History of the Jockey Club of Canada

Written by Wally Wood in 1999, Updated by Stacie Roberts in 2016

“The Jockey Club of Canada has had laudable and specific aims throughout the years, at its heart is the love of and respect for the horse, and its abiding interest is to promote good quality racing throughout Canada” – Col. Charles (Bud) Baker
 

The Jockey Club of Canada Today (2016)

Jeffrey Begg replaced James J. Lawson as Chief Steward in May 2015.  Jim Lawson stepped down as Chief Steward when he took the position as CEO at Woodbine Race Track.

A Steward since 2010, Jeffrey Begg became the Graded Stakes Committee Chair in 2013 and has overseen the Graded Stakes evaluation process including the implementation of many changes to Stakes evaluations throughout North America. The Graded Stakes Committee recently become responsible for the review of all Listed and Black Type Stakes as well as communicating to the Canadian racing industry the implementation of the NAISCS Race Quality Score (RQS) for all Stakes races in North America.

The by-laws of the Club were also changed in 2010 to allow an unlimited number of members.  This change made The Jockey Club of Canada an inclusive Club which welcomed those industry participants who are invested and want to be involved in helping to promote Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Canada.

Today The Jockey Club of Canada has more than 100 members who are encouraged to provide ideas and become actively involved in the operations and mandate of The Jockey Club of Canada Mandate.

In 2013 The Jockey Club of Canada’s Tax Committee presented a proposal in Ottawa on behalf of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in Canada which resulted in two changes to section 31 of the Income Tax Act released in The Federal Budget on March 21, 2013.  The first time this section of the Income Tax Act has been changed in more than 30 years.

The Jockey Club of Canada remains the host of the annual Sovereign Awards Ceremony which has been held at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto the past four years.  The Sovereign Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements in Thoroughbred racing and breeding each year.

The Jockey Club of Canada’s Graded Stakes Committee held its annual review of the Graded races in Canada and increased the number of Graded races to 44, up from 42 in 2012.   With one notable Upgrade for 2016, the Natalma Stakes for two-year-old fillies was Upgraded from a Grade 2 to a Grade 1 after reviewing the NARC figures.  The Committee is now also responsible for reviewing all Listed races in the country and overseeing the new standards of all Black-type races using the newly implemented Race Quality Score figures (RQS).

E.P. Taylor and the Beginnings of The Jockey Club of Canada

The Jockey Club of Canada was given he imprimatur of E.P. Taylor, a mark of distinction from a man of distinction. The Jockey Club of Canada — Le Club Jockey du Canada had its Letters Patent recorded by the Federal Government on October 23, 1973. Four days later, it had its board of stewards: E.P. Taylor,Edward Plunket Taylor Colonel Charles (Bud) Baker, George C. Hendrie, Richard A.N. Bonnycastle, George C. Frostad, C.J. (Jack) Jackson, and J.E. Frowde Seagram. E.P. Taylor was elected the J.C.C.’s chairman of the board: also known as chief steward.

Taylor’s signature was the mark of the man: clear, edged, regal. It was wrought by a man of purpose.

Taylor was a marker in Canadian racing, a sport which started probably three centuries ago in what is now Canada. Horse racing in the days of the early settlers to the northern part of the North American continent “took place on straight and level stretches of the public highway”, says one history of Canada. “As a rule, these races were made by two owners to decide the respective merits of their horses.”

Edward Plunket Taylor, who died in 1989, at the age of 88, stood like a colossus over the Canadian thoroughbred horse racing scene for decades, and was a world figure in both racing and breeding. He was also a high-profile Canadian industrialist. A 1966 New York Times story about Taylor was headed: He Doesn’t Really Own Canada. Taylor had entrepreneurial flair. He was involved in a multitude of things, from taxicabs to beer to bakeries, and was under the umbrella of Argus Corporation, a holding company which had an interest in mines, forest products, chemical and packaging products, supermarkets, agricultural machines, insurance and broadcasting.

During World War II, Taylor had been a ‘one dollar a year man’, working for the Allies war effort, and was made the head of the British Supply Council, at the express request of Winston Churchill, co-ordinating purchases from North America by Britain. In 1946, he was created a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George.

As a horseman, ‘Eddie’ Taylor was the architect of first class Canadian racing and breeding, was the first Canadian to be made a member of The Jockey Club, in the United States, in 1953, was the first Canadian to be elected president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, in North America, in 1964, was given an Eclipse Award, pre-eminent in the United States as the outstanding breeder on the continent in 1977 and in 1983, and as North America racing’s Man of the Year in 1973, the year that the famed Secretariat ended his illustrious career in winning the Canadian International Championship Stakes at metropolitan Toronto’s Woodbine racetrack.

More than honors, Taylor, his Windfields Farm and his son, Charles, bred more stakes winners (356), more champions (45), more winners (10,500-plus) than any other person or farm in the history of thoroughbreds. The horses they bred won about a million in purses.

