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SC Rewind: Short Story Time

Published: August 17, 2019 12:12 pm ET

Last Comment: August 21, 2019 4:53 pm ET | 10 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This week's 'Rewind' takes a slightly new approach. As the title suggests, Robert Smith has assembled a few short stories, all about some interesting happenings from days gone by. Hope you enjoy!

Windsor Raceway Starts Sunday Afternoon Racing - 1970

On the afternoon of February 1, 1970 Sunday afternoon racing was held for the very first time at Windsor Raceway. According to a Windsor Star report it was believed to be the first time that harness racing had been conducted on a Sunday afternoon in the Windsor - Detroit area; at least in recent years. As many people know racing in the Province of Quebec on Sundays was a popular pastime for many decades by this point in time. It was not all that common elsewhere and in fact if you go way back many tracks would not even allow a horse to train on Sunday.

Blessed by almost spring-like weather with the thermometer showing a balmy 42 degrees, Windsor Raceway "lucked out" once again as it started Sunday afternoon racing. A crowd of 7,575 were counted by the turnstiles while at least another 500 children under 12 were also on hand; the youngsters all admitted free. "That's what we wanted," said a delighted Al Siegel, president and general manager at Windsor, "lots of new people coming out or else the regulars bringing their children. All in all it has been a most successful day."

It was indeed a successful weekend, in fact the greatest in its five year history. Sunday's crowd poured $511,619 through the mutuels and for the four-card weekend a total of $2,046,944 was wagered. Needless to say Siegel and his associates had immediate plans to stick with Sunday afternoon programs through to the end of the winter meeting which concluded on March 28. Monday nights were scheduled to be dark.

Imperial Counsel (1), winner of one of the nine races on the first ever Sunday afternoon card at Windsor, reaches the wire a winner for driver Walter Weese of Dresden. Finishing second was Prospectus G (2) for Greg Wright with Suitsus (4) taking third. Time of the mile was 2:06.4. The rather large crowd is in evidence in the background with many patrons enjoying the action from the apron in front of the packed Windsor grandstand.

Celebrities Visit Retired Champion

Way back in July of 1969 a couple of well-known celebrities with ties to Montreal sports made a special trip to Prince Edward Island to not only take part in the local lobster fest but also to engage in a couple of other activities to do with harness racing. I believe they both may have driven in a special amateurs race there.

From left: star hockey player for the Montreal Canadiens John Ferguson and noted harness racing columnist and public relations expert Albert Trottier paid a visit to a then retired legendary pacing star from days gone by. The equine star was the famous Bay State Pat, living in retirement on a farm near Summerside, P.E.I. At the time the old warrior was 22 years old, eight years into his retirement and at times was being used by his owner Barry Sheen as a saddle horse. (Montreal Gazette photo)

In a storybook career that saw Bay State Pat race until the age of 14 he was eventually inducted into the Horse Racing Hall Of Fame in 1983.

Better On The Beach?

A large crowd can be seen in the background as a pair of horses race down the beach in Maine (Photo courtesy of Northeast Harness News)

Throughout recorded history harness racing has taken place in various places and not all were conventional racetracks. The old undated photo above shows horses racing at a place called Pine Point Beach, Maine on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It was considered a summertime counterpart of ice racing and those who remembered it said that the beauty of it was that you had a new track every time the tide came in. Because of the limited width, the races held were often just two horses of equal ability matched with each other. In 1947 the ice racing gave way to beach racing and in time tracks that sprang up locally lured the horses away and racing on the seaside also disappeared.

The racecourse was pretty simple with a stake driven into the sand to show the finish line. A couple of stories that accompanied the old picture said that there were certain advantages to this setup. One veteran driver had a real bad actor on his hands but a solution was close at hand. He simply drove him out into the ocean where he started to swim! One part of this form of racing that sounded pretty good was that the horsemen gathered on Thursday evenings in nearby Westbrook for dinner. During the meetings the contestants for the upcoming races were set for low tide on the following Sunday. It is even quite possible they may have shared an adult beverage or two as well.

