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SC Rewind: Rothmans Stakes (2/2)

Published: January 21, 2017 9:59 am ET

Last Comment: January 22, 2017 12:30 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith concludes the two-part remembrance of the 1985 Rothman's Summer Series held at Greenwood Raceway in Toronto. This 14-race series, held over two nights, attracted that season's best three-year-old pacing talent of both genders and made for some top notch racing with lucrative purses on the line.

Rothman's Week Of Racing Finals - Held July 27th at Greenwood Raceway

For Your Eyes Only, winner of the final for three-year-old fillies appears in the winner's circle sporting her new white cooler. From left: Iola and Don Henderson (Ron's parents), unidentified presenters, driver Ron Henderson accompanied by his wife Mary and their small daughter Kim. On the far right groom are Debby Jeffries and trainer Wayne Hinnegan from the Bob McIntosh Stable.

On Saturday evening July 27, 1985 a crowd of 10,000 gathered at Greenwood Raceway in Toronto to watch a power-laden program of 11 races. Headlining the Saturday evening's racing were six races carded to determine a winner in both divisions of the Rothmans Summer Championship Series for three-year-olds. Purses totalling some $385,000 were up for grabs for the 28 entrants. The mutuel handle was $1,329,514.

Fillies Division (Two elimination heats plus the Final)

The evening's proceedings started off with the first filly division and the winner was the heavily-favoured HF Alice, in rein to Ray McLean, covering the mile in a rather swift 1:57.3. Second was Above The Crowd with the show spot going to Record Omaha (Condren). This filly, owned by Wm. Fleming of Clinton Ont., was in the midst of an outstanding three-year-old campaign and came into this series certainly as the filly to beat.

In the second elimination of the fillies, the winner was For Your Eyes Only, a very recent addition to the barn of Bob McIntosh courtesy of U.S. owners Lou Guida and Barry Epstein. Her win gave driver Ron Henderson his first trip to the winner's circle on what would be a very successful evening for the 31-year-old Windsor-based horseman. The daughter of Jade Prince paced home ahead of Village Secretary and Majors Choice stopping the timer in 1:59.2. There was some concern leading up to this race that this filly would participate in one heat only as recently she had experienced some hoof problems which apparently had responded to recent treatment. She did come back!

In the final just seven of the eight eligibles came out to contest the almost $109,000 purse. In a slightly quicker clocking than in the elimination, For Your Eyes Only was a repeat winner in 1:59 flat. In a finish that matched the opener, Village Secretary was second for Wm. McElroy with Wm. Wellwood reining Majors Choice to the show spot. Favoured HF Alice led at the top of the stretch but faded to fourth. Some observers believed that the somewhat slower elimination helped pave the way for the winner.

This trip to the winner's circle after a one length victory was the third for Henderson in this just the fifth race of the evening. I recently had the pleasure of a conversation with Ron and he obviously still recalls that week and series quite vividly and was extremely happy that his parents were able to share this evening and join in the winner's circle photo. Oddly in an industry where people change jobs and connections frequently, Henderson and Bob McIntosh are still 'teaming' up almost 32 years later.

For Your Eyes Only reaches the wire a winner for driver Ron Henderson to capture the major portion of the $108,990 purse in the final heat of the Rothmans Stake. Second is Village Secretary and third is Majors Choice.

Colts And Geldings Division (Two Elimination heats plus the Final)

In the third race of the evening, which was the opener for the colts and geldings, Wilcos Comet was a convincing winner in 1:57.3 for Ron Henderson and owners The Golden Horseshoe Stable of Michigan. Second went to Bold Talent (Ray McLean) and third belonged to Armbro Dryden for Harold Stead. The winning horse was trained by Lew Clark and groomed by Jimmy Stocker. Prior to the draw Ron Henderson had the enviable task of choosing between driving either Bold Talent and Wilcos Comet and as it turned out it looked like a good decision. Many in the crowd cashed winning exactor tickets but a get rich quick scheme it was not as the $3.50 payout was the second lowest in Greenwood history.

In the second elimination Kesons Beau, who was denied a victory a few days earlier, prevailed over this tough field in 1:57.3 with Jambo Maker second and Twin B Playboy third. The winning driver was Lyle MacArthur. Many had envisioned a battle between Jambo Maker and Wilcos Comet but they drew into different divisions, perhaps opening up a path to another contender.

When the "boys" came out for the final, all eight qualifiers were primed and ready to go. Based on the eliminations a new 'player' thickened the plot because of the decisive victory by Kesons Beau. As the race unfolded Jambo Maker was first away reaching the first marker in: 28.4 and from here appeared willing to slacken the pace a bit. Driver Henderson was soon out and going with Wilcos Comet but he was closely pursued by MacArthur and Kesons Beau. Condren had the lead at the head of the stretch but the early fractions appeared to tire both his horse as well as Wilcos Comet. The winner was again Kesons Beau in a blazing 1;56.1. Second went to Twin B Playboy (Dave Wall) with Adjudicator capturing third spot for Scott Anderson.

With the field in his rear view mirror winning driver Lyle MacArthur casts a glance back at the timer as he guides Kesons Beau to a resounding victory in the final of the Rothmans.

It was a huge victory for driver MacArthur and owners Keith and Gloria Robinson of St. George and Three Of A Kind Stable from Brantford, which included trainer Ted Kowal and Ralph Stephenson. After the race MacArthur said "I've raced in a couple of $50,000 races, but with horses that had a lot less chance of winning than this one." It was definitely the biggest in his career to that point. He remarked that his pre-race strategy to follow the 'speed' horses worked out well in both the elimination and the final.

The owners were having a banner year racing both Kesons Beau and Kesons Beauty, his two-year-old full sister out of their mare Son Deal. All of the owners were high in their praise of trainer Kowal as well as the dedication of their groom George Large. The name Kesons was apparently derived from the combination of "Keith's sons" which was shortened slightly.

This classy group of youngsters was indicative of the high calibre of horses being bred and raised in Ontario at this time. The two nights of racing provided a lot of thrills not only to their owners but also for the fans who back in those days turned out in large numbers on a regular basis.

Another great memory from Good Ol' Greenwood.

January 22, 2017 - 12:30 pmThe following note was

The following note was received from a reader of Rewind:

Robert: I just had to tell you how happy I am with what you put out on Rewind over at Standardbred Canada. I have a very soft spot for the old Greenwood Racetrack and have one of the old grandstand seats after it was demolished that was all refurbished. I have a signed print by the artist who painted a panoramic scene from the clubhouse turn. I grew up in the neighborhood of the Beach but finally moved to London as the city was too busy for me. Thanks for all the great Greenwood memories, they always will put a lump in my throat. R.A. Anderson

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