Quebec Souvenirs

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Quebec Souvenirs - Duncan MacTavish Remembered

April 12, 2014
We all  recently learned of the passing of horseman Duncan MacTavish earlier this week on April 7,2014 .He would have observed his 75th birthday later this year on July 1, Canada Day .It revived many memories for me from well over 50 years ago .
A 21 year old Duncan MacTavish is pictured here giving a "sip" of water to Oliver Twist a member of the family stable known as Cloverland Farm [Harness Horse photo]
We got to know the entire MacTavish family in the late 1950's when they brought a large contingent of horses and grooms to winter train at the Leamington Fairgrounds .They did this for a number of winters .My father became friends with Del Sr. and  joined in some horse dealings with him which eventually led to the lease of a mare named Pretty Polly that Duncan raced for a couple of seasons in Montreal .Duncan and his father were both excellent horsemen and excelled at training and racing young horses .In 1959 their outstanding colt Dares Direct was a contender in that year's Little Brown Jug . With Del Sr. driving, they finished 3-4 to that years winner Adios Butler .Canadian drivers dominated in the 1959 Jug with Clint Hodgins taking the overall win behind Adios Butler and Joe O'Brien a heat winner with Meadow Al .At that time it was considered quite an accomplishment for a Canadian owned and driven horse to do so well .
The MacTavish's  consistently both bred and bought high class performers, and for many years were at the top of all categories at the big Montreal tracks  .A number of their home bred horses carried the name Cloverland ,their farm name .Duncan and Del often drove on the same card .They operated a large and efficient operation and a number of their employees were long term fixtures .People such as Stan Lewis,Norm Mady,Rudy Pucos and "Moose" were from the early era as well as resident blacksmith Harley Harrison .
In 1974 after many years of working together ,Duncan branched off on his own .At the time his father was interested in spending more time in Florida developing young horses . Duncan had such horses as Adover Rainbow,Thor Almahurst,Tarpaulin and the trotter Montreal to anchor his newly formed stable and was always in demand as a catch driver . While together Del Sr and Duncan often handled between 35 and 40 horses a year in their large public stable .
Forty years ago in 1974, two minute mile were still somewhat of a rarity .However both Duncan and his father were on what was then a fairly short list of drivers who had turned a "miracle mile" .They had each scored 7 sub 2:00 miles by then. In 1967 Duncan became the first driver ever to score a 2:00 mile in a race in Canada when he piloted Nevele Dell in 2:00 even at Montreal's Blue Bonnets track, his all time favourite spot  .It was just the 14th 2:00 mile in Canadian history and his first .
The following year Duncan recorded the first ever sub two minute trip at the Garden City track when he drove St James Street to a win in 1:59.4 on Sept. 15 of that year . This great horse was groomed by Dennis Levandier .Duncan first started driving in 1957 ,having taken up working with the horses at a very early age ,of course under his father's watchful eye .He was a multi talented driver and truly proved this when he turned from driver to "jockey" . While driving a horse named Ford Hanover , a line broke and Duncan quickly left his sulky seat and climbed on the horse's back ,thus avoiding a serious accident .
Shown above in a 1964 photo is Duncan MacTavish driving the two year old Opeongo from the stable of Dr. John Findley [Harness Horse photo]
Dunc was not a person known to sit or stand silent and not make his opinion known . He also loved to quaff a "pop" or two [aka Silver Bullet] when the work was done . He liked to talk and be heard  .....
The passing of Duncan MacTavish removes yet another link in an ever shrinking chain of great horse people who once made the Montreal harness racing scene so great .From what I have read elsewhere this week, he left quite a trail of memories wherever he travelled . I offer my condolences to his family  .
Your comments on this and all my stories are welcomed at
Note - My thanks to Don Daniels for finding today's pictures in his vast library

Quebec Souvenirs - Lachance and Feagan

March 11, 2014
Down through the years some pretty spirited rivalries existed between horses and horsemen who called either Ontario or Quebec home .In the 1950's many Ontario horse people travelled to Quebec to take advantage of the great racing available there .With long seasons ,much of the action was under the lights at Richelieu Park,Blue Bonnets,Connaught Park,Quebec City,Three Rivers and countless other smaller venues . While Ontario lagged behind with no night racing until 1961 ,Quebec provided a lot of racing opportunities for residents of both Provinces .
Today's picture features two truly great horsemen who eventually became Hall of Famers . On the left is Ron Feagan and his "adversary" Gilles Lachance on the right . Unfortunately Ron left us at a very young age .
L'image d'aujourd'hui dispose de deux très grands cavaliers qui sont finalement devenus Hall of Fame. Sur la gauche est Ron Feagan et son «adversaire» Gilles Lachance sur la droite. Malheureusement Ron nous a laissé à un très jeune âge.
Au fil des années, quelques rivalités assez vifs existaient entre les chevaux et les cavaliers qui ont appelé soit en Ontario ou à la maison au Québec. Dans les nombreux chevaux gens de l'Ontario de 1950 se sont rendus à Québec pour profiter de la grande course disponible là-bas. Avec de longues saisons, beaucoup de l'action a été sous les lumières au parc Richelieu, Blue Bonnets, Connaught Park, Québec, Trois-Rivières et de nombreux autres sites plus petits. Bien que l'Ontario était en retard sans course de nuit jusqu'en 1961, Québec a fourni beaucoup d'occasions de course pour les habitants des deux provinces. 

Quebec Souvenirs - The Connaught Cup 1976

February 27, 2014
Back to July 1,1976
A huge crowd of 3,606  showed up despite some inclement weather to say "Good Bye" to the summer meeting at Connaught Park . The patrons were in a betting mood as they pushed a record $ 289,568 through the mutuels ,setting a new record for the Ottawa area .Not bad figures for a Wednesday evening .
The featured event of the evening was the annual Connaught Cup for a purse of $ 15,000 . The pre race favourite was an Ontario ship in named Jambo Dancer . Many in the crowd though had high hopes for the previous year's winner Royal Ascot N but a few in attendance had some serious doubts about the New Zealand bred pacer's chances and for a special reason . Among them was owner Gratien Dechenes  who spent a good part of the early evening "pacing" up  and down the tarmac  himself .The truck hauling the horse down from Montreal ran into mechanical difficulties along the way and did not arrive until just before the 5 th race . The big race in which his horse was entered was the ninth .
Thankfully the late arrival did not destroy his chances . The 9 year old  Royal Ascot N driven by Yves Filion, triumphed over the field and returned to the winner's circle to capture his second consecutive Connaught Cup with Jambo Dancer second and Dorado Almahurst third . He rewarded his backers with a $ 11.20 win payoff . Filion was able to make it a wire to wire victory ,covering the mile in 2:06 flat, on a "slow" track . Jambo Dancer's driver Charlie Lawson twice attempted to gain the lead; once while leaving and again at the half ,but both times he was unsuccessful .
From here many of the stables moved on to nearby Rideau Carleton .
Une foule immense de 3606 a montré jusqu'à malgré quelques intempéries à dire " Good Bye " à la réunion d'été à Connaught Park. Les clients étaient d'une humeur de paris comme ils ont poussé un record $ 289 568 par les mutuels , établissant un nouveau record pour la région d'Ottawa . Pas mauvais chiffres pour un mercredi soir .
L'événement vedette de la soirée était la Coupe annuelle Connaught pour une bourse de 15.000 dollars . Le pré favori de la course était un navire en Ontario nommé Jambo Dancer . Beaucoup dans la foule avait si grands espoirs pour le vainqueur de l'année précédente Royal Ascot N mais un peu de la fréquentation eu des doutes sérieux sur les chances du stimulateur élevés en Nouvelle-Zélande et pour une raison particulière . Parmi eux se trouvait le propriétaire Gratien Dechenes qui a passé une bonne partie de début de soirée " stimulation " de haut en bas le tarmac lui-même. Le camion transportant le cheval baisse de Montréal a connu des difficultés mécaniques le long du chemin et ne pas arriver juste avant la 5 e course . La grande course dans laquelle son cheval a été conclu était le neuvième .
Heureusement l'arrivée tardive n'a pas détruit ses chances . Le 9 ans multiplié par Nouvelle Zélande Royal Ascot N entraînée par Yves Filion , a triomphé sur le champ et retourné au cercle du vainqueur pour capturer sa deuxième Coupe Connaught consécutive avec Jambo Dancer deuxième et troisième Almahurst Dorado . Il récompensait ses partisans avec une victoire de gain 11,20 $. Filion a pu en faire un fil à la victoire de fil , couvrant le mile en 2h06 plat , sur une piste "lent" . Le chauffeur de Jambo Dancer Charlie Lawson tenté à deux reprises de prendre la tête , une fois tout en laissant à nouveau et à la moitié , mais les deux fois il a échoué.
De là, la plupart des écuries déplacé à proximité de Rideau Carleton .

