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Clinton Celebrates 70 Years

Published: August 16, 2016 9:46 am ET

Last Comment: August 16, 2016 10:56 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Sunday, August 21, Clinton Raceway will celebrate 70 years of hosting harness racing at its picturesque facility.

The first Standardbred race was conducted at the half-mile oval on August 21, 1946, organized by the Clinton Turf Club, a group of harness racing enthusiasts in the area. The purses were $300 and the horses were housed in tents as there were no barns at that time.

The times the horses had to meet were all over two minutes and 20 seconds, while the current pacers and trotters average a mile around 2:00 flat. During that time period, the race meets would have to be cancelled once every few years due to poor track conditions caused usually by weather.

The one-day meets continued for close to three decades. In 1970, the Clinton Kinsmen took on the task of hosting races as a fundraising project and operated full summer meets with great success until 1983. At that time, a local not-for-profit business was formed to run the track with their board comprised of local business people and horse enthusiasts who continue to oversee the operation.

A common theme from all three operators, The Turf Club, Clinton Kinsmen to the current board, is their commitment to promoting racing and community involvement.

Regarded as one of the most successful Grassroots tracks in the province, Clinton Raceway has 15 race days in 2016 with racing every Sunday afternoon from mid-May to September 4. One of its most successful initiatives has been Legends’ Day, which was introduced in 2001.

Legends’ Day brings together Hall of Fame Canadian horsemen and the biggest names in the Standardbred sport including John Campbell, Buddy Gilmour, Keith Waples, Bill O’Donnell, Mike LaChance, Ron Waples, Dave Wall and Bud Fritz. The famed horsemen meet and greet with the fans and compete on track in the Legends’ Day trot.

For 37 years, Clinton Raceway has also hosted a very popular Drivers’ Challenge featuring some of Ontario’s top drivers competing against the top four drivers at the local racetracks. The Drivers’ Challenge and Legends’ Day have raised more than $600,000 for local charities.

Clinton has recently introduced opportunities for local charities to host fundraisers during every race day through auctions, bake sales and barbeques.

Celebrations on August 21 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary include the second appearance of Ontario Sires Stakes, welcoming three-year-old colt trotters to the race course. Race fans will be treated to a slice of anniversary cake while welcoming Standardbred Canada's I Love Canadian Harness Racing Fan Club on-site with offers and promotions. A commemorative insert into the live race program will highlight the last 70 years at Clinton Raceway.

The Huron Heat girls hockey organization will be hosting a trackside fundraiser for their upcoming 2016/17 season with a Smoked Pork Chop BBQ, 50/50 and bake sale.

The late Fred Sadler of Parkhill will be honoured with a special memorial race and blanket presentation. Sadler, a well known horseman in Southwestern Ontario passed away in January of 2012. He was a fixture at both Clinton and Western Fair Raceway, winning the Charity Driver's Challenge at Clinton in 1985.

Post time for the action-packed day is 1:30 p.m.

(with files from Clinton)

August 16, 2016 - 10:56 amHard working employees, loyal

John Hayes SAID...

Hard working employees, loyal fans, and well maintained facilities add up to a great product...congratulations

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