Hall Of Fame Announces Finalists For Class Of 2023

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Published: April 11, 2023 02:24 pm EDT

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Standardbred and Thoroughbred Nomination Committees have determined the categories and finalists to appear on the ballot presented to the Election Committees, from which the Class of 2023 will be selected.   

Previously, The Board of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (CHRHF) agreed the Classes of 2022 and 2023 will each be comprised of four inductees per breed, per class. The individuals named to CHRHF Class of 2022 and this Class of 2023 will be formally inducted in a double year ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023.  

A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the one individual to be inducted in each of four categories, with the results to be announced on Wednesday, April 26.

The Standardbred categories appearing on the 2023 Election Ballot include Builder, Female Horse, Male Horse, and Veteran.

The finalists in the 2023 Builder category include Dr. Moira Gunn, Al Libfeld, and Dr. Lloyd McKibbin.

Dr. Moira Gunn graduated from The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, in Edinburgh, Scotland before completing a post-graduate internship at Ontario Veterinary College at Guelph, a two-year large animal surgical residency. That education was followed by time working at Belmont Racetrack with Dr. Carl Juul Neilson. Her tenure at Canada's preeminent Standardbred breeding operation, Armbro Farms, began in January 1988 as the farm veterinarian. Gunn ascended to Manager, Vice-President, and from 2000 to 2004, President, following her mentor, Dr. Glen Brown. Other positions held in the industry include Director of the E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund, Co-Chair of Equine Guelph Advisory Council, President of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario, Director/Vice president of Canadian Standardbred Horse Society with multiple committee appointments, and Director of Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.  She was also heavily involved in the amalgamation of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society and the Canadian Trotting Association to form Standardbred Canada.  As part of Paradox Farm, Dr. Gunn was a breeder of both Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, including Queen's Plate winner Lexie Lou.  After her time at Armbro Farms, Dr. Gunn operated a private equine practice specializing in stallion management, embryo transfer and freezing, and reproductive challenges of hard to breed mares. 

Al Libfeld’s first exposure to horse racing came through Marvin Katz and later on they would become business partners. Libfeld made his first foray into Standardbred ownership with the purchase of the Albatross yearling Keystone Hera in 1988 with Katz. From that point on, the successful homebuilder, whose Tribute Communities is one of the most prominent in Ontario, was hooked, focusing his efforts on breeding and owning primarily trotters. He considers his horses and racing a passion. In addition to his partnership with Katz, Libfeld has bred and owned a number of horses on his own, or with partners including Dan Patch and O’Brien Award winner Ariana G ($2,600,995; 1:50.2), O’Brien Award winner Define the World ($1,740,839; 1:51.4), and his dam Venice Holiday.

The late Dr. Lloyd McKibbin is considered a pioneer in the advancement of Equine Veterinary Medicine. He was an innovator, teacher, and author as well as a very hands-on veterinarian. He focussed on Acupuncture, Cryosurgery and Laser Therapy, mentoring other veterinarians to follow in his path, many of whom went on to open their own successful practices with some who continue to work as veterinarians today. His books, Horse Owners Handbook and Cryoanalgesia for Horses, continue to be used as reference manuals. Horse owners travelled from far and wide to his small, unassuming clinic in Wheatley, Ont., for treatment using the ground-breaking methods he employed, all the while acting in the best interest of his equine patients. Among the numerous horses aided by Dr. McKibbin was CHRHF 2020 Inductee Rambling Willie, who spent time under “Doc’s” care. It was the relationship Rambling Willie’s owners had with Dr. McKibbin that provided the opportunity for the much-lauded horse to appear at Dresden Raceway.

In the Standardbred Driver category, the candidates are Chris Christoforou, Clare MacDonald, and Ed Tracey.

Chris Christoforou has been driving Standardbred horses for 33 consecutive years, beginning in 1990 and continuing until the present time. Christoforou’s driving stats currently sit at 6,757 career wins, $118,938,495 in purse earnings and a .260 UDRS lifetime rating, and he has four times been presented the O’Brien Award as Canada’s Driver of the Year. The opportunity to pilot his family’s homebred trotter, Earl, brought Christoforou into the spotlight early in his driving career, and in 1993, Christoforou became the second youngest driver to win a prestigious Breeders Crown race when he and Earl captured the Aged Trot division at Mohawk. Among the many other horses Christoforou achieved major stakes success with include Grinfromeartoear (1999 Breeders Crown), CHRHF Member Astreos (2000 Little Brown Jug), as well as CHRHF Member Peaceful Way (2003 Goldsmith Maid and 2003 Oakville.).  He has also visited the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final winner's circle 10 times.  

