The popular Ontario Sired trotter joins Odies Fame, Yves Filion, John Ferguson, Sr. and Bruce Johnston as the standardbred inductees the same year the Hall of Fame celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Triple millionaire and fan favorite San Pail, Breeders Crown champ Odies Fame, legendary Quebec trainer/driver/breeder Yves Filion, owner and hockey star John Ferguson, Sr. and former Canadian Sportsman publisher Bruce Johnston were announced Tuesday as the standardbred inductees in the 2016 class of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, also announced thoroughbred inductees Wise Dan, Dahlia, trainer Mark Casse, breeder and veterinarian Dr. Michael Colterjohn and longtime Woodbine thoroughbred race caller Daryl Wells, Sr.
San Pail, bred by co-owner Glenn Van Camp of Port Perry, ON and co-owned by trainer Rod Hughes of Dunsford, ON, is one of the sport’s most popular horses in recent years. He retired in September 2015 following a career that saw him win 52 of 114 races, record a mark of 1:50.4 and earn over
$3.1 million. Partnered with regular driver Randy Waples, San Pail dominated Canadian harness racing in 2011, topping the charts for older trotting horses in North America with over $1.2 million in earnings and 14 wins in 16 races, highlighted by victories in every stakes event in which he competed. The season included his third consecutive victory in the Maple Leaf Trot and and a Breeders Crown championship where he defeated a world class field of trotters and was joined by hundreds of racing fans and supporters in the winner’s circle at Woodbine. He was named both the Canadian and U.S. Horse of the year for 2011, as well as older trotter of the year in both countries and trotter of the year in the U.S. to go along with O’Brien Awards in 2009 and 2010 as Canada’s older trotter of the year.
Odies Fame, purchased for $7,500 by Ontario’s Buddy (Harold) Wellwood and Dr. Norm Amos at the 1997 Forest City Yearling Sale, raced 77 times from 1998 through 2001 and managed 26 wins, 13 seconds, nine thirds, earnings of $1,410,720 and a mark of 1:52 while under the care of Wellwood. A daughter of Hall of Famer Apaches Fame, she posted six track records at age two, set a world record of 1:52.3 on a five-eighths mile track at Rideau Carleton and was almost unbeatable in the Ontario Sires Stakes where she won seven of nine events and earnings of $247,800. She received two O’Brien Awards being awarded Canada’s Horse of the Year and two-year-old pacing filly of the Year. At age three, she had eight wins in 21 races, just under $800,000 in earnings, and scored victories in the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown at Mohawk. She was again a divisional champion in the Ontario Sires Stakes, winning five of eight events and over $161,000. Named The Canadian Sportsman’s Readers’ Choice Award winner as the 1999 Horse of the Year over Triple Crown winner Blissfull Hall, Odies Fame also added another O’Brien trophy to her collection as she was voted Canada’s sophomore pacing filly of the year, as well as the U.S. award for her division, despite not racing in the U.S.
Yves Filion, 69 of Saint-Andre-D’argent, QC, a member of one of Canada’s greatest harness racing families, was one of his province’s premier trainer/drivers for close to 30 years, driving in over 18,000 races with 4,387 wins and $26.7 million in earnings. Training credits include 273 winners and earnings of almost $3.7 million. He bred many successful horses at his Bayama Farms including Runnymede Lobell and Goliath Bayama. Filion trained and drove Runnymede Lobell to victory in the 1988 North America Cup, the pacer’s richest of 31 career wins to go along with over $1.6 million in earnings. Filion also bred and trained Goliath Bayama to 25 wins and earnings of over $1.5 million in his career. After his two-year-old season, Filion turned the driving duties over to his son Sylvain. The pair combined for a runner-up finish in the North America Cup. Yves, the brother of Hall of Famer Herve Filion, is the youngest of 11 children.
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, both thoroughbred horsemen, at old Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC. During his time with the Montreal Canadiens, he became a fixture at Blue Bonnets Raceway. He ventured into harness horse ownership in the early 70s as a partner with Del MacTavish Sr. and Roger White in trotter Harlan Marv and later teamed up with the Stall Family in forming Double Two Ranch to campaign horses such as Keystone Sandra and Comet Angus. On the advice of Hall of Fame breeder Elgin Armstrong, Ferguson began purchasing fillies with breeding potential. He eventually sold most of the mares except Lady Kin Hanover, the dam of Merger, who Ferguson bred. Merger was syndicated at the age of two for over $8 million before going on to win the 1982 Little Brown Jug. As an owner, Ferguson’s best horse was Hardie Hanover, Canada’s sophomore pacing filly of the year in 1994, a winner of the Fan Hanover and Breeders Crown and over $718,000 in purse money. In addition to his role as a very active owner and breeder, Ferguson was involved in track management. He was hired by Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal and after leaving the NHL became the president of Windsor Raceway. He was also one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and assisted with researching and writing the by-laws.
In 1976, Bruce Johnston of Aylmer, ON acquired The Canadian Sportsman, ‘the oldest turf journal in America’. His editorial policy was to promote harness racing and to suggest proposals, such as those that resulted in improvements to the Ontario Sires Stakes format in 1991. Under Johnston’s leadership, The Canadian Sportsman became one of the sport’s leading publications. His “Short Turns” column was known for its wit and tales of fictional racing characters. Johnston was also involved in various racing related lobbying efforts and was an active member of the Ontario Agriculture and Horse Racing Coalition. He was posthumously named winner of the Canadian Standardbred Horse Society’s General Achievement Award for 1993, recognizing excellence, leadership and contributions to the Canadian standardbred breeding industry. That same year the Johnston Cup was established in his memory and is awarded annually to the leading trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes. Johnston owned several horses including Sam Fella and Pickerel and one of his broodmares produced the $127,000 winning trotter, Dream Of Ironstone. Johnston died suddenly in May, 1993, from a heart attack at age 59.
— Linda Rainey / Managing Director / Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame