SC Rewind: Remembering Belleville, Pt. 1

SC Rewind: Remembering Belleville, Pt. 1
Published: June 8, 2024 10:30 am EDT

For this week's Rewind Robert Smith recalls the once popular racetrack located for many years in Belleville, Ont.  Known as Exhibition Park it was the home of many memorable race days and special events for an extremely long time.  The site remains to this day but has not been used for harness racing for many years.  This subject will be covered in two editions with the second in an upcoming Rewind. 

Our small town racetracks have served the sport very well over the years, regardless of their location.  Belleville's Exhibition Park, located in this lovely Eastern Ontario location which is classed as a city, has a long history in the history of harness racing.  The existence of a local racing association goes way back in time and a large number of its members and executive officers served faithfully for many years.  Early records from this location state "Established in 1821, the Quinte Exhibition and Raceway has been the centre for community fairs and events for over two centuries." A long standing name for the organizing group for harness racing was the "Quinte Riding & Driving Club."

Belleville program

Thanks to an old racing program from 1970 shown above,  a number of pertinent facts and other items make for some interesting reading.  The cost of the program may have even been a sign of the times as it was 35 cents (which included 2 cents tax).  As so often happened back in the day the program carried a number of ads sponsored by local businesses. 

Welcome To Exhibition Park 

Belleville welcome message

The passage shown above gives a very good indication of the aims and goals of the Racing Association. 

Belleville's records in 1970

Above is a list of stakes winners, officers of the Turf Club and the current track record holder as of the end of the 1970 season.  

With the introduction of the Ontario Sires Stakes in 1974, Belleville became a B track venue for the series right from the very start.  It continued to play host to the travelling series for many years until the track ceased to have a racing program.  

The following passage appeared on the Standardbred Canada website a number of years ago and was an indication of just how active and popular this track was.  

1983 - Quinte's 44th Season A Success

When the horses crossed under the wire in a barrage of rain, hail and wind on the evening of September 23, it signaled the end of the 44th season of racing at the Belleville oval. It also marked the only night of the 26-card season that inclement weather was a factor.

Race chairman Jack McDonnell was high in his praise of everyone involved, particularly the 250-member Quinte Sulky Club. He was quick to point out that this organization, in cooperation with track management, is the way to properly operate a track. Horseman Rejean Boily swept all categories in the driver standings with 39 wins as a driver, 30 as a trainer and in earnings with $23,000 in purses won. The track record was equaled when Shanes Mint and Charlie Lawson toured the Quinte oval in 2:01.1 on Labour Day.

Quinte Raceway distributed over $200,000 in purses and McDonnell was also appreciative of the participation by local business people. A record 102 coolers were given away to lucky horsemen -- the most ever. The track was pleased to have so many name drivers visit during O.S.S. competition. "Drivers such as Dave Wall, Keith and Ron Waples and top colts like Brisco Herbert and Shanes Mint all came to our track," beamed McDonnell. The Quinte Jug, an annual event, went to Rompin Roanie this year.

A Few Old Photos 

Charity Chick

A scene from August 1976 in the winner's circle at Belleville. A race sponsored by The Golden Mile Restaurant shows the following participants,  Teresa Hrenyk, Al Hrenyk (also trainer),  driver Al Vance, unknown, Arlene Hrenyk, Bev Lewis. The winning horse was Charity Chick in 2:07. A partial view of the large crowd can be seen in the background. 

Harness racing in Belleville

Here is the finish of a race with drivers identified as Steve Skene leading and Charlie Sloan.  Far in the background can be seen many trucks and  trailers in for race day/ night.  The tote board was removed from the grounds many years ago. 

Fifteen Years Ago - On June 6, 2009 the very first edition of Rewind appeared on the Standardbred Canada website 

Quote For The Week: "Long Live your money", an ad for a Texas bank.

Who Is It?  

Who Is It photo question

Can you identify this horse and driver that once held a track record at Belleville?  

Who Else Is It?  

Who Else Is It photo question

Can you identify any or all of the folks in this photo?  I believe they were engaging in a bit of socializing following a night of racing at Belleville.  



This week's pictures were both answered correctly. In the Who Is It? photo was Charlie Lawson winning with Shanes Mint. This pair held a track record at Belleville 2:01.1 set in 1983.
In the Who Else Is It? photo taken at Belleville the folks left to right were Ed Theobald, Sam Mulholland, Carolyn Jarrell and Al Caughey. Al was one of the ORC judges at that time.
Thanks for joining in. 

Darlene Anderson tells me that this gentleman is Ed Theobald

Jambo Dancer And Charlie Lawson

Who is it??
Charlie Lawson

Who else is is???
Left to right
???, Sam Mulholland, Carolyn Jarrell, Al Caughey.

Chas Lawson, Shanes Mint. Can't put my finger on the first one, the Seal, Carolyn Jarrell, Al Caughey.

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