Quebec Souvenirs -Howard Portelance

January 14, 2014
Today's Quebec Souvenirs personality is Howard Portelance, for many years a regular at both Connaught Park and Rideau Carleton Raceways  . Back on March 2,1988, the then 32 year old reinsman scored his 1,000th career victory. The picture capturing the milestone is shown below as it appeared in The Canadian Sportsman a short time later .
Souvenirs du Québec de la personnalité d'aujourd'hui est Howard Portelance, depuis de nombreuses années un habitué de Connaught Park et Rideau Carleton caniveaux. Retour sur Mars 2,1988, alors âgé de 32 ans reinsman a marqué son 1000e victoire en carrière. L'image capture le jalon est illustré ci-dessous tel qu'il apparaît dans The Sportsman Canada peu de temps après.
In the years that followed, he made a lot more trips to the winner's circle and on December 18,2008 Howard chalked up win No. 3500 !! .On that occasion, he was driving  a two year old gelding named TOLD ON YOU stopping the Rideau Carleton timer in 2:00.1 with a length to spare over his closest pursuer . Portelance expressed an especially good feeling following the win as it involved local owners Brian and Stephanie Cassell and trainer Robbie Robinson, and also occurred in his hometown .
In a post race statement Portelance emphasized the team work involved in getting to the winner's circle so many times over his 35 year career . He said "Harness racing is a team sport ,beginning with owners,grooms,trainers and finally the driver ....but  the horse and driver are the only ones seen in the photo crossing the wire - it took a team to get me there " .
Howard hails from a true racing background as  both his mother Jackie (nee Sharpe)  and his father Henry were professional drivers and were participants in the sport throughout their lifetimes  .
Dans les années qui ont suivi , il a fait beaucoup plus de voyages à l'entourage de la personne gagnante et sur ​​Décembre 18,2008 Howard écrit à la craie jusqu'à la victoire n ° 3500 ! . A cette occasion , il conduisait un hongre de deux ans nommé DIT ON VOUS arrêtant le chronomètre Rideau Carleton en 2:00.1 avec une longueur d'épargner sur son plus proche poursuivant . Portelance exprimé un particulièrement bon sentiment après la victoire car il s'agissait propriétaires locaux Brian et Stephanie Cassell et entraîneur Robbie Robinson , et a également eu lieu dans sa ville natale .
Dans une déclaration après la course Portelance a souligné le travail de l'équipe impliquée dans l'obtention au cercle du vainqueur tant de fois au cours de sa carrière de 35 ans . Il a dit " Harness racing est un sport d'équipe , en commençant par les propriétaires, les palefreniers , les formateurs et enfin le pilote .... mais le cheval et le pilote sont les seuls à voir sur la photo traversant le fil - il a fallu une équipe de me faire , il " .
Howard est originaire d'un vrai fond de course à la fois sa mère Jackie (née Sharpe ) et son père Henry étaient des conducteurs professionnels et étaient participants dans le sport tout au long de leur vie.


Quebec Souvenirs - Ontario Owners Journey to Quebec

January 6, 2014
Recollections follower Dick Burgess a native of Tilbury Ontario in Kent County, recently sent along a couple of old photos taken  in Quebec back in the early 1960's . He recalls many "fun" trips to the big city and other locations with his father Raymond Burgess ,to watch the family owned horses race . Most often their horses were co-owned with  trainer Jack McIntosh the father of current day horsemen Bob and Doug McIntosh . They were fortunate to have the driving services of two of the best teamsters in the business back in those days as the pictures show .
Souvenirs suiveur Dick Burgess originaire de Tilbury Ontario dans le comté de Kent, a récemment envoyé sur un couple de vieilles photos prises au Québec au début des années 1960. Il rappelle de nombreux voyages "fun" à la grande ville et d'autres endroits avec son père Raymond Burgess, à regarder la course de chevaux appartenant à la famille. Le plus souvent, leurs chevaux ont été co-propriété avec l'entraîneur Jack McIntosh le père de cavaliers de jours actuels Bob et Doug McIntosh. Ils ont eu la chance d'avoir les services de conduite de deux des meilleurs conducteurs d'attelage dans l'entreprise à cette époque que les images montrent.
Three Rivers Quebec Sept 1963 .Above is the winning horse Success Hope with Dick Burgess at the two year old filly's head and his father Raymond standing near driver Jack Kopas .The young daughter of Jimmy Creed won 2 of her 5 season's starts for the partnership of  McIntosh and Burgess . It is nice to see how well dressed owners were back in the 1960's 
Trois-Rivières Québec Sept 1963. Dessus est le cheval gagnant Espoir Succès avec Dick Burgess à la tête de l'enfant de deux ans pouliche et son père Raymond debout près pilote Jack Kopas. La jeune fille de Jimmy Creed a remporté 2 des départs de sa saison 5 pour les partenaires McIntosh et Burgess. Il est agréable de voir comment les propriétaires bien habillés étaient de retour dans les années 1960
In the above picture taken at Richelieu Park on Aug. 15,1962, Dick Burgess is holding the horse Hippodrome following a win  for driver Duncan MacTavish .On the far right is owner Raymond Burgess while another son Ken  looks on .
Dans la photo ci-dessus prise au parc Richelieu sur août 15,1962, Dick tient le cheval Hippodrome suite à une victoire pour le pilote Duncan MacTavish. A l'extrême droite est propriétaire Raymond Burgess, tandis qu'un autre fils Ken regarde.

