SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1960s

Published: November 13, 2021 11:14 am EST

The latest edition of Rewind is the ongoing monthly offering Years Ago. In this offering Robert Smith centres his piece on events, names and faces from the decade of the 1960's. Much of the news was being recorded at the big tracks but small town racing at the fairs was still a popular pastime as displayed in one item today.

1960 - Elmvale Fair Unveils New Track

Sept. 21, 1960 - Far from the big city lights Ontario's newest track was used for the first time on this date. The Elmvale, Ont. fair, now well over 100 years old, tried out their new racetrack as part of the fair's activities. A three-race program each featuring double heats entertained a large crowd as shown in the photograph below.


A partial view of the crowd on hand to watch the harness racing program at the 1960 Elmvale fall fair. Racing fans were eager to see the newly built track put to use. (Photo courtesy of Huronia Museum)

 


The recently completed track at Elmvale shows the finish of the first race at that year's annual fair held in 1960. The camera was able to capture a view of all seven entrants in the 2:30 Class. The first winning horse on the newly created track was Princess Song owned and driven by Alex Speer of Oro Station. The four-year-old mare won both heats giving the daughter of Dick Song her first lifetime wins. (Photo courtesy of Huronia Museum)

1960's - Waples Stable Racing At Rockingham Park

For several seasons during the 1960's Keith Waples sent at least a portion of his large stable to historic Rockingham Park located at Salem Depot, New Hampshire, a suburb of Boston. The once famous track was a popular racing centre for both Standardbred and Thoroughbred performers for many years.

After wintering at Coldwater, Ont., the horses were shipped to Rockingham Park accompanied by members of the Waples caretaking staff and trainers. Shown below as part of this week's photo quiz is an old photo taken just prior to their departure in early spring 1960.

1964 - Plans For New Windsor Track Announced


The Windsor grandstand as it appeared in the early years as the starting gate leads a field postward. The clubhouse was located at the left of the photograph.

The following announcement appeared in the May 27, 1964 issue of Harness Horse magazine previewing the building of Windsor Raceway in Windsor Ontario the following year.

$5.5 Million Track for Windsor, Ont.; Synthetic Oval, Plastic Stalls are Features

A pari‐mutuel harness racing plant incorporating most of the major track innovations of the last several years including a synthetic surface is some seven months away for the city of Windsor, Ont., according to a report carried last week in Canadian racing papers.

Some contracts with architectural companies have already been let for the new five‐eighths mile oval which will be constructed at an initial cost of 5 1/2 million dollars on a 200 acre site on Highway 18 in Ojibway on the outskirts of Windsor. The city of Windsor has a population of 200,000, but Detroit, Mich., with 3 million, is only 9 miles away via the Ambassador Bridge.

The track itself is to be constructed of a compound similar to the "Tartan" surface at The Meadows. It will be 80 feet wide and will cost almost $1,000,000.

An allotment of 154 days has been assured. Dates, some of which will be given to Thoroughbred racing, will be announced later by the Ontario Racing Commission. The glass‐fronted concrete grandstand will be 300 feet long and 80 feet high. The upper level of the four stories will house a clubhouse seating 600 with a terrace dining area for 400 persons. In all seating facilities will be available for 2,200 persons and when the standing areas are taken into consideration the plant will have a capacity of more than 12,000.

A lightweight fibreglass reinforced plastic, used it is believed for the first time at a racetrack, will be employed in the construction of the stables for 700 head of horses. Featuring a smooth surface about 11/211 thick and easy to wash down, the new material is available in several colors and allows light to penetrate. Its use practically eliminates painting and maintenance.

Heading the group of Canadian and American businessmen on the board of directors of Windsor Raceway Holdings, Limited, is Al Siegel, a Toronto hotel owner and real estate developer. Vice president is the well‐known horseman, breeder, and driver William Rowe, a son of the noted Canadian horseman and Ontario's Lieutenant‐Governor, Hon. W. Earl Rowe.

Among the many details reported by the Canadian turf journal was the statistics that the plant will have 85 mutuel windows and the lucky bettors will receive their winnings in the currency in which they made the wager, U. S. or Canadian.

Note: Windsor Raceway opened as planned on the evening of October 22, 1965.

1965 - Dostie Wins Connaught Park Stake

During the decade of the 1960's one of the most talent laden stables in Canadian harness racing was the Miron Bros. outfit of St. Augustin, Quebec. Brothers Adrien and Gerard had a number of prominent trainers and drivers in their employ at various times, among them was Marcel Dostie shown in the photo below. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 87. Time erases many memories but those who remember Marcel are not likely to forget one of our sport's all time greats.