A native of Antigonish, N.S., Mary Clare “Clare” MacDonald is Canada’s winningest female harness driver in victories (1,520) and purse earnings ($4,932,296). Her stats, all achieved while racing in the Atlantic provinces, rank her second among female drivers in North America, behind U.S. Hall of Fame member, the late Bea Farber-Erdman. A second-generation horseperson, MacDonald’s driving career began at age 17 with 19 wins in her first year. Since that time, in a career spanning over 40 years, she has surpassed $100,000 in annual earnings as a driver 25 times. Horses driven and/or trained by MacDonald have set track records at five tracks, and she also holds the honour of being the first driver to complete a sub-2:00 trotting mile in Atlantic Canada. In addition to training and driving, MacDonald has served terms as a Standardbred Canada Director and was a member of the Rules Working Group for the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission.

Weyburn, Saskatchewan-born Ed Tracey received his driving license at age 15. After getting his start in three-heats-a-day race meets in his home province, his passion for harness racing took him to six Canadian provinces and numerous states in the U.S. Over a span of 55 years, Tracey had 3,168 driving victories and more than $7.5 million in purse earnings. The pinnacle of his career came in 1978 when he won the ice racing championship on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. The late Ed Tracey was named Alberta Horseman of the Year in 1978, and in 1998, he was awarded the Dr. Clara Christie Award for his contribution to Alberta’s harness racing industry.

Female Horses included on the 2023 ballot include Emilie Cas El, Pure Ivory, and West Of L A.

Emilie Cas El, out of Hall of Fame mare Amour Angus, is a full sister to top trotting sires – Andover Hall, Angus Hall and Conway Hall.  She began her race career in owner Dustin Jones’ home province of Quebec, winning all 13 of her races there and setting the Blue Bonnets track record for two-year-old trotting fillies.  Her success continued in Ontario sweeping the Canadian Breeders Championship, equalling the track record at Mohawk and being named the O’Brien Award winner for both Two-Year-Old Trotting filly and Horse of the Year.  Following a change in ownership and a move to Europe, she continued to race through age five.  As a broodmare, her top earning offspring is Hambletonian winner Trixton, who earned $968,696 and set a lifetime mark of 1:50.3 at age three before moving to the stallion ranks in both Canada and the U.S. 

Trotting mare Pure Ivory, by Striking Sahbra, has been successful both on the track and as a broodmare. Bred by Diane Ingham and the late Harry Rutherford, and owned throughout her racing career by Jerry Van Boekel, Christina Maxwell, Steve Condren and Rutherford, Pure Ivory’s stats include earnings of $1.44 million and a lifetime mark of 1:53.1. The two-time O’Brien Award recipient (2005 & 2006), trained by Brad Maxwell, won 22 stakes races during her career, including Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals at age two and three, the Canadian Breeders Championship, and divisions of the Simcoe and Champlain Stakes. Currently a broodmare owned by Steve Stewart of Paris, Kentucky, Pure Ivory produced the 2019 Hambletonian champion Forbidden Trade, who was a divisional O’Brien Award winner at two and three, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2019, and amassed career earnings in excess of $2.3 million.

Following a race career at ages two and three, during which she earned $257,150, West Of L A became a top-performing broodmare. Bred and owned, in partnership by Robert McIntosh Stables, C S X Stables and Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., and trained by CHRHF Honoured Member Robert McIntosh, this daughter of Western Hanover, out of the Cam Fella mare Los Angeles, is the dam of horses with earnings of $4.9 million, including two horses with earnings of more than $1.7 million each. Her Somebeachsomewhere son Somewhere In L A boasts $1.87 million in earnings with a lifetime mark of 1:48.4. Her daughter L A Delight, by Bettors Delight, won the O’Brien Award for Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year in 2015 and followed that up with an O’Brien Award in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly category in 2016. Her resume includes 26 wins in a 66 race career, a lifetime mark of 1:49.1 and earnings of $1.78 million.

The 2023 Standardbred Male Horse Category ballot features Bulldog Hanover, Marion Marauder, and Muscle Mass.

