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Darryl Kaplan's Blog


June 30, 2017: What are the chances?

Published: June 30, 2017 8:34 am ET

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It has always seemed somewhat incomprehensible that horse racing in Canada began exactly 100 years to the day before Confederation. On July 1st, 1767, the first horse race was held in this country. On July 1st, 1867, the nation was founded. What are the chances?

Now, here we are, faced with another "coincidence" that seems equally incomprehensible.

June 30, 2017, is the final day of the first 250 years of horse racing in this country. And at 2:00 pm, in Quebec, a funeral service will be held for Hervé Filion, honoring the winningest driver, or jockey, in the 250-year history of the sport.

The service will take place in Gatineau, located on the north shore of the Ottawa River, minutes from Canada's capital. As hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate 150 years as a country, we will bid adieu to Hervé, and say farewell to the first quarter of a millennium of organized horse racing.

Over the next three days, I will be taking a journey back in time, thinking about the legacy of this sport, and what it has brought to so many lives over countless generations. I will be sharing that journey with you.

In February, 2012, I wrote about the celebration of 250 years of horse racing. I promised at that time to be on the Plains of Abraham, and dreamed about watching a horse race on that day. Well, five years later, I still plan to be there on July 1st.

While the races I watch that day will take place a few hours away in St. Hugues, Quebec, and the crowd I will be among in Quebec City will be there for other reasons, it won't take away from the focus.

Like thousands of horse racing fans celebrating 250 all across the country, with their friends, families, and their horses -- we are a community, strong and united! And our legacy will endure.

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