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The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductions


Most of the inductees posed for a group shot at the end of the evening
Date: 08/03/2016

On Wednesday night the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its 2016 class at an induction ceremony and dinner held at the Mississauga Convention Centre. There were 12 new members voted into the Hall this year, six equine and six human, plus one special Award of Honour. For the first time in recent history, the event was sold out with the maximum 300 in attendance.

This is the 40th anniversary of the Hall of Fame which was founded in 1976 with an inaugural class of 44 members. They went 20 years without a home until August 1997 when Woodbine provided a permanent site without cost, located at the west end of the grandstand.


Bill O'Donnell and Sandy Hawley dressed as waiters
Before the ceremonies began, arriving guests participated in a silent auction as fund raising for the Hall of Fame, followed by a live auction during dinner. One item in the live auction was a catered dinner for 4 in your home with a case of Argentine wine and Hall of Fame members Sandy Hawley and Bill O'Donnell serving as your waiters. They dressed as waiters to help with the bidding and brought a final bid of $2100.

After being introduced by master of ceremonies Jim Bannon (for thoroughbreds) or co-host Greg Blanchard (for standardbreds), inductees were invited on stage to be presented with Hall of Fame rings for the humans and crystal trophies for the horses.

Bruce Johnston was inducted in the Standardbred Communicator category. He is best known as the longtime owner of The Canadian Sportsman, which earned its reputation as the voice of Canadian harness racing under his leadership. Through his alter ego "Lance Loser" column he used his wit and humor to share his views on the racing industry, and was instrumental in forming the syndication agreement for the legendary Cam Fella. Ian Johnston (left), son of the late Bruce Johnston, accepts for his father from Gary Forrester of the Hall of Fame Election Committee.

Dahlia was inducted in the Veteran Thoroughbred Horse category. The Nelson Bunker Hunt homebred mare is regarded as the pioneer of international racing, having logged 26,000 flight miles racing in 6 countries, including winning the 1974 Canadian International and Man O'War Stakes. She was the only horse (male or female) to win Grade or Group 1 events in England, France, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Nelson Bunker Hunt's daughter and son-in-law Betsy and Tom Kurtz accepted the award from Hall of Fame director Glenn Sikura (right).

Daryl Wells Sr. was inducted as a Thoroughbred Communicator. He is best known as the first track announcer at Woodbine Racetrack and the voice that called Secretariat and Northern Dancer's final races. However, he also helped promote racing in Ontario in the mid 1960's with Fort Erie races on Hamilton's CHCH-TV. His son Daryl Jr. (second from left) accepted the award from Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley, and spoke about joining his father in the booth especially for Secretariat's win in the Canadian International, and meeting famous jockeys including Hawley and the late Avelino Gomez.

Odies Fame was inducted in the Female Standardbred Horse category. Racing exclusively in Canada, she was Champion 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly and Horse of the Year in 1998, including a Breeders Crown win at Mohawk that required her owners to pay a $45,000 supplement. She retired in September 2001 with 26 wins, 13 seconds, and 9 thirds in 22 starts, earning $1.4 million. Hall of Fame driver Dave Wall, regular driver of Odies Fame, presented the award to Linda Wellwood, daughter of her owner the late Buddy Wellwood.

John Ferguson was inducted in the Standardbred Builder category. Although best known as a hockey player with the Montreal Canadiens with 5 Stanley Cup rings, he got introduced into racing by his father and grandfather, thoroughbred horsmen at Hastings Park in Vancouver. However, in Montreal he discovered harness racing at Blue Bonnets (later called Hippodrome de Montreal), getting into the sport initially in a PR role and later as a breeder and owner, including of 1982 Little Brown Jug winner Merger and Breeders Crown winner Hardie Hanover. His son John Jr. (right) accepted the award from Hall of Fame member Bruce Walker.

Wise Dan was inducted in the Male Thoroughbred Horse category. Best known as the winner of both the Breeders' Cup Mile and Horse of the Year title in 2012 and 2013 , he also won the Woodbine Mile both years as his final prep before the World Championships, the only back-to-back winner of the the event and holder of the Woodbine turf course record for 1 mile, set in the 2013 edition. Although regarded as one of the best turf horses of his generation, he also won stakes races over dirt and synthetic tracks. Unfortunately injury prevented a third attempt at the Woodbine Mile and ended his racing career. Julie Bell, the stakes coordinator at Woodbine, presented his award to owner-breeder Morton Fink's daughter Bonnie Marcus (left) and granddaughter Lisa Danielle (right), the namesake of Wise Dan's dam.

