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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1970s

Published: April 29, 2017 11:11 am ET

Last Comment: April 29, 2017 2:14 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith takes readers back to the decade of the 1970s as he recalls many names, events and recollections of the times.

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith takes readers back to the decade of the 1970's as he recalls many names,events and recollections of the times. Old photos accompany each item to better tell the story.

1970 - Batavia Downs Turns 30

In September of 1970 Batavia Downs held a special week-long celebration to mark their 30th anniversary of hosting harness racing. Quite a number of Canadian horsemen were still competing there as had been the custom since its opening in 1940. At this time one of the Downs' top drivers was Anthony "Mac" MacRae, originally from a small place called Lost River near LaChute, Quebec. In mid-September he led all drivers in starts with 136 trips behind the gate and in wins with 24. Then aged 35 he had been racing there off and on since his first visit in 1957. ​

MacRae's driving career started in 1955 after a four-year stint as a groom. His travels took him to many tracks but after he was married he decided to call the Batavia home. At this time he and wife Kathy along with daughters Donna, 5 and Gail, 4 were spending summers at Batavia and winters in Florida.

Mr. MacRae passed away in Florida at the age of 80 in January 2016.

Left: Anthony 'Mac' MacRae. Right: Wm. 'Bill' Wellwood

1971 - Season's Champions Announced For O.J.C.

This season's top achievers were recently announced and their awards will be presented in an upcoming banquet early in the new year.

For the third consecutive year, 31-year-old Wm. Wellwood from Clarkson, Ont. was named Horseman of the Year. On October 19 he recorded his 200th win of the season to be the first to reach that plateau and his stable earnings were over $325,000.

The equine winners are listed below by gait.


Two-Year-Olds: Strike Out, owned by Beejay Stable. Driver Keith Waples. A winner of over $146,000.
Three-Year-Olds: Rob Ron Tarios, owned by Dr. Stephen Egan. Driver Keith Waples. A 13-time winner he earned over $71,000 this season.
Aged - Super Wave, owned by Dr. Geo. Boyce. Driver Jack Kopas. At age five, he was also named the Circuit's Horse of the Year. He had 10 wins in 2:00 or better. A $5,500 yearling purchase he reached $ 481,356 in career earnings by season's end.

Two-Year-Olds: Garma Fiery, owned by Gary and Irma Gristhenwaite. Driver Larry Walker.
Three-Year-Olds: Star Song, owned by Chas. and Victoria Armstrong. Driver Harold Wellwood Sr.
Aged: Fresh Yankee, owned by Duncan MacDonald. Driver Joe O'Brien. At the age of eight she was still at the top of her game and became the second trotter to reach one million dollars in lifetime earnings. Not too bad for a $900 yearling.

​The great trotting mare Fresh Yankee and Joe O'Brien shown in a winning effort at Windsor (Harness Horse)

1972 - Jacques Hebert At Historic Track In Goshen

July 4, 1972 - Jacques Hebert, one of Quebec's finest horsemen made a recent trip to the very old and equally famous Historic Track at Goshen, New York. Several days of racing were held and most events were New York Sire Stakes events or other well-known annual Stakes. The camera captured him in a couple of excellent shots while racing one of the season's top young trotters, the two-year-old Wyatt Dill.

Wyatt Dill and driver Jacques Hebert slip past Speed Galore driven by Glen Garnsey to earn a victory at the picturesque Goshen track and take home the E.H. Harriman Challenge Trophy. This race was first held in 1924 and each year thereafter. (Harness Horse)


Wyatt Dill is shown in the winner's circle following a two-heat victory in the E.H. Harriman Cup for two-year-old colts and geldings. The outstanding colt was owned by Leo Theroux of St. Hyacinthe, Que. who I presume is among the cast shown above. If those in the reading audience can identify anyone, please feel free to do so. (Harness Horse)

1976 - Race Days Continue in New Hamburg, Ont.

For many years Ontario's biggest annual race day took place at the small Waterloo County town of new Hamburg. Each August thousands of cheering fans jammed Fountain Park to watch the Canadian Pacing Derby which was first held in 1936. For parts of three decades the great race continued until 1957 when the changing times saw the last Derby held at this memorable spot.

For a number of years after the glory years, races were still held here but for much smaller purses and lesser competition. For those who pursued harness racing more for the fun and family atmosphere it was still a popular stop in addition to the holiday weekend and fall fair circuit. One man who enjoyed these times was a gentleman named Mac Sewers, who then resided at Londesboro and raced a horse or two as a hobby. On this day he reined his stable star Judy Mathers to victory.

A very happy Wm. "Mac" Sewers receives the best prize any horse owner and driver could ever hope for and that is being met by your wife and four daughters in the winner's circle following a win. His portion of the $300 purse would soon be forgotten but the memory of his family being part of the day still lives on. From left: daughters Joyce, Madelyn, and wife Muriel and Golda. At the horse's head is Mac joined by Wm. Caldwell and his fourth daughter Marlene.

1977 - Rotary Pace At Windsor Goes To Rocks Bobby Joe

May 1977 - It was Rotary Club Night at Windsor Raceway recently, in a special promotion of the organization's annual Easter Seal campaign. Windsor's "Timmy of the Year," Jeffrey Allen, was the honoured guest and enjoyed posing in the arms of driver Doug Hie who had captured the featured Rotary Club Pace with the favourite, Rocks Bobby Joe. Also shown from left are Bill Horn, publicity director for the charity campaign and Bob Hogarth, Windsor club vice-president.(Hoof Beats & Sulky Scene)

The Rotary movement dates back to 1905 when it first started in Chicago. It eventually became worldwide with Canada's first club formed in Winnipeg. I grew up with a special feeling about the organization as my late father was a very long time member and we attended many functions associated with his home club which just celebrated their 80th anniversary.

April 29, 2017 - 2:14 pmComment from Pierre Grisé,

Jeff Porchak SAID...

Comment from Pierre Grisé, former judge supervisor for the Quebec Racing Commission:

"The third person on the left is veterinairian Dr Clément Trudeau of St-Hyacinthe. Mr Léo Théroux is holding the trophy. The lady at far right is Jacques Hébert's wife, Mrs J. St-Jacques, sister of veteran horseman Claude St-Jacques and the late Léon St-Jacques who passed away of a heart failure while driving in a race at Blue Bonnets."

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