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Kathy Wade's Blog


Do You Remember Your First Time?

Published: August 23, 2013 9:17 am ET

Last Comment: August 26, 2013 2:03 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Do you remember your very first experience with harness racing? Maybe you were at your local fair, saw a friend’s horse race, had the chance to jog a horse, visited a standardbred farm, took a trip to the paddock or were fortunate enough for your first time to be a trip to the winner’s circle.

In advance of this weekend’s Bring A Friend promotion, we talked to a few industry people about their introduction to harness racing.

My first experience in harness racing happened in 1974 when a business client, Howard Buzzell, introduced me to the sport. While visiting him at his home he suggested we go out to the barn and see his horses. He trained a few horses and raced mostly on the B circuit. He suggested that he would take me to Barrie Raceway to watch two of his horses race. I looked forward to going and had a first hand look at the preparation involved, also, as I remember he had a successful evening.

From that day forward my interest in harness racing blossomed and I became an owner for many years to follow.

-- Paul from Hamilton, ON

I first went to the races in Regina in the mid 60’s. My husband was a big fan and introduced me to harness racing. We bought our first horses in the 70’s and that has led to a lifelong love of harness racing. Bought Arden Newport off the track and showed him as a roadster horse for several years under the name Freight Train. He would now be 50. Got the track record in 2008 at Marquis Downs with Shadow Promises. Has been a great life with lots of good friends and great memories.

-- Carole from Richardson, SK

My dad used to take me down to Greenwood when I was very young and I was hooked pretty early. The race bikes I found fascinating and always wondered how cool it might be to try it out (which I did at Hanover's Open House!) Greenwood had character, from the "bullpen" where hustlers sold "live" double tickets after the first race to the little pizzas with the very streeeeeeeetchy cheese...One vivid memory I have was watching Ronnie Waples and Dream Maker win The Queen City Pace (now the NA Cup) in 1:56 and thinking WOW, what a (fast) mile. 1:56! Imagine?

-- Garnet from Toronto, ON

Other than watching some of the big races on television and sometimes visiting a stable where my friend lived and hearing them jog horses in the early morning when I was visiting, I never had anything to do with horse racing. My husband and I had our first date at Mohawk and I had my first winner Ryancoke. (my favourite drink). On our date night at the Hawk, Garnet tried to explain the program and I learned a bit but mostly bet $2 to win on 2 or 3 horses each race. Won some money too and still have the program in my memory box. Garnet made me pay for coffee on the way home because his evening didn't go so well! LOL

We often went back after that and then my husband proposed to me July 26 2008 at the 'Hawk and we were married 1 month later in Las Vegas.

-- Kim from Toronto, ON

It was the summer of ’67 and I was at the Orono Fair with my Dad waiting to see a harness race, my first one ever! My Dad’s friend Nels (Nelson Cochrane) was driving a little black trotter called Ricadel. The race came, we cheered, Ricadel won,and we joined in the winner’s circle festivities. The next weekend we were at Nel’s farm learning how to groom and that was the start of a life long affair with harness racing.

-- Kathy from Waterdown, ON

My neighbour invited me to go to the horse races for dinner. I found it fascinating but very complex. So much seemed to be happening between what was going on on track, numbers and messages on the infield board and different racing shows on all of the tvs around us. The food was good and the racing was exciting. I made a few bets and came out ahead of the game! Now I’m a fairly regular fan and I often entertain business clients at Mohawk or Woodbine for dinner and racing.

-- Robert from Oshawa, ON

My first experience with horses was when my Dad took me down to the backstretch at Blue Bonnets. I started off brushing them and hanging out, not ever wanting to leave the barn!!! The rest is history!

-- Tanya from Rockwood, ON

I was introduced to horse racing by the late Bill Fleming of Clinton, Ontario. We followed his first purchase, Quick Almahurst, for several years and visited several tracks during that time. I remember when he called me one Tuesday afternoon and said he was picking me up to go to Garden City in St. Catherines where his horse was racing. A three-hour drive and a 3rd place finish and three more hours home resulted in a long day at work on Wednesday. But it was fun and we did it many more times.

Don from, Egmondville, ON

Thanks to those who shared their first time experiences with us. Here’s hoping that many of the people who make their first trip to the harness races this weekend will be as captivated as we were!

August 26, 2013 - 2:03 pmOn our fifth anniversary I

On our fifth anniversary I would like to thank my loving wife Kim for pointing out on the blog that on our first date (at Mohawk) I tapped out which forced her to buy coffee on the way home! It was the first time, but certainly not the last. Haha. We have many lasting vivid and great memories from going to the harness races at Mohawk and I'm sure many more to come.

August 24, 2013 - 5:31 pmPicture it. Late fifties, -

Picture it.
Late fifties, - sneaking through the fence at Connaught Park, where children weren't allowed in those days. Got escorted out at least once by the management!
Some of the stars of the day - Dr. John Findley, Ross and Neil Curran, Sted Craig, Dave Burke, Curt Baker, Russ and Pem Caldwell, the older Filions.
A couple of years later -I went with my dad to the site of the future Rideau Carleton Raceway - the grandstand was just a hole in the ground at the time.

August 23, 2013 - 7:02 pmOn a good track when 2:10 and

On a good track when 2:10 and 2:12 was the norm and 2:06 and 2;08 was the classier horses at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ontario. It was the 60's and harness racing was the " IN THING " to do. I remember sleeping in an old tack room in the paddock barn on a Friday night so I could help my brother with the horses on a Saturday afternoon of racing. A groom you would say. Licenced to boot. It was so much fun as a child , and even jogged the occasional horse imagining that I was Ronnie Feagan. The glory years of Bill and Jack Herbert. Star drivers like Don Corbet with his helper son Billy and so many many more. Harness racing memories, what a blast! Robert Hemsworth, London, Ontario

August 23, 2013 - 5:20 pmMy first experience with


My first experience with Standardbred racing was when I was asked by Kevin Murphy to ride in the post parade for the Prix D'été in 1988. Years later I groomed for Benoit Coté and Dan Madish but I ended up going back to show horses with a much greater knowledge of injuries and how to care for horses. However, my involvement piqued the interest of my mum and her partner and prompted them to start a breeding operation. For several years I would spend a week every fall helping her prep the yearlings for the sale and then show them for her, until everything collapsed in Quebec.

Today I get to cheer on my mum, Judy Farrow, and her horse Intimidate all the way from California.

August 23, 2013 - 1:38 pmI remember playing with Billy

I remember playing with Billy and Barry Herbert when they came to Glencoe to visit their grandparents. One memorable day we went to the barn where Silver Lee was stabled and took a cart outside and played horse race. I was about seven then, and discovered that day to my everlasting dismay that I couldn't play in the barn or be around horses. One of the boys had to lead me home because my eyes had swelled shut and I couldn't stop sneezing! I can still see my mother saying, "What on earth happened to you?!"
My family used to go to the local tracks to see Silver race;I remember cheering wildly for her to beat Arygyl Grattan, often one of her foes.
My uncle also had a horse named Golden Hy that raced against these horses at the county fairs.

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