Landry calls Hall of Fame honor deeply gratifying

April 20, 2018

A few years after his equine photography business nearly didn’t survive Ontario’s post-slots tsunami, the HRU contributor will be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

by Dave Briggs

Considering how much Dave Landry struggled to keep his equine photography business afloat in the two years that followed the cancellation of Ontario’s Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP), he said he finds it particularly gratifying to be among the 2018 inductees to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

“From 2013 to 2015, I endured for the first time in my career many struggles to keep in the equine photography business and keep that dream alive,” Landry said of the period in which many people in the province’s horse racing industry lost their jobs when the slot revenue was cut and horse racing went into a sharp decline.

“I was doing some photography at night and had to dabble in construction, machining… just to make sure the ends were meeting,” Landry said. “As a result of having to do the photography at night… I had a few health issues with Vertigo and Bell’s Palsy, which may or may not have been related. The fact is, it was a struggle for a while, for the first time in my career.

“It’s just beautiful timing to have something like this happen,” Landry said of the Hall of Fame honor announced last week. “It just makes it seem like all of that pain and hassle was worthwhile.”

In the last two years, Landry, one of Harness Racing Update’s principal photographers, has rebuilt his business. Thursday night at a banquet in Toronto, he scored another triumph when he won his seventh Sovereign Award for the best thoroughbred photo in Canada. His winning 2017 entry is entitled Dirt Storm.

As for the Hall of Fame, Landry will be officially inducted on Aug. 8 at a gala at the Mississauga Convention Centre. Despite long photographing both thoroughbreds and standardbreds, he is being inducted on the standardbred side in the Communicators’ category. Joining him in the standardbred class of 2018 is: the late Jim Doherty (trainer/driver), Bill Andrew (builder), Blissfull Hall (male horse) and Chancey Lady (female horse).

Landry grew up in Toronto and was just four when his father started regularly taking him to both the thoroughbred and standardbred races. So began a lifelong fascination with horse racing that turned into a career photographing some of the sport’s greatest equine and human athletes.

He established Dave Landry Photography in Burlington, ON in 1994.

Lifetime, the Ryerson University graduate has earned 11 awards for his equine photography, including those seven Sovereign Awards, an Eclipse Award, an award from the World Trotting Conference, a Horse Publications of America award and a George Smallsreed Award from the United States Trotting Association.

His work has appeared on the cover of more than 500 magazines or publications.

Landry started out photographing thoroughbreds, but said a call from The Canadian Sportsman more than 15 years ago to cover standardbreds was a turning point in his career.

“To me, my decision was vital to where this is landing today because The Canadian Sportsman… showcased my work and, without that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Landry said. “It obviously impacted on the harness racing community and they are putting me in there.”

He said he’s honored the standardbred community nominated him for the Hall of Fame, particularly when most of his awards have come on the thoroughbred side. That, said Landry, means the harness racing community judged his body of work on the images, not the awards.

“(The standardbred people) are admiring the craft, not looking at the peripheral things,” Landry said. “They are looking at the part that I’m most passionate about, the image and that it evoked some kind of emotion, good or bad. That’s why it’s so cool that they recognized it.”

Landry will be joining his brother, jockey Robert Landry, in the Hall of Fame. Robert was inducted in 2014. Dave, 54, said he’s thankful both of their parents are still alive to see both of their sons in the Hall of Fame.

“It’s a reward for them being good parents. I know it’s something that they are going to be proud of,” Dave said. “I knew how proud they were of Rob going in and now they are getting a second one in.”

Apart from HRU and The Canadian Sportsman, Dave’s equine clients have included: the Woodbine Entertainment Group, Canadian Thoroughbred magazine, TROT magazine, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, Horse Racing Alberta, Equine Guelph, the Ontario Racing Commission, Tara Hills Stud, the Blood-Horse magazine, Preferred Equine, Curraghmore Farm, Seelster Farm, Windfields Farm and Blue Chip Farms.

Long one of horse racing’s great ambassadors, Dave said he is overwhelmed by response to word of his impending induction — from people representing both racing breeds.

“It’s now starting to become an emotional experience, because of the overwhelming support,” Dave said. “I’ve had calls, texts, emails, social media and some of them are just very quick things – just acknowledging – but then there are a few that say something that really hits home or writing a really thoughtful note. I’ve received a couple of those.

“Just hearing those kind words about how they feel about me and my work, that part makes it really emotional. It’s really nice to be recognized that way.”

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