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Rideau’s Resident Character

Published: April 4, 2021 9:59 pm ET

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Emil ‘Mimi’ Toth has competed at Rideau Carleton Raceway for nearly the last five decades, making himself a popular fixture as a trainer-driver at the Ottawa oval.

“My dad was in the business there. He started when we were 12 or 13; me, my brother and my sister,” Toth said to Rideau Carleton’s Graeme Mitchell. “He had a horse called Trot Trot Charlie, a trotter… he was old time. Me and my brother got into it, then I got a job with Robert Charron. He needed a guy to clean stalls, so I was looking around [at] how to — you know, you watch what you’re looking at there...I just watched from my parents and watched in the barn. He said ‘Mimi, go jog a horse.’ I said ‘I’ve never jogged a horse in my life.’ So I hopped on him and I made it around, however many laps there, and I came back. He said ‘Mimi, just slow down a little bit.’ And after that, off I went in the business, and I went on to get horses of my own.”

Much of Toth's grind at Rideau came at the claiming ranks, where he has had success and many memorable horses pass through the barn.

“If you want to play the claiming game, you don’t want fourths and fifths,” Toth said. “You want to make money every week. You put them up, it’s not going to do fourths and fifths. You get a little [money], but at least you go back in for seven [thousand]. When you get second, you get more money. You win, [get] second, that’s what all the other guys do in the claiming game. You want to win, you don’t want to lose.”

Among Toth’s successes was a horse named Harleys Pride, who once earned an honour as Rideau’s Horse of the Month.

“That was a nice horse there,” Toth said. “Rick Sullivan and Tony Pasqua owned him there. They bought him in Toronto and they brought him down to me here. They bought him for four or five [thousand], I’m not sure. I remember the first start I drove him here, I just got him and I’d put him in for 12 or 15 [thousand]. I got parked the whole mile, [three quarters in] 1:25.2. I finished fifth, and then after the wire — I'll never forget — I said to Bob O'Dwyer, you know, I just got parked...it just happened because I had my first start with him. I looked over at Bob and I said ‘I’ll get you guys next week.’ And next week, sure I did. Parked the whole mile and won again. Won again and he was horse of the month.

“Then I got [John] MacMillan interviewing me one time. He interviewed me because the horse was doing well. We talked about the horse, so I said ‘You bet your house on him next week because he’s going to win.’ And the next thing you know, a couple days later down I went. I went down, he went down, I grabbed him by the lines, just got him in time and he was off for two weeks because he scraped his knee up a little bit, and then the next three weeks was just win, win, win.”

In his career, Toth has won nearly 500 races as a driver and banked over $1 million in purses. As a trainer, Toth has won nearly 100 races and earned just over $200,000 in purses. Though going into his older years, Toth sees himself competing until he cannot anymore.

“I’m going until I’m not feeling well, like when I’m sick or something,” Toth said. “I feel good right now, and I like to drive the odd one but I put the other guys on too because the owners want to make money too. I still drive, but they get eight, nine drives a night. You’re a little more sharper when you drive eight, nine or seven. When you drive one a week, you get not as aggressive as those guys. I’ve won my share of races in my life, close to 500. I did okay, for what I drove.”

To watch the full interview with Toth, click below:


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