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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1940s

Published: September 7, 2019 10:56 am ET

Last Comment: September 11, 2019 1:42 pm ET | 6 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

This week's edition of 'Rewind' takes readers back to the decade of the 1940s as Robert Smith offers the monthly 'Years Ago' column. Old photos and accounts of the happenings and personalities of the day make up the story.

1945 - Sorel, Quebec Track Among The Best

In the 1940's one of Quebec's best small-town racetracks was located in Sorel and referred to as "Royal Race Track." It was privately owned by Elzear Cournoyer and Lucien Lachappelle and managed by Honorat Larochelle, who was also a top horseman of the day and handled the fine stables of Mr. Cournoyer and Lachapelle headed by the likes of Guy H. and Duke Volo.

The following is a quote from Harness Horse magazine article that included the above picture.

"The fields were sent away from a special starting chute built on the same plans of the chutes used at the eastern Raceways in the United States. The system of starting the horses in this manner has become very popular with horsemen as well as spectators. The fields are sent away promptly without the continual scoring that is always the custom in other ways of getting them away."

1948 - Supertest Stakes Held At Tillsonburg Track

On the afternoon of July 14, 1948 a great day of racing was held at the town track in Tillsonburg. The headline event of the day was the Supertest pacing stake for three-year-olds. It carried a purse of $3,500, a sizable amount for that time. That year an excellent crop of pacing talent was in competition and in those days the fillies raced with their male counterparts. Once the eliminations were held those entrants with the best standing raced in the final.

The entry from the stable of Wm. and Jack Herbert of London which included Jay Herbert and Oro G Herbert took down all of the top money spots. The results shown below show that Jay Herbert driven by Bill Herbert won all three heats in which he was entered and paced the fastest mile in 2:08 2/5, a stakes record. Stablemate Oro G Herbert was second in the standings, that day handled by Alfie Moore. An outstanding performance was turned in by the filly Dixie Lee Hy who finished 2-4-4 for owner and driver Marshall Moore from Sarnia.


Results above courtesy of Harness Horse

1949 - New Record set at New Jersey State Fair


An old-time racing scene from around 1901 taken at a New Jersey track located in Westfield County at the Fair Acres Driving Club track. (Courtesy of Westfield Historical Society)

Long before the modern day tracks such as The Meadowlands and Atlantic City, the State of New Jersey was steeped in horse tradition with numerous tracks located throughout the State. Harness racing was part of most agricultural fairs and many small towns and villages included their own track.

In 1949 a very famous horse of the day visited that year's State Fair and established a new track record, bettering the existing one by trotting a mile in 2:03 4/5 which lowered the old standard by a full second. The Trenton oval was a mile track which might partially explain the excellent time recorded as this was 70 years ago.

Racing at the New Jersey State Fair, held at the Trenton Fairgrounds, is shown in the 1949 photo shown below. Horse racing began at the fairgrounds in 1867 and was billed as "The Finest Exhibition of Race Horses in the East." The last fair was held in 1980; the property is now home to Grounds for Sculpture.

See picture below which is part of this week's Quiz.

1949 - Barrie Holds Huge Race Day

On July 20, 1949 Barrie Fairgrounds was the scene of one of the largest race days held in the Province that season. A huge program consisting of 14 heats of racing was presented in front of a crowd listed at 2,000. Purses totalling $3,400 were offered. In order to accommodate the large crowd bus service was provided by the Barrie - Allandale Bus Co. from the foot of Mulcaster St.

The highlight of the day saw The Diplomat, owned by Londoner Alex Parsons, win all three heats of the "Barrie Pacing Stakes Free For All" and he also set a new track record of 2:08 1/5. His closest rival was Canada Direct owned by Mert Storey and driven by Keith Waples. The Diplomat had been recently purchased in the U.S. by Mr. Parsons, a prominent London hotel owner and placed in the hands of Lew James his contract driver and trainer. Mr. James, who later became a highly-respected O.J.C. race secretary, was in the sulky for this record-setting day. A bit later in August The Diplomat won that year's Canadian Pacing Derby at New Hamburg, Ont.

Quote For The Week:

"Everything is funny as long as it's happening to somebody else." - Will Rogers

Who Is It?

Can you identify this famous horse and equally famous driver as they appeared at the 1949 New Jersey State Fair in Trenton, N.J. as described above? (Courtesy of groundsforsculpture.org)

Where Was It?

Can you correctly identify the location of this very famous harness racing location? Clue; it was in the U.S.

September 11, 2019 - 1:42 pmThis week's pictures were not

This week's pictures were not as easily solved as I had imagined. The top picture was the ONE and only Proximity and her forever driver Clint Hodgins as first identified by Bob Belore. Proximity was at one time a household name. Her owners were Ralph and Gordon Verhurst of Victor, N.Y. who I believe ran a vinegar factory. I once read that if she was racing near the owner's home area that the town's businesses all closed and everyone went to the races! In 1950 Proximity made what I believe was  her only appearance in Canada as she trotted an exhibition mile at Stratford Ont., an event that was covered in a very early edition of Rewind.
The bottom photo was correctly identified as Du Quoin, Illinois the home of the Hambletonian for many years. Thank you David Darocy.

September 10, 2019 - 10:18 amHorse mentioned earlier: The

Horse mentioned earlier: The Diplomat, driven by Lew James.

September 10, 2019 - 9:07 amDon Daniels supplied the

Don Daniels supplied the following information as he immediately recognized the subject of this week's photo:
From Oct 5, 1949 Harness Horse and NJ State Fair (Trenton)
September 28, An exhibition mile by the marvelous mare, Proximity 
1:59 3/5, Queen of the Trotters, featured the second day's program at the 
New Jersey State Fair. Going against the track trotting record of 
2:04 3/4 held by The Colonel's Lady 1:59 1/2, the seven‑year‑old Protector 
flyer came a sizzling last half in :58 4/5 for driver Clint Hodgins to 
trot the mile in 2:03 4/5.
In stand, left to right: Judge Joseph McGraw; Judges and Timers 
Howard Teneous, Harry Hartman and A. E. Leatherman.

September 8, 2019 - 5:16 pmWho is it? Clint Hodgins

Bob Belore SAID...

Who is it?
Clint Hodgins driving Proximity

September 8, 2019 - 12:51 pmThe articles are GREAT

The articles are GREAT reading Robert, but the pictures of man and beast etc. are too old for me !!! HELP!!!!

September 8, 2019 - 12:12 pmPossibly Delvin Miller and

David Darocy SAID...

Possibly Delvin Miller and Lusty Song in top photo and the bottom, DuQuoin, Illinois.


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