Taylor topped the list of breeders in North America in races won from 1960 to 1969 and from 1977 to 1985, and was the top breeder in money won on the continent nine times, from 1974 to 1980, and in 1983 and 1985.

The breeder of Northern Dancer, Nijinsky, and a host of other superlative horses, Taylor was admired and respected internationally, and was instrumental in heightening the profile of the Canadian-bred racehorse, but he was also the architect and saviour of good racing in Ontario.

In 1947, Taylor started to acquire racing charters in Ontario, charters that allowed racing to be staged at a particular location, with a view to ameliorating the racing situation in the province and to operate racing at upgraded tracks. “We consolidated the seven racetracks in southern Ontario into three thoroughbred tracks, improving the facilities at two tracks (Fort Erie and Old Woodbine/Greenwood), and building a new track, Woodbine,” said Taylor. “Racing in the province used to mean ramshackle grandstands, bad stables, poor facilities for the public and a generally inferior production,” he said. Woodbine was opened in the north-west part of what would become metropolitan Toronto in 1956. Taylor, who was the visionary in the Ontario Jockey Club, pointed out that the O.J.C. also operated standardbred racing at three locations in the province, and that the O.J.C. had the largest horse racing operation in North America, in that it had thoroughbred or standardbred racing virtually every day of the year.

Taylor had been intrigued by racing when he was a student at Montreal’s McGill University, was a weekend rider with the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Ottawa, and hacked in Toronto, but his sustained interest in horse racing came from a successful brush with it in 1936.

“Jim Cosgrove, of Cosgrove Brewery, and I timidly thought of buying horses,” Taylor recounted. “The Depression was over and business was looking up. We contacted the secretary of the Ontario Jockey Club, Palmer Wright, and he put us in touch with (trainer) Bert Alexandra. We’d got together $6,500 to get some horses. Bert asked us if we could make it $8,000. We got six horses, and everyone of them won. Madfast won his first start. Nandi, eventually the dam of Windfields, was another of the group. And, we did well. In 1936, we won 32 races and $20,335, in 1937 we won 75 races and $53,182, and in 1938, we won 84 races and $70,482, the 20 th leading money-winning stable in North America. We got progressively more successful.”

After World War II, Taylor started to race on his own. Bert Alexandra sent out Taylor’s Epic to win the King’s Plate Stakes at Toronto’s now defunct Woodbine Park (re-named Old Woodbine and thenGreenwood) in 1949. The King’s Plate or Queen’s Plate, depending on the gender of the British monarch, is the oldest annual stakes race in North America, having had its first running in 1860. Taylor won the King’s (Queen’s) Plate in Ontario 11 times, under his own name or that of his nom de course, Windfields Farm. Taylor bred 22 winners of the Plate.

Frank Merrill and Lou Cavalaris, who were both highly successful trainers in Canada and were made members of Canada’s Horse Racing Hallof Fame, see Taylor as the catalyst that has made Canadian racing a recognized player on the world scene. Merrill, the top race-winning trainer in North America in 1955 , 1958 and 1960, said, in deliberate overstatement: “Without Mr. Taylor, Canadian racing would not be!” He went on to say: “He not only built the racetracks themselves, he also bred world-class horses.” Cavalaris, the top race winning trainer on the continent in 1966, said: “There really are not words, or there isn’t enough time, to say what Mr. Taylor did for Canadian racing. But, he did everything right, at the right time.”

Taylor retired as chairman of the board of the Ontario Jockey Club in 1973, the dynamic year of Secretariat, but later that year became chairman and chief steward of The Jockey Club of Canada, an association then of 25 men dedicated to maintaining the high standards and traditions of Canadian racing.

“We’ve never had a national Jockey Club before,” Taylor said, at the time. “We felt it was important to Canadian racing to have this kind of organization which could address itself to the important racing issues of the day.” Taylor said that the J.C.C. would be a voice at international racing conferences on both sides of the Atlantic, and elsewhere; that it would act in concert with the National Association of Canadian Race Tracks Inc. (now the Racetracks of Canada, Inc.) on subjects such as controlled medication, the identification of horses, blood typing, artificial insemination, international weights, emphasis on distance racing, and an international passport for horses.

The Jockey Club in England came into being in the 1730s, to institute rules of racing and to keep records. The Jockey Club in the UnitedStates replaced the Board of Control in 1894, to lessen the grip on racing by racetracks, to establish rules of racing, set racing dates, publish official records, take over the American Stud Book, implement insurance for racetrack personnel, and to oversee the sport and business of thoroughbred racing in the U.S. generally.

At the outset of The Jockey Club of Canada, E.P. Taylor stressed that the J.C.C. should be a vigorous, pro-active organization, taking the sport/industry to the highest plane, and to be on the same level as The Jockey Club in England and The Jockey Club in the United States.