Quebec Souvenirs -Rejean Boily

December 12, 2013
Shown above is Rejean Boily with stable star R Yankee Wann .In 1969 ,the year this photo was taken ,the 6 year old horse took a mark of 2:01 1/5  and defeated such stars as Blaze Pick,Sunnie Tar and Super Wave to name a few .
The newest addition to the "Quebec Souvenirs" section is borrowed from the 1974 Ontario Jockey Club Fact Book . The subject is the well known horseman Rejean Boily, a native of Quebec City . "Reg" was a participant at many tracks in both Quebec and Ontario for many years and also raced at several new York State tracks with great success  as noted in the bio.
Sadly in October 1996 at the age of just 53, Rejean lost his life in a farm accident at Consecon .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 .
At the time of his passing, he was approaching the 1,000 win plateau and had handled many outstanding horses, most of which he had assisted in developing . In addition to two well known "Wann" horses, R Yankee Wann and J J Wann, he also trained and drove the good mare Cape Deidre who held the track record at Kingston .She later served as a very productive broodmare for the Wannamakers and Rejean .

Quebec Souvenirs - The Larentes

November 22, 2013
The following item appeared in the Feb. 17,1950 issue of Harness Horse .In the "old" days it was customary to report the happenings at various winter training spots .
Shown above is Paul Emile Larente ,one of Quebec's finest horsemen of his era .Mr. Larente raced throughout the Province and also starred at many U.S. tracks especially Saratoga . He is pictured here with the good mare Betty Todd D from his stable .The Larente name has long been prominent in the sport ,in part thanks to Paul's son Jacques "Jimmy" Larente who is still actively involved .It may be remembered that Jimmy drove the first ever sub 2:00 mile in Ontario history when in 1967 he piloted Good Time Boy in 1:59.4 at Greenwood while winning that year's Canadian Pacing Derby .
Ci-dessus Paul Emile Larente, l'un des meilleurs cavaliers de son époque au Québec. M. Larente a couru dans toute la province et a également joué dans de nombreux titres américains en particulier Saratoga. On le voit ici avec la bonne jument Betty Todd D de son écurie. Le nom Larente a longtemps joué un rôle important dans le sport, en partie grâce au fils de Paul Jacques "Jimmy" Larente qui est toujours activement impliqué. On peut rappeler que Jimmy a conduit le premier sous 02h00 mile dans l'histoire de l'Ontario en 1967 quand il a piloté Good Time Boy en 1:59.4 à Greenwood tout en gagnant de stimulation canadien Derby de l'année


Quebec Souvenirs -Elzear Cournoyer Remembered

October 31, 2013
One of the most prominent harness horse owners of many years ago in the Province of Quebec was a gentleman named Elzear Cournoyer .He was well known in  business and commercial circles and at one time served as Mayor of Sorel as well as Ville de Tracy .His business interests included construction, bridge building  and other related activities ,but his ownership of a number of fine horses consumed his leisure time .His nickname was "Ti Blanc" ,apparently attributable to his white hair .He came from a typical "smallish" French family of that era consisting of 10 boys and two girls .
Undoubtedly  his greatest horse was GUY H , a sensational pacer who campaigned throughout Quebec but probably earned his greatest acclaim while racing in the U.S. .One of the highlights of Mr. Cournoyer's career as a horse owner occurred around 1946-7 when his horses wintered in California and he and his wife journeyed to the West Coast to see them perform . The long time trainer and driver of the Cournoyer stable was Honorat Larochelle who appears in most of the pictures shown below .
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Cournoyer's grandson Rene Cournoyer, I am able to display some great photographs which have been maintained by the family . My thanks to Rene for being in touch and sharing his vintage mementos .
Elzear Cournoyer passed away in 1973 at the age of 81 .
Guy H photo taken at St. Jerome in 1943 with driver Honorat Larochelle parading in front of a large infield audience 
1946 Richelieu Park Derby won by Guy H . Others in the photo include Mr Cournoyer (at horse's head) Far left is Michel Normandin a sportswriter and next is Montreal Mayor Camilien Houde . Others are not identified .
A number of noted horses parade onto the track at St. Jerome Que. Leading is Guy H (Larochelle) ,next Texas Hanover (Larente) and Adage (Dussault) 

Dear Robert,

It is with a lot of emotion that I looked at your web site a few minutes ago. I was fortunate, as a Young boy, to spend a lot of time with my grand-father. He was not a big talker but he did made a very strong impression on me by his way of living. He died sudently from a burst hernia in March 1973
I will send the link to your web site to my family members and friends and I am sure that they will appreciate it a lot. Through your web site I was able to get in touch with Honorat Larochelle's grand-daughter Marion and her father, Denis sent me many pictures of GUY H. 
MERCI BEAUCOUP ROBERT, you certainly made my day.From  RENE COURNOYER 

Quebec Souvenirs -Keith Waples Wins 8 Consecutive Races

October 16, 2013
A young Ontario based driver who is set to turn 33 at the end of 1956 has been setting a pretty torrid pace (and trot) lately at Montreal's Blue Bonnets Raceway .Young Keith Waples who lists his home as Phelpston Ontario recently established quite a string of victories . While records of such things are pretty "sketchy", some so called experts believed with certainty it was a first,and thus a record  . 
Starting with the fifth race on Saturday  evening June 16 th, Waples began to wear a path to the winner's circle . Bettors in the crowd were beside themselves guessing  whether he could do it one more time or perhaps they were trying to figure when the streak would end .His first win of the streak came behind Barney Diplomat a 6 year old pacer owned by Hector Clouthier of Pembroke Ont.who was scoring his first of 7 season's victories . In the next race he was home first with Mr. Bobby Henley for James Baskin of Renfrew . Then in the 8th ,he was again a winner with Pontiac Abbe for Hugh Proudfoot of Fort Coulonge Que .In the 9th which was the evening's featured Invitational Trot, he once again had his picture taken with the outstanding BEN BOY owned by Mrs . Ruth Wray of Schomberg  Ont. .
On the following Day which was Sunday,  Mr. Waples was back at it and scored four more consecutive wins ,stretching his total unbeaten streak to an amazing 8 in a row . On the Sunday card his winners started in the third when he won  with Mighty Phyllis for owner Archie Cummings of Atwood .He was right back in the fourth with Phyllis Brook owned by Mrs Margaret Sheppard of Coldwater . Then came the natural "hat trick" in the fifth behind pacer Laurel Chips to the delight of owner Carson Mewhinney .His fourth consecutive of the day and eighth in succession over two days was behind the trotting mare Coramine Volo .The latter was owned by the husband and wife team of Marion and John R Reid of Ailsa Craig  Ont. ,both of whom worked with the Waples stable for many years . Many in the crowd feared that Coramine would "jump" as she was often known to do but on this day she stayed "flat" and rewarded her backers at $ 7.90 to win .
Thus ended the streak of 8 consecutive races won on back to back days ......not a bad two day's work .What makes this feat even more spectacular is that Waples had just 9 drives over the two programs . After finishing out of the money on Saturday's fourth race he was unbeatable thereafter . All of this occurred on a record setting weekend as some 25,000 fans attended the 3 days of racing Friday and Saturday under the lights, and Sunday afternoon ending the spring Blue Bonnets meeting .The 3 day/night betting handle of $ 750,000 established single and three day records for both thoroughbred and standardbred racing in Canada .To top it all off this late surge gave Waples the driving title with 31 wins as he edged out Bill Harvey who finished second with 26 tallies .


