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SC Rewind: A Day At Old Woodbine


Published: January 15, 2011 9:41 am ET

Last Comment: January 29, 2011 1:26 pm ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith recreates a Saturday of racing from many years ago at the then popular Toronto track Old Woodbine reporting as it may have been done back then.

July 5, 1958

Patrons at The Old Woodbine Track today witnessed an interesting and entertaining afternoon of racing at this spot which is now in its fifth year of staging summer racing. While much of the attention was focused on the multiple winning entries of the increasingly powerful Armstrong Stable of Brampton (which later became Armbro), the real story was created by an unlikely source.

Dr. Chas. A Houze, a veterinarian from Mitchell, Ont. who still does all of his own training and driving despite being 76 years of age, ended up creating the headlines. The good Doctor has been practicing veterinary medicine and racing his small stable of horses for most of this century. His customers have come to realize that vet calls might not be answered too quickly on race days. He has raced many good horses over the years, a number of them imports from the U.S. such as Calumet Desperado, Calumet Brady and the long wearing Callie G. that he campaigned throughout Ontario for many years. His current star is the homebred four year old Governor G. sired by Governor Herbert out of Single Sis.

In today's seventh race Dr. Houze immediately sent Governor G to the front of the eight-horse field covering the front half mile in 58 and 3/5 seconds. This became the fastest half mile ever paced over The Old Woodbine oval and shaved 2/5 of a second off of the previous best set last year by Howard Rosecroft, an American bred horse who set the record in the Canadian Cup Pace. The mile time in today's race however was two full seconds off of the track record for a mile that Howard Rosecroft set last year as Doc and "The Governor" slowed a bit in the final half. Governor G and Dr. Houze stopped the timer in an incredible 2:03.4 in today's winning effort. Ann Pointer in rein to Jimmy "Red" Holmes of Milton attempted to overtake the leader but settled for second place nosing out yet another Armstrong entry Fast Buck. Finishing well back in seventh spot was Valuable Jerry Lee driven by Dr. Houze's son-in-law Ron McGee.

It must be pointed out that although Dr. Houze established a track record of sorts today, it does not constitute an official record as the rules of harness racing only recognize the full time for a specified event, not portions of a contest. In any event it was quite an accomplishment and one that has apparently caught the attention of interested buyers for the speedy steed. It is rumored that offers have been made by prominent owners Sheridan Revington of Lucan and Wm. Ellerington of Exeter, and if their attempts to secure the horse are successful he would be shipped to the U.S. and placed in the stable of Wm. "Bud" Gilmour who races there almost exclusively. Ironically one of the "would be" buyers is currently a co-owner of Howard Rosecroft.

Horses owned by the Armstrongs of Brampton and handled by trainer driver Harold McKinley accounted for three victories today including the featured $1,500 "A" pace won by their star Captain Wright in 2:05.4, a couple of seconds off of the speedy mile described above. Also hitting the charmed circle for the connections were trotters Meadow Express and Vital Victory. Captain Wright's victory was a most convincing one and the fans backed him so well that a $2.50 win payoff resulted sending many of the crowd home a winner as it was the final event of the day. Captain Wright, a six-year-old gelded son of Alemite, was raced as a colt by the late Richard Scott of Toronto. Just last year he won the last ever Canadian Pacing Derby held at New Hamburg, Ont. for these same connections but driven in that event by Vic Rowntree.

At The Wire: Today's daily double paid $60.90 as Dusty MacGrattan at 9-1 won the first for driver Graydon Sheldon, and Jiggs McFadden won the second with his own Royal Blue at even money. Much to the delight of longshot players, Battle Morn won the sixth race and paid an even $ 43.00 as driver Vern Waddell guided the five-year-old mare to victory in 2:10.3. Favourites ruled much of the day as Ronnie C., driven by Wilbert Hopkins and owned by the Dominion Motors Stable of Owen Sound, won the fourth paying $4.30 for a $2 wager. Racing continues here until the end of August.

January 29, 2011 - 1:26 pmThanks again for another

Joseph Carr SAID...

Thanks again for another very interesting feature. I noticed the Hies mentioned in one of the comments. I believe that Carmen Hie bought the dam of Rosemary Brooke.

January 17, 2011 - 5:40 pm“Today's daily double paid

“Today's daily double paid $60.90 as Dusty MacGrattan at 9-1 won the first for driver Graydon Sheldon,”

Those are names from the past! When I was a young guy growing up in Belleville, “Graydon Sheldon and his Oldtimers” used to play the Sat night dances in “Tobe’s County Gardens” in Rossmore right across the Bay of Quinte on the highway from Belleville to Picton! Then when I started in the racing game in 1957 I actually drove against Graydon at the fairs and one day meets. Graydon was an absolutlely great guy and a consumate horseman with one funny little quirk - he brought his lunch to the races in one of those old “Blue Collar” lunch buckets!! And I saw him drive “Dusty Mac” many, many times. Graydon was known as “Tojo” to most , for reasons I’ll leave unsaid.

Dusty Mac went on to become, probably, the dominant sire in Ontario, east of the present day Hwy 400. At some of the meets it would not be uncommon to have a 6 to 8 horse field with every horse sired by Dusty Mac! He was essentially the “Foundation” sire for Earl Shea’s Fleetwood Stables and Sherman Moore’s Moorelands Farm. Sherman was always telling everyone “If you’re going to win you have to have a Dusty Mac”

Robert - These “Rewind” articles are great and I never miss reading any of them - BUT - you really should do some on old time racing in East Central Ontario. You know all the greats didn’t come from London or Lucan, or Clandeboye or Ailsa Craig!

The Browns (Stan, Ernie, Doug & Gordie), The Hayes (John Sr. & Jr.). The Hies( Cliff, Carmen, Doug, Roger), The Gordons (Jack & Garth), The Burrisons, The Birds, Cam Wannamaker, Harry Ingles, The Huntbachs, Allan Pacey, and even Mildred Williams and many,many more all come from Ontario EAST of 400!!

And the first modern day racing under the lights was at Peterborough’s Morrow Park followed closely by Belleville!!

January 16, 2011 - 10:55 amYour kind words are much

Your kind words are much appreciated. To quote the late great baseball announcer Ernie Harwell, "Thank You For Your Loyalty "

January 15, 2011 - 12:11 pmThank you Robert Smith for

Rick Karper SAID...

Thank you Robert Smith for all these articles. I read and enjoy them all.

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