SC Rewind: Kawartha Memories

Published: October 9, 2021 12:54 pm EDT

In this week's Rewind Robert Smith strolls back in time to recall some of the highlights of the 1983 season at Kawartha Downs. Then in its 12th season of operation, the Fraserville, Ont. track was a major racing centre classed as a "B" track. His piece remembers a couple of special annual races as well as a few old pictures that help to tell the story.

The 1983 racing season at Kawartha was a productive and busy one. The Board of Directors decided to race a nine-month schedule with a total of 84 days. It was an action packed racing season from start to finish.

Listed below are a few of the highlights of that season.

• A total of 18 'miracle miles' were recorded during the entire season. This was a major accomplishment. By midsummer, trackman Frank Alexander could barely keep up with all of the records being set
• Reg Gassien (. 4048) and Tony Kerwood (.4047) battled it out right to the end for the K.D. driving title
• Desantis set a new all aged track record of 1:56.3 in June for driver Pat Crowe and owners Norm Clements and Norm Faulkner in winning the annual Canadian Tire Pace. Second was Cooper Cat with Fifehill Disco Don, third
• Chief Roanie won the Tom Riley Memorial in 2:00 flat. This race was held in memory of Mr. Riley, who hailed from Roseneath Ont. and raced a number of horses over the years and at one time served as trainer for the stable of Dr. Charlotte Horner. He still has family members involved in the sport
• April 23rd saw the first two-minute mile of 1983 when Minto Jaye stopped the timer in 1:59.2 to give young Steve Cochrane his first sub-2:00 mile of his career.
• Cliff Hie of nearby Cobourg scored twice in under two minutes with his Hieland John ; both times were in 1:59.1
• Coastal Kelly, a 12-year-old, turned in a 2:00 performance for the Robson family (Ken, Phyllis and David)
• The record for three-year-old pacers of 1:57.4 set in 1982 by Armbro Avro was equalled by Paul Killean, a son of Dalllas Almahurst. Trevor Ritchie was the driver with Larry Fitzsimmons doing the training
• Grant Wade did another outstanding job of PR work for Kawartha
• In mid -November Kendal Hills Stud Farm chose Kawartha to co-host the retirement of Canada's fastest stallion Coal Harbor. A special trackside ceremony marked the occasion
• A number of top ranked stallions were located in this area

Orville Fallis Memorial

This year's edition was the 18th to enter the books and it marked the first time a clocking of 2:00 or better was recorded. Borne Golden, a three-year-old Strike Out filly, was the winner in an even 2:00. Trained by Wayne Hussey and driven by Harry Leatherdale for owners Olive and Orland Tank of St. Agatha, the youngster was a winner of a preliminary leg two weeks previous to this. In the final, a field of seven went postward in search of a piece of the $8,850 in purse money.

With another prelim winner Senor Dupp (Stu Cochrane) the betting favourite it was a keenly contested race. Cochrane cut most of the fractions evenly and was still in command at the 3/4 pole in 1:30 flat. From the final turn Borne Golden forged ahead and secured the victory. Minto Property, an outsider guided by Guy Larush, slipped into the second place finish with Senor Dupp settling for third.

A crowd of 1,669 people were on hand and wagered $90,365 on this popular annual affair. This race was staged to recall the memory of a longtime local gentleman, the late Orville Fallis. He was a barber by trade but also raced horses and was instrumental in organizing race days. He was credited with bringing nighttime racing to the town of Peterborough.

OHHA Invitational Pace

Late in the season the 1983 OHHA Invitational Pace was contested right after local favourite Jerry Robinson had notched his 1000th career victory. The winner of this event was the mare Senorita Turner, a daughter of Senor Skipper piloted by Gord Brown. The winner was first away and unfortunately Terra Bobby Socks, the entrant who had completely dominated the earlier races in the series, made a break leaving. Senorita Turner turned in a solid effort and won in 2:04.

On hand to present a trophy to owner J. Gordon Gilchrist of Scarborough were OHHA president Gord Sherwin and director Bruce Cummings. After the winning trip Gord Brown stated that Senorita had made her final start and would be retired to the broodmare ranks in 1984.

