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Thank You Trevor (And Congratulations)

The View

When people and/or horses enter The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame, as with most any HOF, they largely go in based on statistics. It’s simply the best and easiest way to quantify a career in sports.

In baseball, easily the toughest HOF to get into in North America, you’re practically a cinch if, as a hitter you hit 500 HRs, or as a pitcher you win 300 games. And with a long list of major victories like the Hambletonian, North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Maple Leaf Trot, and multiple Breeders Crown titles (to mention just a few), statistically, Trevor Ritchie is more than worthy to enter our Hall, as he will do this August. But in the case of ‘Trottin Trev,’ my own personal experience tells me that there’s more to the story than just stats - so I’d like to share.

I was approximately 15 years old the first time I met the man, and I was paddocking a horse at Greenwood for the first time ever. For a kid that had only been in the paddock at Kawartha and Barrie, and just in the grandstand at Greenwood, this was BIG. I was nervous. The paddock there only held three races, and for the 45 minutes or so that we were in there, things were running smoothly.

Somewhere around 14-15 minutes to post for our race, I had my charge ready to go. Looking back, I’m not sure where my trainer had disappeared to, but I’m thinking that he was probably in the kitchen, where free soup for all horsepeople was a big hit in those days. I had noticed that many of the catch-drivers would simply appear as the horses were led outside, so I knew it would be easy enough to just follow along and check my horse up with everyone else when they called us out. There was still a good 3-4 minutes before that call would come, but then I saw our driver, Trevor Ritchie, approaching me. Why was he doing that? I got a bit more nervous.

Extending his hand to shake mine, and introducing himself (as if I didn’t know who he was) our driver seemed very friendly. My nerves calmed a bit.

Then he opened the front pocket on the leg of his suit and pulled out a copy of the evening’s program. I had never seen a driver carry a program in his suit. Opening the program to our race (I believe that it was either a maiden race or cheaper claimer) Trevor started discussing things with me, asking questions about our horse, and talking about how we both saw the race unfolding. I remember it like it was yesterday - I was dumbfounded. A top catch-driver like him was actually asking me, a green teenager, my opinion about what was about to occur on the track? Was someone playing a joke on me? Was this for an episode of Candid Camera?

“No” was the answer to both. He actually wanted to hear what I had to say.

My jittery nerves were basically gone.

Thank you Trevor.

Most people know that it’s tough for a kid to break into this sport, in regard to people asking for your input or wanting to hear what you have to say. Yes, we all need to earn our stripes - that’s only right. But a top OJC driver gave a young kid a lot of confidence one evening, quite a few years back, and it’s something that kid never forgot. It may not say anything about things like this on Trevor’s plaque in the Hall, but to me, that’s more important than any statistic will ever reveal.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that many years later, the same Trevor Ritchie was in the bike when I captured my biggest career victory as a trainer, when he piloted my girl, Pronovais, to a stakes record victory of 1:52.2 at Woodbine, in the $115,000 final of the 2004 Damsel Stakes.

Once again - thank you Trevor.

Dan Fisher
[email protected]

1 Comment

June 23, 2019 - 1:41 pmGreat article Fish! Trevor is

Gord Brown SAID...

Great article Fish! Trevor is one of the coolest people I have ever met in my life, on and off the track. His numbers speak volumes. Just don't ask him to pick up the tab!!

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