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SC Rewind: Ladies In The Sulky

Published: November 30, 2019 10:29 am ET

Last Comment: November 30, 2019 7:47 pm ET | 19 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of 'Rewind,' Robert Smith recreates a story from 1977, some 42 years ago. It involves a couple of then active female trainers and drivers who were plying their skills at the original Barrie Racetrack which was then in its early years. With considerable recent talk about female trainers and their proficiency I thought it would be an appropriate topic.

When the old Barrie Raceway opened its doors for racing in late December of 1973 there were plenty of horsemen eager to race there. Not to be overlooked was the fact that a few "horsewomen" were equally interested and perhaps just as qualified. Thanks to the archives of the now defunct local newspaper The Barrie Examiner I have been able to at least partially recreate a couple of stories involving these dedicated distaff trainers and drivers from those many years ago. I have not copied the originals, but rather rewritten them as though they were currently happening based on the information from the newspaper articles.

Reta Morrow


Reta Morrow is shown with her trotting mare Lady Remlap prior to a training session at the farm (Barrie Examiner photo)

On any given night at Barrie Raceway a young lady named Reta Morrow is likely to be among the on-track participants. Although she is just 27 years old, her involvement with the sport of harness racing as a trainer and driver already dates back six years. She's admittedly is no "women's libber", except when she's on the racetrack. "Then it's you and me against the world," she told reporter Roseanne McCabe. This of course was a reference to the popular song by Helen Reddy that quoted those words. She said "It's a tough world on the racetrack for a woman, and you have to be physically strong." And she was!

Reta comes to her job well-trained, having lived on a farm all of her life, thus familiar with the many chores and long hours it takes to make things work out. She lives on her parents' farm located at Route 1, Thornton, Ont., just a short 15-minute drive south of Barrie. Gladys and Arthur, her mom and dad, were familiar with horses but not of the racing kind; theirs were of the work variety. The experience tended to give her a preference for horses above other animals on the farm.

Reta bought her first horse in 1969, a trotting mare named Lady Remlap sired by Duke Demon out of Cindy R. Initially purchased as a show horse she later decided to start training her as a racehorse, based in large part on the possibility of earning some money. That was six years ago and since then it has been a time of great learning for young Reta. "Lady" has earned her keep and then some but she's now nine years old and showing signs of aging.

To prepare for the future and find a possible replacement for her current "ace" Reta is now training ACs Highlander along with Lady Remlap. The training and care taking takes up most of her days. When she's not doing physical work she is watching races or reading about them. She told the reporter "I guess it's my whole life."

Note: Be sure to look below for a trivia question related to this little story. If you know the answer then send it along in the comments section.

Mary Heslip

By day 22-year-old Mary Heslip is a nurse at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, Ont.; a demanding position to say the least. After her daily shift is finished she soon steps into another challenging line of work which she chooses to refer to as a "hobby". Her pastime is training, driving and caring for her own Standardbred horse. She does most of her racing at Barrie Raceway, located not too far from her home at Rosemont, Ont. a small hamlet near Alliston. If you're still not sure where Rosemont is just remember that's right near Mulmur.

To sum up her two rather different occupations she said "I like nursing; if I didn't like it I wouldn't do it. But I could live without nursing; I doubt that I would ever want to be without a horse." Her current number one horse is a gelding named Rocky Laird. She bought him about a year and a half ago from Elmer Hussey, a well-known veteran horseman from Alliston. Earlier in his career Rocky had competed successfully on the tough O.J.C. circuit racing out of the Wes Coke stable. In 30 starts last year he carried young Mary to the winner's circle five times. Prior to that he helped to get her harness driver's licence. "He was nice and easy to drive, Elmer wanted to sell him so I bought him." The ownership of her own Standardbred was new but she had been around horses all her life.

Following in her father's path of training horses, Mary began jogging at a young age after having a pony way back when she was just six. Her dad Truman had been on the racing circuit for years and she enjoyed helping him. At the age of 16 she acquired a licence to drive, but only at the fairs. Two years ago at age 20 she graduated to a licence that allowed her to compete at the major tracks. The fact that she was a female did not alter her plans and her family were fully behind her.

