SC Rewind: Derby Win For Try Scotch

Published: October 30, 2021 11:15 am EDT

This week's edition of Rewind takes a trip back in time some 42 years ago to 1979. Robert Smith recalls one of those many great days (actually in this case nights) from the beloved old Greenwood track in Toronto. His story remembers that year's Canadian Pacing Derby, always one of the real highlights of every summer racing season.

On the evening of Saturday, August 11, 1979 a few race fans originally headed for Greenwood Raceway may have changed their plans after battling traffic. However a lot of people stuck to their guns for the evening and created the second largest crowd ever recorded at the "Downtown Track" as it was often called. Traffic was often at a standstill along Lakeshore Boulevard leading up to first post time as a whopping 17,826 fans made their way in to see Abercrombie in particular. Just a week earlier this horse had recorded the fastest race mile in the history of harness racing when he toured the Meadowlands track in 1:53 for driver Glen Garnsey. Apparently they thought another record breaking performance could be in the offing.

A field of eight of the swiftest pacers on the planet were entered in the $100,000 Canadian Pacing Derby that even included one three-year-old, Maple Lanes Strike. A number of other top rated performers were entered as well in the event that was for three-year-olds and older. Perhaps overlooked in the field despite having a tremendous season thus far was a five-year-old named Try Scotch. A son of My Scotch Bret by Bret Hanover, he was at his season's best at this time. Despite all of the accolades involving the others in the field the capacity crowd had come to see Abercrombie.

Try Scotch and driver Shelly Goudreau reach the Greenwood wire a winner with just one other horse in the winning photo. Finishing second was Le Baron Rouge and driver Robert Samson (Photo courtesy of the Standardbred front cover)

Shelly Goudreau, driver of Try Scotch, had a pretty clear view of the big race that everyone was talking about from the previous week when Abercrombie set the new all-time record at The Meadowlands. He had set the entire pace and finished a bang-up second after all. Apparently his strategy for this race had not changed and despite starting from sixth position he was intent on using the same plan of attack.

Just before reaching the quarter mile marker, Goudreau had Try Scotch on top and soon began to set his own pace albeit an amazingly "slow" one for a field like this. He chugged through fractions of :29.2, 1:00 even to the half, and on to the 3/4 pole in 1:29.2. From here he urged his charge on to a 28 second last quarter with plenty in reserve. At the wire he held a one-length lead over second place finisher Le Baron Rouge for Robert Samson while the heavily favoured Abercrombie was a disappointing 2-1/2 lengths back in third. Try Scotch was the winner in 1:57.2 in what observers called "a mild upset."

This edition of the famed Canadian Pacing Derby was the 16th in a row to be held at Greenwood. It also marked the first time that the purse had reached the $100,000 mark having risen $10,500 from the previous year when it was won by Dream Maker owned by Antonio Chiravalle and driven by 34-year-old Ron Waples. The winning time of 1:57.2 by Try Scotch was not a record as the mile of 1:56.1 set by the aforementioned Dream Maker the previous year remained intact.

It was his eighth win in 13 starts, good for season's earnings of $207,000. Although it was still relatively early in the racing season, Try Scotch was starting to get some recognition for aged pacer of the year honours. This horse was purchased in a private deal for a paltry $10,000 by his current majority owner Tom Crouch three years previous to this time. Later at a party Crouch (reportedly after a few cocktails) entered into a conversation with a couple of friends who expressed an interest in buying at least a share in a horse. Couch told them "I've got one I'll sell you." He ended up selling a portion of the horse to Steven Newcom and Craig Mahlstedt, both of Illinois.

Following the race the smiling young 31-year-old Goudreau soon became every reporter's dream as he began to issue a few quotable quotes. "I was looking for the little horse (meaning Abercrombie), but I couldn't find him tonight. I was glad I couldn't see him too." On a more serious note he said, "To win this race is the highlight of my career. I really wanted to win this one!". Goudreau was modest in his assessment of the horse when he quipped "he's always a good horse but just peaking this year."

Results Of The 1979 Canadian Pacing Derby

The above chart shows the order of finish. Horses are listed in order of post position with their finish shown further to the right.

Memories Of Shelly Goudreau

Shelly and his father "Smilin' Fred" Goudreau. This is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite photographs and every time I see it I feel the same about it.


A trunk from the stable of Shelly Goudreau (Photo courtesy of Ken Fitzgerald)

Quote For The Week: "If you think God is far away...Guess who moved." Seen recently on a church sign near here.

Who Is It?

Can you correctly identify this young fellow? The soft hat tells me that this picture may not have been taken too recently. Let us know your answer.

Who Else Is It?

Can you identify this gentleman? He wore a variety of caps and hats during his career in the sport. (Photo courtesy of Can. Sportsman)



This week's pictures were correctly identified as so frequently happens. The correct answers were as follows:
The top picture was Del Insko in a neat photo framed by a series of sulkies. This fine gentleman turned 90 in July of this year. He ranks among the very best our sport has ever seen.
The lower photo was Joe Burke, long time O.H.H.A. representative who also dabbled in the racing business in his spare time. Thanks to Joe for his many years of service to those involved in the sport.

Shelly Goudreau was a rising young Superstar in the seventies and early eighties. But his driving career was cut short when he was killed in a driving accident in California.
Who is it is Delmer Insko. He was a top catch driver at Roosevelt and Yonkers in the 60s 70s and 80s. He had a good horse in the mid 60s by the name of Overcall. And wouldn’t be surprised that is Overcall he is holding onto in the picture. His colours were purple and gold. Del always had a tooth pick hanging out of his mouth.
Who else is it is hard working Joe Burke. Joe wore many hats for the O.H.H.A. And fought a lot of tough battles for the Horsemen.

I also remember I was at the Meadowlands in 197something looking after a horse for my brother called Sun Again who if I recall was carrying a 14 race win streak. I remember going up to the driver's lounge being in complete awe as i was very impressionable back then,and striking up a conversation with Shelley who kinda took me under his wing for the week. An absolute chatty gentleman taken WAY to soon.!

Del Insko, Joe Burke.
Robert I was there that night as I was for many derbys. I remember vividly horses like Kentucky, Albatross, Iles Of Wight, Nansemond and the list goes on and on. The GREATEST place in the world!!! Especially Grand Circuit week.