The 2020 inductees to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame were announced April 7 and fittingly, this year’s class include some of the most passionate, resilient and hard working horsepeople in the industry today.
Five people and five horses in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing have been elected by a group of industry voters from a deep ballot of candidates.
Many of this year’s inductees have so many years of accomplishments, battles won and deservedly earned them a place in Canadian racing history.
On the Thoroughbred side in the Builder category, the Hall of Fame welcomes SUE LESLIE, longtime president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, director of LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement, Ontario Racing and the Avelino Gomez Memorial Foundation and a resume of so many other integral previous roles.
Sue, also an owner, breeder and trainer, has given most of the past 40 years to helping her beloved sport overcome some of the most incredible challenges while heading the HBPA representing the owners, trainers and their staff at both Woodbine and Fort Erie.
As a strong voice for the horsepeople, Sue has been invaluable to the industry in dealings with government and tracks to preserve the viability of Thoroughbred racing in Ontario.
From her work after the cancellation of the slots-at-racetracks program, to her tireless work for the sustainability of Fort Erie racetrack and now the unsettling impact of the COVID-19 virus that has rocked the industry, Sue has dedicated virtually every minute of her days to the sport she loves.
She was awards the 2011 Special Sovereign Award for her dedicated work for racing and this Canadian Horse racing Hall of Fame induction is fully deserved.
Trainer MIKE KEOGH, longtime private trainer for Hall of Fame Builder Gus Schickedanz, Mike Keogh is a two-time Queen’s Plate winning trainer, first with Woodcarver in 1999 and then with Triple Crown champion Wando in 2003. During that Triple Crown winning season, Keogh was also training stablemate Mobil who would earn a Sovereign Award at age four.
Hall of Fame horse Langfuhr, also trained by Keogh, won three G1 Stakes and received the Sovereign in 1996 as Champion Sprinter. As an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield from 1986-1993, Keogh worked with a long list of Hall of Fame inductees including Alywow, Peteski, Carotene, Izvestia and With Approval.
‘Keyjo’, whose love for the horse runs deep, was at Schickedanz’s side in April 2019 when his longtime client and friend received the E.P. Taylor award of Merit, only weeks before his passing.
Mike, who has been dealing with health issues in the last two years, has not slowed down preparing the horses of the Schickedanz family, whether it be in South Carolina in the winter or at Woodbine in the summer and fall.
Since 1993, Mike Keogh stats include 2,689 starts with 330 wins and over $21.5 million in earnings.
And when you ask Mike about his favourite horse of all-time, there is never a hesitation. That horse, PLAY THE KING, will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame this Year. ‘King’, the 1988 Horse of the Year and Champion Sprinter, raced for Kinghaven Farms and trainer Roger Attfield and was galloped by Keogh when he worked for Roger.
In 29 starts, Play the King had 19 trips to the winners’ circle and earned just shy of $1 million. Play the King’s stakes success began at age four with a win in the Toboggan Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, and was followed by wins in the Jacques Cartier, Vigil Handicap and the Toronto Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Woodbine, as well as wins in the Highlander Handicap, the Suffolk Sprint in Boston (G3) and finally the Nearctic Stakes (G3), to earn him the 1987 Sovereign Award for Champion Older Male Horse and Champion Sprinter. The following year brought repeat wins in the Nearctic Stakes (G3) at Woodbine and the Toronto Budweiser Breeders’ Cup before making his most noted performance, the Breeders Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs. A strong 49-1 second-place finish contributed to him being presented Sovereign Awards as Champion Sprinter, Older Horse and Horse of the Year in 1988.
On the Jockey side, the Hall will induct GARY BOULANGER, or Boo as he is affectionately known, who began his riding career in 1987, spending his early years at tracks in the U.S. and earning leading jockey status at Longacres Racetrack (1989, 1990, 1991) and Calder Race Course (1994, 1995). In 2000 Boulanger, who was born in Alberta, returned to Canada; riding primarily at Woodbine, he would frequently get the call to ride for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Frostad. In 2001, the top money-winning year of his career, he rode Sam-Son Farm’s Hall of Fame filly Dancethruthedawn to wins in the Canadian Oaks and The Queen’s Plate Stakes.
In 2005, Boulanger suffered what could have been a career-ending injury in a racing accident at Gulfstream Park. His return to the track came in 2013 when he began to pick up rides for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Gary continues to ride, splitting his time between Florida and Woodbine, and is considered an elder statesman in the jockeys’ room. The 2017 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient has to date won 3,610 races, including 41 grades stakes, and earnings just shy of $80 million (U.S.).