Year End Awards Night

Guest speaker Pat Crowe on the left is shown presenting the award for leading trainer of '83 to Alan Nicholls of Woodville, Ont.

On Saturday, February 25, 1984 a gala evening was held to honour the best performers of the 1983 season. The Miss Diana Motor Hotel in Peterborough welcomed over 200 area horsemen and racing fans for the Kawartha Downs Awards Banquet and dance. As a special treat for all of those in attendance was the evening's guest speaker Pat Crowe, a gentleman well known to virtually everyone in attendance. He flew in from The Meadowlands where he was currently racing.

In addition to his duties as guest speaker the affable Crowe answered a number of questions from the audience. At this time Pat had just finished a couple of years as the trainer and driver of one of the all-time greats — Cam Fella, the 1982 and 1983 Horse of the Year. He showed some videos of the Pacing Machine's victories and related some facts about this super horse.

Manson Cathcart, Vice President of Kawartha (centre) presents a trophy to the connections of Pacer of the Year Hieland John. The father-son duo of Roger Hie (left) along with his father Cliff on the far right accept the award.


Two folks well known to everyone in the Kawartha family are shown in this photo. Sherman Moore on the right presents a special track award to Jerry Robinson in recognition of the reinsman's 1000th career win. The milestone was reached on November 24th near the end of the meeting.

Quote For The Week: Sign in a bakeshop "STRESSED is simply DESSERTS spelled backwards."


I would like to offer my very best Thanksgiving Day Greetings to everyone in the Rewind family of readers on this special day. For many of us this has been a memorable fall season as we have been blessed with an abundance of autumn sunshine and much warmer than usual temperatures. I personally think we as Canadians have a better choice on the calendar for our Thanksgiving than our friends in the U.S. It is a special time as the harvest is underway and we have so many great things to choose from to adorn our holiday table.

Being thankful and appreciative is something that we should try to do each and every day.

Today and always be sure to treasure what you have, and much more importantly who you have around you. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Who Is It?

Can you identify this sulky sitter? Let us know if you think you've got the right answer.

Who Else Is It?

Can you identify this gentleman, an iconic figure from years ago? You're not quite finished yet though. Many years ago I visited his own Florida training centre and while there his son dropped in. I was privileged to be in his log cabin for a visit and realized that I was in a room with only three people and that I was the only one who had not driven at least one Hambletonian winner. Can you name who those three people were?

Make sure to stay tuned to see the correct answers to this week's mystery photographs.



This week's pictures were again both identified without much difficulty. The correct answers were as follows:
Top picture was driver Elaine Burke. She combined two very different careers as she worked as a secretary in an office during the day and frequently drove horses at night, often at Kawartha Downs. Gord Brown's keen eye picked up on that one.
The "Who else is it?" picture was John Simpson Sr. (with Ayres) one time great horseman and later head of Hanover Shoe Farm. Kent Benson was correct when he named two of the three persons in the question, they being John Simpson Sr. (Hickory Smoke and Ayres) and his son  John Jr. who drove Timothy T. to victory in 1970. No one named the third person I was referring to and that was Delvin Miller (Lusty Song ). That was a tough one! 
Thanks so much for sending in your answers and also thanks for the Happy Thanksgiving wishes, we had a great family day.

Who else is it? Of course the classy Ben White and in the office might be Howard Beissenger and Ron Waples who won the 1989 Hambo with Park Avenue Joe in a dead heat with Probe. Both stabled at the South Florida Training Center. Another guess would be Bill Haughton or his son Tommy.

Who is it???
If it's a woman... Rita Harrington

Who else is it??
John Simpson Sr. Of the Hanover shoe farms

Hey Anthony... It was pretty easy this week ;) lol

Elaine Burke

Second photo maybe Denton Johnson. Hmm Dancer, Haughton, Ervin?

Bottom picture could be Brisco Hanover. Robert and family have a great Thanksgiving and thanks for everything!