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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1970s

Published: April 30, 2016 8:36 am ET

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In this week's edition of Rewind, Robert Smith takes a look back at some of the personalities and events from the decade of the 1970s in the ongoing monthly feature 'Years Ago.'

1970 - O.H.H.A. Stakes Held at Garden City

This series sponsored by the O.H.H.A. was first held in 1963 at Mohawk. In 1968 these annual colt races were moved to Garden City. In order to be eligible to compete the entrant had to be sired by a stallion standing in Ontario. A victory or even a first-three finish in these events was considered quite an accomplishment. A representative of the Association was always on hand to make the trophy or cooler presentation. I recall R. L. "Tobe" Harris doing the honours for many years.

The results by division for the 1970 edition are shown below:

Two Y.O. Pacers: Purse $10,800
1. Armbro Lynx (Jack Kopas), owned by Mrs. Victoria Armstrong, Brampton
2. Derby Miss (Wm. Habkirk)
3. Cheeky Lane (Carman Hie)

Winning mile time: 2:06.3 (Current Stakes record held by Daniel B Herbert, 2:03.3, set in 1968)

Two Y.O. Trotters: Purse $9,825
1. Speedy Echo (Keith Waples), owned by K & R Lamb, Caledonia
2. Misti Lee Frost (Bill Carroll)
3. Duke Riddell (Allan Walker)

Winning mile time 2:11.4 (Current Stakes record held by Mighty Hoot, 2:09.1, set in 1967)

1971 - C.T.A. Hires Wesley Bryant

In an effort to keep pace with the rapid growth of Canadian harness racing and also to join in the effort to introduce more computerization, a new position has been created by the C.T.A. H. Allan Dickenson, the Association's President recently announced the hiring of Wesley G. Bryant to the job of General Manager of the Association.

The 42-year-old Montrealer is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate of McGill University with 21 years of experience in various industries.

His most recent position was with the firm of P.S. Ross & Partners, a consulting firm based in Montreal. Mr. Bryant's previous experience with the installation of the first IBM 1401 tape computer system in Canada made him a prime candidate.

With the C.T.A. now considering introduction of its own 'in-house' computer system at the Evans Avenue head office, his expertise will be an invaluable asset. In June he will move his wife and two children to permanent residence in Toronto.

1973 - Connaught Park Enjoys Record Year

This season marked the 20th year of harness racing at Connaught Park in Aylmer, Que. and it turned out to be their finest ever. This plant, located a mere five minutes from Parliament Hill, holds racing throughout the year.

A number of reinsmen have recorded some pretty impressive stats, based on both daily and total wins. Andre St. Amour, no stranger to the winner's circle at Connaught dominated action throughout the season. During the first 85 cards of racing he recorded 91 wins, thus showing an average of better than a win per program. Included in his record were six triples and two quadruplet performances. Only one driver, Ross Curran managed to rack up five wins on a single day as he did on February 25. He also had four hat tricks as his weekly visits to C.P. paid off handsomely.

Other drivers with noteworthy performances were Benoit Cote, who had a four bagger on March 31 and Jean Paul Morel, who had a triple a week later. While he did not pile up wins on single programs Jack Duford showed his proficiency at winning as he finished second overall with 54 wins second only to St. Amour but well ahead of Bob O'Dwyer who had 34, good enough for third place. Rounding out the top five were Jim McCormick, with 28, and Albert Bourassa who had 27 visits to the winner's enclosure.

1975 - Derbys Gent Scores Season's First Sub-2:00 Mile

Derbys Gent reaches the wire a winner in 1:59 flat for John Campbell, who had just turned 20. This was the horse's fifth win of the 1975 season as he began to show the form that made him almost unbeatable the previous season.

A lot of good things happened as Garden City opened its spring meeting on the evening of Sunday, May 11, 1975. Derbys Gent, owned by James and Bill Cadman of Parkhill, Ont., stepped the fastest mile of the season to date with young John Campbell Jr. in the sulky to capture top money in the Long Branch Pace. Driven for the first time this season by John, the four-year-old son of Derby Time was clocked in 1:59.0 as he recorded his fifth win in six starts which upped his season's bankroll to $32,165. He had been sidelined since March 29 when he finished third at Mohawk and it was soon found he was ailing from a virus infection and an injured foot. John had been on the mend as well following an automobile accident.

John's father Jack Campbell, who had driven this horse in all of his previous starts as a four-year-old, watched from the paddock as 5,253 fans occupied the stands. Finishing second in the small five-horse field was Elevator for Bill Stirton with Merrywood Rick taking the show spot for Don Larkin. This win gave Derbys Gent his first 'magic mile', bettering his three-year-old mark of 2:00.2 taken at Kingston last season.

1979 - O.H.H.A. Executive For 1979

The above picture shows the 30 or so people (including absentee names) who made up the Directors and Officers of the O.H.H.A. at that time. It is always interesting to look back at the people then involved. Most old pictures also offer a glimpse of the clothing fashions then in vogue such as Cliff Sheppard's sporty suit. My thanks to Brian Tropea for the loan of this photograph.

Update on Mystery Photo

Readers may recall that I posted a previously unidentified photograph as part of "Years Ago - 1950's" shown on this website on March 5, 2016. Several observers sent in their answers and unfortunately the submissions included five different names, with no two the same. Garth Gordon suggested that the "unknown" driver was Vern Waddell. He later spoke with Mr. Waddell's son Allan, a well-known horseman himself. He confirmed that the person in the photo was his father Vern. He also believed the little girl was his sister Shirley.

Thanks to all those who joined in the 'search'. I may try this again!

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