Quebec Souvenirs -Robillard and L'Heureux

September 23, 2013

Today's Quebec Souvenirs recalls a couple of veteran  horsemen who both spent a lifetime in the world of harness racing .(Both items from OJC Factbook 1974)

 Readers Comments :

Wm. McDonnell wrote :
Really enjoyed the article on Percy & Marcel. Up until a month ago I had a win picture of "Protocol" that my uncle had but unfortunately I threw it out along with some others as it was near the end of his career. He was owned most of his life by Al Reid of Hamilton.This horse had a
skin virus that left him with patches on his coat where hair would not grow so he really wasn't a pretty horse. Marcel & his Dad were 
stabled at the old Ancaster Fairgrounds for about  three years .Looking back there were a number of pretty good horsemen stabled there 
over the years including Marcel L'Heureux  & his Dad, Lorne Tolhurst & his Dad, Ancaster Bill Harvey, Art Stroud ,Bill Habkirk, Benny LaRocque   plus many more .



Quebec Souvenirs -1964

September 2, 2013

The following item appeared in the November 11,1964 issue of The Harness Horse 


With wagering up some $12,000 a day over last year, track officials have indicated that the current meeting will be extended until at least December 4.

Helping to keep interest high during the waning weeks of the 1964 season has been the series of two and three-year-old events, the Quebec Standardbred Breeders Assn. Futurities.

The most recent section, a $2,416 test for 2-year-old pacers, proved to be one of the most exciting of the series when Henry Horky's Meadow Wayne just lasted by a head in 2:11 4/5 over Ben's Gift, an earlier winner in the series. Crush Stone Mir was third to the winner now of $6,060 from 5 wins in 16 tries.

The tough 11-year-old gelding Curly Lambert trotted away from 6 foes in the Friday, October 31, main attraction with a spurt in the stretch that left Kindle two and a half lengths in arrears at the end of the 2:062/5 mile. Van Counsel was third another two and a quarter lengths back. Henri Filion was up for owners Mrs. Roger Lareau and Mike Sherman as the altered son of Kilroy acquired his seventh win in 29 appearances this year and pushed his earnings to almost $20,000 for the year, and above $75,000 lifetime.

The faster pacers met on Saturday evening, November 1, but for the third straight week were unable to handle Charles Bastien's Solicitor 6-year-old Collector. Close up until the stretch while first Whirlrod and later Starbound set the pace, Collector surged into the lead turning for home, and at the wire repelled Ted Hanover's final bid by a half-length. The winner paced the test in 2:04 for Philippe Dussault in hiking his season's totals to 10 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds for earnings of $14,319 in 21 starts.

 Mr. and Mrs. Henry Horky greet their Quebec Standardbred Breeders Assn.  2-year-old Pace winner Meadow Wayne following his head triumph over Ben's Gift in 2:114/5 for Benoit Cote. Taking part also in the ceremonies following the fifth win in 16 starts by the chestnut son of Meadow Al-Lassie De Wayne is sports editor Gus Lacombe (left) and the track's Director of Operations Lucien Bombardier.

Saratoga Wins Quebec's Big Match Race -1947

August 21, 2013
Quebec Souvenirs
The early history of Quebec racing is dotted with  stories of "Match Races" . Some were held at small Towns and Villages and not highly publicized . The incidents and happenings that led up to these matches were probably as interesting and exciting as the event itself .
In the fall of 1947 the largest and most publicized match race in Quebec history took place at Richelieu Park in Montreal . As most big events were , it was held on a Sunday afternoon . While most of the rest of the racing world sat idle on the Sabbath, Quebecers invariably  enjoyed their biggest day of the week at the track .At this time Richelieu raced just two days a week , Saturday and Sunday .
A view of a large Sunday crowd at Richelieu Park (This was not taken on the day of the match race described here) Harness Horse photo 
Saratoga Meets Adage -September 21,1947 
A crowd estimated at 20,000 filled every imaginable spot within the confines of Richelieu Park on Sunday afternoon to watch what was billed as the most famous match race ever held in the Province of Quebec . It pitted two of the absolute best horses racing at the time .Saratoga a 7 year old  had a race record of 2:03 and was owned by Jacques Beaudoin and Laurent Bourdon  .Adage a 9 year old had a record of 2:02 and he was the property of Mr. J.R."Rosaire" Rivard of Montreal .
The management of Richelieu put up a purse of $2,000 .Added to that was an unbelievable $10,000 each by the two owners for a total purse of $22,000 .This obviously was a gigantic amount of money at the time and was a true reflection by each owner of just how good they thought their horses were .
The race was so important that safeguards not normally taken were put into place . Detectives were employed by the track and they watched over the horses the entire week leading up to race day . Additionally a number of Racing Stewards were brought in from elsewhere to oversee the race .Among the noted racing personalities were Wm Lawrason of Toronto the Secretary of the CTA , Earl "Katzie" Katzmier from New Hamburg Ont., the organizer of the Can. Pacing Derby , Clifford R  Bradley a noted official at Dufferin Park  and Harold Wickes manager of Dufferin Park track in Toronto .
The race itself was set up as a three heat affair with the winner having to take two heats . Driving Saratoga was Honorat "Harry" LaRochelle ,perhaps the top horseman of the Province . Handling the driving chores behind Adadge was Phillipe Dussault, also an excellent all around trainer and driver  . A rather serious accident the day previous almost sidelined Dussault but he chose to ignore the Doctor's advice and fulfilled his driving assignment admirably .
In the first heat, Saratoga took an early lead and was never headed .A swift mile was recorded in 2:06 flat with Adage just 1/2 length back at the finish  . In the second heat which turned out to be all Saratoga required , a much different scenario played out .Once again Saratoga took the lead and this time chose a leisurely pace until the 3/4 pole when Adage attempted to take the lead .Saratoga maintained his position and at the end of the mile in 2:16 4/5  he was a 3/4 length victor .Phil Dussault who had trained and driven Adage throughout the season was highly praised for his efforts in a losing cause . Honorat LaRochelle probably won more match races than any other driver ,but this is just a supposition on my part ,not a statistic .
As a footnote to this day it is interesting that one week later, Saratoga again was engaged in a match race .This time it was at the Quebec City track .On this day he engaged a trotter ,a horse named Provident . He again prevailed but it took three heats as he was defeated in the opener but came back in the next two to claim the victory .Some might say he was better than all pacers and trotters racing that year in Quebec .
Further to this (which might prove that match races don't decide everything) both Saratoga and Adage were "also rans" in the year end Quebec Pacing Derby ,the Grand Finale of the season . This time the winner was Highland Frisco another stalwart performer of that era .During this time period ,many fast pacers were racing in Quebec and provided a lot of great races which were seldom decided by a horse other than those in Quebec ownerships .
If you have a comment send it to
Reader's Comments :
Michel Ledoux wrote : "Match Races and Phil Dussault "
Hi Robert,
 You made quite a job in relating these match races which were very popular in the province in 40 and 50 decades. Adage and Saratoga were top pacers in these years but for me Highland Frisco was the best of all excluding Guy H who made his better performances south of the border. Highland Frisco died at Richelieu park between two heats  in 1951 at the age of 14 yo.  I was there and it was extremely sad to see his owner crying alone sitting nearby.
If someone has a photograph of Highland Frisco I will appreciate it a lot. This horse was issued from Highland Scott but I don't remember the dam if someone is aware thanks in advance.
To help Brian Lawson to remember the horse driven by Phil Dussault, it was in 1957 and the horse name was Senator Spangler (Direct Spangler - Romola Hal) who won most of the races schedule under The Canadian Juvenile Circuits this year The contenders were Queen Express and Bucky Frisco
 Thank you again for the good work
Hi Robert :
Seeing Phil Dussault's name in the match race triggered my memory .When I was a very young boy Phil won with a two year old in around 2:07 and it was the talk of the racing world .He won by many lengths ,I think it was something like 15 .
From Brian Lawson

Quebec Souvenirs -LeBlanc And White

August 10, 2013

Editor's Note - This is the first new post in a recently added section entitled "Quebec Souvenirs" which will now become a regular feature of Recollections .Future posts will have varied content .

