The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame has announced its 2012 Legend inductees.
The Legends section of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame honours the people and horses whose accomplishments and feats occurred a number of decades ago. These people and horses made unique contributions to horse racing in Canada and the Hall of Fame recognizes the special roles they played in the development of Canadian horse racing.
Standardbred Legend Honourees
Dalyce Blue became the first Canadian-bred trotter to record a sub-2:10 mile as a 2-year-old and a 2:05 mile at three. Bred by Madawaska Farms Ltd. of Arnprior, ON, Dalyce Blue was trained and driven by veterinarian-horseman Dr. John S. Findley who co-owned the farm with his father, John H. Findley. In the early years of her career she had to race against older horses and even pacers. As a two year old she won eight of nine starts. In 1959 as a three year old she won 13 of 16 starts and was second in two others. No 3-year old trotter, colt or filly, American or Canadian bred beat her that season. Her defining moment came at Suffolk Downs near Boston where she faced most of the best 3-year-old trotters in the US including World Champion Sara Black, in eh $28,400 Suffolk Downs Trot. At odds of 14-1, Dalyce Blue “Came out of the pack in a corking five-way duel in the last sixteenth” to win going away in 2:04.3h.
She raced until the age of seven, and attained a lifetime mark of 2:03 at six. She retired with earnings of $90,119. As a broodmare, Dalyce Blue produced the $273,000 winner The Black Douglas (2:01.2), stakes winner Crimson Duchess (2, 2:09.4f), a winner of $73,195 and voted Canadian Two-Year-Old Trotter in 1969.
Often referred to as “The First Lady of Harness Racing”, Mildred Williams was a true pioneer in the sport. In the days when a female harness driver was a rarity, Mildred Williams was a trailblazer as one of the first women in Canada granted a driving licence.
She went on to fight for the right to drive in pari-mutuel races in the US when in both 1960 and 1964 the USTA denied her a licence. She eventually won the battle, and was granted her US licence in 1968. In 1969 she represented Canada in the “Mondiale des conducteurs feminins” against Italian and American ladies.
In 1973 Mildred Williams was declared to be the winningest woman in recorded harness racing history in the U.S. and Canada with over 400 victories. The Mildred Williams International Women’s Driving Series was established in 2006, and continues each year with races contested by female harness drivers and held throughout North America as a charity event in support of breast cancer.
Williams’ last visit to the races was in 2007 when she joined the women who participated in the Montreal leg of the series, by participating in the winner’s circle presentation. She passed away in 2008 at the age of 92.
Thoroughbred Legend Honourees
By the mid-1960s there wasn’t a more respected horseman in the country than Patrick MacMurchy, a Scotsman whose reticent demeanor spoke volumes. Born in 1895 in Port Patrick, his apprenticeship had taken him from Scotland to Canada in 1905 and later to the largest racing stables in Kentucky and New Jersey before he achieved success on the Ontario racing circuit in the years following World War II.
For years he had trained for some of the most influential owners in the business, Col. Sam McLaughlin and his Parkwood Stable, K.R. (Rud) Marshall, president of the Ontario Jockey Club, R.W.R. Cowie and Mrs. J.A. McDougald. In 1964 his training career was winding down, one that had seen him train numerous stakes winners, including Hartney, horse of the year in 1957, and Blue Light, the long-shot Queen’s Plate winner of 1961. There was talk that MacMurchy was considering retirement. But a big, black colt postponed that idea when he and Peter Marshall, son of the late OJC president, took a liking to a regally bred son by Canadian Champ at E.P. Taylor’s pre-priced yearlings sale that carried a tag of $15,000. He would be named Titled Hero. A year later the horse was Canada’s champion juvenile and the odds-on favourite for the upcoming Queen’s Plate after winning the Coronation Futurity, Summer and Grey Stakes, and eight races in 12 starts and more than $100,000.
In 1966 MacMurchy’s notable skills to get the most out of a horse with bad feet was put to the test when Titled Hero was hobbled continually by hoof problems leading up to the 1966 Queen’s Plate. Titled Hero was not only victorious in the Plate, but also in the Plate Trial, the Friar Rock Stakes and earned champion 3-year-old honours.
As is often the way in horse racing, jockeys are associated with the animal they achieved headlines on. John Dewhurst and Kingarvie were such a pairing. This rider/thoroughbred combo won almost everything in sight during the mid-1940s.
Parkwood Stable’s Kingarvie was the overwhelming favourite for the 1946 King’s Plate and he won it in a gallop with Dewhurst up. They also won the Plate Trial and a year earlier won the three major races for juveniles – the Coronation Futurity, Cup and Saucer and the Clarendon Stakes. Dewhurst and Kingarvie would also pair up to win the Canadian (International) Championship at Long Branch in 1946.
At age 18 Dewhurst rode his first winner, June 26, 1941, at Hamilton, Ont., breaking his maiden on Rye Grass, a 28-to-1 long shot. A week later he again won with the Archie Rennie-trained gelding. He won three races that season for his contract owner, Art Halliwell. Throughout the 1940s Dewhurst was often among the leading jockeys in the province, competing against future Hall of Fame riders Bobby Watson, Pat Remillard, Chris Rogers, Herb Lindberg and Frank Mann.
As well as Kingarvie, Dewhurst guided numerous outstanding horses into the winner’s circle during his 15-year career. Probably the best was George McCullagh’s Speedy Irish, his mount in the 1949 King’s Plate. The colt was a slight favourite but finished second to E.P. Taylor’s first Plate winner, Epic and Rogers. Dewhurst and Speedy Irish had dominated the racing scene in 1948, winning the Cup and Saucer, Coronation Futurity and Clarendon Stakes and prepping for the Plate with a win in the Plate Trial.
He won the Plate Trial Stakes three times, with Kingarvie, Libertine and Speedy Irish. Some of his other stakes horses were Palermo, Beau Dandy, Grand Pal, Imperator, Hyperhelio and Nephisto. He rode many of his winners for Parkwood Stable and trainer Arthur Brent. Dewhurst had ten Plate rides with his Plate career concluding in 1955, the last year the race was run at Woodbine Park.
Two broken ankles forced his retirement following the 1955 season. It is estimated he won close to 500 races. Dewhurst died in 1972 at age 49.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame will celebrate the inductions of these deserving legends at a Wine and Cheese reception ceremony scheduled to take place Friday, May 25th at 5:00 pm in the Hall of Fame at Woodbine Racetrack. The reception will also feature the official unveiling of the display boards for the 2011 inductees, as well as the introduction of the 2012 inductees.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame is a dual hall representing both Standardbreds and Throroughbreds. Inductees are added annually to build an ever-growing honour roll in the category of Builders, Drivers/Trainers, Jockeys/Trainers, Veterans and Legends.
Additional details are available at: www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com