Also being inducted this year is the great American grass mare TEPIN , dubbed the “Queen of the Turf”, who spent most of her race career under the direction of trainer Mark Casse and the ownership of Robert Masterson. Racing from age 3 to 6, the striking bay filly accumulated a record of 13-5-1, including nine Grade 1/Group 1 wins or placings in three countries – Canada, England and the U.S. In 2015 she won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) against the boys. The following year, in what would be her final year of racing, she travelled to England, winning the prestigious Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Her final career win came in the 2016 Woodbine Mile (G1) when she put an exclamation mark on
her career with a half-length win, again over the boys. Tepin was twice presented with the Eclipse Award as American Champion Female Turf Horse; 2015 and 2016.
On the Standardbred side, trainer BEN WALLACE will be inducted along with driver PAUL MACDONALL, Female Horse Amour Angus, Male Horse McWicked and Veteran Horse Rambling Willie.
Ben Wallace of Puslinch, Ont., honed his training skills working for Hall of Famers Keith Waples and the late Bill Wellwood before striking out on his own. He trained 1999 Pacing Triple Crown Winner and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Member Blissfull Hall, Breeders Crown winners Totally Western (2002), Pans Culottes (2003), as well as a list of million dollar plus winners including Apprentice Hanover, Easy Lover Hanover, Zooka, Cam Swifty, Camotion and Lookout Victory. Awarded an O’Brien as Canada’s Trainer of the Year in 1999, Wallace has current career stats of 1,947 wins and more than $38 million in purses, surpassing the million dollar mark in 18 consecutive seasons (1996-2013).
Ben, who lost most of his racing stable in the tragic Classy Lane barn fire in 2016 and has since rebuilt his stable, recently has dipped his toe into the Thoroughbred side of racing as an owner alongside his partner, trainer Renee Kierans.
Paul MacDonell’s driving career is highlighted by both consistency and superstars, with earnings surpassing $1 million for 33 consecutive years, due in part to piloting such horses as Hall of Fame Honoured Members Somebeachsomewhere, Admirals Express and Invitro. He has also been the primary pilot for millionaires Village Jiffy, Village Connection, Elusive Desire, Bigtime Ball and Laddie. The Guelph resident’s major stakes victories include three Metro Paces, five Confederation Cups, and eight Breeders Crowns as well as a record 16 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Finals to his credit. The popular and affable driver was awarded an O’Brien Award as the 2008 Canadian Driver of the Year and to date has chalked up more than 15,000 top three finishes, 5,623 wins and has driven horses to in excess of $122 million in purse earnings.
Bred by Pierre Levesque’s Fermes Angus of Bedford, Quebec, Amour Angus made her mark on the Standardbred industry as a broodmare. Eleven of her 15 foals raced, earning in excess of $3.5 million. Of her eight foals sired by Garland Lobell, three went on to be top trotting sires in North America following successful race careers – Andover Hall (3, 1:51.3 ($870,510), CHRHF 2019 inductee Angus Hall 3, 1:54.3 ($830,654) and Conway Hall 3, 1:53.4 ($818,884). Her daughter Emilie Cas El (by Garland Lobell) was the winner of the 1994 O’Brien Award for Horse of the Year following her flawless 13 for 13 two-year-old race season before going on to be the dam of Hambletonian winner Trixton.
Recently retired from racing, McWicked earned $5.1 million during a race career that began in 2013 and included 40 wins in 110 starts while setting his lifetime mark of 1:46.2 at age 7. The son of McArdle – Western Sahara was owned primarily by Ed James’ SSG Stables and trained for the majority of his career by Casie Coleman. McWicked’s stakes wins include the Max Hempt, Adios, Progress, Ben Franklin, TVG Open, William Haughton, Canadian Pacing Derby, Dan Rooney – twice; Roll With Joe, Breeders Crown – twice, Joe Gerrity, Jr – twice, PASS Finals, and the Jim Ewart – twice. He was the recipient of four O’Brien Awards — Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt/Gelding (2014), Older Pacing Horse of the Year (2018 & 2019) and Horse of the Year (2018). His 2018 bankroll of $1.662 million made him the oldest horse to top North American harness racing’s earnings standings at the age of seven, and his $5.1 million in career earnings makes him the richest pacing stallion in the history of the sport.
The winner of 128 races in 305 starts during the 1970s and early 1980s, Rambling Willie was a three-time winner of the Canadian Pacing Derby – 1975 in a dead heat with Pickwick Baron, 1976 and 1977. At the time of his retirement in 1983 he was the leading Standardbred money winner of all time earning more than $2 million, with most of his wins coming from overnight and invitational races. A $15,000 purchase by trainer/driver Bob Farrington, ownership was later split between Bob’s wife Vivian and Paul Seibert. Following his retirement from racing in 1983, Willie moved to the Kentucky Horse Park where he resided until his passing in 1995, when he was buried near his paddock at the Hall of Champions. Rambling Willie was inducted into the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame in 2003.
Details about 2020 Induction Ceremonies will be announced in the coming weeks. Additional information about the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame may be found at www.canadianhorseracinghalloffame.com