In the 1990's this same beach area remained a favorite training ground for a few horsemen. The local officials allowed people to train there but it required a permit. (Photo courtesy of Northeast Harness News)

Coe Hill Race Day

For many years the small hamlet of Coe Hill located in Ontario's North Hastings County staged an annual race day as part of their fair which was first held in 1882. To show that you don't need a lot of horses to put on a show they held their races for many years with a total of just five entrants. As an example of the action, in 1962 a field of just five went to the post for three heats. It looks as though if you had the first name of "Don" you may have had a better chance than any other.

In the first two heats Lannie D with owner Don Johnston of Campbellford, Ont., in the sulky was the winner, and finished second in the third. In the third and final heat Atomic Selka with Don Heath handling the leather was home first to finish the day 3-2-1 for owner Colborne Hess of Trenton. Purse for the event was $180 or $60 per heat; a get-rich scheme it was not.

As a note of interest and to show how patient horse owners can be, a horse named Silk Tassel finished fifth and last in all three heats that day for owner John Heard of Peterboro, Ont. That season the seven-year-old mare started a total of nine times and was the winner on just one occasion scoring her lone victory at Apsley, Ont. in a field of just three starters. Her seasons earnings amounted to $44 which raised her lifetime bank account to $56.

Who Is It?

Can you identify the legendary Canadian horse shown above with his owner, trainer and driver? The young lady is the owner's daughter and one of the horse's most ardent admirers.

If the above photo was too tough try this one. This photo is from almost 40 years ago and I believe this fellow may still be driving. (Abahazy Collection)

Quote For The Week:

Comedian George Burns was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement" award at the age of 89. When asked for his comments about the honour he said "I am not at all surprised that I won this award; I just didn't think that it would have come this early in my career."

August 21, 2019 - 4:53 pmThis week's pictures both

This week's pictures both drew correct answers, a testament to the versatility of the reading audience. The top photo was the famous Canadian owned horse Dr. Stanton along with owner and driver Lindley Fraser of Forest Ont. along with his daughter Lois "Tiny" Fraser (later Stewart).
In the lower photo was driver Ken Gowan of Wallacetown driving Madcap Ferndale (Dave Darocy was correct) and it was at Wolverine (Lori McKelvie got it).

August 18, 2019 - 12:07 pmIt certainly looks like Ken

It certainly looks like Ken Gowan to me. Worth noting that his Princess Abie W won last night in Sarnia with Nick Steward driving. Well back at the half and nailed the leader flying at the wire. Ken got a ride over from the barns in the starting gate to get in the picture. I know that he has driven this year.

August 18, 2019 - 11:11 amTop photo: Dr. Stanton and

Top photo: Dr. Stanton and Lindley & Lois Fraser. Interesting to note that the Fraser's paid $500 for Dr. Stanton as a 5 year old in 1946. Three years later he surpassed $100,000 in earnings. Those 1949 dollars equate to more than $1 million in 2019.
Bottom photo: Ken Gowan

August 17, 2019 - 5:57 pmThe first picture I have no

The first picture I have no idea,
Ken Gowan, I think, is the driver in 2nd picture... my guess is Wolverine

August 17, 2019 - 2:22 pmKenny Gowan.

Kenny Gowan.

August 17, 2019 - 1:28 pm#1 Lindy Fraser - Dr

Al McIntosh SAID...

#1 Lindy Fraser - Dr Stanton.

August 17, 2019 - 12:59 pmTop photo are the Frasers

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Top photo are the Frasers with Dr. Stanton.

August 17, 2019 - 12:31 pmKen Gowan driving.

Jack Darling SAID...

Ken Gowan driving.

August 17, 2019 - 12:28 pmBottom photo is Ken Gowan,

David Darocy SAID...

Bottom photo is Ken Gowan, and likely driving the good mare Madcap Ferndale.

August 17, 2019 - 12:21 pmTop picture not sure. Bottom

Gord Brown SAID...

Top picture not sure. Bottom photo Ken Gowan

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