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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1970s

Published: November 4, 2017 11:24 am ET

Last Comment: November 8, 2017 10:53 am ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In his weekly edition of Rewind Robert Smith takes readers back to the decade of the 1970s as he recalls a number of happenings from that period in time. His short stories touch on several spots across the Country and as usual include some old photographs.

1970 - Connaught Cup Goes To Super Wave

Super Wave and Jack Kopas​ (Harness Horse)

July 19, 1970 - New records were the order of the day as the four-year-old Super Wave captured the $7,500 Connaught Cup in front of 4,780 patrons on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Connaught Park. With Canadian horseman of the year Jack Kopas in the bike, the speedster crossed the finish wire in 2:00.2 for a new track record, erasing the existing one of 2:01.3 set by Replica Herbert in the 1968 edition of this event.

Kopas elected to pocket sit with the sensational pacer owned by Dr. George Boyce of London as John Hayes and Commander Del cut out some torrid fractions. After reaching the three-quarter station in 1:31.2, Kopas took his horse out and quickly gained the lead with Little Jerry Way and Herve Filion in close pursuit. A closing quarter in 29 seconds was enough to gain the victory. Filion hung on for second with Commander Del third, Canny Choice fourth and Earlylakes John rounding out the compact five-horse field.

Following the race Jack said "He was as sharp today as he's ever been; I was really pleased with him. You rarely see a mile this fast on a half-mile track anywhere in the world." The crowd was a record gathering, beating the old mark by 406 and the mutuel handle was also a high with $152,000 going through the windows. Frank Gorman, Track Pres. presented the trophy to Mrs. George Boyce who was all smiles in the winner's circle.

1972 - Rob Ron Robbie: "The Comeback Kid"

Catch driver Mike Novick Jr. on the outside urges his horse Rob Ron Robbie to a narrow victory over Silent Majority (8) handled by Walter "Peewee" Welch to win the opening leg of the Chrysler Series at Windsor Raceway. This victory was the horse's tenth in a row and he has now won all but one start this season. (Harness Horse)

July 1972 - The five-year-old pacing star Rob Ron Robbie from the barn of Dr. Steven Egan of Brooklin Ont. is definitely showing the effects of a year-long layoff but in a very different way. After missing the entire 1971 season to recuperate from various ailments, he is what one might call on the "comeback trail". After starting the season with a sixth-place finish, the son of Meadow Battles has reeled off 10 straight victories.

In recent competition at the Windsor oval he has racked up a victory in the opening leg of the Chrysler Series. Racing as part of a two-horse entry from the barn of Keith Waples he had the services of local Windsor driver Mike Novick Jr. while Waples has opted to drive stablemate Rob Ron Tarios. It seems that whoever drives and whatever way the race plays out, he gets home first. Rob Ron Robbie was allowed to go postward at long odds and paid $17.00 to win. His winning time of 1:57.3 shaved three seconds off his existing record.

Note: Last week's Rewind had a nice comment that alluded to the highly successful 1970's racing career of a horse named Happy Hoot. As a matter of interest, that horse's sire was Rob Ron Robbie.

1973 - Gilles Gendron Leads Drivers In All Categories

For the first time in history one driver has dominated in all categories while racing at the two major Montreal Raceways, Blue Bonnets and Richelieu Park. With the season nearly completed Gilles Gendron leads all drivers in races won, winning percentage and total purses won.

Dec. 1973 - With 16 programs remaining, the 27-year-old Gendron had already earned $459,641 thus surpassing his own record of $454,183 established just the year prior to this. His 209 victories locally give him a huge lead over runner-up Jacques Hebert and his average is well above Gilles LaChance. In addition to Gendron's local wins he also has won 45 races outside Montreal. This total ranks him fifth among all North American drivers. Who was first? Herve Filion, of course.

Gendron will be further rewarded as the President's trophy for top percentage will bring him a cash bonus of $1,500 and the J. Eugene Lajoie Memorial Trophy for top dash winning driver an additional $1,000.

Left: Gilles Gendron. Right: ​Veteran driver Jack Herbert of London appears with a couple of stable members.

1974 - O.S.S. Program Completes First Year

The long-awaited and now much heralded Ontario Sires Stakes (O.S.S.) program has completed its first year of competition. By all measurable standards the brand new program is already the talk of the harness racing world.

The series kicked off at Garden City in June and ended in mid-November. Races were held across the Province at all of the "A" tracks which hosted 24 dates. The majority of "B" tracks also hosted several events with a total of 56 being held at the smaller ovals. In total $1,853,818 in purse money was paid out to owners making the new series second only to the New York State program. Racing action was held at 20 different locations where unusually large crowds enjoyed the action.

Many great individual performances were witnessed. Participants ranged from one-horse stables to the larger operations that raced in a variety of two- and three-year-old events.

​Jack Herbert (pictured above) and his father Wm. were among the many colt developers that welcomed the O.S.S. program. Their youngsters competed in a number of categories that first year with the most successful being the standout two-year-old trotter Delvin Herbert (Dean Herbert - Gay Herbert) who led the division with earnings of $41,275*. His season's best mile was 2:07 recorded at Rideau Carleton. At the time Bill Herbert was 75 years of age but still retained a very keen interest in every aspect of the sport. His stories were still abundant.

* How much would that be today? About $201,500, adjusted for inflation.

1976 - Dresden Drivers Awards Handed Out

Two drivers were honoured at the conclusion of the 1976 season at Dresden Raceway for their outstanding performance over the long season. On the left is Walter Weese receiving the trophy for top percentage driver from Molson's Rep. David Edge. On the far right is Rod Duford points leader holding the trophy presented by Don Ross area representative of Molson's. Both men also received a cash award for their fine season's work. (Paul Weese photo)

October 17, 1976 - With a large Sunday afternoon crowd on hand the Dresden Raceway season came to a very successful conclusion. The meeting which ran from August to mid-October saw virtually every existing record eclipsed.

The season had 50 scheduled dates with just one cancellation due to slippery conditions on the track which forced the day off. This season saw the unveiling of the new $1 million dollar grandstand on opening day. For the first time a full slate of 16 Sunday matinees were held with great success in addition to the Wednesday and Saturday programs under the lights. Over 81,000 people attended the races during this season and wagered just over $5 million which translates to a daily average of about $104,000.

Dresden has always been a popular racing spot throughout the ages. When night racing came into existence this track was among the first to erect lights and hold first-class racing beginning in 1966. I can recall being there and sitting in the old original grandstand that was eventually replaced (across the track) by the one mentioned above.

Who Is It?

Can you correctly identify this gentleman associated with our sport's past ? The answer will be given during the coming week.

November 8, 2017 - 10:53 amThis week's 'Who Is It?'

This week's 'Who Is It?' personality is the late Norman "Bucky" Platford. Originally from Prince Edward County, he spent much of his life in the Essex County area arriving with the stable of Jimmy Wiener who wintered at the Leamington Fairgrounds. He served the sport in many roles, perhaps best remembered as the Windsor paddock judge and later an O.R.C. Judge.

A fine fellow he was.

November 5, 2017 - 4:27 pmBucky Platford

Bob McIntosh SAID...

Bucky Platford

November 5, 2017 - 2:54 pmThe gentleman is Clifford

Garth Gordon SAID...

The gentleman is Clifford “Chappy” Chappman .

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