view counter
view counter

Youth Literary Contest Announced

Published: April 3, 2018 9:51 am ET

No Comments | Jump to Comments

There is a hot new derby in town that will sweep across the Ontario landscape in 2018. It involves Ontario students and the Ontario Standardbred breeding industry. It is the Youth Literary Derby.

The Youth Literary Derby is a juried, horse-themed writing contest which carries $2,000 in prize money. The derby, which is designed to encourage writing and literacy skills, has been constructed to reach out to horse-loving kids that are in the provincial education system and possess a literary flair. The derby calls for students’ evaluations and perceptions of the Standardbred. It challenges students to express – in prose and verse – their up-close encounters with Standardbred foals and to articulate the unspoken bond between man and horse that has existed through the years.

To quote Winston Churchill: ‘There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.’

The Youth Literary Derby challenges the educational system to draw the attention of today’s youth beyond the world of computers and into the world of nature, and the horse, that has had a major impact on the history and development of this planet.

There are over 30 Ontario Standardbred nurseries waiting to greet young, aspiring writers during the foaling season in April and May before they plunge into their literary endeavours. The program is designed for Ontario-resident students in Grades 5 through 8 with divisions for poems and essays. The deadline for submissions is June 15.

The Youth Literary Derby is patterned on similar successful contests that were staged during the golden days, and nights, of Canadian harness racing by industry publicist Bill Galvin. The poplar contests attracted mainstream media attention, including national television and generous print media coverage in major Canadian newspapers, and beyond.

“It was a life-changing encounter for me,” said Barbara Dutchyn, who, at age 10, nosed out 614 contestants from Grand Isle, Newfoundland to Bluffton, Alberta to capture the 1970 Poetry Derby for Kids, which was sponsored by the publicity department of the Ontario Jockey Club, which is now known as Woodbine Entertainment.

Dutchyn, a sixth-grade honour student, was the pride of her St. John Fisher School in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. when she read her prize-winning poem on national television surrounded by her schoolmates and proud teacher. “It was the one if the proudest and most memorable times in my life,” she said.

Although provincial school boards are being contacted and made aware of the Youth Literary Derby, interested students are encouraged to contact their teachers and principals to reinforce their interest in the program.

The three and a half-minute long video on the program’s website (which also appears below) about the early minutes of a Standardbred foal’s life and its various stages of development is a must see. The touching video was produced by the award-winning Woodbine Broadcast Department team.


The organizers and managers of the Youth Literary Derby are a small, non-profit and independent collective of industry volunteers that is dedicated to promoting the Standardbred horse and harness racing. The group receives non-monetary, promotional support from its following partners:


Equine Guelph (University of Guelph)
Ontario Equestrian
Mississauga Arts Council
Woodbine Broadcast Department
Six Nations Council
Standardbred Canada
Mississauga Library System
Ontario Harness Horse Association
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Standardbred Breeders Association of Ontario (SBOA)
Writers and Editors Network (Toronto)
Mississauga Writers Group
United States Harness Writers Association (Canadian Chapter)


Bill Galvin – industry publicist
Karen Hauver – industry executive
Andrea Pietrzak – harness racing writer/journalist
Ruleen Lilley – standardbred breeder and owner
Kathy McBride – standardbred breeder/owner/trainer
Ann Straatman – owner/manager of Seelster Farms
Dr. Sarah Tiller – veterinarian
Dean Leifso – lawyer and racetrack executive

For full contest details on the Youth Literary Derby, click here.

view counter

© 2021 Standardbred Canada. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement and compliance with the legal disclaimer and privacy policy.

Firefox 3 Best with IE 7 Built with Drupal