During the 1965 season the royally-bred filly Blossom Time (Good Time - Breath O Spring) had an outstanding year racing on the stakes circuit. In 15 starts she won on 10 occasions and took a mark of 2:04.3 on a half mile track. Her earnings of $24,392 would be the equivalent of approx. $206,000 in today's dollars which was an outstanding year back then. Her dam had a record of 2:01 and was bred by the well known duo of Eddie Cobb and McKinley Kirk of Washington Courthouse, Ohio. She later joined the Castleton Farm broodmare band.


Trainer-driver Marcel Dostie, 35 years old at this time is shown with the outstanding two-year-old filly Blossom Time following a victory at Connaught Park. On this occasion the pair established a new track record for age, sex and gait of 2:06.2. A large Sunday afternoon crowd was on hand to watch the Canadian Series race worth a nifty $4,445 (Harness Horse photo)

1969 - Overcall Goes Undefeated For The 1969 Season


Overcall and driver Del Insko are shown in a winning effort. The son of Capetown won all of his 21 starts during the 1969 season and was retired to stud duty after being syndicated late in the season for one million dollars. (Photo courtesy of Can. Sportsman)

Not too many horses go an entire season undefeated especially when they are racing against most of the best horses in the sport. Back in 1969 the five-year-old Overcall accomplished that unbelievable feat. He went to the post a total of 21 times and each time returned to the winner's circle. This full season of wins added to his final victory of the 1968 season gave him an incredible 22 victories in succession. He won his final lifetime start in California taking the $100,000 American Classic for the second straight year. Following this remarkable performance he was invited to Yonkers Raceway for one last hurrah, a "Farewell Night".

Owner Mrs. Helen R. Buck of Far Hills, N.Y. gratefully accepted the invitation and on the evening of November 21 following the third race at Yonkers, Overcall was paraded by his trainer and driver Del Insko. It would be his final public appearance prior to entering the stud at Blue Chip Farm in Wallkill, N.Y. Following a special winner's circle celebration the horse was returned to the paddock one final time.

In his racing career Overcall compiled a record of 57 wins, 20 seconds and nine thirds. His career earnings amounted to $786,448 with just over $375,000 earned in his undefeated season of 1969.

Quote For The Week: "If you take care of the small things, the big things will take care of themselves." - Emily Dickinson

Who Is It?

Can you correctly identify the three above gentlemen who were all caretakers in the Keith Waples stable at the time this picture was taken? If you can't get all three, give us your best shot at naming as many as you can. (Photo courtesy of Huronia Museum)

Who Else Is It?

Can you identify this young lad? You may be familiar with his writings but do you recognize his picture? A word of advice; he has changed his hair style a bit in later years.

Bonus Picture - Name That Tractor

The above photo surfaced recently thanks to Rockingham Park archivist Scott Oldeham. This tractor was used for many years by the maintenance crew at Rockingham to keep the track in first class shape. Shown above is Track Sup't. Joe Manor on the right talking to crew member Henry Vartanian. The question is, what make of tractor was this vintage machine? It is interesting to note that the same tractor in this picture was sold at the closing auction in 2016, 50+ years later.

For the first time ever I am going to make this a multiple choice.

a) - Case
b) - Massey Harris
c) - Ford
d) - John Deere
e) - Other

Be sure to stay tuned during the upcoming week as the correct answers to today's pictures are revealed.

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Comments

This week's pictures again failed to stump the experts. The correct answers were as follows:
The top picture involving three employees from the Waples stable of long ago were from left to right Howard Kennedy, Percy Waples (brother of Jack Waples, Keith's father, thus Keith's uncle), and on the right Clint Gordon. Clint graduated to the driver's ranks and started a successful career but sadly passed away at a very young age.
The "Who Else Is It? picture was indeed Dean Hoffman the great writer and historian in a slightly younger pose.
In the lower photo involving the vintage tractor I believe that was a Ford but I don't know the model number or any further details. That also would have been a U.S. model which could have perhaps been a bit different than the Canadian. I can recall there being a lot of that type of tractor back in the day where I grew up. They were a general purpose machine and I can even recall an elderly man in our community driving one that looked just like the one pictured. He never had a car; that was his main travel vehicle.

Marcel Dostie is the one individual to who I owe most in terms of any success I might have achieved in this sport.
Not only was he a great horseman both as a trainer and driver, but a great person as well.
I have nominated him more than once to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame's equivalent of Goshen's Immortals. Unfortunately, thus far, I've been unsuccessful. I shall keep trying.

Who is it
Howard Kennedy Percy Waples and Clint Gordon
Clint was Ernie Browns brother in law
The other picture a guess Dean Hoffman
The tractor looks like a case

Hi Robert, #1 middle man Murray Waples? #2 Dean Hoffman? #3 ?never had much to do with them. lol

The tractor is a Massey Harris. Sad to say I can't make a guess on the rest. Thanks Robert. Everyone take care!