The first members of The Jockey Club of Canada, in 1973, were: Colonel Charles (Bud) Baker, Douglas Banks, Warren Beasley, Charles F.W. Burns, Harry J. Carmichael, George C. Frostad, George R. Gardiner, Brigadier General W. Preston Gilbride, George C. Hendrie, John A. (Bud) McDougald, J.E. Frowde Seagram, Frank H. Sherman, Conn Smythe, Donald G. (Bud) Willmot and E.P. Taylor, all of Ontario; The Honourable Viscount Hardinge, Charles John ( Jack) Jackson, Sydney J. (Jim) Langill, and Jean-Louis Levesque, all of Quebec; Arthur B. Christopher and Frank M. McMahon, both of British Columbia; and Richard A.N. ( Dick) Bonnycastle, of Alberta.

While the august bodies of The Jockey Club in England and The Jockey Club in the United States have stature and staff, The Jockey Club of Canada has been largely operated by one Executive Director/Secretary: from Don Valliere, to Nigel Wallace, to Gary Loschke, to Bridget Bimm, to Stacie Roberts to Melanie O’Sullivan.

Charles (Bud) Baker and The Ontario Jockey Club

Colonel Charles (Bud) Baker, a founding director of The Jockey Club of Canada, along with E.P. Taylor and John J. Mooney; one of the original stewards; and a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Ontario Jockey Club: “The Jockey Club of Canada has got people to look at racing across Canada: the depth of horse racing across the country. It has brought together devoted horse people from all parts of Canada.”

There have been six Chief Stewards of The Jockey Club of Canada since 1973: E.P. Taylor, George C. Frostad, Charles P.B. Taylor, Michael C. Byrne, Richard A.N. Bonnycastle and James J. Lawson (present).

Taylor re-organized horse racing in Ontario in the 1950s under the banner of the Ontario Jockey Club. As the motive force in The Jockey Club of Canada, Taylor could speak for and represent racing in Canada: it was a higher plane. Taylor had gone from being chairman of the board of trustees of the Ontario Jockey Club to heading The Jockey Club of Canada.

‘Bud’ Baker, who had been E.P. Taylor’s choice to succeed him as chairman of the board of trustees of the Ontario Jockey Club, in 1973, was one of three people who were the founding directors of The Jockey Club of Canada, in the same year, along with Taylor and John J. Mooney, then the president of the O.J.C. Mooney resigned as a director from The Jockey Club of Canada soon after it was founded, but stayed on as a member. Taylor wanted The Jockey Club of Canada to be seen to be distanced from the Ontario Jockey Club.

The year that The Jockey Club of Canada was founded, 1973, was the year that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, were at Woodbine to watch Royal Chocolate win the Queen’s Plate Stakes. Later in the year, Penny Tweedy Chenery was at Woodbine to see her magnificent Secretariat win the Canadian International Championship Stakes. Taylor wanted the international aspect of racing to become and accepted part not only of Woodbine but of Canadian racing generally. The major international race at Woodbine continues to attract a host of very good from Europe and the United States, including winners, Dahlia, Snow Knight, Youth, Exceller, Majesty’s Prince, All Along, River Memories, Infamy, French Glory, Husband, Lassigny and Singspiel.

‘Bud’ Baker said that while The Jockey Club of Canada has had laudable and specific aims throughout the years, at its heart is the love of and respect for the horse, and its abiding interest is to promote good quality racing throughout Canada. He said that the people that have been invited to become members of the J.C.C. are those who have been devoted to the horse, across the country. Baker, who served as chairman of the Ontario Jockey Club from 1973 to 1992, said that the O.J.C. has been charged with being somewhat of a closed-shop club, and concedes that that could indeed be partially true; however, he intimated that the J.C.C. is one of equipoise, to use a familiar horse name, composed of people across Canada who have demonstrated a continuing passion for the horse, particularly the thoroughbred horse. Baker’s racing silks are carried as the Norcliffe Stable.

George Carmon Frostad

George C. Frostad, who raced as Bo-Teek Farm, died in 1998. He was the J.C.C.’s chief steward from 1976 to 1989. A modest man, Frostad is credited with raising the profile of Canadian racing in the rest of the world, and by the same token, giving Canadian horse people an insight into the wide world of horse racing and breeding. He developed a strong rapport with key racing people in Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere.

From a national perspective, the late Harry J. Addison Jr., who was a J.C.C. steward, was said to be particularly instrumental in bringing keen horse people into the J.C.C. fold from across Canada. ‘Bud’ Baker adds that while the J.C.C is a group composed of sociable horse people, they are also people with expertise, influence, or power.

In 1998, when the J.C.C. marked a quarter century of existence, there were 65 members from Canada and two members from the United States, Ogden Mills Phipps and George Strawbridge Jr. Six of the J.C.C. members were women. Michael C. Byrne, who operates Park Stud, near Orangeville, Ontario, was elected the chief steward in 1995. The eight other stewards were: Robert (Bob) M. Anderson, William (Bill) Graham, Rocco Marcello, Roland (Roly) B. Roberts, Ernest (Ernie) L. Samuel and Michael Van Every, all from Ontario, Dr. Jacques Levasseur from Quebec, and Ole A. Nielsen from British Columbia.