My Thanks to Rick Karper for his encouragement .

Back in the mid 1960's ,one of the most successful and visible racing  stables in the Province of Quebec was operated by a gentleman named Roger White . Equally prominent was his major owner and long time harness racing enthusiast, Allan LeBlanc of Quebec City .Roger White, a native of Quebec City, first studied under horseman Jules Giguere before launching his own stable at the hometown oval .
This 1967 photo shows owner Allan LeBlanc of Quebec City and driver Roger White with their star performer Timely Knight following one of his many victories
By 1967 ,LeBlanc who was then 55 years of age ,married and the father of six and already grandfather of eight ,had been in the sport of harness racing for some 14 years . His "horse" interest however went back much farther .He was first bitten by the horse racing "bug" as a young boy growing up in Campbleton New Brunswick .He spent every moment possible walking and cooling horses for his father,the late Thomas LeBlanc who was a jockey . His father died at a fairly young age and the younger LeBlanc for a time drifted away from the horses but certainly never forgot them .
The family moved to Saskatoon and later to Winnipeg where Allan became involved in the produce business . He soon became a manager in a large company that consisted  of a 34 store supermarket chain .Some time later he moved back East to Quebec City and set up a business of his own, selling wholesale fruit. The new endeavour soon prospered .Once back in Quebec and nearer the racing scene, the "bug" which had been dormant for many years once again came to life .
Around 1954, an opportunity to buy 14 horses from an estate arose and LeBlanc was eager to take the "plunge" .The lure of entering the realm of harness racing ownership ,particularly as a change of pace from his business routine, was just what he wanted . However his wife was vigorously opposed to the idea but he eventually coaxed her into agreement ,albeit against her wishes .
The years that immediately followed were not as  rewarding as planned to say the least .Several losing seasons which saw at least $15,000 in red ink were more than painful .The drought lasted a long five years .One early bright spot was a trotter named Hartford Tass who helped pay many bills with his wins at Quebec City . However by 1966, LeBlanc admitted things were a lot better at home as his horses grossed $165,000 that season .The plan was coming together .
By 1967 Canada's Centennial Year, the combination of Allan LeBlanc and his trainer Roger White were on a roll . They had a stable of 12 horses ,a number among them were household names in many racing jurisdictions .In their lineup was an 11 year old stallion named Sir Winston Pick ;his entrance into their ownership was a complete "accident" .White had endorsed a cheque for a friend who bought the horse at a U.S. auction . When the friend defaulted and couldn't pay the $5,000 ,owner LeBlanc rescued White and bought the horse . Not all such stories have happy endings, but this fellow went on to win over $170,000 for the pair .
Another great performer of this era was Timely Knight ,purchased on White's advice for $15,000 .By the age of six, the son of Good Time had banked a nifty $200,000 . Among his victories was the 1968 Canadian Pacing Derby at Greenwood Raceway in Toronto .His many victories in higher class events paved the way to the future .
Timely Knight in rein to Roger White heads the field with Cloverland (Del MacTavish Sr.) second and Monsieur Richelieu (Benoit Cote) finishing third .(Harness Horse)
While Mr. LeBlanc was fortunate to have many great performers he was quick to point out in a 1967 interview "My hobby doesn't earn only ,I spend a lot too .It's like the stock market - you make and you lose .I bought a colt for $5,000 and sold him after 3 years for $150 .If you can't afford  horses ,forget the sport . It packs a dividend that the fruit business certainly doesn't .Life would be a lot duller without my hobby ;it sure can be fun " .........
In a 1965 article published in The Star Weekly ,legendary harness racing scribe Jim Coleman wrote about Roger White in the most glowing of terms . " The new breed of drivers is exemplified by Roger White of Quebec City who was recently named Canada's "Harness Horseman  of the Year " .White , a courtly impeccably -groomed chap who maintains his headquarters at Blue Bonnets Raceway ,resembles the vice president of a Madison Avenue advertising agency .He is what racing publicists would gratefully describe as "a credit to the game" .
Roger White (USTA Photo)
Most long time followers of the sport of Canadian Harness Racing know ,Roger White met a very tragic and untimely death in 1971 . While en route to  a horse sale  at Harrisburg  ,he lost his life when the small plane he was travelling in crashed during a storm.He left behind a wife and three young daughters . At the age of 40 White departed from the scene just as he was ascending the ladder of success . He is still fondly remembered by all who knew him .
Photo courtesy of Standardbred Canada 
Comments welcomed at
Hi Robert,
 I am a long time email friend of Dan Daniels and I am from Joliette Qc. I appreciate a lot your chronicles on harness racing and now especially stories from Quebec. I was a great fan of Roger White and a great supporter of Sir Winston Pick (Gene Abbe-Winnie Direct) who competed with Dares Direct at the age of 2 and 3 in the Canadian Juvenile Circuit.
A note on the photo of Timely Knight the second horse is Cloverland Direct incidently a colt issued from Dares Direct  first crop I think and it is good to note that Monsieur Richelieu the third horse in the photo has been the first Quebec bred horse to win in 2:00
If I remember well Roger was Allan LeBlanc's nephew.
 Hoping that my english writing is OK it will be a pleasure to hear from you
From Michel Ledoux
I am very excited with your new page of QUEBEC RACING .When I was a young girl we spent a bus man's holiday at  Richelieu Park. Besides Herve Filion I think Roger White was one of the most exciting horsemen to come out of Quebec in that era .Keep the good work up .
Your fan,
 Barber Genier

Records Tumble At Blue Bonnets 1955

July 8, 2013
This old photo depicts a typical crowd .It was NOT taken at Blue Bonnets 
The huge crowd in attendance at Blue Bonnets in Montreal on Sunday afternoon July 17,1955 were treated to quite a show of speed . The track records for both pacing and trotting were lowered by the end of the 9 race, 11 heat program which was quite a rare occurrence .