Despite her successes Mary wishes to race horses as a hobby and has no plans to become a full-time driver. The $2,400 Rocky earned last year was nice but she also shared in the ownership of another horse with her Dad that also brought a lot of enjoyment. Their young trotter Kwik Ben made over $7,000 last year and provided her with a great non-driving thrill as well. While racing in a stake at Clinton last season with Clure Archdekin driving, their homebred won and created a very nice $3,700 windfall for the family.

Mary summed up her involvement in harness racing by saying, "I'm not out to conquer the world, I do it just to have fun. When it stops being fun I'll quit."

(With quotes from The Barrie Examiner)

Quote For The Week: Sign at a Farm Machinery Dealer - "We will stand behind everything we sell except a manure spreader."

Trivia Question: In one of today's stories the name "Remlap" was part of a horse's name. Do you know where that name came from? If you do send along your answer as a a comment.

Who Is It?

Can you identify the person shown above?

Who Else Is It?

How about this fellow... can you correctly put a tag on him?

Be sure to stay tuned for the correct answers to the trivia and photo quiz during the coming week.

November 30, 2019 - 7:47 pmNo.2 A long shot...Mr.

No.2 A long shot...Mr. Albert Rogers

November 30, 2019 - 7:07 pm1st picture is Bea Faber and

1st picture is Bea Faber and the 2nd picture is Albert Rogers who drove Fearless Phoebe.. he did like his gin I've been told!

November 30, 2019 - 6:32 pmThe gentleman in the bottom

Garth Gordon SAID...

The gentleman in the bottom photo is Albert Rogers: The man that gave Gilles Lachance the start that lead him to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

November 30, 2019 - 6:28 pmBea Farber, top. Albert

W Doug HIe SAID...

Bea Farber, top.
Albert Rogers, bottom.
Trivia: Remlap is definitely Palmer spelt backwards.

November 30, 2019 - 6:02 pmI believe it is the wise old

Al Hohner SAID...

I believe it is the wise old horseman Albert Rogers

November 30, 2019 - 5:06 pmThe man’s name is Albert

Larry Small SAID...

The man’s name is Albert Rogers and he did love Dekypers gin!

November 30, 2019 - 4:59 pmAnother Great job Robert. I

Another Great job Robert. I knew Reta, Mary and Doug Palmer all very well.
A flashback in time. Keep the articles coming ✔️

November 30, 2019 - 4:45 pmQueen Bea. Possibly Don

Gord Brown SAID...

Queen Bea. Possibly Don Davies

November 30, 2019 - 4:02 pmPicture #1 Bea Farber, horse

Picture #1 Bea Farber, horse is Easy Irv

November 30, 2019 - 3:45 pmThe man is Albert Rogers I

The man is Albert Rogers I think ??

November 30, 2019 - 3:27 pmRemlap is Palmer backwards.

Joe Wright SAID...

Remlap is Palmer backwards. Lady in the picture is Bea Farber. The third picture looks like Albert Rogers from years ago.

November 30, 2019 - 3:24 pmthe fellow in the second

kent benson SAID...

the fellow in the second picture is Albert Rogers

November 30, 2019 - 2:07 pmPicture #1 is Queen Bea

Bob Belore SAID...

Picture #1 is Queen Bea Farber. Note of interest, Bea is now residing in a long term care facility in Naples, Florida.

November 30, 2019 - 1:02 pmTrivia question is probably

David Darocy SAID...

Trivia question is probably Palmer spelt backwards for Breeder Doug Palmer of Schomberg, Ontario.
Next would be “Queen” Bea Farber from Michigan.
Last one maybe John Hayes Sr. If that is not correct it is Donnie Rankin Jr. Jr. Jr. mistake.

November 30, 2019 - 11:51 amremlap is palmer spelled

paul ruhl SAID...

remlap is palmer spelled backwards they where the breeders

November 30, 2019 - 11:43 amRemlap is Palmer backwards

Remlap is Palmer backwards for a great horseman he named all his horses Remlap we had Remlap Lobelia from him

November 30, 2019 - 11:31 amThe 2nd picture is John Hayes

Tom Foley SAID...

The 2nd picture is John Hayes Sr.

November 30, 2019 - 11:28 amGood stuff Robert. Especially

Good stuff Robert. Especially LOVE the joke about the manure spreader. The man's name escapes me, but I know he drank "Dekypers Gin" and lots of it !!! lol

November 30, 2019 - 10:57 amRemlap is Palmer spelt

Remlap is Palmer spelt backwards. Doug Palmer used Remlap in the names of all the horses he raised


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