A Look Back On The Start Of OSS At Flamboro Downs

1985 Ontario Sires Stakes winner Cranberry Hill with driver Dr. John Hayes Jr.,  Charles Juravinski (center), along with co-owners Gord Rumpel (third from left), Margaret Juravinski (second from right) and Ila Rumpel (far right).
Published: May 14, 2024 10:47 am EDT

The Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) is celebrating its 50th anniversary season this year with special anniversary dates at tracks around the province where fans will be able to watch OSS Gold or Grassroots races, view memorabilia from seasons past, enjoy giveaways and more. Don’t miss the first celebration date as the the Grassroots season kicks off at Flamboro Downs this Sunday, May 19.

When the very first Ontario Sires Stakes event was held on June 1, 1974, the Flamboro track was still under construction with a planned opening the following spring. Thus, Flamboro just missed becoming a charter member of the tracks hosting the fledgling Ontario Sires Stakes.

The following year, after the new track opened on April 9, it wasted little time in welcoming the travelling OSS events as it hosted three races on June 25, 1975. It was the two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, a few of them making their first or second lifetime start. A total of 31 eager participants were squeezed into three divisions on that memorable day. The total purse was $17,200.

In the opener, with a purse of $5,870, and a bulky field of 11, the winner was Prides Brat, a son of Lynden Dodger, owned by Grant Ross of Peterborough, Ont., and driven to victory by a very young Doug Brown. The time of the first division was 2:08.1. This colt went on to win five of his 13 season starts and banked a shade over $30,200.

In the next grouping, Armbro Renny was the winner with Ken McElroy in the bike for owners Elgin Armstrong and Harold Shipp. This son of Armbro Express paced in 2:07 for the quickest of the three divisions. This colt also went on to an outstanding 1975 season, tallying six wins and nearly $41,000 in the earnings column.

In the third and final division, the winner was Randy Herbert from the talent-laden Herbert Stables of Lambeth, Ont., with veteran driver and part-owner Jack Herbert in the sulky.

The Herbert family had been involved in Ontario colt racing dating back at least four decades and were still producing winning performers with regularity. When the once popular Supertest Petroleum Co. Stakes were introduced in 1944, a Herbert-owned colt named Jack E Herbert won the very first edition.

Flamboro Downs has been a continual host to OSS events and the scene of many thrilling races over the past half century. New track records have been set and often soon broken. The best and brightest stars of the OSS have performed in front of unusually large crowds, particularly in the early years. For many years a familiar face in the winner’s circle festivities was Charlie Juravinski, the man who had the vision for this now longstanding track.

OSS Scrapbook Memories

Construction at Flamboro Downs in 1974

This is how the Flamboro track looked while under construction in 1974, the year the OSS was launched.

Cranberry Hill in the Flamboro Downs winner's circle in 1985

The winner’s circle was a happy place in this photo from 1985. The winning horse was Cranberry Hill with driver Dr. John Hayes Jr. In the centre is a smiling Charles Juravinski, along with co-owners Gord Rumpel (third from left) Margaret Juravinski (second from right) and Ila Rumpel (far right). On this night, Cranberry Hill set an OSS record of 2:00.2 for three-year-old trotting fillies at Greenwood.

Charles Juravinski pictured in a newspaper clipping

On the far right is Charles Juravinski of Flamboro Downs.

Alberton and Jack Kopas winning in 1979 at Flamboro Downs

Alberton and driver Jack Kopas, a pair that had much success at the Flamboro track. On July 8 , 1979, Alberton stormed to a 2:01 season’s mark. It was his fourth win in seven starts. The son of Armbro Omaha was owned by the estate of Elgin Armstrong of Brampton, Ont. A portion of the huge crowd is visible in the background.

Ride The Wave in 1988

In 1988, the two-year-old trotting colt Ride The Wave went undefeated in stakes action. One of his nine OSS victories came at Flamboro. He is shown above with his trainer William Wellwood in the sulky. This star performer was owned by Wellwood Stables and Charles Armstrong and led all OSS performers by virtue of his $141,276 earnings and took a mark of 2:00 in his season finale at Windsor.

(Robert Smith / Ontario Racing)

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