Track Record For Pacers Falls 
On the pacing side, the weekly rivalry between a number of top sidewheelers was again on display with a pair of different winners in the two heat Invitational affair . In the first heat H B Chief was the winner for driver Alf Cote as they bested a fast closing Adio Abe piloted by Marcel Cournoyer to stop the clock in 2:04 flat . This speedy mile set a new track record bettering the one set the previous year by a mare Ruth Chips who toured the half mile oval in 2:04 2/5 . H B Chief was the property of Joseph Cauchon of Quebec City .
In the second heat, the time was considerably slower with Mighty Cox taking the best of his 5 rivals in 2:05 3/5 with H B Chief second .Barney Hughes was the winning pilot behind the 10 year old Mighty Cox owned by Thompson & Waddell of Weyburn Sask. .With such a small field, each starter took home at least a portion of the $4000 Purse . 
Just 8 days previous to this race a Match Race for $1,000 was held at Quebec City with Adio Abe taking both heats over H B Chief in 2:03 and back in 2:04.2 so lots of rivalries were in progress .
(Note : Barney Hughes ancestors are still evident today as Rod Hughes of San Pail fame is his great grandson .)
In the secondary feature a $1300 two heat BB Pace event ,the winner with a standing of 1-2 was Dominion D.  with Real Bardier doing the teaming for owner Adelard Ouellet of Rimouski Que. .
Trotting Mark Lowered 
The lowering of the trotting mark took place in a rather unusual fashion and in fact a rarity . Two of the top trotters on the grounds were pitted against each other in a Match Race for a purse of $1500 .Undoubtedly there may have been more than a few "dollar bills" on the side as well. 
Morris H (R.Trudel) led virtually the entire mile until in the final strides Maine Song closed to take the victory in a remarkable 2:05 flat with Honorat Larochelle in the bike . This mile erased the existing standard  held by Lord Brookville who trotted in 2:05 2/5 during the 1954 season .Maine Song who had at times been erratic, showed top form on this day for winning owners The St Maurice Hotel of Three Rivers Que. . A winning margin of about 3 lengths was evident at the wire .
The following Saturday a conventional race involving 6 starters in the Invitational Trot, produced a much slower mile, but again the winner was Maine Song with Morris H finishing well back in 5th place .This mile was in 2:09 even .
For some reason the entire weekend at Blue Bonnets was a "speed show" with 11 races having a winning time of 2:10 or less .

Remembering Dalyce Blue

May 11, 2013
Photo - Dalyce Blue and owner - driver Dr. John Findley (at age 34) receive a sterling silver tray from Race Secretary George Giguere at Richelieu Park - November 1958 .(see further story below)
Last August (2012) the great mare Dalyce Blue was officially enshrined in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the "Legends" Category . An honour well deserved and undoubtedly a bit overdue as is my recognition of this award .Horses that are bred ,trained ,driven and owned by the same person for an entire lifetime are pretty special and also somewhat of a rarity nowadays .This is a story worth  telling and a horse worthy of remembering for a variety of reasons .I feel personally a bit privileged to have had many good "chats" with Dr. John Findley about this wonderful mare .
I think it only appropriate to salute a "Mother Horse" on this special weekend that we celebrate Mothers Day ......
One of the truly great and memorable trotters of a half century ago is still well remembered by veteran race fans ;she is unlikely to ever be forgotten . Her name was Dalyce Blue, a "special" name in a long succession of well thought out monikers by her breeder,owner and most often driver, Dr. John Findley of Arnprior Ont..The good Doctor who is now a spry 88 years young ,named some of the foals of the mare Sheila Lee after Beauty Queen's or at least the inspiration for their names came from that direction . The idea all came about many years previous to this when "Doc" was met in the winner's circle at Connaught Park by Dalyce Smith (no relation) as part of a promotional event .He asked  permission of the then "Miss Canada" to incorporate her name and the idea caught on .Obviously the colts didn't get the same treatment getting names like Arnprior  .
Dalyce Blue was a foal of 1956 , the result of a mating between Ezra Blue (a sire that Dr. Findley still raves about) and a Madawaska Farm mare called Sheila Lee that raced with distinction on the trot for the Findley Farm dating back to the days of Thorncliffe Park .Dalyce was the mare's second foal and a good one she was, following in the footsteps of her full sister Cathy Diggles a Futurity winner and another outstanding pupil from the Findley Stable .
The young miss Dalyce started her racing career in 1958 at age two and did it with the style and class that would mark the remainder of her career . Brought along slowly in the Findley camp ,she made her career debut on July 25th at Arnprior winning both heats of a $200 Purse event .After racing at several locations, she finished out what was then considered a very good freshman season ,winning 8 of her 9 starts and putting over $3,000 in the Findley bank account . Her speed record was 2:09.4 taken on her last start at Richelieu Park, a time that made her the first two year old Canadian sired trotter to take a record under 2:10 .A bit earlier she had also trotted a mile in 2:10 flat at Montreal .
She went on to a lengthy career racing on both sides of the border in colt and aged competition .She was even an entrant and money winner in The 1961 Maple Leaf Trot I believe driven by Keith Waples when Dr. John was injured along with stablemate Peaches Atom (John Hayes Sr.). When Dr John talks about this special mare, he does so with a special passion in his voice for not only what she did for him but also what he learned from being around her .
The Story Behind The Picture
The picture accompanying this piece at the top has a "cute" story attached  to it and I hope I have it correctly recorded .The Track management at Richelieu Park had  decided to honour Dalyce Blue as well as another outstanding performer that season Homestead Dan a 3 Y.O.,the property of Osler Burrison of Rice Lake area who had both recorded excellent mile times for their age and gait .The plan was to present a silver tray to each following an upcoming race . In the case of Homestead Dan it was announced when this would take place and perhaps the Montreal fans knew with certainty that if "Dan" and driver Jack Gordon were already scheduled in to the winner's circle it might be a good time to bet him . Well as most people know things are not always predictable in a horse race and as fate would dictate Homestead Dan made it to the winner's circle but NOT as the race winner, just to collect his silver tray .The Montreal race fans were some upset and were not too shy in displaying their displeasure .
Thankfully when it came to Dalyce Blue's turn, Richelieu Park management decided to hold the ceremony before the race ,not following despite the rock solid assurance from Dr. Findley that he would win the race . In this case everything went "according to script" and the presentation took place in a friendly setting .
Dalyce Blue Wins The Suffolk Downs 3 Year Old Trot -1959
In September of 1959 Dalyce Blue was shipped to East Boston Mass. to Suffolk Downs , a rather unusual spot as it was known mainly as a thoroughbred track .This year a standardbred meeting was offered and the Stakes program was a most lucrative one .On opening night Dalyce Blue was an upset winner in the headline event ,trotting home in 2:04.3 to take the major share of the $28,400 purse beating a select field of 10 .Additionally Dr. Findley won another event on the card with Leezoff  thus making him the meeting's temporary leading driver .In notching the win, Dalyce Blue became the first Canadian sired trotting filly to ever win a colt race beating an "Open" field .At the same time her sub 2:05 mile made history as the first Canadian sired filly to do so at age 3 .The Suffolk Downs track was a Mile Track .
The winners circle festivities at Suffolk Downs in Boston Mass. following a stunning victory by Dalyce Blue 
Successful As A Broodmare 
Once the racing career of Dalyce Blue was over ,last racing at the age of 7, she went on to a highly successful career as part of the broodmare band at Dr. Findley's Madawaska Farm .Following her first foal Greenmantle by Philip Frost, she raised several more with her most notable offspring being The Black Douglas a top class trotter of the early 1970's who gained career earnings of over $ 270,000 and also Crimson Duchess (pictured elsewhere) a successful colt performer .All were raced in the Findley Stable .
Pictured above is Crimson Duchess ( Duke Rodney- Dalyce Blue) with Dr. John at the controls 
Thanks to Dr. Findley and Dalyce Blue for the "Class" they brought to our sport ; a quality not often found .
Your comments are always most welcomed at

Readers Comments :
Missed Race ...
My Dad (Mac  Casselman) and Jimmy Bryson road all the way to Boston with Cec Pappin from Pembroke to watch Dalyce Blue race. Cec had a bad temper and got mad about something and they left for home before the race took place . My Dad told about this forever .My guess is that Dad and Bryson probably picked on Cec all the way down there ???? I saw Doc Findley this winter in Florida .
P.S. - Keep the presses rolling !!
From Al Casselman "Cass"


