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Woodbine Top Ten: #1

Published: April 8, 2018 10:10 am ET

Last Comment: April 10, 2018 1:07 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

For 25 years, fans at Woodbine Racetrack have witnessed some of harness racing's best horses and some of Canadian harness racing's greatest memories.

Over that time, the track has hosted 13 North America Cups, 11 Breeders Crowns and countless other events.

March marked the final full month of Standardbred racing at Woodbine, and in the Greater Toronto Area. After the April 9, 2018 program, harness racing will permanently move to Mohawk Racetrack in Milton, Ont. The facility, to be known as Woodbine, Mohawk Park is being upgraded and improved to become the permanent home to Canada's top harness racing meet. Thoroughbred racing will continue at Woodbine.

TROT Magazine asked racing fans and participants for their fondest memories of racing at Woodbine. After 25 years, here is the race voted by fans and participants as the one that stands above all others.


OCTOBER 29, 2011 - As a star-studded international field of trotters turned into the Woodbine stretch, the crowd roared as Canadian sensation San Pail held the lead in the $602,340 Breeders Crown Open Trot. As driver Randy Waples urged San Pail on, the remarkable field of trotting rivals closed in on him.

Two superstar French-sired competitors, Rapide Lebel, and Commander Crowe had come over for the race, from Europe, with combined earnings at the time of $4.2 million. The rest of the field would all go on to be millionaires as well, including Arch Madness ($4.3 million), Lucky Jim ($1.9 million), Define The World ($1.7 million) and Hot Shot Blue Chip ($1.2 million). But Canada’s hometown hero stole the show, and held on for the victory, by a neck, over Rapide Lebel, with Commander Crowe just a length back in third.

San Pail, a seven-year-old son of San Pellegrino-Village Beauty, was owned by trainer Rod Hughes of Dunsford, ON. and breeder Glenn Van Camp of Port Perry, ON. He was trained by Hughes and driven by Waples. With the win, thanks to an early move to the front by Waples, when it looked as though he could’ve got trapped in, San Pail cemented Horse of the Year honours, winning the race in 1:51.4.

“He’s a world champion right now, I’m going to say thank you to Randy Waples right here,” said an elated Hughes amidst the winner’s circle celebrations. “Moved before the quarter and it probably proved to be the difference. An exceptional drive, thank you Randy. I think it will be a while [before my feet touch the ground].”

“Well, good horses you can do that, they make you look good,” said Waples. “He’s just an unbelievable horse. But I have to give full credit to Rod, his crew, the Hughes’ and Mr. Van Camp. Rod does so much good by this horse. Seems like he has him at his very best when it counts and he’s just an unbelievable horse.

“I was moving into the first turn and I was more than willing to sit third. I settled with him before, but when I saw Rapide Lebel starting to come I changed my mind and kept him three-wide as long as I could,” continued the Milton, ON. reinsman. “I just didn’t want to give up the position. At this track it is so important to have position, you have got to be up near the front. I honestly think that if I had stayed where I was and the other horse had gotten to the front I don’t think I would have beat him. They both raced unbelievable, they are truly champion horses those two [European] horses. They are just unbelievable, it was a great experience to race against them. I’m glad that I beat them, but they didn’t lose any races tonight. They just raced unbelievable. What a rush!”

“There are so many things that add up to a great horse,” added Waples in front of the accomplished trotter’s fans. “He’s got all of them; he’s got heart, he’s got stamina, he’s got everything going for him. I’m getting choked up saying this, but I’m so thankful for all you people that come out and support this horse. It means so much to hear you guys cheering and everyone that loves this horse as much as we do. I just love this horse to death.”

Waples would go on to lead all drivers at Woodbine Racetrack with 2,605 wins.

The Breeders Crown victory was San Pail’s 49th career win. San Pail would go on to win 52 races, and earn $3.1 million. But, looking back on his career, and the history of harness racing at Woodbine, there was never another race like that one.

Previous Races:

Woodbine Top Ten: #10
Woodbine Top Ten: #9
Woodbine Top Ten: #8
Woodbine Top Ten: #7
Woodbine Top Ten: #6
Woodbine Top Ten: #5
Woodbine Top Ten: #4
Woodbine Top Ten: #3
Woodbine Top Ten: #2

April 10, 2018 - 1:07 pmGreat selections and can't

Gord Brown SAID...

Great selections and can't disagree, but honestly thought Ball and Chain's 1:49.4 mile - the first :50 mile on Canadian soil - might make the top 10.

April 10, 2018 - 12:45 amAfter almost 40 years of

After almost 40 years of charting and analyzing tens of thousands of races, maybe a handful of horses would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up... San Pail did it every time. Not only responsible for Woodbine's greatest race but without a doubt the best Canadian aged trotter of all time... oh yeah, and that driver did a pretty good job too.

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