SC Rewind: Years Ago: 1970s

Published: December 4, 2021 09:29 am EST

The latest weekly Rewind column is the monthly edition of Years Ago and this time all of the topics and old photos are from the decade of the 1970's. That makes it about 40 to 50 years ago which might make at least some of us say "My, how time flies!"

1970 - The Good Old Days Return To Blue Bonnets

As officials at Blue Bonnets look to the future they are also looking at the past for inspiration in their latest promotional ideas. In recent times they have noticed that young people are not attending the races as they once did and have started to think of some ways to buck that trend. On the July 1 card at the Decarie Blvd. the clock is being turned back and in a major way.

Prices for the day at the concession stands will be turned back to the turn of the century. Beer will sell for 10 cents, as will a hot dog. A soft drink will go for a nickel and a meal in the grandstand cafeteria will be offered for 90 cents. While they're all for doing anything that will draw a crowd it is feared that the whole idea may give Raymond Lemay and the Board of Directors heartburn, not to mention the concession manager.

All of the employees of the track will be attired in the old time style and strolling bands of musicians will play throughout the evening. Each race will be named for a town in Quebec that used to have a racetrack. The mayors of all of those towns are to be in attendance for the festivities. The ninth race will be called "The Old Montreal Trot" and has attracted two of the finest trotters in the world, Fresh Yankee and Crain Hanover. They are already in town for the upcoming July 7th Canadian championship at Richelieu Park.

An old race program from Quebec City

P.S. - From what I have read this day was a huge success. To the surprise of no one the bargain beer ran out early in the day. Fresh Yankee won the Old Montreal Trot. To date I haven't been able to find out many other details.

1971 - Rideau Carleton Records First "Miracle Mile"

On July 7, 1971 Rideau Carleton Raceway recorded its first ever "miracle mile". It is difficult to believe that the track was then in its 10th season of operation. It had seen a lot of races since September 1, 1962 when the new state of the art facility opened as Canada's first newly built track in decades, but to date none had been clocked in two minutes or less. The track's first race winner way back then was an aged gelding named Bud Castleton driven by 19-year-old Wes Coke.

On this momentous occasion nearly 10 years later, the track was presenting its signature race the Frank Ryan Memorial Pace. The winning horse covered the mile in a speedy 1:58.1 thus leaving no doubt about eclipsing the 2:00 mark. As part of today's picture quiz the winner's circle presentation is displayed below. See if you can figure out the winning horse, owning connection and driver. Be sure to see the photo below.

1972 - Racing At Edmonton

A view of the Northlands Park Tote Board

Almost 50 years ago in 1972, harness racing at Northlands Park in Edmonton was a pretty popular pastime with the season opener held on August 18 going right through to closing day on October 16th. A number of Western Canada drivers had outstanding seasons. Among the leaders were Steve Schedlosky, Ray Remmen, Ed Tracey, John Baxter, Ken Flaro and Don Monkman to name just a few. In later years Ray Remmen went on to worldwide fame and eventual induction into several Halls of Fame in both Canada and the U.S. as well as winning the 1981 Hambletonian. I was fortunate enough back around 1970 to get to meet Ray.

Undoubtedly the best horse on the grounds was the amazing Smoky Affair, a six-year-old gelded son of Smoky Cloud owned by Pat Brennan of Squamish, B.C. This horse suddenly vaulted into prominence during 1972 after earning a paltry $3,200 lifetime coming into that season. Driven at times by his owner and also by Ray Remmen, he pretty much met and defeated all comers throughout the year. After emerging from virtual obscurity at the beginning of the season he went on to take a new lifetime mark of 2:03.1 late in the fall at Windsor with Ray Remmen aboard. The signature event of the 1972 Northlands season was The Western Canada Derby for a purse of $17,455 and was won by three-year-old Eyrego Express handled by Ray Remmen for Eleanor Richaud of Forestburg, Alta.

Ontario Horsemen Competing at Northlands: A number of Ontario-based horsemen were prominent in the driver's standings at Edmonton during the entire nine-plus week season. Among the Ontario contingent were Ellis Dell, Vern Soper, Fred Roloson, Paul Coulter and Leonard Bain.

Another driver who made the long trek westward from Ontario and had a pretty productive meeting, scoring victories every week, was Bev Heywood. The 36-year-old teamster from the London area — who had been involved in the sport for over 15 years up to this point — visited the winner's circle with a wide variety of horses, competing mainly in the Claiming ranks. Unofficially he may have visited the winner's circle with more different horses than any other driver. Among his winners were Bomb Buster, City Command, Dillair, Petunia Pen Din, Roger Rock, Vololites Way, Will Command, Star Reporter, Yankee Bee Bee, Stormy Gale, Strike A Beat, Strawberry Sundae, Aero Scott, Sandias Ace, and Llomar Victor. A number of these horses competed in the top level classes.

Be sure to check out the "team" photo shown below.

Ray Remmen, young driving star

1974 - O.S.S. First Year Divisional Leaders

The year 1974 was the first season for the long awaited O.S.S. program and the approximate six-month competition was nothing short of spectacular with some interesting results. Listed below are the divisional leaders based on season's earnings.


