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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1960s

Published: October 4, 2014 9:29 am ET

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In this week's Rewind, Robert Smith takes a look back at some of the events and people in the sport during the decade of the 1960s in the ongoing monthly feature Years Ago.

1965: - Garden City Set For First Full Season

May 1965: Canada's newest racing plant at St. Catherines, Ont. is getting set for its first full season of racing. Opening night for the six-week spring meeting at Garden City is set for May 31. Last fall the new track held its first ever race meeting and according to all reports it was a huge success. Two stars of the inaugural meeting will be returning as the Herbert Stables of London who won several major stakes events will be back. Also expected is 24-year-old driver Bill Wellwood who led all reinsmen with 17 victories and a record high UDRS of .561. Race secretary Lew James reports that some 1,200 stall applications have been received and with just 624 spots open, he will have to do some selecting. Some off track stabling will be offered at the Fort Erie track as well. The slick five-eighths mile limestone track has been pampered with a new leveling device and should see some very fast miles this season. In an effort to educate local fans, many who are new to the sport, the Ontario Jockey Club is hosting an evening at the Park Manor Hotel in Niagara Falls on May 25th for all interested parties.

1966 - Lomac Stable Forms Unique Partnership

For the past 10 years a group of professional gentlemen have been meeting regularly for a lunch gathering and recently decided to form a rather unique partnership. Based on the advice and guidance of veterinarian Dr. Angus McLean, the rather large group have formed a partnership for the ownership and racing of a modest stable of horses. Their base of operations will be Dr. McLean's 94 acre farm near Aurora, Ont. The people involved are Dr. McLean (vet), Dr. Cecil Gilbert (Dentist), Dr. Gerry Guest (Physician), Dr. Max Horning (Physician), Irvin Rosen (Lawyer), Allan Goldstein (Lawyer), Irvin Hoffman (Druggist), Manny Gleason (Druggist) and Alfio Tomasini (Builder). They are currently enjoying a very good season with their first racehorse Guy Stone.

Several members of the recently-formed Lomac Stable join in the winner's circle festivities following a victory by their pacer Guy Stone. The driver is Dr. Russ Furness and his son Dave is at the horse's head.

1967 - Kincardine Holds Civic Holiday Celebration

August 7, 1967: An afternoon of harness racing was held here by the local Kinsmen Club as part of the Civic Holiday weekend celebrations. Proceeds are used by the club to assist in local projects as well as their funding of a new roof for the grandstand earlier this year. A full program of five races, each going two heats entertained the large crowd of some 1,400 people on hand at Connaught Park as the track is known. Several happenings including the return of a local horseman highlighted the afternoon. Bill Habkirk, who started his career here many years ago was on hand to drive and was a popular winner behind Verso Lee from the Vern Soper barn. His early lessons came at this track under the guidance of Joe Shelton, a local veteran horseman. Mr. Shelton is still active and although he no longer trains or drives he sells harness racing equipment and acts as a local judge. Through his efforts merchants of the Town sponsored the gift of a cooler to the horse going the fastest heat in each race. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. William (Ted) McLean of Goderich, who provided a prize to the driver of the fastest heat of the afternoon, Mr. Grant Betts of Flesherton went home $20 richer. His mile in 2:11.4 behind Speedy Hedgewood earned him the honour. The gift was to remember the McLean's former star Deep Run Danny who raced here with distinction in years past.

1967 - Leading Drivers Amass Earnings Of Over $1 Million

With the advent of longer racing seasons and higher purses, the annual earnings figures for the top OJC drivers has escalated in recent years. In 1967 the top 10 drivers earned in excess of $1.1 million in total. At this time all of the top drivers were managing fairly large public stables with the exception of Jack Herbert who mainly campaigned the family owned horses. It is interesting to note that five of the 10 listed are still with us.

1. Keith Waples - $213,711
2. Ron Feagan - $210,680
3. Brent Davies - $124,195
4. Allan Waddell - $120,014
5. Ross Curran - $105,918
6. Dr. John Findley - $103,000
7. Wm. Wellwood - $100,226
8. Harold McKinley - $82,623
9. Ken Galbraith - $58,986
10. Jack Herbert - $56,833

Left: An open invitation from 1965 (see above) for all new race fans in the area of the newly opened Garden City Raceway. Take note that Ladies were also welcome. Right: The OJC's 10 leading drivers from the 1967 season.

1969 - Morrow Park Keeps Pace With The Times

Harness racing has long been a popular pastime at Peterborough's Morrow Park, and through the decade of the 1960's the trend continues. At one time races were held just at Fair time in August but with lights installed a few years ago it has become a major racing venue. An attached picture of the front page of two programs from almost ten years apart gives an indication of the progress of the decade.

Each year a special memorial race is held to honour the late Orville Fallis, a gentleman who worked tirelessly for many years to put on the races. He is also credited with leading the charge to install lights for night time racing which was a major happening in those days.

The annual Orville Fallis Memorial race winner Kawartha Daisy is joined in the winner's circle by owner John Fry complete with his cigar and a young unidentified guest. The driver is a local favourite Ray Lowery.

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