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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1980s

Published: January 4, 2020 11:05 am ET

Last Comment: January 9, 2020 10:44 am ET | 13 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

As we start off the new year, Robert Smith kicks off the new decade with the latest edition of 'Rewind.' It's the monthly feature Years Ago and this time features the decade of the 1980s. Many of the people who were either making the headlines or working behind the scenes are quite likely still around to remember the good times that existed back then. After all it was only about 40 years ago!

1980 - Weekly Mutuel Mark Broken At Windsor

Feb. 10, 1980 - A Sunday night crowd of 5,669 saw yet another wagering mark topple at Windsor as a hefty total of $778,061 went through the betting machines to raise the weekly figure to $4,261,000. This bettered the old total by just over $17,000. In racing action Blue Boots, the outstanding horse of the fall meet, broke through for his first victory of the new year taking the featured Jr. Invitational Pace. Driver and owner Trevor Ritchie was sent off as the 4-5 favorite and responded with a career-best equalling mile of 2:01. It was Ritchie's 14th win of the new campaign. A local favourite for many years, Derbys Gent driven by Jack Campbell, set the early pace and finished third.

The hottest driver on the grounds at that time was Jack Darling and he capped off a very productive week by winning three races on Saturday night. His biggest victory came in the $4,300 Lancer Pace as he scored with his own J W Journal in 2:03.1. He followed this with a wire-to-wire win behind Country Wind to take the Woodstock Pace. Later in the program he notched the hat trick with Bonus, a son of Bret Hanover, in the Southwood Pace. On Sunday night Darling drove Upickit, owned by Ed Sahaley of London, to his third straight win in taking the $4,800 Exeter Pace. The just-turned 27-year-old Darling had a total of nine winners for the week and upped his meet total purse earnings to $48,787 which was among the leaders.

In the driver's race Ross Roselle was leading all teamsters with 39 wins and one of his mounts, Megs Marauder -- a Sunday night winner -- led all horses on the grounds with five wins in six starts during this meeting. His only other winning drive of the Saturday night and Sunday cards came with Woody Tropicana.

1982 - The Pacing Machine

In 1982 Cam Fella was the talk of the entire world of harness racing. The following account of his season long campaign is shown below as authored by The U.S.T.A. staff in Columbus, Ohio. Their summary is far superior to anything that I could write.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cam Fella, 1,000 pounds of sheer determination with the agility of a ballerina, has been voted the 1982 E. Roland Harriman Harness Horse of the Year. The three-year-old pacer received 164 of the 309 votes cast in balloting conducted by the U.S. Trotting Assn., and U.S. Harness Writers’ Assn. Genghis Khan, a six-year-old pacing horse, finished second with 48 votes, followed by Three Diamonds with 31, Jazz Cosmos with 14, and Fortune Teller with 12.

From January into November, Cam Fella was simply “awesome” for his Ontario owners, Norman Clements and Norman Faulkner. It wasn’t however, sheer speed which propelled Cam Fella to Harness Horse of the Year honours. His fastest time of 1:54 is almost five seconds slower than the 1:49 1/5 world record held by Niatross. What Cam Fella had this year was sheer racing determination, which earned him the nickname, “The Pacing Machine.” In 33 starts, Cam Fella finished first 28 times and second twice. He finished out of the money only twice for trainer and driver Pat Crowe. His season began with an 11-race win streak which stretched from January 15 to April 23 before the major stakes had begun. Supplemented to the first and third legs of pacing’s Triple Crown, the Cane Pace and Messenger Stake Cam Fella won both of those. He couldn’t however, supplement to the middle leg, The Little Brown Jug. He also raced 12 times in Canada and won that country’s version of the Triple Crown, the Prix d’ Ete, Queen City Pace, and Confederation Cup.

Cam Fella came into the 1982 campaign an unknown. His racing career began late in his two-year-old season on August 11, 1981. When December ended, Cam Fella did not stop. He raced his way right into January and his final start this year was November 7. Sired by Most Happy Fella and out of Nan Cam, Cam Fella has proven to be a profitable investment. He was initially purchased at the 1980 Lexington Tattersalls Yearling Sale by Ontario horseman Doug Arthur for $19,000. Following his two-year-old season, Cam Fella was sold for $100,000 to his present owners, who acted on the advice of Pat Crowe. His earnings for this year total $879,723. Cam Fella will not retire to the breeding shed as present plans call for him to race in 1983.

1984 - Young Trainer On The Rise

Fred Hoffman appears trackside in his early years as a successful non driving trainer (Photo courtesy of the Standardbred)

Toronto native Fred Hoffman was the leading trainer in 1983 on the very tough Ontario Jockey Club Circuit. In just his third year on his own he overtook the top spot from perennial winner John Burns. Now 34, Hoffman did not have a horse background and in fact had no interest in the sport until he attended the races with friends when he was 18. His brother entered the business just ahead of him when he took a job with top horseman Ross Curran. After a few visits to the backstretch, in 1969 he too secured a job with Bill Wellwood.

After working in and out of the horse business for a time, in 1979 Hoffman decided to reenter and did so by claiming a horse named Pentar Billy. His first venture financed by a bank loan, quickly netted a profit of over $1,000 when the horse was claimed after just two starts. After more claims and more jobs he decided in 1980 to start his own stable. His climb to the top was not without setbacks but in mid-1984 he was again at the top of his game and stood second in the trainer's race.

