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SC Rewind: The OSS Turns 10

Published: April 28, 2018 11:12 am ET

Last Comment: May 2, 2018 11:25 am ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's edition of Rewind Robert Smith takes a look back some 35 years ago to 1983. His reminiscence includes a number of highlights, statistics and photographs from that season's O.S.S. action. A special milestone was reached that year as the program completed its first ten years.

The O.S.S. Turns Ten

As the curtain fell on the 1983 racing season in Ontario it marked the 10th season for the still new Sires Stakes program. In that time span it had risen to one of the finest of its kind and had far outstripped its early expectations. A few quick facts concerning the 1983 season are listed below.

  • 23 horses earned over $75,000 racing exclusively in the O.S.S. program and 84 horses won over $25,000

  • Nine horses earned over $100,000 and 42 made over $50,000

  • Through the Improvement Program the Province rebated over $7.1 million to Ontario's raceways for overnight purse assistance

  • In addition a record $7.7 million in purses and breeder's awards were distributed to bring the total to $14.8 million

  • Nearly five million fans attended harness racing at Ontario's large and small pari-mutuel raceways

  • Nine new speed records were set in 1983 in OSS events

  • 19 Raceways were operating in Ontario at this time

  • 104 events from May to November were planned for 1984 for purses exceeding an estimated $8 million

A few standouts from this year's performances are listed below.

Annie Ivy - Two-Year-Old Filly Pacers

Trained and driven by Bud Fritz for the Forbes Cattle Co. of Walkerton she had an amazing year competing in all 13 OSS events, winning the first seven. A $9,200 yearling purchase Annie went on to earn almost $195,000 with $159,000 in sires stakes action. This was just one of a number of Fritz pupils that excelled in this program during 1983.

Brisco Herbert - Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter

Brisco Herbert led all three-year-old trotting colts with earnings of $115,000 in OSS action and $156,620 total. He also became the first trotter to break the 2:00 barrier in the history of the Ontario program. Owned by Ruth Herbert of London and handled by Dave Wall the new mile record was clocked at 1:59.4 in early August at Rideau Carleton.

The combination of the long standing Herbert name and that of a then young trainer and driver Dave Wall proved to be a winning formula.

Lifetime Chance - Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt

Lifetime Chance had an outstanding season for veteran owner Max Webster, an automobile dealer from Brantford, Ont. Mr. Webster was no stranger to breeding and owning top flight horses dating back to his entry into the sport in the late 1950's. This season he was the proud owner of a very fine two-year-old trotting colt Lifetime Chance, a son of Dream Of Glory out of the Bonefish mare Bouillabaisse.

Lifetime Chance was handled by a young Kelly Sheppard and in 17 trips to the post returned 10 times for a winning picture. This along with one second and a pair of third place finishes brought in a tidy $171,720 for his freshman season to top all two-year-old performers. Of that total $141,019 came from O.S.S. events where he finished second to J B Surge of the Fritz Stable who had $158,758 in OSS earnings.

Amrock Wise Guy - Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt

A most unlikely candidate for early stardom this young pacing son of Keystone Smartie was purchased as a yearling for $700; a bargain by any standard. Owned by Geoff Howles of Livonia, Michigan and handled by Danny Johnson -- a golfer turned horseman -- "Rocky" was an immediate success on the track winning his very first outing. In his first seven starts he had five wins and two third place finishes; not to mention a bankroll of almost $53,000 to handily offset his purchase price.

By season's end Amrock Wise Guy led the entire two-year-old colts and geldings division with earnings of $107,449. His successes established a couple of "firsts" for his driver Danny Johnson who had never campaigned a colt of this quality, and for owner Howles. The owner of a tool and die shop, Howles had owned horses since 1972 but had never had one like this "Guy" before.

About the OSS program Mr. Howles told harness reporter Katrina Schmitz, "It's a super program and everyone at the OSS has just been fantastic and helpful."

Idylwood Surge - Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies

This freshman daughter of Surge Hanover turned in a solid campaign for her co-owner and trainer Carman Hie, who also handled the driving chores for her other owner Blake Anthony. She received her early conditioning from Dr. Peter Johnston, a Peterborough veterinarian who raised the filly. This was Anthony's first venture into the sport and it turned out to be a pretty good start for the machine shop owner from Burlington.

At year's end Idylwood Surge was second in the money column with just over $85,000 in her first year bank account. Leading the way was B Cor Tamara who tallied $98,003 for owner Bill Core of Desden and driver Allen Dell.

Shown above is a listing of the top performers based on earnings in all eight age and sex categories for the 1983 season (The Standardbred magazine)


Shown above is listing of O.S.S. fastest miles for 1983 (The Standardbred)

Note: The awards for leading drivers and trainers in O.S.S. competition was not yet in effect at this time so no statistics for those categories were readily available.

Who is this?

Can you correctly identify this gentleman from days gone by? Stay tuned for the correct answer during the coming week.

May 2, 2018 - 11:25 amThis week's photo was

This week's photo was correctly identified by a couple of astute observers as Murray Waples. Murray raced horses at various Canadian and U.S. tracks for many years and in this picture was in the winner's circle at Buffalo Raceway around 1970 following a victory by a mare named Minda Marie owned by my late father and mother.

April 28, 2018 - 6:12 pmMurray Waples

Murray Waples

April 28, 2018 - 1:24 pmRobert Q, It was a different

Marty Adler SAID...

Robert Q, It was a different time:

April 28, 2018 - 11:35 amMurray Waples

Gord Brown SAID...

Murray Waples

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