There will be 15 candidates on the Thoroughbred side to be considered on a final ballot for 2017 induction into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, including Sovereign Award-winning trainer Reade Baker and Canada's Horse of the Year in 2000 Quiet Resolve.
The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame announced its 2017 ballot March 20. In this 250th anniversary year of horse racing in Canada, a total of 30 horses and people, comprised of 15 Standardbred and 15 Thoroughbred candidates have been selected to appear on the voting ballot.
The five categories chosen for the 2017 Thoroughbred ballot are Builder, Communicator, Trainer, Male Horse, and Veteran Horse
A Thoroughbred Builder ballot comprised of Frank McMahon, Eugene Melnyk and John G. Sikura is offered for voter consideration.
The late Frank McMahon was a major contributor to Thoroughbred horse racing in Canada with what was the first major stable in Western Canada, and as a founding member of the Jockey Club of Canada. Early success came as a part-owner of Royal Serenade, winner of the 1953 Hollywood Gold Cup. Other McMahon victories included the 1966 British Columbia Derby in Vancouver and the 1970 Canadian Derby in Edmonton. He partnered with Max Bell (Golden West Farms) in 1968 to win the Queen's Plate with Merger. In 1969, his Majestic Prince won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Eugene Melnyk, businessman, sports team owner, and racehorse breeder/owner has won 12 Sovereign Awards including Outstanding Owner in 2007 and 2009. Top horses include Speightstown (winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Sprint [G1]), Flower Alley, Graeme Hall, 1998 Queen's Plate winner Archers Bay, and 2007 Horse of the Year, Sealy Hill, who was inducted into the CHRHF in 2013. A former trustee of the New York Racing Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association honoree, Melnyk dispersed his broodmare band in February 2013 to refocus his business model on yearling purchases and racing.
John G. Sikura, owner and president of Hill 'n' Dale Farms (Kentucky), has been a mainstay in the breeding industry since 1987. Sikura remains an active owner/breeder and major sales consignor. To date, his farm has consigned 95 horses selling for $1,000,000 or more. Meanwhile, the farm operates as a full service facility serving horse people throughout North America. The current stallion roster at Hill 'n' Dale includes two-time Horse of the Year Curlin who commands a $150,000 (US) stud fee. John's father, John Sikura Jr., was inducted into the CHRHF in 2013.
The three Trainers on the 2016 Thoroughbred election ballot are Reade Baker, Harold J. Barroby and Daniel J. Vella
Reade Baker's training career spans four decades and almost 1,100 wins; 122 of those wins in stakes events, 30 in graded races. The 2005 Sovereign Award recipient as Outstanding Trainer, Baker has developed numerous stake winners including Horse of the Year champions Fatal Bullet (2008) and Biofuel (2010). Baker also conditioned Bear Now, 2008 Sovereign Award for Older Female; and Tu Endie Wei, 2011 Sovereign Award winner as Champion 2-Year-Old Filly. Baker continues to saddle winners including Woodbine Oaks winner Academic and Prince of Wales Stakes winner Breaking Lucky in 2015.
Harold Barroby a native of Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan followed his older brother Frank to Alberta, became leading trainer in 1969 and 1970 before moving farther west to British Columbia in 1974 where the great Love Your Host won 13 stakes under his tutelage and horses Pampas Host and Delta Colleen were both multiple stakes winners. B.C's leading trainer a record 10 times, Barroby remains the all-time leader in terms of wins and stakes wins, inlcuding graded stake wins with Fortinbras in the 1986 British Columbia Derby (G3) and 1986 B.C. Premier's Championship Handicap (G3).
Daniel Vella captured the Sovereign Awards Trainer title in 1994 and 1995. He has won the coveted Queen's Plate twice in his career thus far, the first in 1994 with Frank Stronach's Basqueian and followed up with his second win in in 2012, with Strait of Dover for Wally and Terry Leong. Vella has scored 135 career stakes wins in a career that began in 1985. Career stats include 5,065 starts (793-755-617) and earnings to date of more than $36 million.
The Thoroughbred Male Horse category will be contested by A Bit O'Gold, Mt. Sassafras, and Quiet Resolve.
Catharine Day Phillips trainee A Bit O'Gold won four Sovereign awards in 2004 and 2005, including Horse of the Year, as a result of his multiple stakes wins including the Coronation Futurity in 2003, the Plate Trial Stakes, the Breeders Stakes, the Ontario Derby all in 2004. In 2005 stakes wins included the Dominion Day Stakes Handicap (G3), the Chinese Cultural Stakes Handicap (G2) and the Sky Classic Stakes Handicap (G2) with career earnings totalling $1,888,155.