1986 - Billy Haughton Dies In Racing Accident

On July 15, 1986 the world of harness racing received one of its toughest blows ever when the great horseman Wm. "Billy" Haughton passed away as a result of severe head injuries sustained in a racing accident at Yonkers Raceway ten days earlier. The 62-year-old native of Gloversville, N.Y. had spent a lifetime in the sport and was a true master at every aspect of harness racing. There was literally nothing that he had not achieved and was loved and admired by everyone. His death from a head injury brought to light the need for further research into better helmets which provided more protection.

"He was the most complete horseman that the sport had," Del Miller, also a Hall of Fame driver-trainer, said about Mr. Haughton. "He meant every bit as much to harness racing as Arnold Palmer means to golf, or Babe Ruth meant to baseball. It's a sad day for harness racing."

Billy Haughton in a morning training session about to hop on a jog cart at Pompano Park in Florida

1986 - Kawartha Back On Track

A field of horses follow the gate as racing resumed at Kawartha Downs

Sunday, Feb. 16, 1986 - On this sunny winter afternoon racing resumed at the Kawartha track following a shutdown of over a month due to a dispute over ownership. The ORC had revoked the track's licence and the appeal process initiated by current owners Ian Hardcastle and Jill Christie, who were majority shareholders at the time, took this time to reach a settlement.

Free parking and admission that afternoon attracted a crowd of 1,952 fans eager to again see live racing. The race office seemed to have little difficulty in getting sufficient entries to fill out the 11-race card. Area horsemen had kept active by shipping to Barrie, Kingston and Flamboro but a number of the 50 odd horses stabled at the local oval had not raced since January 12th, Kawartha's last race day. On the first day back fans sent $102,067 through the mutuels.

A pair of drivers enjoyed two trips to the winner's circle as both Dan Gassien and Glenn Heard scored doubles. Gassien scored back-to-back wins in the 7th and 8th with Armbro Bert and Isaac Gass. Heard got an early start as he won the opener with Cook The Books, a three-year-old gelding. Later he was back to have his picture taken with Jet Arrow in a maiden event as this filly was a winner in her first lifetime start in a clocking of 2:08.4. The track was rated as "Good" with snow only on the outer part of the racing oval.

Other winning drivers on this day were Guy Larush, Ray Lowery, Allan Nicholls, Jerry Robinson, Peter Gunter, John Thompson and Derek Newman.

Quote For The Week: "Behold the turtle, he only makes progress when he sticks out his neck."

Who Is It?

How many drivers can you identify from this overhead photo finish at Roosevelt Raceway? Note the horses wearing no's. 6 and 1 are exempt from the quiz.

Who Else Is It?

Can you identify the horse shown above? Some horses are famous enough to be identified without much information; how about this one?

Be sure to stay tuned during the coming week for the correct answers.

January 9, 2020 - 10:44 amThis week's top picture was

This week's top picture was correctly identified; first by Wm. O'Donnell as from the rail out Ken McNutt, Herve Filion, Carmine Abbatiello and Bud Gilmour on the outside.
The horse pictured was indeed Cam Fella with his rather distinctive rigging. Thanks for your answers and added info. Much appreciated.

January 6, 2020 - 1:06 pmThat Roosevelt picture is

That Roosevelt picture is very early 1980s based on the sulky style. I'm not sure Billy O was winding down his career at that time. He would have been early 30s. I think his biggest races won began around 1982 and ran through 1995 (approximately).

January 5, 2020 - 9:21 pmFred Hoffman was the pioneer

Fred Hoffman was the pioneer of claiming horses. Very few did it better than Fred.
Does anyone know what Fred is up to these days?

January 5, 2020 - 9:17 pmFred Hoffman Knew the horse

Fred Hoffman Knew the horse business very well, He also was a big help in the beginning with Randy Waples' career, They were a powerful team.

January 4, 2020 - 6:02 pmWill change the first one to

Gord Brown SAID...

Will change the first one to Ken McNutt. Billy O should know as he was winding his down his career around the same time.

January 4, 2020 - 4:18 pmBottom photo...Cam Fella ?

Bottom photo...Cam Fella ?

January 4, 2020 - 3:37 pmTake a guess it’s Cam Fella.

Eric Sherban SAID...

Take a guess it’s Cam Fella. Same head gear as pictured above.

January 4, 2020 - 3:36 pm#7 Ken McNutt #5 Herve

#7 Ken McNutt
#5 Herve Filion
#3 Carmine Abbatiello
#4 Buddy Gilmour
Horse Picture: Cam Fella

January 4, 2020 - 1:06 pmKeith Waples - Herve Filion -

Keith Waples - Herve Filion - Carmine Abbatiello - Billy Haughton


January 4, 2020 - 12:31 pmMatt’s Scooter?

Matt’s Scooter?

January 4, 2020 - 12:23 pmWho is it, from the rail

David Darocy SAID...

Who is it, from the rail out
Clint Hodgins
Herve Filion
Carmine Abbatiello
William (Buddy) Gilmour
Picture of the horse looks like Cam Fella.

January 4, 2020 - 12:16 pmNo.5 : Hervé Filion The horse

No.5 : Hervé Filion

The horse : Cam Fella?

January 4, 2020 - 11:24 amKeith, Herve, Carmine and

Gord Brown SAID...

Keith, Herve, Carmine and Buddy. Bottom photo: Not to many wore a blade shadow roll but Cam Fella did. Thanks Robert LOVE when Saturday rolls around!

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