This past Friday evening, the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing was showcased as part of the 95th Annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto
Under the lights and glamour of the Royal Horse Show, an exhibition celebrating the racing industry’s milestone anniversary included a combination of video, current and retired racehorses, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame members and a special presentation to the president of the RAWF.
Three thoroughbreds and four Standardbreds completed an eight-lap commemorative mile while iconic race caller Dan Loiselle provided biographies about each horse’s race and post-race career, highlighting the versatility of the breeds and the importance of re-purposing once race careers conclude.
Post-race activities ranged from show horse careers, including the 2017 Royal, for thoroughbreds, Highland Bay, Man Cave and Maple Tints competing in Thoroughbred confirmation and under saddle classes; and current road horse competitor Standardbred Rachel Lauren; pacer Spago Hall currently engaged with OHHA’s Hands On Horses/Wanna Drive program, providing opportunities for race track patrons to experience what it is like to ride behind a race horse; Calamar and Debi O’Brien-Moran, both familiar faces at tracks leading post parades; and trotter Lets Leavem who is still an active racing participant in both RUS and in harness for owner Sarah Town, including a win and new season mark at Flamboro the night following his trip to the Royal.
Riders and drivers presenting the horses included Sheena Ryan, 2014 Sovereign Award winner as Apprentice Jockey, and Ron Waples, member of both the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the US Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
The performance concluded with introductions of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame members highlighting all aspects of the racing industry: harness driver Bill O’Donnell, jockey Sandy Hawley, builder Lou Cauz, communicators Bill Galvin and Jim Bannon, Mrs. Lenore Armstrong, wife of the late H. Charles Armstrong, representing Armstrong Brothers and Mark Samuel, representing Sam-Son Farms. CHRHF president John Stapleton, presented a certificate acknowledging the Royal’s participation in the 250th celebrations along with a special limited edition copy of the history paper on pre-confederation horse racing in Canada, commissioned as a 250th anniversary initiative by the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, to Royal Agricultural Winter Fair president Andrew McKee.
Spearheaded by the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, funding for the 250th Anniversary of Horse Racing in Canada initiatives has been provided by: Standardbred Canada, Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, HBPA Ontario, Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Racing, OLG, Alberta Standardbred Horse Association, Harness Racing BC, The Jockey Club as well as individual donations.