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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1940s

Published: August 2, 2014 8:35 am ET

Last Comment: August 2, 2014 8:51 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith takes a look back at some of the events and people in the sport during the decade of the 1940's in the ongoing monthly feature Years Ago.

1941 - P.E.I. Horsemen Form Association
May 6, 1941: A large number of area horsemen and track owners gathered at the Charlottetown City Hall on this date to discuss matters for the upcoming racing season. A new organization to be known as "Prince Edward Island Harness Racing Circuit Club" was formed with a membership fee set at $1 per year. The board of directors is to be comprised of six members, two from each County. The new President is George McIntyre of Montague. The following is a list of reps by County. Queens County - Willard Kelly and Wellington McNeill. Kings County - C.H. Horton and George McIntyre. Prince County - Harry O'Brien and George Callbeck. It was announced that already 44 members had signed up which augurs well for the success of the new club. Col. D. A. MacKinnon, the dean of local horsemen, told the gathering that the 1941 Old Home Week racing program would be on August 12,13,14,15. A great year of harness racing was predicted for the Island that year.

This old photo shows harness racing being held at the Northam P.E.I. track in 1933. The track had its own power plant and light standards are visible indicating that night racing was held at times, well before it appeared elsewhere. The track owners were wealthy fur ranchers. [Jack O'Brien photo]

1943 - Guy Riggs Standing In Saskatchewan

Despite the many wartime restrictions currently in effect, a number of horse people across the land are continuing their business as usual. Farmer and horse owner J.K. "Jack" Tutt of Rouleau, Sask. is offering the services of his fine stallion Guy Riggs 2:09 for this season. He will stand at the Tutt farm for a service fee of $25. Additionally for those broodmare owners who wish to leave their mares he advertises reasonable prices for both stable and pasture care. The tiny hamlet of Rouleau is located in Southern Saskatchewan.

Mr. Tutt and his wife Ella, the aunt and uncle of Alice Kopas, were long-serving members of the sport of harness racing with Mrs. Tutt serving as the Province's C.T.A. Director for many years. In later years they migrated to Florida where for a number of winters Jack was the most "senior" person jogging horses over the Ben White track. He passed away in 1990 and Mrs. Tutt died at the age of 97 in 2008.

A very old Canadian Sportsman advertisement for the stallion Guy Riggs

1944 - Real Bardier Checks In At Dufferin Park
October 1944 - A young Quebec based horseman, just 16 years of age named Real Bardier recently made a trip out of the Province to try his luck at winter racing. He rented a boxcar and paid for two stalls ($12 each). This included enough space for his equipment and himself. He left Sorel, Quebec at 9:00 a.m., then transferred in Montreal and arrived in Toronto at 6:00 a.m. the next morning. From the train station, he connected the long shaft cart and racing bike together and loaded his gear on top. The horses were hooked up on either side and he walked all along Dufferin Boulevard eventually arriving at Dufferin Park.

[Editor’s note: This kind of effort is a bit hard to imagine but at age 86 Mr. Bardier still retains his deep interest in the sport.]

1945 - W J Hyatt Horse Wins Inaugural 3 Y.O. Supertest
July 12,1945 - London sportsman Wm. J. Hyatt, who originated the Supertest Stakes program for two-year-olds in 1944, is investing in some well-bred U.S. stock. His plan is to purchase fillies and race them locally. Once their careers on the track are over he will undoubtedly add them to his broodmare band.

One such filly that is showing early promise is the roan youngster Miss Billie Direct. She is doing extremely well on the Ontario circuit and was a recent winner at the Tillsonburg meeting. This was a special victory as it was the inaugural three-year-old version of Mr. Hyatt's Supertest Colt Stakes. Racing for a purse of $2,700, the roan miss won all three heats to claim the first Supertest trophy. She is being handled in her three-year-old engagements by a young teamster named Wilfred Hughes. "Wilfy" is no stranger to most as he is the son of Barney Hughes, who drove Mr. Hyatt's great stallion Bob Lee to victory in the 1940 Canadian Pacing Derby at New Hamburg.

In an unprecedented move Mr. Hyatt is offering free service to his prize stallion Bob Lee as he tests his ability as a sire. Only approved mares will be eligible and will be subject to a nominal fee for their keep if left at the farm.

Miss Billie Direct and driver Wilfy Hughes following a win in the Inaugural Three-Year-Old Supertest in July 1945

1948 - Herbert's Two Colts May Be Best Ever
At the start of the 1948 season Bill Herbert and his son Jack of London had what many believed to be the best pair of three-year-old pacers in the country. The duo were Jay Herbert and Oro G. Herbert, both sired by the Herbert's own stallion Oro Grattan 2nd. Each colt starred in their two-year-old careers, often facing each other. Midway through the season at three, the pair were performing so well that several offers were received for both. Finally Bill and Jack sold Jay Herbert to a U.S. owner, Mr. Clair Weaver of Harrisburg, Pa. Jay went on to compete on the U.S. circuit winning several starts and ending the year with a hefty bank account of almost $6,000. This was an unprecedented move for a Canadian-bred colt to be sold to the U.S. Oro G Herbert continued his sophomore campaign at home and took an amazing record of 2:05 in a Time Trial at London with Bill handling the reins. While future stud duties were in the plans for Oro G, the beautiful chestnut colt returned to the racetrack as an aged performer.

Bill Herbert on the left is holding the roan colt Jay Herbert and son Jack Herbert is between the two colts with Oro G. Herbert on the right. This photo was taken between heats at Tillsonburg, July 14, 1948, shortly before Jay Herbert was sold to U.S. interests.

August 2, 2014 - 8:51 amGreat job Robert. Keep up

Great job Robert. Keep up the good work. Your files must be massive.

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