hunter of Hanley, Sask. and driven here by his 22-year-old grandson Ray Remmen, Brisac Champ accumulated $4,182.50 from the Downs' coffers with repeated wins in both Stakes and Invitational events. Most of his miles were around 2:04 with a best clocking of 2:03.2 which was just a fifth of a second off the track record set the previous year.

The young Remmen had another stalwart performer in Sure Win, a two-year-old who dominated in a special series for first year performers. This horse was the property of Ivar Remmen, father of Ray, Larry and Gord and was described by writer Gary Wilmot as "as nice a two-year-old pacer as has been seen in the west in many a year."

At the meeting's conclusion Ontario invader George Hawke was presented with a beautifully engraved Gruen watch for his top percentage driving performance. In the dash winning race another popular Ontario resident, Bert Madill dead-heated with Ed "Eggs" Oliver, each with 26 red ribbons during the meeting. Felt hats were given out for "Hat Tricks" (three wins on a card) and reportedly Bert had quite a load of them to bring back to Ontario.

Blue Bonnets Joins Grand Circuit

Grand Circuit President Delvin Miller reported at their annual meeting that the Blue Bonnets track will join the Circuit for the first time. While their schedule was
tentative at that time, the dates assigned were for October 26 to November 1. This would be the only activity scheduled at a Canadian track.

Canadian representatives Michael MacCormac (left) and George Giguere were on hand to represent Canadian viewpoints and are shown here in discussions about Grand Circuit racing at Blue Bonnets. (Hoof Beats)

Elmira Raceway Plans Night Racing for 1968

A number of horses are in training at Elmira as shown above.

With a new law in effect for 1968 which will allow smaller Raceways to conduct longer meetings, the Elmira Agricultural Society is currently laying plans for night racing next year. Based on their experience this year with three twilight meets, the club is fully dedicated to providing much more racing over their new track. The new provision which is no longer based on racing charters, an association can now operate for 14 days or nights.

Grant Jackson, a well known horseman on the Ontario Circuit, has moved into the Town of Elmira from his farm and has had a great deal to do with the the layout of the new oval. He occupies a portion of one of the barns and has six head under his care. More than two hundred tons of stone dust have been added to the track which should make it ideal for winter training and also ensure that it will be ready for an early spring opening.

Harrisburg Sale Attracts Canadian Buyers

The annual Harrisburg sale held October 30 through November 2 saw a total of 149 horses at a cost of $590,150 knocked down to Canadian buyers. While the total was impressive, it was down slightly from 1966 when $626,150 was spent by Canucks. Top buyer was Georges Rioux of Montreal who acting as an agent shelled out $26,000 for Bye Bye Alby. Other Canadians very active at the sale included Max Webster of Brantford who spent a considerable amount in securing four top prospects: Larkina Hanover ($25,000), Sales Pitch ($17,000), Gayest Hanover ($14,000) and Keystone Actor ($7,500).

Many others from north of the border including John Hayes of Columbus were successful bidders; his top purchase was Penn Hanover at $21,000. Benoit Cote took two Tar Heel colts totalling over $20,000 for the pair. Del MacTavish of Brownsburg, P.Q. had the last call on Byron Dares for $11,000, a full-brother to Dares Direct. Ron Feagan of Goderich haltered three yearlings as well.

Keith Waples Wins Belle Acton Pace At Roosevelt

In the eighth edition of the Belle Acton Pace for two-year-old pacing fillies Keith Waples gets Timely Drummond (4) up in time for a nose win in 2:06 3/5. This event worth $30,422 was contested over the Roosevelt half-miler. While Waples confined most of his driving to Canadian tracks at this time he showed here that he was just as much at home on the sport's largest stage. (Hoof Beats)


Just a short note to say that 94 years ago yesterday Mr. and Mrs. Jack Waples welcomed their first child, a son Keith Gordon Waples born on December 8, 1923.

Who Is This?

Can you identify the person in this photograph? The correct answer will be displayed during the coming week.

December 13, 2017 - 1:23 pmThat is Clarkie Smith, whom

That is Clarkie Smith, whom my Father always told me, was the best driver he ever saw and raced against!

December 13, 2017 - 11:58 amThe young fellow in this

The young fellow in this week's 'Who Is It?' is Clark "Clarkie" Smith - the pride and joy of Brookfield P.E.I. who won his first race in the mid 50's, following in the footsteps of his horseman father, Cyril Smith . Congrats to Messrs. McGrath, Schurman and O'Donnell for their correct answers.

December 13, 2017 - 10:27 amThank you once again for your

Thank you once again for your troubles to bring us up to date on the history of harness racing. It's so nice to recall those moments that are pasted on the walls of time. Once again, thank you.

December 9, 2017 - 10:55 pmClark Smith

Clark Smith

December 9, 2017 - 10:55 amClark Smith

Clark Smith

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