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All-Trot Card Honours Walker

Published: August 28, 2009 10:33 am ET

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This Saturday night Hanover Raceway is featuring an all-trot race card held in honour of the late Canadian Horse Racing Hall-of-Famer Allan Walker. The 12-race card will feature three highlight races including the 35th Walker Memorial Invitational Trot, the Balanced Image Trot final and a Fillies & Mares Preferred Trot.

Allan Walker, once one of Canada’s top hands with trotters, was born December 5, 1916, in Allenford, Ont. Walker was known for his ability to develop, train and drive trotters, including performers such as MacDuffs Lassie, Invasion, Nancy Patch and World Champion filly Garma Alert.

Walker passed away in 1975 at the early age of 58, leaving behind a legacy that still lives on today through his sons Bob, Larry and Paul, daughter Jean and their families. Walker’s entire family was and still is involved in harness racing. His late wife Viola owned, trained and bred horses, and competed in Ontario Powder Puff Derbys, occasionally against daughter Jean. Sons Bob, Larry and Paul own, breed, train and drive horses, as does Jean, who owns horses with her husband, trainer Peter Thibaudeau. Paul’s wife Brenda, a former director of OHHA, has served as an Ontario Racing Commissioner since 2003. Not only are Walker’s children involved in harness racing, but his grandchildren are as well. Grandson Robert Walker Jr. owns, trains and drives horses. His granddaughters Julie Walker, Vicki Gregg and Lori Thomson, along with her husband Jeff, also own and train horses. In 1972, the Walker family was named the Golden Horseshoe Family of the Year.

Allan Walker was also a founding member of the Ontario Harness Horseman’s Association, and was a director until passing. Waker was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1996. When he passed away in the year 1975, his family established a Walker Memorial Trot in his honour. This year marks the 35th edition of his memorial. This year, sons Bob, Larry and Paul will have the pleasure of being able to watch the race honouring their father, along with sister Jean, rather than competing in it against each other as drivers, trainers or owners as they have in past years.

The $15,000 Walker Memorial is an invitational race and this year features favourite Home Stretch, trained and driven by Timothy Driver and owned by June Durussel of Millington, Michigan. The five-year-old son of Valley Victory-Dreamlands Crown has drawn the rail in the eight-horse affair, which is carded as Race 9. This season Home Stretch has been a consistent contender in Hazel Park Raceway’s Invite. He has produced six wins, five seconds and a third in 15 starts this year.

Following the Walker Memorial is the $58,000 Balance Image Trot. Last week’s four elimination winners Zorgwijk Knight (PP1, Doug Bowins), Hava Kadabra (PP3, Dave Boughton), Markofdistinction (PP4, James McClure) and Fuel Cell (PP8, Ross Battin) are set to battle for the Balanced Image Trot title. Hava Kadabra is the 2-1 morning line favourite after capitalizing on a front-end trip in the fastest elimination. The Mark Steacy-trained Kadabra-Armbro Vixen colt has yet to finish off the board in four stakes starts this year for Ontario-based owners Landmark Ii Racing Stable, David Reid, Stan Klemencic and Diane Bertrand of Edmonton, Alta.

Another highlight event on the card is the $9,500 Fillies & Mares Preferred #3. Race 4 features a very even bunch of contenders with the favourite being Jtlady Strong, starting from the outside Post 8 with driver James McClure. This five-year-old Angus Hall-Brisco Maud mare earned a new lifetime mark of 1:55.4 this year at Mohawk Racetrack for trainer and part owner Norm Jones.

To view Saturday’s harness racing entries, click here.

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