On Monday, March 23, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame unveiled the names of horses and horsepeople which are on the Hall's 2015 ballot. A total of 30 horses and people comprised of 15 Standardbred racing candidates and 15 Thoroughbred racing candidates have been selected to appear on this year's ballot. A 20-person Election Committee for each breed will determine the winners in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 7. Standardbred ballots representing this year's five voting categories are as follows.
In the Standardbred Male Horse category, Artsplace, Blissfull Hall, and Majestic Son are the candidates.
Artsplace was the1992 O'Brien Award and Dan Patch Award winner as Horse of the Year following an undefeated four-year-old season. He was a two-year-old world record holder winning the Breeders Crown in a time of 1:51.1 at Pompano Park in Florida. He won 37 races and bankrolled over $3 million during his racing career. As a stallion, Artsplace produced top horses from the time his first crop raced in 1996. To date, his progeny, including 18 millionaires, have accumulated over $173 million in earnings with an average of $126,372 per starter.
In 1999, Blissfull Hall captured harness racing's elusive Pacing Triple Crown for owners Ecuries Daniel Plouffe, Inc. of Bromont, Quebec, trainer Ben Wallace, and driver Ron Pierce. A 31-race career over two seasons amassed a record of 19-4-6, a mark of 1:49.2 and earnings of $1.4 million before he embarked on a successful career as a stallion. To date his progeny have amassed over $67 million in earnings, including 205 horses with earnings over $100,000, and average earnings per starter of $92,461.
Majestic Son's racing career consisted of 38 starts, stats of 22-5-3, a mark of 1:52.2 and $1,993,157 in purse earnings. A son of Angus Hall out of the King Conch mare Celtic Contessa, Majestic Son's career was highlighted by wins in the premiere stakes for sophomore trotters including the Champlain, Goodtimes, Canadian Trotting Classic and Breeders Crown. His progeny have earned $8.2 million including three $500,000 winners, seven winners of $250,000 and 20 winners of $100,000.
B Cor Tamara, Happy Lady and J Cs Nathalie are nominated in the Veteran Horse category.
Before embarking on her second career as a broodmare, B Cor Tamara enjoyed a productive racing career, earning more than $185,000. Bred and owned by Bill Core of Dresden, Ontario, the daughter of Dream Of Glory was the dam of 19 foals, including star trotter B Cor Pete, and granddam of two champion juveniles, Banker Hall and Broadway Hall. Her offspring have earned in excess of $2.7 million.
Happy Lady, a daughter of Most Happy Fella, raced in 1977 and 1978 for owners Myra Masterson of St. Catharines, and Linda Lockey of Ridgeville, Ontario. Though her race career was brief, she won $528,825 in purse earnings and attained a mark of 1:55.2. Trained and driven by the late Jim Rankin, she was almost flawless in her juvenile campaign, winning 15 of 16 races. As a sophomore she won 19 of 24 starts.
JCs Nathalie has produced two millionaires for owner John Lamers of Ingersoll, Ontario – pacing colt Dreamfair Vogel, and pacing mare Dreamfair Eternal. Dreamfair Vogel was a winner of 19 races and over $1.1 million with a mark of 1:49.3. Dreamfair Eternal, a winner of 56 races and over $2.5 million in purse earnings was Canada's Horse of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
The three candidates in the trainer-driver category are Jack Darling, Yves Filion, and William Gale.
Jack Darling, 62 of Cambridge, Ont., has enjoyed a successful career as a harness horse trainer in southern Ontario over three decades including campaigning 876 winners and conditioning horses to $17.3 million in earnings. In 1995, four fillies put Darling in the spotlight – Diamond Dawn, a winner of $175,000, Low Places (who would win a 1996 O'Brien Award), Faded Glory (winner of more than $250,000 as a freshman) and DieHard Fan (over $200,000 as a two and three-year-old). Other top horses included Northern Luck ($907,984), North America Cup champion Gothic Dream ($1,528,671), and Twin B Champ. Jack is also known for significant fundraising efforts on behalf of racing related causes, and was recently winner of the Lloyd Chisholm Memorial Award by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario as well as the recipient of the United States Harness Writers Association Unsung Hero Award and the Good Guy Award.