Mt. Sassafras earned $1,382,985 in 47 career starts (8-7-14) and was named 1996 Sovereign Award winner for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Horse. Multiple graded stakes wins included Dominion Day Handicap (G2) in 1999, as well as the Dominion Day Handicap (G3) and Eclipse Handicap (G3) in 1996 and Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1) in 1997.
Quiet Resolve, the Sam Son Farm homebred and Mark Frostad trained son of Affirmed, earned $2.3 million in a 31-start race career with a record of 10-6-4, which included multiple graded stakes wins. He was recipient of the 2000 Sovereign Award as Champion Turf Horse and Canada's Horse of the Year, which was highlighted by victories in the Atto Mile (G1), and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes (G2). During his championship season, Quiet Resolve ventured south of the border and won the Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico Race Course, was second in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs and third in the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes (G2).
In the Thoroughbred Veteran Horses category, voters will select from All Along, Passing Mood and South Ocean.
French-bred filly All Along, was the first winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) to race in Canada winning the Rothmans International (G1) as part of a 41 day international tour that also included wins in the Turf Classic (G1) at Aqueduct and the Washington, D.C. International (G1) at Laurel. Named Horse of the Year on two continents for owner Daniel Wildenstein and family, All Along was named Champion Older Horse in France and 1983 Horse of the Year in the U.S, the first female and foreign-based horse to win an Eclipse award as Horse of the Year.
The royally bred Passing Mood, both owned and bred by D. G. Willmot's Kinghaven Farms, became one of Canada's greatest producers, in fact, she was named Outstanding Broodmare in 1989. Among her progeny was With Approval, inducted into the CHRHF in 1993 after a stellar racing career including the Canadian Triple Crown in 1989. Another top horse was Touch Gold, who won the 1997 Belmont Stakes (Gr 1) as well as the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Lexington Stakes (Gr 2).
South Ocean was bred by E.P. Taylor and sold through auction to his son Charles. Trained by G. "Pete" McCann, South Ocean was a major stakes winner, including the Canadian Oaks in 1970. However, it is as a broodmare that South Ocean made a huge impact. She produced the CHRHF filly Northernette and Storm Bird, sire of Storm Cat, both sired by Northern Dancer. Her contribution to Canadian Breeding is both immeasurable and invaluable.
Joe Hirsch, Dan Loiselle, and Curtis Stock have been selected to appear on the Thoroughbred Communicator ballot.
American horse racing columnist and author Joe Hirsch, the founding president of the U.S.-based National Turf Writers' Association, began writing for the Daily Racing Form in 1954 and retired as its executive columnist in 2003. His support of Canadian racing and those involved in the sport on this side of the border was widespread as his work was read by industry leaders all over North America. The author of multiple books, his 'The Grand Senor' details the career of Horatio Luro, best known as trainer of Northern Dancer.
Dan Loiselle's horse-racing career spans almost five decades, initially as a Standardbred racing official and announcer, and then as Woodbine Thoroughbred announcer, replacing Daryl Wells in 1986. His signature accuracy and clarity was accompanied by a flair for entertaining his audience. He has served as Master of Ceremonies at many industry functions and interviewed celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment. In November 2015, Loiselle was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame and was saluted by the Toronto Sports Media with a special award.
Originally from Calgary, Curtis Stock got his start as a horse racing reporter while still in college, before working at Woodbine with CHRHF honored member Bruce Walker. He returned to Alberta to take over the publicity, marketing, and advertising at Northlands Park and then moved to the Edmonton Journal where he worked for 32 years. He also plied his craft at the Daily Racing Form for 20 years. His writing has resonated with Sovereign Awards judges, resulting in a record 11 awards.
A 20-person election committee for each breed will determine the winners in their respective categories. Results will be announced Tuesday, April 4. The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony will be hosted at the Mississauga Convention Centre on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.
On the Standardbred side, the Female Horse Category features Elegantimage, Oohs N Aahs and Tricky Tooshie. Nominated In the category of Male Horse are Blissfull Hall, Mach Three and Shadow Play. The 2017 Veteran Horses ballot is comprised of B Cor Tamara, Happy Lady and Lou Macs Review
In the Standardbred Driver/Trainer category voters will select from Blair Burgess, Jim Doherty and Ben Wallace. The Standardbred Builder Category candidates include Dr. Gordon Gilbertson, DVM, J. Hugh Proudfoot and Brian Webster.