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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1940s

Published: February 10, 2018 10:35 am ET

Last Comment: February 15, 2018 6:25 pm ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith takes a look back at some of the events, personalities and happenings from the decade of the 1940's. It's all part of the ongoing monthly feature Years Ago.

1941 - Miss Vera Bars Captures Canadian Pacing Derby

Aug. 1941 - It was a hot and dusty afternoon but thousands watched with enthusiasm as a field of the best pacing talent around contested the sixth annual Canadian Pacing Derby at New Hamburg, Ont. After three tough heats, the winner of the lion's share of the $1,500 purse went to Mr. James Brown of New Liskeard, Ont., owner of the winning horse Miss Vera Bars. A total of eight entrants provided the day's entertainment. The opening heat paced in 2:08 1/4 by the mare was the day's fastest but well off the Derby record of 2:05.

Immediately following the final heat, Mr. W.J. Hyatt of London -- the owner of the previous year's Derby winner Bob Lee -- presented a lovely trophy to Mr. Brown at which time the newest winner announced he would do the same for the next year's big race. Miss Vera Bars was driven by Gid Litt as the mare's trainer and regular driver Cliff "Chappy" Chapman had another entrant in the race, Chestnut Bars. History was made this day as Miss Vera Bars became the only mare to ever win the Derby during its 21 year history at New Hamburg. In 1977 she became a member of the Horse Racing Hall Of Fame. ​

Mr. J.W. Brown became a familiar figure on Derby Day in the years ahead as his outstanding performer The Count B went on to win this race on four occasions, finishing second in another in 1946 when Blue Again was that year's winner. His name has continued down through the years as his son Dr. Glen Brown has been a prominent member of the sport for many decades.

Left: J.W. Brown of New Liskeard, Ont. is shown holding the rose bowl which was presented to him at New Hamburg following a victory by his mare Miss Vera Bars for winning the 1941 Canadian Pacing Derby. Right: A very young Joe O'Brien

1942 - 1,600 Fans Gather At Glasgow N.S. Race Day

The Union Driving Club sponsored meeting here today featured thrilling finishes and close racing throughout the afternoon. Excellent starting by Ken MacDougall of Moncton, N.B. was another feature of the meet. In the featured Free For All, five of the best sidewheelers in the east answered the call, headed by Highland Worthy from the barn of Heber Sweeney of Bridgewater, N.S.

In the three-heat affair though it was Dudey Patch who came through with one of his sizzling performances as he ended the day with a standing of 4-1-1. His driver, youthful Joe O'Brien of Alberton, gave a superb exhibition in teaming the little fellow to not only two wins but also recorded the meet's fastest trip. In the final stanza they stopped the clock in 2:09 to come within one second of the track record. To the disappointment of many, the favourite Highland Worthy had to be scratched after the second heat due to lameness along with another entrant Aaron L., leaving a field of just three. The anticipation of the huge crowd for the final was lessened by the unfortunate turn of events.

This left Allison Langille's Victor Lee -- who won the first heat -- and Dudey Patch to battle it out in the third, but in the final standings the Patch horse proved to be the best and thus took home the major part of the $200 purse.

Note: Dudey Patch one of Joe O'Brien's all time favourite horses is a member of the Horse Racing Hall of Fame, inducted in 1998.

1945 - A Racing Oddity at Dufferin Park

Saturday, September 1, 1945, Dufferin Park, Toronto Ont. - Racing fans in attendance here today were witness to a rather unusual sight for modern day harness racing. In the opening race, eight horses faced the starter for a purse of $200 for the two-heat affair. So far nothing too unusual.

The entrants were four teams of horses with the conditions allowing either pacers or trotters. The two-heat results are listed below:

Diana Lee & Patricia Volo -- 1 - 1
Joseph Guy & Princess Lee -- 2 - 2
Jean Henley & Widow Evans -- 3 - 4
Volo Worthy & Volette Worthy -- 4 - 3

Times - 1:10 1/2; 1:09

Winning Owner - Dr. E.E. Foster of Galt, Ont., a very prominent participant of this era.

On the same card, the Free For All event for $400 was won by Black Prince owned by A.V. Tinney of Lindsay, Ont. The first heat was contested at 9/16 miles in 1:11 1/2. The second heat at one mile was clocked in 2:15 1/2 and the third heat at 1 1/16 mile went in 2:25.

1947 - Dillon Mc A Leading Sire

Dillon Mc shown with his unidentified caretaker outside the Meldrum barn in Norwich, Ont.

Dillon Mc, the fine stallion owned throughout his long career by Norwich Ont. medical practioner Dr. W.N. Meldrum, continues to sire scores of successful performers each season. A foal of 1932 the son of Peter McKlyo provided the good Dr. with many thrills in his racing days while being handled by a number of top trainers of the day such as Floyd Milton, Clint Hodgins, Lew James and Harry Fields. A crowning moment came in 1939 when Dillon Mc won that year's Canadian Pacing Derby at New Hamburg which then carried a purse of $1,500.

