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SC Rewind: Years Ago - 1990s

Published: July 7, 2018 9:22 am ET

Last Comment: July 13, 2018 9:16 am ET | 10 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The monthly edition of Years Ago is the feature of 'Rewind' this week, as Robert Smith takes a look at the decade of the 1990s. He has chosen several names, events, records and stories that were in the news back then.

1990 - Barely Visible Wins Presidential Series In A Sweep

In the 12-year history of the Presidential series at The Meadowlands, no horse had ever swept all of the legs. That all changed on Saturday, January 27th when Barely Visible driven by Canadian ace Bill O'Donnell won the race in a stunning 1:53.3 with an almost four-length margin over Direct Current. Keystone Raider was a nose back in third spot. Rumpus Hanover, racing for P.E.I. owner Ian Smith, was fourth driven by Jim Doherty and trained by Dale Pinkney.

This marked the ninth straight win for this five-year-old gelding owned by Antonio Chiaravalle and trained by another Canadian, Bill Robinson. His last defeat came way back on October 1, 1989. With the 1990 season barely a month old Barely Visible became the fastest and richest horse of the new decade and had a lifetime bankroll of $575,600. He was second last fall in the fastest race mile ever in Canada when Matts Scooter stopped the clock in 1:51. He has suddenly become quite visible.

Pictured above is "The Magic Man" Wm. O'Donnell, a top reinsman at the Meadowlands for several decades. Originally from Springhill, Nova Scotia and born into a family with racing roots, Bill starred on the sport's largest stage for many years prior to returning to Canada and settling in Ontario. After starting out in the late 1960's as a groom in the Bill Wellwood stable, Billy O moved to the very tough U.S. circuit. By 1979 he was in full stride when he recorded a phenomenal 279 victories at the Saratoga Springs track. Many great years and accomplishments followed. A few years ago he told me, "Those were the good old days and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it."

1990 - Greenwood Closed Four Days Due to Unsafe Track Conditions

Greenwood officials were forced to cancel four consecutive days of racing from January 25th to January 28, 1990 when "Old Man Winter" played a nasty trick by bringing in unusually warm temperatures at a time of year when extreme cold is normally on the menu. This wiped out an entire weekend of racing. The unseasonably warm weather resulted in "frost boils" and a number of very dangerous soft spots along the backstretch.

Track crews worked around the clock to finally ready the track for racing again on Monday, January 29 when the normal schedule resumed. A track existed at this location for at least 120 years; quite an amazing fact.

1991 - Canadian Trotting Records

At the conclusion of the 1991 racing season, the 12 Canadian mile records for trotters were listed by the C.T.A. Six were for five-eighths mile tracks and six for half-mile ovals. Of the dozen records, three current drivers held exactly eight of them or two-thirds of all those then listed. Shown below are those three drivers and their record-setting horses.

Wm. Wellwood (4)
Aged mare - Peach Pit -- 1:57.1, Blue Bonnets (1991)
2YO Colt - Armbro Fame -- 2:01, Flamboro (1986)
2YO Filly - Alstroemeria -- 2:02.2, London (1991)
3YO Colt - Defrocked -- 1:59, Flamboro (1989)

Doug Brown (2)
2YO Colt - Baltic Striker -- 1:59.3, Mohawk (1991)
2YO Filly - Cosmic Storm -- 1:59.1, Windsor (1987)

Robert Walker (2)
3YO Filly - Nadirs Pride -- 1:59.1, Dresden (1986)
3YO Filly - Nadirs Pride -- 1:57.1, Kawartha (1986)

1992 - Atlantic Sires Stakes Action


Three-year-old filly Dexters Wine and driver Earl Smith appear in the CDP winner's circle joined by a huge throng of well wishers following her victory in the AtSS Final (Photo and info. courtesy of Jerry McCabe)


On September 26th the CDP hosted the $22,400 AtSS championship for three-year-old fillies. Some Nice Ketch and trainer/driver Russell Burgoyne on the rail were the prohibitive favourites. Dexters Wine and Earl Smith looked like an unlikely upset choice from the outside seven post. When the word “go” was given, Alex MacPhee hustled his Willow Bird filly Silverwood Diane to the front with Edgewater Wave and Dexters Wine following parked on the outside to the quarter in :29. Just past the quarter Smith found room for his filly in the two-hole ahead of Some Nice Ketch with Edgewater Wave parked past the half in: 58:2. MacPhee's filly led the way to the third panel in 1:29:1. Dexters Wine was able to use the passing lane to surge ahead in the stretch while Burgoyne didn’t find room until late with his Willow Bird filly, but he had her flying late on the outside only to end up a neck shy of Dexters Wine at the wire. The mile was timed in 1:59.3, a new race record for the Paris Dexter sophomore. Dexters Wine would finish her stakes career with a pair of third-place finishes behind Sir Elmo in the Quigg Memorial at Fredericton and the Lofty Hardy Memorial at Truro before shipping to Yonkers for four late-season starts. At season’s end, Some Nice Ketch was honoured as Atlantic Canada’s Horse of The Year with 12 wins in 15 starts and season-high earnings of $71,658.