Yves Filion, 68 of Saint-Andre-D'argent, Quebec was one of his province's premier trainer-drivers for close to 30 years, driving in almost 18,000 races with 4,362 wins and $26.5 million in earnings. Training credits include 248 winners and horses earning in excess of $3.4 million. Pacing colts Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama each became millionaires with Filion responsible for both training and driving. Filion bred, owned and trained pacing mare Rebeka Bayama, a multiple stakes winner who won 23 races and over $690,000 during her career.
William Gale, 66 of Woodstock, Ont., was one of Canada's leading drivers for a period that spanned the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Between 1982 and 1997, Gale recorded 16 consecutive $1 million+ seasons. During his career, he won 6,375 races, started 32,134 times and earned $42.1 million. In the fall of '91 at Pompano Park when he won a pair of Breeders Crown races, he guided King Conch to a world record 1:56.2 win in the $300,000 Two-Year-Old Colt Trot and reining Three Wizards to an upset victory over Die Laughing and Artsplace in the $357,000 Breeders Crown for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colts.
Candidates in the Builders' category include Charles Armstrong, John B. Ferguson and Ted Smith.
Charles Armstrong 93, of Brampton, Ont., has been a true icon in the Ontario and North American horse industry over 60 years. Following the death of his father, Elgin, Charlie and his wife, Lenore, took over the operation of Armstrong Bros. Farm, and as chairman of Armstrong Holdings Brampton Limited he oversaw the growth of the farm into the second largest Standardbred breeding operation in North America. The ‘Armbro' name was ever-present in the winner's circles of prestigious races for both trotters and pacers, producing such champions as Armbro Flight, Armbro Feather, Armbro Omaha and hundreds of others. Stallions standing at the Armstrong breeding operation included King Conch, Camotion, Dream Of Glory, Armbro Emerson and Adios Pick to name a few.
The late John B. Ferguson may be best known for his time in the National Hockey League, but his passion for Canadian horse racing was drawn from early years spent with his father and grandfather at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC. In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson also took a role in track management. He was hired by Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal, Quebec, and after leaving the NHL became the president of Windsor Raceway. He was also one of driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Ted Smith, of Rockwood, Ont., is the fourth generation of his family to have a passion and interest in horse racing. In 1976 he began working at the Canadian Trotting Association, leading many initiatives and developing many processes and procedures in areas that included freeze branding as a means of identification of Standardbreds in Canada, online systems for maintaining race lines and horse registration data. Ted was also responsible for the management and administration of the amalgamation of the Canadian Trotting Association and Canadian Standardbred Horse Society and became Standardbred Canada's first president and CEO in 1998 where he remained until his retirement in 2010.
In the Communicators category the election committee will make their selection from Paul Delean, Harry Eisen, and Marie Hill.
Paul DeLean, began his career as a horse racing writer in the late ‘70s at the Barrie Examiner where he met Bill Rowe and was in turn introduced to Standardbred racing. He has worked for The Gazette in Montreal since 1981 and was once referred to as the ‘English language voice of harness racing in Quebec.' For owners, breeders, trainers, drivers and fans, Delean was the man on the front line telling what they needed to know about the racing game in the province. In addition, Paul was a frequent contributor to the many trade journals in racing. At age 61, Paul has compiled an impressive body of work in covering the sport in Canada.
The late Harry Eisen spent a lifetime loving and covering horse racing in Ontario. As a lifelong journalist, he spent many years exposing the sport to the public, including the majority of his 40 years at the London Free Press. Eisen who once said he saw his first harness race when he was "three or four years old,” sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a boy. He was inducted into Western Fair's Wall of Fame in 1980.
Marie Hill, a native of Black's Harbour, New Brunswick, became involved in harness racing as a youngster, she began writing at the age of 13 and had sporadic columns in The Canadian Sportsman. She followed racing in the Maritimes and during her teen years became friends with Joe O'Brien who she later penned two biographical books about, ‘Gentleman Joe, The Story of Harness Driver Joe O'Brien' and ‘The Horseman from Alberton.' Other books she wrote include ‘Single G the Horse That Time Forgot', ‘Adios, The Big Daddy of Harness Racing' and ‘The Delvin Miller Story.' In 2007, Marie was inducted into the Communicators Corner of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York, becoming the first female author to receive this honor. (Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame)