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Reaction From The Class Of 2021

Published: April 15, 2021 10:14 pm ET

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Trot Insider has gathered reaction from the 2021 Standardbred inductees into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame announced the three people and three horses to be inducted as the Hall’s Class of 2021. The Standardbred Election Committee selected Jim Bullock (Builder), Randy Waples (Driver), and Great Memories (Female Horse).

Erin, Ontario resident Jim Bullock has made immense contributions to the Canadian harness racing industry over the past 30 plus years as an owner, breeder, stallion syndicator, race track administrator and organization leader.

"I'm delighted," said Bullock with a humble chuckle of incredulity, noting he was surprised to make the list of finalists. "I had several people tell me after [the nomination list was announced] 'congratulations, but don't be too upset if you don't get in because it's tough and there's competition.' I said 'look, I was shocked to be nominated so I'm not going to be upset if I don't get in!'

"I'm very surprised, and pleasantly so."

Although 2021 Driver Inductee Randy Waples was born with harness racing in his blood, he still needed to earn what he accomplished as a driver. After spending close to 10 years honing his craft at tracks throughout Ontario, the trajectory of his career changed in 1996 when he won 150 races in 1,197 starts in what would be the first of 22 consecutive years as a driver with earnings reaching into the millions. Nationally Waples is the all-time leading money-winning driver of races held in Canada, sporting more than 6,600 wins and $131 million in purse earnings.

The call also took Waples by surprise, who felt both joy and a numbness from the news.

"It's such an honour, and I am stunned by it....I went to work for Fred Hoffman when I was like 29, for free! It wasn't even a job, it was to pay off 10 percent of a horse on a training bill. From 29 to now, it's just been a whirlwind.

"You grow up on the farm jogging horses, and I was around when they first developed the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. I would have been like 13, 14 years old...and that was a huge thing. Keith [Waples] went in early, but not the first year...and this becomes a huge deal in my eyes. I've always been that way. I've always wanted to win those big races that were up on the plaques on the walls when you walked into Greenwood Raceway. Those were the only races with plaques on the walls, and those were the races I wanted to win. Same with the Hall of Fame."

Randy then watched his father Ron's rise to the top of the sport in the 1980s, and subsequently his Hall of Fame induction in 1986.

"At the time my dad went in, I was not succeeding," recalled Randy. "It had gone from when Keith went in when I'm 14 years old, thinking 'oh boy, wouldn't that be cool, I hope I can do that someday' and then by the time you're 29 and you can't even buy a drive, and you think to yourself 'that dream's gone, that's just not going to happen' so you kind of throw it out. And then, to have all that you want, just a career, and go in every night to the premier track and get seven or eight drives, and driving with Bill Gale and [Doug Brown] and Condren and [Dave Wall] and all these great drivers...that's all I wanted. Just to make a living, and all of a sudden it progressed to wanting those stakes drives and wanting to win those big stakes. Then all of a sudden one day you sit back and think, 'wow, a whole lot has happened in my life' in a very short time. It amazes me."

The 2021 Standardbred Female Horse Inductee Great Memories is a daughter of CHRHF 2000 Inductee Apaches Fame and out of Armbro Emerson daughter Save The Memories. Bred by fellow CHRHF Class of 2021 inductee Jim Bullock at his Glengate Farm in Campbellville, she now resides a few kilometres up the road in Rockwood and is owned by Ontario Standardbred nursery Warrawee Farm. Great Memories’ 10 racing age progeny have earned more than $4.2 million with four horses -- Warrawee Needy, Warrawee Ubeaut, Warrawee Vital and Big Bay Point -- breaking the 1:50 barrier and two surpassing the $1 million earnings mark while also setting multiple world records.

Warrawee Farm's Dr. Michael Wilson received the news of the induction from his unexpected extended stay in New Zealand, where he's been since before the world changed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The news was bittersweet for Wilson, who was pleased that his mare got her well-deserved recognition but sad about who was stopped at the door as a result.

"I'm flattered, and very pleased, but I'm kind of sad about it too, because in many ways I wanted Harry Rutherford [breeder and part owner of Pure Ivory] to get it...just because he's Harry Rutherford."

Wilson noted that Great Memories is currently in foal to Sweet Lou, due in late May, and will be bred in 2021 to Tall Dark Stranger. Despite not being home for more than a year, he's able to keep up with the happenings on the farm thanks to modern technology.

"I have eight TV cameras in the barn, on different stalls, so I can actually see [the mares] foaling just the same as Duane [farm manager Duane Avery] can. In fact, I sometimes stand in for him when he's having a sleep."

Bullock, Waples and Great Memories join thoroughbred inductees Vicki Pappas (Builder), Male Horse Heart to Heart (Male Horse) and Not Too Shy (Veteran Horse) in the Class of 2021. As previously announced, the Board of Directors agreed to reduce the number of inductees for the Class of 2021 to three per breed. This will allow for the 2020 and 2021 inductees to be properly recognized together, once a gala event may be hosted.

The Hall determined additional inductees will be added in 2022 and 2023 to offset the smaller class of 2021.

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