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Canada's First Race Winner To HOF

Published: May 17, 2017 6:04 pm ET

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In the 250th Anniversary year of Horse Racing in Canada, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Legends Committee unanimously named a mare called Modesty, who won the first advertised and reported horse race on Canadian soil, as the 2017 Legend Honouree.

The official unveiling of the display panel for Modesty, who won the historic race held on the Plains of Abraham on July 1, 1767, took place at a reception on Wednesday evening (May 17) in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

"Only the highest echelon of horses and people are inducted into the Hall of Fame for the greatest honour in horse racing," said Jamie Martin, Vice President of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, at the Wednesday evening ceremony. "Today, we are inducting the oldest honouree in the Hall of Fame. The 2017 Hall of Fame has selected and honoured a horse today that truly represents the beginning of horse racing in this country."

Jamie Martin, Vice President of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, speaking at the 2017 Legends honouree
unveiling ceremony on May 17. (SC Photo)

An advertisement in the June 25, 1767 issue of the Quebec Gazette called for entries for a horse race scheduled to take place July 1 for a purse of $40 at “Five O’clock in the afternoon Precisely: The best of three heats, once around the course each heat.”

Results of the race were announced in the July 9 issue of the same publication as follows: “The purse of $40 was won with greatest ease by Captain Prescott’s Mare Modesty." It was termed an upset, “much to the discomfiture of those, who purporting to know about such things, had wagered against her and were thereby parted from their money. The contest did afford much pleasure and there were no accidents save that some few riders were thrown from their mounts, from which circumstance it appeared that they suffered more fright than injury.”

More complete information about that initial horse race can be found here.

It is from this race, held 100 years to the day before Canada’s Confederation, that all horse racing in Canada has evolved, bringing us to this tremendous 250th anniversary and celebration in 2017.

"This milestone gives this industry an opportunity to speak with one voice," said Linda Rainey, the Hall of Fame's Managing Director. "Take the opportunity in 2017 to tell our Canadian horse racing story and celebrate our rich history."

The crowd on hand for the 2017 Legends honouree unveiling ceremony on May 17. (SC Photo)

The Legends category in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame was originally established in 2000 as a millennium project, created to honour the early pioneers of horse racing in Canada. It has been carried on to help bring attention to those horses and people dating back at least 50 years before the year of recognition.

"This legend is at the heart of our sport and history," noted Jim Bannon, Hall of Fame Director and inductee.

Hall of Fame member Lou Cauz unveils the Legends panel honouring Modesty on May 17. (SC Photo)

A close up view of Modesty's Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame panel. (SC Photo)

In addition to the announcement of the 2017 Legend honouree, the reception also included the unveiling of display panels belonging to those inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2016 and the public introduction of the 2017 inductees, announced earlier. The Hall of Fame Class of 2017 includes Standardbred horses Mach Three, Happy Lady and Elegantimage, as well as trainer/driver Blair Burgess, and builder Dr. Gordon Gilbertson. Thoroughbred honourees include Quiet Resolve and South Ocean along with builder Eugene Melnyk, trainer Harold Barroby and communicator Curtis Stock.

Induction ceremonies of the 2017 inductees will be held at a Gala scheduled to take place Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Mississauga Convention Centre. Tickets can be ordered by contacting 416-417-9404.

(With files from Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)

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