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Adam Mauntah's Blog


The River Rocks!

Published: November 24, 2010 1:24 pm ET

Last Comment: November 25, 2010 4:06 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

I was not surprised at the news that Grand River Raceway saw its handle, dining room sales and attendance increase this year over 2009. Grand River Raceway is a first-class operation where racing comes first, and its success is due to the people who make the track a fun place to be. Those people, and the attitude they bring to Grand River Raceway, are responsible for the track’s success.

Foremost among those people is Kelly Spencer. In the comments that many of you left in response to the report on the Standardbred Canada web site regarding Grand River’s successful season, at least a couple of you mentioned Kelly. I cannot say enough about Kelly Spencer, but I will try here.

I first met Kelly when I was a finalist in Grand River Raceway’s Race Announcer Contest in July 2008. She seemed so busy in the hour or so leading up to first race post time, setting up displays and running around making sure everything was just right. I later came to realize that that is just how Kelly operates. She is full of energy, and she brings that energy and her passion for harness racing to the track every race night and shares it with as many fans as she can possibly interact with during a race card.

Kelly is also a fellow contributor to Trot Blogs here on the SC web site. About a couple of years ago, she wrote a blog in which her thesis was that an injection of enthusiasm would greatly benefit this sport. She mentioned me and cited me as an example of someone who brings enthusiasm to harness racing. It was extremely kind of Kelly to say those things about me, but I assure you that I’ve got nothing on Kelly when it comes to enthusiasm!

Kelly has an amazing promotional team working with her. If you have been to Grand River on a live race night, you will find a true gentleman decked out in his finest attire at the door, ready to greet you and shake your hand. The man in the suit is Tom Williams. This year he was joined by a lady in equally fine attire, Melissa Koniuch. Be sure to get to Grand River early on a live race night and say “Good evening Dear Sir/Fair Lady” to them (or just say hi)!

When racing is in progress, Tom disappears and Grandy the Grey, Grand River’s mascot, appears. I’m sure Tom is around somewhere during that time, because on Fridays he also performs another of Grand River Raceways most important functions: ensuring that the ponies are ready for the Bouncy Pony Stakes.

You might also have seen Hilary Eastmure at Grand River Raceway. On Fun and Frivolity Fridays this year, she helped make sure that all the kids were having fun and learning about horses in the NEIGHbourhood. When she is not doing that, she is doing her part to help Kelly organize and execute the track’s marketing and promotional activities. She has even filled in for Kelly on the Tarmac Show on occasion. Hilary’s energy, creativity and enthusiasm complement Kelly’s, and together they are quite a force.

Speaking of the Tarmac Show, Darryl MacArthur has been a valuable addition to the Grand River Raceway broadcast team. Whether he was displaying his most creative costume for the Horse Name Costume Game this past summer or giving his Paddock Report on race nights, he was clearly in his element. He even managed to get in a few drives at the track when he wasn’t in front of the camera.

The dining room is always a welcoming place, thanks to the amazing ladies who make sure everyone is well served and having fun. They include Michelle Paczay, Jane Holloway, Kay Neely and Jenna Knox. Well done, all of you, and thanks for all the great meals in the Captain’s Quarters every time my parents and I have dined there.

Whether you are on track or watching Grand River’s races via simulcast, online or on HPItv, you have seen the work of some of Grand River’s other enthusiastic people. Among them are the Director, Jeremy Brick, who works hard to produce the simulcast show along with his colleagues who make sure the audio and video are working smoothly – even when the backup announcer accidentally trashes the sound system!

Speaking of announcers, Grand River Raceway has done well in this department as well, with long-time announcer Gary Guy serving as the guy at the microphone on Mondays and Wednesdays and Dawn Lupul handling most of the Friday night programs like the polished professional that she is. Even Ken Middleton came out to do a few cards early in the season. When I get invited to fill in behind the mic in Elora, I feel honoured to be included in a roster of announcers that includes such well-established names as the ones I just mentioned.

Last but not least, Grand River Raceway would not be what it is without its Gederal Manager, Dr. Ted Clarke. On an average race night, the man in the blazer is out and about making sure everything is going smoothly, which it usually is. Grand River Raceway is the house that Doc built, and he continues to work not only in Grand River’s best interests, but in the interests of harness racing in Ontario and beyond.

To all those whose names I did not mention in this blog, including the mutuel clerks, housekeeping staff and everyone else who had a hand in the track’s success, your contributions are just as important. If I have not met you already, I am sure I will next season. Congratulations to everyone at Grand River Raceway on an exciting, successful and fun season, and see you in April!


November 25, 2010 - 4:06 pmHey Rick, me too.

ron francis SAID...

Hey Rick, me too.

November 25, 2010 - 12:47 pmCongratulations to Kelly and

Rick Karper SAID...

Congratulations to Kelly and Darryl. I wish that I lived closer to Grand River.

November 25, 2010 - 11:49 amHe is exactly right. If only

He is exactly right. If only the other tracks could see that only good things would happen if horsemen and fans felt as comfortable and as welcome as they do at Grand River.

November 25, 2010 - 12:06 amI went to Grand River on

Dick Cieslar SAID...

I went to Grand River on their closing Monday night and was thrilled to be part of a great evening , and even though the dining room was sold out { I had Reservations}by the end of the seventh race or so My party were the the only people left in the dining room . Did the people just come for supper (9.99 for dinner with a program }and the dinner was good . hell you can`t buy McDonalds for that. I`m sure the racing community will get some to return , just like tonney dogs at hiawatha on the first saturday bring in thousands of food eaters but few gamblers . yes we must get people to the track but to be a real success we need to figure out how to get dollars through the windows. hopefully we will see a resurgence with in gaming some of the ideas put forth by standardbred Canada .

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