She was bred by Winston Taylor of Nine Mile Creek, PE and purchased at the 1990 PEI Select Sale by two newspaper editors, Russ Doyle from Sydney, NS and Leith Orr from Rothesay, NB. Trained and driven by Earl Smith, she was one of the top freshman fillies in 1991, putting up an 18-4-4-5 line for her connections.

Make Mine Labatt's!

As a one-time "Up and Down Hiller" (polite name for a truck driver) and a fancier of vintage things, I have included a picture of an old restored truck today. For many years the Labatt's Brewing Co. in London were quite involved with the sponsorship of harness racing events. They were long time sponsors in the earlier years of the Ontario Sires Stakes and dating back to 1972 they were behind London's signature race "The Labatt's Pace" which was first won by Key Ones Uno owned and driven by Jack Kopas. That race was held late in the fall on October 27th, and carried a purse of $7,500 which was considered at that time to be a sizable sum. Following Key Ones Uno home in the short five-horse field were Canny Choice (Dr. J. Findley) 2, Hava Good (Greg Wright) 3, Springfield (Ron Feagan) 4 and Mr Peter Ray (Ray McLean) 5. In later years this race became The Molson Pace and just this year became "The Camluck Classic".

The Labatts Company took great pride in the appearance of their vehicles and their drivers. As I recall they were instructed by the Company to stop along the road and offer assistance to stranded motorists, particularly when a flat tire occurred. The drivers wore nice uniforms and were trained in the basics of P.R. I guess they hoped that people would repay the favour by becoming a consumer of their great brews.

The vehicle shown on this old postcard is a 1948 White WA 122 Cab over Engine model powered by a White Mustang 6 Cyl. 386 C.I.D. engine and the trailer was by Fruehauf with a single axle. This old gem was restored over a seven-year period by two brothers, Joe and Bob Scott of London. This series of trucks were known as "Streamliners" and were on Ontario roads from 1932 until 1955.

Who Is It?

Can you correctly identify the person pictured above? As always, the correct answer will be given during the upcoming week.

July 13, 2018 - 9:16 amDarcy thanks for your

Darcy thanks for your suggestion. I can't act on all of them but may be able to do something on this one.

July 12, 2018 - 10:08 amI'm sure you get lots of

Darcy MANN SAID...

I'm sure you get lots of suggestions for stories. I would love to see a story about Nelson White and Armbro Nadir during his 1972/73 season and winning the Prix d'ete in Montreal. I think there had to be a hundred people out in the winners circle. I was one of a few characters that would take the train from Toronto to Montreal to see him in a stake series in the winter and then followed him to the August big win at Blue Bonnets and a big celebration at Ruby Foo's across the street.

July 11, 2018 - 2:56 pmOur picture identifiers were

Our picture identifiers were really "On" this week. The pictured horseman was Rejean "Reg" Boily and the horse R Yankee Wann. Originally from Quebec City he spent many years in Eastern Ontario. Sadly in October 1996 at the age of just 53, Rejean lost his life in a farm accident at Consecon, Ont. A log rolled off a front end loader and pinned him beneath it, resulting in his death. It was a sad day for many who knew and admired him as an excellent horseman.
A note to Jack Darling. Yes Hava Good was a mare and a good one! Russell Miller did not race many mares but took a special shine to this one, undoubtedly seeing her broodmare possibilities. Unfortunately she died suddenly and at a young age, long before her time.

July 9, 2018 - 5:56 pmBoily's missing his tooth

Boily's missing his tooth pick.

July 8, 2018 - 4:33 pmBen Wallace told me a funny

Garth Gordon SAID...

Ben Wallace told me a funny story about Rejean Boily and R Yankee Wann. Several years ago Rejean was stabled at Vernon Downs in New York. I don’t know if you have ever been to Vernon Downs or not but some of the barns are about 3/4 of a mile away from the main training track. Anyway Rejean Boily told Bruce McCallum, R Yankee Wann’s groom at the time, that he was going to train R Yankee Wann 5 trips. So Bruce got him ready and sent Rejean on his way to the main track thinking he would come back to the barn after his first trip. After quite awhile Rejean had not returned back to the barn. Bruce thought something had happened - maybe he got into an accident or something. So Bruce rushed up to the track to see what was wrong. When he got there Rejean saw Bruce standing there and said what are you doing here? I have just finished my third trip and have two more trips to go.

July 7, 2018 - 2:07 pmI can remember those 5 horses

Jack Darling SAID...

I can remember those 5 horses in the Labatts like it was yesterday. They were the superstars of the day - very exciting!! I believe that Hava Good was a mare.

July 7, 2018 - 12:58 pmReg Boily... R Yankee Wann?

Doug Clark SAID...

Reg Boily... R Yankee Wann?

July 7, 2018 - 11:14 amAs always a great read. Thank

John Vance SAID...

As always a great read. Thank you. Is the person pictured, Rejean Boily?

July 7, 2018 - 11:00 amThe guy in the picture is reg

Mike Scott SAID...

The guy in the picture is reg boily, the horse is likely r yankee wann

July 7, 2018 - 10:27 amR Yankee Wann and Reg Boily.

Gord Brown SAID...

R Yankee Wann and Reg Boily.


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