Greg Hayter said the sixth anniversary of the Vic Hayter Memorial at Clinton Raceway was moved a couple of weeks forward to Aug. 8 this year in the hope government COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted enough so fans could be in attendance for the $15,000 race. The plan appears to have worked.
“At the time when we were starting to put preparations together, the July 25th weekend just didn’t look feasible to have too many fans in the stands,” Greg said. “We thought if we have it a couple of weeks, maybe we can get to the point where we can get a couple of hundred people there. It looks like the wait was worth it. I think we can have up to 700 people there now.”
A year ago, the fifth edition of the race was held without fans due to pandemic restrictions.
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. Though COVID-19 has put a carnival-like atmosphere on hold again for this year, Greg said he hopes those extra fan-friendly attractions will return in 2022.
What is continuing on from last year is free food for caretakers from a food truck that will be in the backstretch.
“We’re going to have our own Caretaker Day,” Greg said. “That’s Vic’s contribution back to the workforce that makes this wheel turn.”
Vic, who owned many hotels but is perhaps best known for operating The Arden Park Hotel and Festival Inn in Stratford, Ont., 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 standardbred for 38 years.
“Vic had a couple of passions within the horse business and first and foremost was the horses. He loved the animals,” Greg said. “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. I think that’s where the recognition of the caretakers comes from.”
The Aug. 8 card begins at 1:30 p.m. (EDT), and Clinton Raceway will welcome fans back to the stands for a fantastic day.