Sired by 2022 CHRHF Inductee Shadow Play and out of Artsplace mare BJs Squall, Bulldog Hanover was purchased by CHRHF 2022 Trainer Inductee Jack Darling for $28,000 at the 2019 Harrisburg Black Book Sale. He began his race career at age two, winning four of six starts, including the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final. Before the beginning of the pacer's three-year-old season, Brad Grant was added as a co-owner. At three, Bulldog Hanover continued to impress with three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold leg wins. He stepped into Grand Circuit competition with wins in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and a North America Cup elimination, and then rounded out his sophomore year with four consecutive wins at Hoosier Park in the Monument Circle, the Star Destroyer Pace, the Circle City Pace and the Thanksgiving Classic, giving all a look at what was to come. During his 2022 campaign, in a 21-day period, Bulldog Hanover won four straight races at The Meadowlands, winning a Graduate leg in 1:47, the Roll With Joe in 1:46, the Graduate final in 1:46.1 and the William R. Haughton Memorial in a world record time of 1:45.4. It was those 21 days from June 25 to July 16 that captured the world’s attention and catapulted Bulldog Hanover to a new status, as he became the fastest pacer of all time en route to Horse of the Year honours in Canada and unanimous Horse  of the Year honours in the U.S. 

With $3.5 million-plus in the bank and 21 trips to the winner's circle, Marion Marauder boasts the resume of a racehorse that few can match.  He won the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity in 2016 to become just the ninth trotter to win trotting's Triple Crown. The son of Muscle Hill-Spellbound Hanover also won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial at three, en route to a season that amassed more than $1.5 million in purses, topping the North American earnings charts for all trotters. As an older competitor, his stakes scores included the 2017 Graduate final and the Hambletonian Maturity, the Cleveland Trotting Classic, 2018 John Cashman Memorial and the 2018 Caesars Trotting Classic. Marion Marauder was the recipient of the O’Brien Award for three-year-old trotter in 2016. That same year, he was also named USHWA Three-Year-Old Trotter and Trotter of the Year, followed by the USHWA Aged Trotter of the Year Award in 2017.  Marion Marauder is also a resident of the Kentucky Horse Park Hall of Champions.

Muscle Mass retired to stud duty as the fastest two-year-old son of super-sire Muscles Yankee, having established his world-record mark of 1:53.4 in only his second career start. He established himself as a leading trotting sire and was the leading first crop sire of Ontario Sires Stakes winners in 2012 following up with spectacular years in 2013 and 2014 as the leading Ontario sire of two-year-old trotters. He also earned the title of the overall leading trotting sire in 2014. After spending the 2014 and 2015 breeding seasons in New York, where he sired world champion millionaires Six Pack and Plunge Blue Chip, he returned to Ontario in 2016. Muscle Mass was also the leading Canadian trotting sire in 2022, with offspring earning $5.5 million and winning 251 races. Among his offspring are multiple Ontario Sires Stakes Gold champions including Adare Castle 3,1:52.4 ($1,154,691); Riveting Rosie 4,1:52.4 ($973,938); Lovedbythemasses 4, 1:50.2 ($657,263) ;and On A Sunny Day 4,1:52.4 ($700,311).

The four categories selected by the Thoroughbred Nominating Committee for the 2023 Thoroughbred ballot are Builder, Jockey, Male Horse, and Veteran – Person or Horse. Categories and finalist names in each are presented below in alphabetical order.

A Thoroughbred Builder ballot comprised of Sam Lima, Glenn Sikura, and Glen Todd is offered for voter consideration.

The late Sam Lima’s involvement in racing included many decades as an owner and a promoter of the sport and in the many positions he held with the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, where he was a leader and advocate for the services and resources available to track workers, not only while they were in the industry, but following their time on the backstretch. Lima founded and, for nearly 60 years, was the driving force behind the highly popular Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, which benefitted thousands of racing fans by educating them about the finer details of the game through regular interaction with racing’s many stars. Lima was also the first Chairman of the Fort Erie Advisory Board from 1985-1994 and advocated diligently for the continuation of racing at Fort Erie Racetrack. In 1992, Lima played an important role in establishing a simulcasting policy that still remains today. Lima, who passed away in 2019, was recognized in 2018 by the Jockey Club of Canada with a special Sovereign Award for his lifetime contributions.

Contributions to Canadian horse racing by Builder finalist R. Glenn Sikura include being the owner and operator of Hill 'n' Dale Canada and also holding positions with organizations representing various aspects of the Canadian Thoroughbred industry.  He has served as Chief Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada since 2018 and is the past President of the National and Ontario Divisions of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, past President of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, past President of Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, a former Director of both the Breeders' Cup and Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Assocation. A leading consignor of horses at sales in both Canada and the U.S., his past sales graduates include Horse of the Year A Bit o' Gold, Dynamic Sky, Inglorious, and One for Rose.  As an owner/breeder, Sikura campaigned champion Serenading, Handpainted, Painting, and many others.

Born on Dec. 20, 1946, the late Glen Todd fell in love with horse racing as a child, attending the races with his father who had met Todd's mother at Hastings Race Course in 1939. “There is a lot of history of racing in my family,” he has said. Todd quickly immersed himself in everything about preparing a racehorse, educating himself from the shedrow up. Todd was an exceptional businessman who took over his father Jack and mother Eileen’s Pacific Group of Companies, founded in 1954. Todd began training horses at Hastings in the early 1970s, doing so until 1985. In 2011, he won the Sovereign Award in a tie with Donver Stable for Canada’s Outstanding Owner. Behind the racing headlines, Todd worked tirelessly to promote and improve the B.C. racing industry. In 2009, he was part of the B.C. Horse Racing Industry Management Committee, formed to revitalize the sport and put it on firmer financial ground.  

The ballot for Jockeys is comprised of Irwin Driedger, Emile Ramsammy, and Gary Stahlbaum.

Irwin Driedger, a native of Russell, Man., launched his career at age 11 in 1967, riding at fairs in Western Canada. He began riding at recognized Canadian racetracks in 1973 and competed at major tracks across Canada for the next 17 years. The 1998 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award, Driedger rode Sovereign Award winners Liz's Pride, Phoenix Factor, Classy N Smart, In My Cap, Grey Classic, and Imperial Choice. In 1990, Driedger retired from competition and became the Secretary-Manager of the Jockeys Benefit Association of Canada, serving his first term until 2006. Under his direction, Canadian jockeys became the first in North America to wear safety vests. Driedger was also instrumental in helping to install safety rails at Woodbine. In 2006, he was appointed Director of Thoroughbred Racing Surfaces at Woodbine and resigned at the end of the 2018 racing season to again assume the role of Secretary-Manager of the Jockeys’ Benefit Association of Canada in April 2019 until 2021.

Emile Ramsammy, considered a true gentleman and champion, began his career as a jockey in Trinidad in 1980. He achieved 500 wins and was named Caribbean Barbadian Champion Jockey in 1986 and 1989, winning the Barbadian Gold Cup in 1985, 1987, and 1988.  In 1990, Ramsammy started riding in Canada, and was awarded the Sovereign Award as Outstanding Jockey in 1996 and 1997, and received the Avelino Gomez Award in 2011. His resume includes Queen’s Plate victories with Victor Cooley in 1996 and Edenwold in 2006 and achieved stakes success with Wake at Noon, One for Rose, and many others. His career stats from 1990-2022 include 18,753 starts with a record reading 2,279-2,281-2,240 and earnings totalling $89,032,679.

Gary Stahlbaum was Canada’s Champion Jockey in 1980 and rode many of the country’s best horses for two decades including Afleet, Bessarabian, Rainbow Connection, Eternal Search, and One from Heaven.  Records show him winning nearly 1,800 races with 118 of those stakes victories. What made Stahlbaum’s accomplishments even more meaningful is that he rode against many of the most talented jockeys ever in both Canada and the United States. In the three-year period from 1979-81, he captured the coveted leading rider title at Woodbine those three consecutive years.

The 2023 Thoroughbred Male Horse ballot includes Fatal Bullet, Joshua Tree, and Pink Lloyd.

Bred by Adena Springs, owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stables and trained by Hall of Fame trainer Reade Baker, Fatal Bullet was one of Canada’s fastest sprinters in recent decades. He was voted Canada's Horse of the Year in 2008 on the strength of being named Canada's Outstanding Sprinter that year. He captured 12 career races including five stakes and earned $1,377,256.00 in total. Winning his first career start as a juvenile in 2007, his three-year-old year included three early-season wins at Woodbine, track-record performances at Woodbine in the Bold Venture Stakes, at Presque Isle in the Tom Ridge Stakes, and at Turfway Park, earning a trip to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint, where he placed second behind heavily favoured Midnight Lute in the quickest running of the race to date in 1.07.08.  That win projected Fatal Bullet to having earned the second-fastest time in the history of the race.

