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SC Rewind: Years Ago – 1950s


Published: July 3, 2010 10:14 am ET

Last Comment: July 7, 2010 1:44 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This week's Rewind is a review of people and happenings from the decade of the 1950's in the ongoing monthly feature, Years Ago.


George Johnson of Wilsonville, Ont., just south of Brantford, has a nice small stable of horses that are doing well for him. His headliner is The Little Joker, now 4 years old and a winner of seven races this year. The bay son of Dillon Mc took a new record of 2:08.2 at Thorncliffe Park. Also in his ownership are Dulcie Dillon and Allan Chips, recently secured from Vern Soper. Richard "Dick" Johnson does all of the driving, keeping things in the family. George, who just turned 32 in June of this year, was encouraged to get into the ownership department by his brother Stanley and it looks like it was a good piece of advice. The Johnson stable has done well locally, in Montreal, as well as several U. S. tracks in Maryland and New York State.


October 14, 1953 - The racing season at Richelieu Park came to a sad and sudden end as a devastating fire swept through virtually the entire harness racing complex. An early morning blaze has caused an estimated $800,000 in damage to the facilities not including the nearly 30 horses lost. Several trainers and stables, including Vic Lutman, Harold McKinley, Gord Kingston, Wilbert Hopkins, Armstrong Bros. and the Lachappelle Stables suffered losses. One horse, Miss Volo Chips, the property of Melvin Dell of Niagara Falls, had to be destroyed by Montreal police due to severe injuries sustained in the fire. It is feared that an overloaded electrical system may have triggered the fire which damaged stables, the grandstand and clubhouse. George Giguere, the track’s general manger, is hopeful the rebuilding process will begin immediately. The previous night's mutuel handle amounting to approx. $50,000 was saved as it was in a fireproof vault.


July 2, 1955 - Orangeville Ont.: With July 1 falling on a Sunday this year, the annual Dominion Day races were held on Monday. Holiday racing here has long been a tradition and was vigorously promoted for many years by the late Dr. W. H. Riddell, a local pioneer in the sport. A commemorative plaque erected a number of years ago at the Fairground entrance recalls his many years of dedication. Two Orangeville based horsemen were double heat winners as Wm. Lawson scored with Worthy Fingo and Ed Giles piloted Billie Nickle to a two-heat winning day. The featured Free For All was split between Now for Fingal based owner-driver Max Emery and Becky Jane Volo who posted the fastest heat of the day for Oshawa owner Garnet Wetherup. Becky stopped the timer's watch in 2:12 flat.


Barney Diplomat has enjoyed a seven-win season for owner Hector Clouthier Sr. of Pembroke Ont. earning $10,357. Secured as a 4-year-old, the son of former two-time Derby winner The Diplomat was raised and raced at three by the McWilliams Bros. of Dutton. First handled by Eric Conley for the Clouthier stable, he has had his best season yet racing out of the Keith Waples barn. The now 6-year-old took a new mark of 2:04.3 at Richelieu Park with Waples in the bike as he was for most of his starts. He closed out the season with a winning effort for second trainer Jimmy Hammond on October 16 and appears to have overcome some of the foot ailments that have hampered his performance in the past.


For the first time in history, a yearling was sold at auction for over $100,000. Dancer Hanover, sired by Adios out of The Old Maid, sold for a record $105,000 at the famed Harrisburg, Pa. sales arena to his namesake Stanley Dancer. This marked a first for either a standardbred or thoroughbred yearling to reach this pinnacle. The sale was stopped and the successful bidder was given a standing ovation.

July 7, 2010 - 1:44 pmI love the interesting and

I love the interesting and informative articles of racing history.I look forward to next months " Years ago."

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