The seventh edition of the $15,000 Vic Hayter Memorial Invitational Trot, set for Sunday at Clinton Raceway, is about taking the first steps toward normalcy. Though the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, unlike the past two years, there are no restrictions on crowd size for this year’s event.
Greg Hayter said having fans at the race honouring his late father is the most important thing.
“My dad loved to go to the horse races and watch his own horses,” said Greg. “But he also just loved to go to the races. He always used to say, and I can picture him saying this to this day, ‘It’s just a nice day to enjoy the sunshine, watch some races and smell the horse----.’”
Last year, the race was moved forward to August so a restricted crowd of some 700 people could attend.
In 2020, the fifth Vic Hayter Memorial was held, but no fans were allowed to be in attendance.
Beyond honouring his father’s memory, Greg said the hope is that, one day, the Vic Hayter Memorial can be a family-friendly event similar to the Little Brown Jug.
“We will have the normal events going on this year,” said Greg. “A clown or face painter for the kids, food truck for the trainers and grooms, raffle tickets in conjunction with Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, and we have a dinner afterwards, which anyone is allowed to purchase and attend.
“It is just a fun day to watch some horse races.”
Vic Hayter owned many hotels but is perhaps best known for operating The Arden Park Hotel and Festival Inn in Stratford, Ont. He died of cancer in February of 2016. He was 77. Managing his hotel business took up most waking hours, but Vic always made time for Clinton Raceway. He owned Standardbreds for 38 years.
“Vic had a couple of passions within the horse business and first and foremost was the horses. He loved the animals,” said Greg. “His second passion was the people. He just loved to be in the backstretch, loved to talk to the drivers, the trainers and the grooms. He was a real people person that way and loved to have the conversations.”
The Aug. 7 card begins at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) and Clinton Raceway will welcome fans back to the stands for a fantastic day.