2 Y.O. Colts & Geldings - Pats Bye Bye, $53,756. Owner - Clint Hodgins; Drivers - Harold Wellwood Sr., Clint Hodgins
3 Y.O. Colts & Geldings - Terry Parker, $63,866. Owner - Clint Hodgins; Drivers - Harold Wellwood Sr., Clint Hodgins
2 Y.O. Fillies - Epiphany, $54,296. Owners - Bud McCardle & Dr. Geo. Johnstone; Driver - Al Nicholls
3 Y.O. Fillies - Merrywood Sara, $56,791. Owner - Merrywood Farm; Driver - Don Larkin


2 Y.O. Colts & Geldings - Delvin Herbert, $41,275. Owner - Herbert Stable; Driver - Jack Herbert
3 Y.O. Colts & Geldings - Garma Hooligan, $57,168. Owner - Dr. Oscar Smith; Driver - Brent Davies
2 Y.O. Fillies - Shawland Belle, $62,502. Owner Jim Shaw - Driver; Don Davies
3 Y.O. Fillies - Garma Haughty, $34,581. Owner - Robert and Lynn Grisenthwaite & Rosemeadow Farm; Driver - Wm. Grisenthwaite

1978 - Windsor Fans Eager To Watch Live Racing

Feb. 1978 - A recent experiment at Windsor Raceway seems to prove that local fans literally "can't get enough" when it comes to live racing. Within a span of just 30 hours Windsor Raceway staged four live racing programs and the attendance figures and mutuel handle deemed that the experiment was a "moderate success". This number of races within such a short period of time is believed to be the first ever at a North American pari-mutuel track. The four programs drew a total of 16,917 fans who wagered just under two million dollars ($1,983,099 to be precise).

The track had just missed three days of racing due to recent snow storms and wanted to make up the lost revenue and racing opportunities for the horse people. Management also wanted to test the feasibility of staging two cards on a Sunday for later in the year when the Detroit thoroughbred season started up as they did not race on Sundays. The largest attendance figure was recorded on Saturday night when 5,433 patrons were on hand to wager $589,962 which was also the highest handle of the four weekend programs.

One person who was undoubtedly pleased with the Sunday day-night format was trainer-driver Jerry Duford. In the afternoon he scored a convincing victory behind Derby Dan in the $7,500 feature. In the evening he was again a feature winner with Mr. Bohana in the $6,000 event, giving the High Ideal colt three wins in five starts for owner Gordon Lawrence of Blenheim, Ont. He was back in the winner's circle again in the eighth race driving Bobby Bret for the Wheeling By Stable of Grand Bend. Despite the cold temperatures no less than five horses took new lifetime marks during the two days of doubleheaders.

Quote For The Week: "You don't have to be crazy to work here; we'll train you." Sign observed recently at a local coffee shop.

Who Is It?

On the far right is Mrs. Frank Ryan presenting a trophy to the winner of the 1971 renewal of the race held annually at Rideau Carleton in memory of her late husband. Can you identify the horse and driver as well as the owner (centre) accepting. (Ottawa Citizen photo)

Who Else Is It?

Can you correctly identify the driver in this picture taken quite a few years ago? He's often been included in past Rewinds but I don't believe this photo has ever been displayed. Who is he?

Blast From The Past

This photo was not from the 1970's. Apparently at one time in Western Canada moose racing was a popular pastime as shown above. I have no stats on just how fast they were going.



This week's pictures were again quite easily solved by our astute readers. James Milne was correct in identifying all of the folks in the mystery photo at Rideau Carleton. Marguerite, Mrs. George Boyce was the recipient of the winner's trophy thanks to the efforts of Super Wave who on this occasion was driven by Ken McElroy who was subbing for regular pilot Jack Kopas (who was his brother in law). Jack was at Pocono Downs winning with First Star owned by David Weldon.
In the lower photo was driver Johnny Chapman winning with the great pacer Big Towner.
The team of moose (apparently moose is both singular and plural) seemed to draw quite a bit of interest. One reader ,who I know pretty well since he's my brother, contacted me to ask if most moose are free legged? To be quite honest I don't have an answer but I did hear that the cost of ear plugs for a moose is rather high! Thanks to everybody for your answers.

That would be Cindy Chapman's Dad, John driving Big Towner! Big Towner a son of Gene Abbe is a very influential sire! He shows up twice in Always B Miki's pedigree and is the 2nd dam broodmare sire of Charlie May!

Thanks Robert for all your research. This was the era when I was a super fan.
Who is it? Super Wave with Mrs. George Boyce accepting the trophy. I think it is Ken McElroy driving instead of Jack Kopas.
The blast from the past is amazing!

Who is it???
-ken mcelroy

Who else is it???
-johnny Chapman

Anthony Haughan is driving the moose LMFAO

This is a real blast from the past Robert. I can remember most of the horses you have mentioned that Bev Heywood won with out west including Yankee Bee Bee, who was the first horse that I ever claimed.