REMEMBERING The Track at Three Rivers -Recollections Rerun

May 27, 2015
Top Photo - A view of the once popular Three Rivers  Track with the picturesque stables in the background .
Lower Photo - A  large crowd gathers during Exhibition Week at Three Rivers . Photo taken in 1947 .
The demise of harness racing in Quebec is a sad commentary on what has happened to our beloved sport across the land .It is a subject with which I am certainly not qualified to comment on but I do know it was once an area unparalleled in the sport .The great Metropolitan tracks in Montreal,Richelieu Parc and Blue Bonnets, the ones at Quebec City,Three Rivers,Sherbrooke,Jonquiere  and many more locations were once spots vital to the sport .
I recently came across a couple of great old photographs in my own archives that came to me many years ago and even though I have never been to the once popular Track at Three Rivers I couldn't help but think how important it once was .The stables in the background which were demolished many years ago reflect a special time in design and function that would never be seen today .
The upper area of the stables were used as residences by the backstretch people . Dances and other social gatherings were held there and formed an important part of the resident's lives .A number of well known horsemen raced at Three Rivers as a "stepping stone" as they perfected their driving and training skills before moving on . One such person was Jack Kopas originally from Saskatchewan, who moved "East" and carved out quite a career .Fifty years ago he was winning races with the likes of Peter Gunn,Success Dill,Irish Jubilee and the trotter Fox Glove . A number were owned by Adelard Dugre of Trois Rivieres .

Carpet Bagger - "Winning Tired"

March 9, 2013
1973 - In the photo above taken at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal , a trackside presentation is held to honour that year's " Carpet Bagger Trot " winner Satin Mir and driver Marcel Dostie .Next to Dostie is Real Bardier (Former handler of Carpet Bagger) ,Guy Nadeau BB Official and BB Race Secretary Bob Pare .
Remembering Back To July 11,1959
There's an old time worn saying "If you want to get a job done, get a busy man to do it ..." After yesterday's 9 th race at Richelieu Park  there may be a new saying in the harness horse world  ..."If you want to win a race ; get a tired horse to do it ..." .
Just ask the horse Carpet Bagger's owner  Jean Beaudoin of Napierville Que. and his trainer and driver Real Bardier which may take some explaining. 
You see ,the race in question was the feature of the Saturday evening card at Richelieu and brought together a field of 8 of the best trotters around .The Open Trot for a purse of  $ 3,000 ,was a bit more than just a race ;it was part of the process of selecting this year's Canadian entry in the upcoming $50,000 International Trot to be held August 1 at Roosevelt Raceway in New York City .Race Secretary Georges Giguere would be making his selection shortly from the top 3 finishers in today's race .
Heavily favoured to win this race was Philip Frost ,a recent purchase for $35,000 by The Maplewood Stable of Montreal .With his regular pilot Jimmy Weiner racing in Quebec City ,Philip Frost was catch driven in this race by Roger White .While the majority of the fans in attendance were wagering on the heavy favourite, they allowed the 10 year old Carpet Bagger to go postward at better than 10-1 odds .Perhaps they didn't know just how "tired" this horse really was .
Driver Real Bardier was away swiftly as the field left the post, and led throughout the entire mile ,stopping the timer in 2:02.4 following fractions of 29.4 ;1:00.2 and 1:32 . The mile time shaved more than a full second off the veteran trotter's previous lifetime best of 2:04 .Quite a remarkable mile for a 10 year old !! Philip Frost made a last ditch effort but was a half length behind the winner .Selka Song driven by Harold McKinley for the Armstrong Bros .Stable was third . 
Driver Bardier Reveals Strategy
In a post race interview winning driver Real Bardier said "This horse trots better when he's tired .He's too game ,too much to burn ,so three hours before Saturday's race I took him on a 10 mile workout .That did it ! He got tired enough and won the race ...."
For those fortunate enough to hold a winning ticket on Carpet Bagger, he rewarded them with an across the board payoff of $23.80 ,$9.80 and $5.80 to show .
Full Results -Open Trot Purse $3,000
Richelieu Park July 11,1959
1 - Carpet Bagger (Real Bardier)
2 - Philip Frost  (Roger White)
3 - Selka Song   (Harold McKinley)
4 - Prudences Boy ( Ned Galentine)
5 - Mr. Baldridge   (Phil Dussault)
6. - Anchora Hanover  (Fred Parks)
7. - Newport Prince (L Pelletier)
8. - Homestead Dan  (Jack Gordon)
The International Trot -1959
Follow up - Despite his showing on this date, Carpet Bagger did not represent Canada in the International Trot that year .Philip Frost was chosen and was one of 8 entrants when the big race was held on August 1,which was opening night at Roosevelt Raceway   .The race which was contested at 1 1/2 miles went to Jamin of France driven by Jean Riaud .Second was Tornese of Italy with U.S. representative Trader Horn taking the third spot . Philip Frost finished a disappointing 7th   .The time for the 1 1/2 mile distance was 3:08 3/5 ,not a record as that mark belonged to Stars Pride who toured this same oval in 3:06.1 back in 1951 .
Carpet Bagger had an outstanding season in 1959 although he made just 10 starts, all at either Richelieu Park or Blue Bonnets .He won 6 of the 10 tries and in the process added $ 21,238 to his lifetime bankroll which at season's end totalled $ 47,940 .His long career began way back in 1952 as a 3 year old when he started out racing on the Ohio circuit winning 4 starts for owner Chas. Bowen of Columbus and driver Harry Short. He raced on the U.S. side for several years and even made a few starts on the pace before eventually coming to Canada as an 8 year old .
A lot had changed since then .After starting his career with the name "Mr. Rock Dale " he later became Carpet Bagger .I am told this was a reference to his original owner Mr.Bowen being in the carpet business . I hope I heard correctly .
Carpet Bagger A Local Hero
Carpet Bagger was but one of a long list of horses who enjoyed lengthy and memorable careers on the Montreal/Quebec racing circuit .Each time they stepped on the track they thrilled their legion of friends and followers who identified with their individual "personalities" .It may be hard to believe now,but in days gone by it was entirely possible that a person would make a special trip to the track just because a certain horse was racing .
In later years a special annual race was instituted to honour the memory of this old warrior .
As a matter of interest Mr. Bardier who drove Carpet Bagger for a  portion of his career is still living in the Montreal area and continues his keen interest in the sport .His son Stephane and his nephews Normande Jr. and Claude are also very active participants .

Racing In Quebec -The 1940's

August 22, 2012
Picture - Texas Hanover wins $2000 Pacing Derby at Three Rivers Track in 2:07 - Aug. 21,1949 .
From left -Messrs. Hetu & Cote  representing the Hiram Walker Co.(sponsors), Alderman C.Rocheleau,Geo. Bolduc,Lucien Dugre (owner) and driver Paul Larente . Unidentified fellow  at right may be a young Jimmy Larente ?, the driver's son . (Harness Horse photo)

By the end of the decade of the 1940's, the volume and quality of harness racing in the Province of Quebec had made great strides . Many factors contributed to its overall success . Perhaps at the root of the rise in popularity of racing was the "keen" fan base that existed in most areas of the Province .This combined with an abundance of good horse people ,all led to a successful  outcome which really blossomed in the 1950's and also the years following  .It is interesting to note that as far back as 1948, night racing was held at the Quebec City Track .This time frame placed it not far behind the U.S.introduction in 1940 and certainly well ahead of Ontario's much heralded 1961 debut .