This year two horses were inducted in the Legends category. Exterminator, "Old Bones", won the 1918 Kentucky Derby as the 30-1 longest shot, one of 34 stakes wins in an 8 year career that began in Kentucky and Windsor, Ontario and ended in Montreal, Quebec. Woodlawn Drummond, a bay pacing mare, raced in Ontario, Quebec, and New York in the 1960's, frequently against males, and was the Champion 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly in 1965 in both Canada and the USA. Left is Exterminator and right is Woodlawn Drummond.

Norm Picov was presented with the Award of Honour sponsored by Brooks Feeds. The Picov family is synonymous with Quarter Horse racing, a sport he and his late father Alex were exposed to during their trips to the United States. Alex built Picov Downs in Ajax in 1969 adjacent to his tack shop and cattle businesses, and the track, a straightaway with a J hook for the runout, became a popular place for families on Sunday afternoons Alex passed away in 1987, with Norm, wife Lynda, and their extended family continuing the family business, culminating in the brand new Ajax Downs, opened in 2008 with a slot machine facility, permanent grandstand, and restaurant. Hall of Fame president John Stapleton presented the award to Norm Picov (right).

Mark Casse was inducted in the Thoroughbred Trainer category. The native of Indianapolis is a perennial winner of the Sovereign Award as Canada's Outstanding Trainer, and most recently was the first North American trainer to win the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot with Tepin. He learned from his father, the late Norman Casse, and set up his business at Woodbine when hired to run Harry Mangurian's breeding and racing operations. He chose Woodbine since the facility races continuously from April to December compared with Kentucky where racing cycles between Churchill, Keeneland, and Turfway. Retired long time Woodbine track announcer Dan Loiselle (right) presented Casse with the Hall of Fame ring.

Yves Filion was inducted in Standardbred Driver/Trainer category, joining his older brother Herve as a member of the Hall. The youngest of 8 brothers, he started driving at age 17 and continues to do so, along with operating a 30-horse training and breeding facility, Bayama Farm north of Montreal. At one time he had 135 horses but as the Quebec racing circuit faded into obscurity he has had to downsize. His successes include millionaire pacer Runnymede Lobell, Breeders Crown winner Goliath Bayama, and champion filly Topaz Blue Chip. His son, top driver Sylvain Filion (left), who drove Goliath Bayama in his upset win over Gallo Blue Chip in the Breeders Crown, presented him his Hall of Fame ring.

San Pail was inducted in the Male Standardbred Horse category. The product of the Ontario breeding industry became one of the greatest and most popular trotters ever produced in this country. The son of unfashionable sire San Pellegrino out of Village Beauty was kicked as a baby and had a softball sized lump in his hock. He did not race as a juvenile but went on to win 52 of 114 starts with earnings of $3.1 million, including the three Maple Leaf Trots and the 2011 Breeders Crown Open Trot at Woodbine, which earned him Horse of the Year honors in both Canada and the USA, including honors at the Trotteur Francais International Awards at Vincennes in Paris. Paul Van Camp, son of owner-breeder Glenn Van Camp, and Hall of Fame member Bill O'Donnell presented Glenn Van Camp (second from right) and co-owner/trainer Rod Hughes (left) with the trophy.

Dr. Michael Colterjohn was inducted in the Thoroughbred Builder category. The native of Edinburgh, Scotland was raised in Lindsay, Ontario, becoming one of Canada's top equine reproductive veterinarians. He started with standardbreds before opening a thoroughbred veterinary practice for horses in the OJC circuit. Hired by George Gardiner to operate Gardiner Farm, the farm quickly became one of Canada's most respected breeding operations. When the farm was put up for sale, Colterjohn and wife Dr. Moira Gunn purchased it and continued its operation under its current name Paradox Farm. Under that banner the farm has produced Sovereign Award winner Pender Harbour and 2014 Queen's Plate winner Lexie Lou, still in training under fellow Hall of Fame inductee Mark Casse. Sadly, Colterjohn lost his battle with brain cancer in 2012, before the farm accepted the 2011 Sovereign Award for Outstanding Breeder. Hugh Sutherland (center) presented the trophy to Dr. Moira Gunn (right) and son Duncan Colterjohn (left).

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