Since his retirement this horse has been a resident at the Meldrum farm where he annually services a number of farm owned mares as well as those owned by other local horsemen. In 1947 his top two performers both won the prestigious colt futurities held this year during a short summer meeting at Dufferin Park. David Dillon 2:10 1/2 the all-time champion two-year-old captured the junior event while Dividend 2:10 3/4 took the three-year-old division. Both of these speedy sidewheelers are owned by Russell Miller of Dutton and were driven to victory by young Joe Hodgins his personal trainer. In addition to his young talent, an older mare by Dillon Mc named Dillon Flicka, owned by Edward and Annie Arthur of Otterville, paced the season's fastest mile in Ontario scoring in 2:06 1/2 on a half-mile track.

Dr. Meldrum and his rather famous horse are both Hall of Fame members, entering in 2002.

1949 - All Steel Sulky Co. Enjoying Prosperous Times

A display from the Harrisburg Sale showing the racing equipment available from the All Steel Sulky Co. of California, a popular supplier back then (Harness Horse)

The All Steel Sulky Co., located in Arcadia, California, is experiencing a huge upswing in their business with harness horse people across the Continent. More and more prominent stable operators and owners are switching to this Company's products, particularly following the recent racing season. Company reps had a huge display of their full line of products at this year's Harrisburg sale and the interest has resulted in larger than expected orders. The two top executives have been flying around the U.S. to promote their sulkies, jog carts and other accessories.

In the years following WW II many stables began to replace old and worn out equipment and many of the better stables purchased colour-coordinated products to dress up their outfits. It is interesting to note that Canadians received special mention and for just $15.00 extra the Co. would ship their goods across the border.

Who Is It?

​Can you identify this gentleman from days gone by? For an extra point, name the horse as well. The correct answer(s) will be given during the coming week.

February 15, 2018 - 6:25 pmI found it rather interesting

I found it rather interesting when I saw this post. Just last Friday I was going through some old pictures and I actually found that very picture. The description on the back says Coronation Derby 2:07 3/5 owned and driven by Stan Williams July 27,1957.

February 14, 2018 - 9:07 amThis week's 'Who Is It?' was

This week's 'Who Is It?' was the well known combo of yesteryear's Stan Williams and the horse he is best remembered for, Coronation Derby. While Stanley is no longer with us he has a number of family members still involved in the sport.

February 12, 2018 - 7:17 amI could have been there

I could have been there Robert. I was born in Feb. 1945. But I would not be old enough to bet. Wes Coke might have been old enough?

February 11, 2018 - 12:33 pmThe following note was

The following note was received pertaining to the 1945 item in this week's Rewind:
My name is Tim Foster. I am the son of Earl E Foster and the grandson of Dr E E Foster of Galt Ontario - now known as Cambridge, Ontario. My father Earl owned a mare by the name of Patricia Volo and also owned a trotter by the name of Dutch Dillard. I know he set some track records in Ontario for aged trotters such as London & Elmira racetracks from 1959 to 1964. Patricia Volo was a Road horse and won at the CNE and the Royal Winter Fair, approximately 21 years in a row as Grand Champion Mare. Dutch Dillard in the mid-to-late 50s to the early 1960s was a preferred and/or Invitational Trotter. My grandmother Minnie Foster was the first female to win horse person of the year in the mid-1950s. I find very little on these horses and or my family. Could you possibly direct on were to look. I would appreciate your help.

February 11, 2018 - 11:17 amNote to Al Casselman - The

Note to Al Casselman - The teams racing would have certainly been an interesting sight. As for betting on these contests, I cannot answer that as records back that far are pretty hard to find. I was hoping that just maybe you were there that day!
Wes Coke was in touch to express his enjoyment in reading today's Rewind. He mentioned the price of a sulky back then but also recalled what the purses were like and that at one time the winner did not always get 50 %. In the Who is it? photo he identified the pair as Stan Williams and his legendary mare Coronation Derby. He marveled at the lack of wheel discs and the old soft hats and enjoyed seeing the Old Woodbine winner's circle. Thanks Wes!

February 10, 2018 - 1:56 pmStan Williams? A day spent

Stan Williams? A day spent with him was always a good day! Don't know the horse but by the look of those knee boots I hope Stan didn't look down during the race!! The teams racing at Dufferin Park must have been interesting to watch, Robert. Could you bet on them also?

February 10, 2018 - 12:11 pmStan Williams

Stan Williams

February 10, 2018 - 11:08 amTHE ONE AND ONLY STAN


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