Irish-bred Joshua Tree’s career statistics feature earnings of $3,851,594 in 37 starts with a record reading 7-7-4. The son on Montjeu, from the Sadler’s Wells branch of Northern Dancer’s pedigree, made three trips to Woodbine, winning the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes in 2010, 2011, and 2013, making him the first, and still only horse, to achieve that milestone. Interestingly, his Canadian accomplishment was achieved with three different jockeys and for three different trainers: 2010 - Jockey: Colm O'Donoghue, Trainer: Aidan O'Brien; 2011 - Jockey: Frankie Dettori, Trainer: Marco Botti; and 2013 - Jockey: Ryan Moore Trainer Ed Dunlop. Other graded stakes wins for this world traveller include the Grade 1 Qatar International Invitation Cup in 2011, the Grade 2 Judamonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot in 2009, and the Grade 2 Darley Prix Kergorly in 2009.

Pink Lloyd, a Canadian foal of 2012, became one of the country’s most famous race horses during his career. The launch of Pink Lloyd’s career for Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Trainer Robert Tiller was delayed until his four-year-old season because of growing pains. Bred by John Carey and owned by Entourage Stable, including principal owner, Frank Di Giuliano Jr., the gelding’s first of a remarkable record of 26 career stakes wins, all at Woodbine at sprint distances, came early in 2017 when he captured the Jacques Cartier Stakes, a race he would remarkably win three more times. His perfect season of eight stakes wins earned him Sovereign Awards as Champion Older Horse, Outstanding Sprinter and Horse of the Year. Over the course of the next four years, five more Sovereign Awards were earned while Pink Lloyd reigned as the perennial Sprint Champion while competing in record time. In Pink Lloyd’s 38th and final career start in the autumn of 2021 in the Kennedy Road Stakes just when the odds were beginning to turn against him, the venerable nine-year-old gelding saved his best for the final furlong and rushed late on the outside to snatch his 29th career score before an adoring audience.

In the Thoroughbred Veteran Category, voters will select from Bessarabian, Formal Gold, and Andy Smithers.

U.S.-bred and Canadian-based Bessarabian was purchased at a Two-Year-Old in Training Sale in Florida for $122,000 USD by Tom Webb for Eaton Hall Farm.  As a two-year-old, she was the best filly in Canada easily beating local competition before going on to capture the Grade 1 Gardenia Stakes, earning herself a trip to run in the first Breeders' Cup for juvenile fillies. Her first-year stats include five wins in 10 starts.  At three, she won seven of 12 starts including five stakes and placed in two others -- one of those runner-up finishes was the prestigious Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. In 1986, Bessarabian won six of 15 starts including another five stakes and she was third in the Grade 2 Arlington Matron Handicap in Chicago. She capped her brilliant racing career under the tutelage of trainer Mike Doyle by being named Champion Older Mare. In 37 career starts, Bessarabian had 18 wins, five seconds and four thirds, earning $1,032,640.

Ontario-bred Formal Gold remains the fastest Canadian-bred in terms of speed figures, even though his final year of racing occurred in 1997. Bred by Mr. & Mrs. Rodes Kelly, trained by William W. Perry and owned by John D. Murphy Sr., this son of Black Tie Affair received an Equibase Rating of 136, one of the highest in history. Formal Gold was also ranked among the top handicap horses of 1997 with gate-to-wire efforts in two Grade 1 victories -- the Woodward Stakes in September of that year after winning the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream in February, defeating Horse of the Year and U.S. Hall of Fame horse Skip Away, in both races.  At stud, he ranked among the top one per cent as sire of two-year-old winners from starters at 45 per cent and sired progeny with global earnings of nearly $16 million USD, including 19 stakes winners.

After returning from duty in WWII, “Andy” Smithers started in the racing business under the tutelage of his father and soon branched out on his own at tracks all across Western Canada, including B.C., which became his home base. Smithers moved his operation to Woodbine in the early '60s. His name first appeared on the Ontario circuit leading trainer list in 1963, a trend that would continue throughout the decade highlighted by a Canadian and career-best win total of 158 in 1967. Smithers trained horses for many influential owners and breeders including Ernie Leiberman, John Smallman, Ryland H. New, Calvin Sturrock, and D.G. (Bud) Willmot, among others. His stakes-winning horses included Coup Landing, Briartic, Laughing Bill, Galindo, Deep Star, Gauchesco, and Norland.

Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame may be found at canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com.

(With files from Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)



Just wanted to say thank you to the Nominating Committee on the Standardbred side for helping put together such a solid and deserving group of finalists for the Class of 2023, and congrats and best of luck in the next round to the 2023 finalists.
Jeff Porchak
Chair, Standardbred Nominating Committee
Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

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