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SC Rewind: Forty-Five Years Ago

Published: October 20, 2018 9:33 am ET

Last Comment: October 24, 2018 8:55 am ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's 'Rewind' column Robert Smith takes a look back at the year of 1973 and lists a number of highlights of that season and also displays a few old photographs relating to that year.

Forty five years ago, harness racing in Canada was "alive and well". It still had a touch of the old days and also had a lot of new and innovative features about it. It was self sufficient, as in no slot sharing revenues and the now famous OSS program was just in the formative stages, set to begin the following year. Most of the speed records on the books at this time had been set on the two big Montreal tracks, Blue Bonnets and Richelieu Park.

In today's edition of Rewind I have picked out a few pictures, facts and other bits of trivia related to 1973...45 years ago.

Highlights & Other Items Of Interest:

  • The Hambletonian was won by Flirth, trained and driven by Canadian-born Ralph Baldwin

  • The Jug was won by Melvin's Woe with Canadian-born Joe O'Brien in the sulky

  • The Messenger was won by Valiant Bret driven by Canadian-born ace Lucien Fontaine

  • The Cane Futurity went to the Canadian-owned Smog, driven by Vernon Dancer for owner Mac Cuddy of Strathroy, Ont.

  • The Prix D'Ete was won by Armbro Nadir, driven by Nelson White in 1:56.1: an all-time Canadian speed record. Of the 110 2:00 miles recorded in history to this point this was the fastest ever

  • Handle With Care, owned by Irving Liverman, was Canada's Horse of the Year. The two-year-old filly went undefeated winning all of her 17 races

  • The Canadian Pacing Derby was won by Sir Dalrae (Jim Dennis) in a new Greenwood track record of 1:57.3

  • Flower Child (Joe O'Brien) won The Maple Leaf Trot in a new record of 2:00.2 at Greenwood

  • Herve Filion visits Kawartha Downs. First race post time delayed by his plane problems. He opens the program with a win behind Maxi Valley from the stable of John R. Ball, giving the horse his first lifetime win

  • Carman Hie led all Kawartha drivers in U.D.R.S. and second in wins with 49; Jerry Robinson had 50

  • Derby's Gent was an unknown, unraced two-year-old grazing in his Parkhill owner's pasture

  • Assiniboia Downs had their biggest year to date. Keith Linton led all drivers

  • Rideau Carleton mutuels were up 25 percent; attendance was up 17 percent

  • Steve Schedlosky won the driving titles at Northlands Park

  • Barrie Raceway opened on December 12th as Canada's newest racetrack. It was designed for winter time racing.

  • Gilles Lachance was the top driver at Blue Bonnets in Montreal

  • In December the single shaft sulky was banned on all Canadian tracks

  • Andre St. Amour led all drivers at Connaught Park with 91 wins in 85 programs. Jack Duford had 54 wins second only to St. Amour

  • In mid-September an announcement was made regarding the new Ontario Sires Stakes Program to be started in June of 1974. The effect was immediate as the average sale price for a yearling at the C.S.H.S. sale rose from the 1972 average of $2,589 to $4,226

  • Dr. Roland Armitage of Dunrobin, Ont. succeeded outgoing C.T.A. Pres. Allan Dickenson


Ron Feagan - Horseman of the Year
Harold "Bud" Wellwood - Rookie Driver of The Year
Armbro Nadir - Horse of The Year
Surge Hanover - Two-year-old trotter
Baron's Boy - Two-year-old pacer
Armbro Nadir - Three-year-old pacer
Jambo Barb - Three-year-old trotter
Flower Child - Aged Trotter
Caroldons Knight - Aged Pacer

Shown below are a few photographs, each with a short commentary. These photos have been chosen at random from the 1973 season.

On August 25th, Sir Dalrae and driver Jim Dennis finished 8-3/4 lengths ahead of the field in 1:57.3 to establish a new Greenwood track record in the 31st edition of the Canadian Pacing Derby. The purse was $58,300 which is equal to approx. $326,00 in today's equivalency. Finishing a distant second was Keystone Ponder for Ron Feagan and third was Rob Ron Tarios handled by Keith Waples.

