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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1940s

Published: February 2, 2019 9:02 am ET

Last Comment: February 2, 2019 11:15 am ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This week's edition of 'Rewind' takes readers back to the decade of the 1940s as the monthly feature 'Years Ago' is featured. Pictures, and a few short stories tell of the people, places and horses who were then part of the passing scene.

1940 - Greyhound Rides Into Retirement

Greyhound trots to a new world record with a thoroughbred prompter nearby at Lexington in 1940. This event marked the end of his competitive career. He then immediately began a new career of guest appearances all over the land.

In late September of 1940 the immortal Greyhound bid his final adieu to the world of harness racing. In a racing career that spanned seven seasons the grey gelding set virtually every record that then existed. Because of the scarcity of money to provide adequate purses and also due to the absence of suitable competition, Greyhound was forced to make many public appearances either for show purposes or to participate in time trials. His major victory against competition occurred in 1935 as he won that year's Hambletonian.

By 1940 one record that he did not hold was trotting under saddle. On September 27, 1940 he added this record to his already lengthy list of accomplishments. With a well known personality from the show horse world, Frances Dodge Johnson (later Van Lennep) in the saddle, that feat was accomplished during the fall meeting at Lexington, Ky. The young 26-year-old rode Greyhound to a new record of 2:01 3/4.

This record stood for some 50 years and it was eventually broken by Moni Maker, a trotter bred by Mrs. Van Lennep's daughter Fredericka Caldwell. The new record was 1:54.1 and accomplished with Hall Of Fame Thoroughbred jockey Julie Krone aboard in 2000 at the same Red Mile track in Lexington.

Francis Dodge Johnson is shown riding Greyhound just after her 1940 record setting performance at the Red Mile in Lexington, Ky. An unidentified person believed to be a track official offers congratulations.

1941 - Northern Saskatchewan Circuit Has Successful Season

A recently organized racing organization in Northeastern Saskatchewan called the "Carrot River Circuit" has completed another successful season. Much of the organizing and planning for the race days was handled by Mr. Talmadge "Tom" Dainard of Nipawin, Sask. The season, which consisted of eight meetings. began at Wadena on May 24th, next was Elfros in mid-June, followed by Carrot River in late June. Nipawin had three meetings including the fair days. Additional stops included Star City and a return to Wadena. The race day at Tisdale was a disappointment as it rained heavily causing a very poor track. This was unfortunate as Tisdale was considered the fastest track in the area.

The outstanding free-for-aller was Battle Tom, owned by Lou Loblaw, proprietor of the Commercial Hotel in Melfort. He won every heat in which he was entered that season. Other good performers included Idol Princewood and Master Hindenburg. Race organizer Tom Dainard himself had an up-and-coming performer in Ginger Axworthy, a sorrel trotting mare. In the 2:28 classes there was a lot of evenly-matched competition but Madam Queen, owned by Jerry Duford of Nipawin, proved to be about the best. Most of the meetings had four races; two harness and two with runners.

"Purses are small and none of the boys made any money but they had lots of fun," a quote from the Canadian Sportsman of August 11, 1941.

1944 - Dufferin Park Invites Horsemen For Winter Meeting

An ad posted in the Oct. 9th edition of The Canadian Sportsman was seeking at least 100 horses to provide racing for the 1944 Fall and Winter racing season at Dufferin Park. With purses advertised at $250 and $300 the management was confident that sufficient entrants would book for stalls well in advance. Race Secretary H.E. "Wicksie" Wicks would be accepting applications.

1947 - Canadians Racing At Buffalo Raceway

From the time of its opening in 1942, Canadian horsemen enjoyed racing at the Hamburg, N.Y. track. On most programs every race contained at least one Canadian driver and on many occasions multiple reinsmen from across the border made up the names on the driver's list. Names such as Harvey, Hillock, Wellwood, Hodgins, Fields, Chapman, Tolhurst, Larochelle, Bardier, Milton and many others were found.

An alert camera man captured some action during a 1947 race at Buffalo Raceway involving a couple of popular Canadian drivers. This mishap involving driver Floyd Milton (on the left, driver of Bunnie B) and Harry Fields (already down on the track as the pilot of On Klio). A rescue worker was on the way (Harness Horse)

1948 - Canadian Pacing Derby Draws Huge Crowd

The Canadian Pacing Derby was prominent on the front page of the Toronto Daily Star but shared the spotlight with a bank robbery that occurred overnight in Havana, Cuba.

When the 1948 Canadian Pacing Derby was held in August of 1948 it made the front page of The Toronto Daily Star. The headline read "Village City For Day As New Hamburg Stages Harness Race Program." That year's Derby, which was the 13th such annual race, witnessed an overflow crowd listed as 17,000 jammed into the tiny Fountain Park in New Hamburg, Ont. The New Hamburg Turf Club made a public apology to the crowd as they had printed only 10,000 race programs (called 'Score Cards' in those days) which meant that many in attendance were unable to purchase one.

That year saw perennial favourite The Count B win his fourth Derby in five consecutive years. With young Johnny Chapman in the bike, the roan veteran took the first two heats with little difficulty. He paced the first mile in 2:09 and the second in an even quicker 2:07 1/5. In the third heat he broke a bone in his front leg and finished seventh and last. It marked the end of one of the great career performances in Canadian harness racing history. The Count eventually returned, but his form of the earlier years never returned.

On hand as a participant for the day was 71-year-old Richard Scott of Toronto. He drove his own two horses with Audrey Scott finishing 3-4-2 in the big Derby race. He also finished 3-4-4 with Constance Scott in the Three-Year Old Pace. He is pictured above with Jean Woodward but the caption offered no reason for her appearance. (Toronto Star)

February 2, 2019 - 11:15 amBonus picture: Richard Scott

Gord Brown SAID...

Bonus picture: Richard Scott and maybe Jean Woodward? Lol

February 2, 2019 - 10:36 amThank you Pierre (or perhaps

Thank you Pierre (or perhaps Merci) for your insight; I should have known who it was. Jimmy went on to become a top horseman in his own right. At times he drove the prompter when Sep Palin drove Greyhound in time trials. I too have that book!

February 2, 2019 - 9:48 amThe man holding Greyhound by

The man holding Greyhound by the bridle is his constant companion caretaker Jimmy Wingfield. When I went to Lexington, I bought a book "THE CENTURY OF SPEED, THE RED MILE 1875-1975". He is shown with Greyhound.

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