SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1930s

Published: March 7, 2020 09:40 am EST

In this week's 'Rewind,' the monthly feature Years Ago is featured. Robert Smith takes readers back a very long way as he revives a number of stories and shows pictures from the decade of the 1930s. Thanks to some of the great camera work done by the photographers back then, a very real "feel" can be given to the old stories.

1933 - Mary Reynolds Wins 1933 Hambletonian

Prominent owner W.N. Reynolds proudly holds his Hambletonian winning mare Mary Reynolds in the Goshen winner's circle. Canadian-born horseman Ben White is in the sulky recording his first of four Hambo victories. The filly was named after Mr. Reynolds' niece Mary who was on hand to enjoy the victory. (Courtesy of Hambletonian Society archives)

William N. Reynolds of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was one of the leading breeders and owners in harness racing until his death in 1951 at the age of 88. Chairman of the Board of Reynolds Tobacco, Reynolds sent his homebred filly Mary Reynolds to the care of trainer Ben White as a yearling. The filly was campaigned lightly at two and wound up the year by winning a heat of the Kentucky Futurity, which was then a two-year-old event.

Her three-year-old season set her up as a contender for the Hambo, with several stakes wins and placings to her credit. With a pair of wins and a second on Hambletonian Day, she became the third filly in just eight years to take that classic. Mary Reynolds was unraced at four, but came back to race as a five-year-old before beginning her broodmare career. She was the dam of several stakes winners before she was exported to Europe. (From Hambletonian Society archives)

1935 - Ottawa Fair Races Attract Large Crowds

Each year some of Ontario's finest racing took place during the Central Canada Exhibition held at Ottawa's Lansdowne Park. Many horses from Eastern Ontario and the Province of Quebec were among the competitors. In the write up above from the Ottawa Citizen the headline shows a win by Jennie Grattan (Vic Rowntree) owned by Jim Brown of New Liskeard, Ont., the father of Dr. Glen Brown.

The 1935 races were hampered by bad weather as heavy rains cancelled several heats and delayed them to the following days of the fair. Despite the inconvenience caused by the downpours fair officials reported near record attendance. As a sign of the dedication of fair goers the following clip appeared in the Ottawa Citizen recap of the fair.

"A rather amusing situation occurred when women riding on the Ferris wheels opened their parasols and held them aloft while enjoying their ride."

One of the highlights of the several day race meeting was a race that had a special stipulation. It was listed as "2:25 Pace open only to horses owned within 100 miles of Ottawa." Shown above are the entries for the 1935 race. The winner of the first two heats was Bedford Grattan from the stable of Felix Turcotte with Dominion Grattan taking the third and final.

1935 - Driver Sep Palin Becomes First Driver To Drive Double Two Minute Miles - 85 Years Ago

Aug, 21, 1935 - Springfield, Illinois - Greyhound, the flashy trotter who had just won this year's Hambletonian a week previous to this day, set a new world's mark for three-year-old gelded trotters when he recorded a mile in 2:00 even at the Illinois State Fair. This new mark eclipsed his own record set in the Hambletonian by 2-1/4 seconds as the son of Guy Abbe took both heats of the Reading Futurity which carried a purse of $1,000. He won 18 of 20 starts as a three-year-old in 1935.

Greyhound as he appeared in the winner's circle after winning the 1935 Hambletonian with driver Sep Palin and (far right) owner Col. E.J. Baker (Hambletonian Society)

Later that same afternoon driver Palin also broke the 2:00 barrier while driving the pacer Cardinal Prince who recorded a mile in 1:59 1/2 in the middle heat of three contests, all won by this horse. Race officials announced that it was the first time in Grand Circuit history that one driver had driven two different horses in two minutes or less in the same afternoon. The Springfield mile track was the scene of many great contests and record setting performances as the sport's top horses usually appeared here every year.

1937 - Dates Claimed

For many years of its existence The Canadian Sportsman displayed a page that announced the available race dates in the upcoming weeks. Horse people often relied on it to set their schedules especially in the busy fall season.

The above list of races scheduled appeared in the August 9, 1937 issue of The Sportsman. The term "Dates Claimed" was the usual heading.

1939 - The Driving Colony

What did a group of harness racing drivers look like some 80 years ago? Noted photographer Guy Kendall captured the shot shown below around 1939 on the Maine Circuit. It is an excellent piece of photography and beautifully captures the times. A look at a few of the names shows some recognizable personalities. How nice to include the young lad in the front row.

Back row, left to right: Chet Stewart, Horace Camron, G. Wilmont (Monte) Gerow, Franklin (Frank) E. Safford, James Phalen, and James (Jimmy) W. Jordan. Seated, left to right: Arthur Lohnes, E. Morgan, A. Jones, W. Carney, C. Smith, Pierce Chappelle, J. Jendron, Brisbin, Wendell Wathen, and Joseph Haddock. (Photographer Guy Kendall)

Quote For The Week: "When you're riding in a car you are inside but you are outside. Also you are sitting still but you are moving." Wisdom from the Seinfeld show.

Who Is It?

Can you identify the driver and the gentleman standing next to him receiving the tray in this photo from 1981? If anyone else is easily identifiable please send it along. (Abahazy photo collection)

As I have stated previously these old photos serve not only as a quiz subject but also provide an avenue to recognize those who have contributed to our sport in the past.

Who Else Is It?

Who are these two lads taking time out from their duties to lean on the fence? Be sure to stay tuned as the correct answers will appear right here during the upcoming week.



This week's pictures were as follows:
Top - The driver is Dr. John Hayes along with owner Charlie Juravinski taken at Wolverine in 1981 following a victory by Conquered in the Matron Stake.

Lower - Drivers Bud Gilmour (left) along with Wendell "Red" Wathen Jr. member of a noted racing family from Fort Fairfield, Maine. Mr. Wathen won his first race at age 12 and many years later retired from training and driving and served as a judge for a long time at several U.S.  tracks. He passed away in 2018. Thanks again for your interest.

Love the historic articles. I'm a little young to be guessing some of these people in many pictures. First picture reminds me of Dr John Hayes though.

Sure would like to see a story done on one of the greatest pacers of his era, the Great Doctor Staton.

Top photo: Dr. John Hayes and Charles Juravinski probably with winning horse “Conquered“ at Wolverine Raceway, and the bottom photo is William “Buddy” Gilmour and I am not sure?

Dr. John Hayes, Charles Juravinski and possibly Conquered. Bottom: Bud Gilmour and Eddie Wheeler?