A number of well to do and rather passionate owners in Quebec were determined to bring a better class of horses to the fans . It became quite commonplace to secure well bred horses from the U.S. ,particularly those who had previously taken fast records .They often came from larger U.S. stables who specialized in colt racing ,thus once they had new stock coming on they were considered expendable .The game plan was to buy them even at premium prices at times,and race for the best purses available back in Canada . Besides the racing that took place on home soil , a number of more successful stables ventured across the border to places like Saratoga N.Y., Foxboro Mass. and Malone N.Y. to name a few .Another popular venue was the New England circuit at places such as Rutland Vermont . Even the odd participant headed as far away as Roosevelt Raceway in New York City .
Texas Hanover Stars For Owner Dugre
In 1949, one of the more prominent owners in the Belle Provence Mr. Lucien Dugre a hotel owner from Sherbrooke  had one of the best horses on the circuit named Texas Hanover .He had a record of 2:01 1/4 taken at the age of 4 over a mile track .This horse was 7 years old at the time and was a pacing son of Dean Hanover himself a trotter, but also a sire of both gaits . He had quite a successful season this particular year racing for one of the top trainer drivers in the business, a man known as Paul Emile Larente . After winning the 1948 Quebec championship at Richelieu Park, he had another good year and added a bit over $ 6,000 to his bankroll ,upping it to almost  $ 30,000 lifetime .The stable of Mr. Dugre was so powerful at this time, that it was not unusual for his charges to dominate if not win virtually an entire card of racing .
His season was not "all roses" though as the saying goes and during the months of July and August he participated in two match races and unfortunately for Mr. Dugre and his connections, he was not successful in either try .Both match races were against the same horse, a chestnut 7 year old stallion named Princelike   who sported a record of 2:04 2/5 .This horse too was royally bred being sired by the U.S. based Spencer a sub 2:00 performer from the 1930's .He was owned and trained by Gerard Bouvrette of St. Jerome Que. .
At this time quite a number of very accomplished Quebec horsemen were competing on the local and U.S. circuit in addition to the aforementioned Paul Larente.Other well known trainers and drivers included such names as Honorat(sometimes "Harry")  Larochelle, George and Jules Giguere ,Felix Turcotte,Francois Lebeouf,Alf Cote ,Herve Boucher and Alex Page to name a few .
Match Races Held at Two Locations
The first encounter took place at St. Jerome Que. on July 31 for a purse of $ 1100 .Texas Hanover took the first heat with Princelike taking the next two with Delbert MacTavish driving the winner .The fastest of the  3 heats occurred in the final  when Princelike paced in 2:08 flat to take the race and gain bragging rights as the best horse .Just how the purse divided I do not know .
The second match was held on August 13th at the Valleyfield Que. track .This 3 heat affair carried a purse of $ 840 but was decided after two straight first place finishes by Princelike ,thus giving Mr. Bouvrette a further trophy .
This was an example of how racing rivalries were translated into some exciting events .I do not have the details of the purse structure but often in these cases the two owners supplied quite a bit of the prize .
 I would like to thank Mr. Don Daniels for the photograph which accompanies this post which is from The Harness Horse .
 Reader Comment
 Your magazine/website is the greatest. Keep up the good work. 
Rick Karper 

The Clubhouse Era Begins

April 2, 2013
Above photo shows fans watching the post parade at Blue Bonnets Raceway in 1960 following a huge renovation that resulted in posh new surroundings for racegoers .This was a giant step forward for the sport as it emerged from its Country roots to a major spectator sport .

In the early days of harness racing ,fans attended the races mainly to watch the races and of course to bet when the opportunity afforded itself .They were accustomed to high temperatures and humidity in the summer and were willing to "bundle up" against the late fall winds and sometimes rains .Grandstands were open and often in a state of disrepair ,especially at small Town venues.  But that was the way it was ,and people who loved the sport and seeing the horses in action took it all in their stride .

As time went on, more of the entertainment value of racing was taken into consideration and with the changing times came new and innovative ways of attracting and providing more services for the racing public . With the advent of night racing ,people were treated to better facilities and the surroundings gradually began to change . Better programs,food and  beverages and other amenities appeared .
By the decade of the 1960s a huge change in "creature comforts" was well underway in the sport in general  .In 1960 at a cost of $ 7,300,000 ,Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal made a major step toward the future .Under the direction of Jean Louis Levesque this huge expenditure was spent on stabling and grandstand improvements . Race fans were able to dine in comfort and even have their wagers made by "messengers" ,a true luxury .Another great new feature was the flashing of the "picture finish" on closed circuit TV within 45 seconds .
By 1960, both Blue Bonnets and Richelieu Park had an average nightly attendance of 6,000 under the lights for the 100 days allotted to harness racing .On Sundays, matinee crowds of 20,000 were not uncommon .Strangely, at this same time no night racing yet  existed in Ontario but agitation was growing as more and more groups lobbied Premier Leslie Frost .He insisted that there would be no night racing in his Province .He said " In my view enough gambling is done in the daylight ..." . In June of that year The Peterborough Driving Club held a night meet in June ,hoping to provide a test case .  Club President Orville Fallis stated "There is really no law against it " .
This 1969 shot used as part of an Ontario Jockey Club ad shows a large group of raceway patrons watching racing from the comfort of the Clubhouse ,then a recent amenity  .(If I were a betting man I would wager at least a nickel that the driver leading the field might be Keith Waples)

Late In The Season - Blue Bonnets

October 20, 2011
November 1959
While most racing stables have headed home and gotten into "Winter training mode" ,racing continues at Blue Bonnets  in Montreal until closing day on November 26th .It has been a long season, dating back to opening day at Richelieu Park on April 16 .Many have been here for the entire season .
A portion of those still competing are the stables of Russell and Pem Caldwell,Roger Ponton,Roger White,Duncan MacTavish, Cam Wannamaker, Herve and Henri Filion, Jack Gordon,Fred Parks,Jimmy Larente,Edouard Bradette,Andre and Albert Boucher,John Mongeon,Anton Grodnis,Johnny Zeron,Yvon Plouffe,Phil Dussault,Paul Hebert,Mac MacRae,Claude St Jacques,Ivan Farr,Percy Robillard,Mel "Muffy" Turcotte,Neil and Ross Curran,Vern Waddell,Claude Watters,Marcel Dostie,Peter Miller (Flying Saucer P),Benoit Cote,Jules Giguere and Dr. Croteau .
While some may consider Friday the 13th unlucky (November 1959 had a Friday the 13th) it proved quite the opposite for teamster Allan Walker of Owen Sound Ont.. Walker, always considered a trotting specialist ,scored a natural "Hat Trick" on that ominous Friday evening as he was home first with trotter Legal Prince ,followed by a pacer Chief's Pride for Pete Thompson of Meaford and capped off the three  timer with his own trotting mare Bonnie Song .
Another Ontario based horseman having a productive fall meeting in Montreal is Bert Madill of Leamington who won a $3000 Invitational with his home bred Carolwyn Grattan in 2:06 flat .He is also campaigning her full brother Ronny C Grattan with success .