Herve Filion turned 33 in March of 1973 and he continued his tremendous assault on the record books. He received multiple awards and was named C.T.A. Horseman Of The Year. His tireless schedule took him to virtually wherever races were held.

On December 8th that year, "Young" Keith Waples turned an even 50! He is shown here in one of his many winning efforts in 1973 as he captures the $10,715 O.H.H.A. Three-Year-Old Pace at Windsor Raceway with Rob Ron Ritzar. Finishing second is Merrywood Rick for Ray Remmen.

Handle With Care, the undefeated two-year-old filly who turned back her rivals on 17 straight appearances, ended the season undefeated. She appeared in a lot of pictures that season. In the above photo her proud owner Irving Liverman holds one of the many trophies she won on her way to becoming the top two-year-old filly winner in harness racing history. Canadian Fred Grant was her personal caretaker and trainer, seldom leaving her side.

In late 1973 Percy Robillard journeyed to California where he had an outstanding stay winning multiple Stakes events with his great trotter Elsenar owned by George Henderson of Montreal. He is shown here at Hollywood Park receiving the trophy after winning the American Trotting Classic from Delvin Miller while his assistant trainer Muriel Theriault is on the left.

Aime Des Rosiers, Windsor's Chairman Of The Board makes a presentation to driver Jerry Duford and his mother Mable Duford following a win by Claybrook Van at Windsor in the Huronian Series for aged trotters.

Claybrook Van at the age of nine was well on his way to membership in The Hall Of Fame. He took a new lifetime mark of 2:02 and in 31 starts he was 10-6-7 with season's earnings of $59,359. Owned throughout his long career by Wilfred Duford -- originally from Nipawin, Sask. and later of Dresden -- the gelded son of Josies Victory was the profile of consistency throughout his career. By the end of this season his career earnings were just over the $250,000 mark, quite an accomplishment for a Canadian-bred trotter. Most often in the driver's seat was Jerry Duford, son of the owner.

Who Is It?

Can you correctly identify this popular driver as he heads toward the finish wire in this 1973 photograph? Take note of the single shaft sulky appearing in the background. The correct answer will appear right here during the coming week.

October 24, 2018 - 8:55 amThis week's picture didn't

This week's picture didn't pose too many problems for those who responded. The man at the controls of Leland Song en route to victory in the 1973 Champlain Futurity was Kenny Carmichael, as guessed by several. Kenny was a favourite among his peers and enjoyed a very long career training and driving and finished out his working years with the Wellwood stable. He passed away in 2014.
To answer Gord Brown's inquiry about Herve landing his helicopter in the infield at Kawartha, I cannot absolutely confirm that happening but believe that it did. Thanks to those who sent in comments, they are always interesting.

October 20, 2018 - 5:29 pmKen Carmichael. I used to kid

Ken Carmichael. I used to kid him when he arrived at Mohawk every spring, here come the “Ezra’s” and Kenny would laugh as only he could.

October 20, 2018 - 5:06 pmI belive that you are right

jim morgan SAID...

I belive that you are right Gord, I remember that day!

October 20, 2018 - 10:31 amOnce again Robert, an

Once again Robert, an excellent job. I remember 1973 well, as I started my short career as a Race Secretary at Barrie Raceway. Was at Windsor Raceway training under Joe DeFrank and Jim Learmouth that summer when Joe King's Single Shaft Sulky showed up st Windsor Raceway. Lots of controversy amongst Owners,Trainers and Drivers. Sure looks like Bill Gale in the SSS to me.

October 20, 2018 - 9:59 amWhip in the left hand has to

Gord Brown SAID...

Whip in the left hand has to be Kenny Carmichael. Again Robert an amazing job. Correct me if I'm wrong didn't Herve fly his helicopter and land in the infield?

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