100 Years Ago – Hearts Of Oak, 1913

For the second time in Plate history, fans were turned back at the admission gates for the famous race.

The 1913 King’s Plate (the reigning monarch in England was King Edward VII) was held at Woodbine Park where the crowd grew to somewhere between 17,000 to 25,000, causing several thousand to be shut out from the property.

That year’s Plate had a change in eligibility rules too: originally open to horses who had never won a race, it was allowing horses that won a race as two-year-olds to compete.

That was good news for Hearts of Oak who took advantage of the new rule (he had won four of seven races as a two-year-old) as he blasted away from the field to win by 10 lengths and pay just $2.70 to win.

Oakville’s Harry Giddings Jr. owned, trained and bred Hearts of Oak and would win a record eight Plates in his career, a mark tied by Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield in 2008.

50 Years Ago – Canebora

In 1961 at E.P. Taylor’s annual yearling sale at his Windfields Farm in Toronto, ON, a well bred colt went unsold for $7,500 and instead raced for a stable that had bred 11 of the previous 14 Queen’s Plate winners.

If the story sounds familiar, that’s because Canebora was one of the first top class runners that Taylor tried to sell but was unsuccessful. Like New Providence, Flaming Page and Northern Dancer among others, Canebora went on to win the famous Canadian race.

It didn’t stop there. The colt also added the Prince of Wales and Breeders’ Stakes to become the first winner of the newly formed Canadian Triple Crown.

Canebora, a son of Navy Page or Canadian Champ (his dam Menebora had been bred to both) was trained by Pete McCann.

A little known fact about the colt is that he disliked the sound of the bugle call to post so much that it was not played before the 1963 Plate. He won by one length over 18 rivals as part of a favoured Windfields entry.

25 Years Ago – Regal Intention

In 1988, Sam-Son Farms was riding the high of their flashy colt Regal Classic, the Champion Two-Year-Old in Canada the previous year. The son of Vice Regent had been second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) and in May of his three-year-old season, was a respectable fifth in the Kentucky Derby (GI) behind the filly Winning Colors.

However, back at Woodbine, Regal Classic was upset by his own stablemate Regal Intention, the “second stringer” in the Queen’s Plate, a result that was actually foreseen by a fortune teller.

Yes, jockey Jack Lauzon’s wife, Geraldine, was told by her friend and soothsayer ‘Jessie’ that she saw a Plate win for the rider as well as the number six.

When Regal Intention drew post six, Lauzon started to brim with nervous anticipation.

There weren’t any anxious moments during the 1 _ mile Canadian classic, however, as the dark bay colt, also by Vice Regent, pushed the pace and then took the lead through slow pace fractions and galloped home in front by 3 _ lengths. It was the first Plate win for Ernie Samuel’s legendary farm.

Regal Intention would go on to win the B.C. Derby and then retire to a successful stud career in B.C. before his death in 2008.


The great Canadian, Northern Dancer, was remembered on May 15, 2013 when the Canadian Film Centre announced its newest building would be named in the horse’s honour. The property on which the CFC resides is the old National Stud on Bayview Avenue in Toronto, developed by E.P. Taylor for his racing and breeding operation. In 1988, Taylor’s son Charles granted the property to successful Canadian filmmaker Norman Jewison, who pledged to build one of the finest centres for the study and production of film in Canada.

The Northern Dancer pavilion is the latest expansion of the project and will house house the CFC’s multi-discipline programs.

On hand for the groundbreaking ceremony were Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Labour for the federal government, Jewison and numerous other dignitaries.

It was owner and breeder Donald Ross, board member at the CFC, who named the pavilion in honour of the great Canadian colt.

“Northern Dancer, the “little guy” with the huge heart, did a lot for Canada. The building having his name is a way of preserving his legacy.” said Ross. “I am delighted to be able to participate with others in helping to bring this exceptional pavilion to fruition.”



Big Red Mike, 2010 Plate Winner

In front of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Big Red Mike had his game face on for the 151st Queen’s Plate in 2010. That was good news since the feisty chestnut gelding had dumped his rider, Eurico da Silva before the Plate Trial Stakes, his final Plate prep. Mike won the Trial anyway but the large Plate-day crowd, many there to get a glimpse of the Queen, was sure to be of concern.

Instead, it was a focused and calm Big Red Mike on the day of the big race and the victory was a popular one. Owner and breeder Dom Romeo, whose Terra Farms had raced horses in Ontario for some 35 years, was winning his first Plate as was trainer Nick Gonzalez, who cut his teeth on the smaller circuit at Fort Erie racetrack.

Big Red Mike raced for a couple of more years with some success before he was retired by the Romeo family. The gelding spent some “let down” time at Nat Rea’s Regis Farm in King City, ON before he was moved to Openwood Farm where the farm’s owner Susan Rasmussen is currently schooling feisty Mike to be a riding horse.

Good luck Mike!

Former CTHS Director Passes Away

Michael Robert Van Every passed away peacefully at his home in Nobleton, ON Wednesday, April 24th in his 72nd year.

Michael was educated at McMaster University graduating with a business degree and received the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for his leadership and influence. He became the youngest partner in 1969 at the former Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), was responsible for opening the Mississauga office and was an elected director of the PwC board. Described as “a partner’s partner”, Michael helped local, regional, national and international businesses for his entire career.

Outside of his professional life, Michael developed a love for horses when he met Horse Publications Group founder Susan Jane Anstey (deceased 2005) who would be his loving partner for 24 years. Through Susan Jane’s father, Lew Scott, Michael became active in the thoroughbred racing industry which would be a lifelong passion. He was a member of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society from 1985 through his death and served as an Ontario Director and National Director from 1986 to 1991, as Finance Chair. In 1996 he became a member of the Jockey Club of Canada and was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1997, becoming treasurer in 2002. During his time with the JCC he took on the charge for much needed changes to Section 31 of the Income Tax Act and formed the Horse Racing Tax Alliance of Canada in 1997 and was appointed Chairman of the committee, a position which he held until his illness forced him to resign in 2010.

Michael spent countless hours watching the racing channel and researching pedigrees to make his annual breeding selections. A source of great pride from this breeding program was Archers Bow which he co-owned with Joe Parker, who won the Vice Regent Stakes in 2004 at Woodbine.

Michael was also a part owner of Charlie’s Dewan who won the 1995 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine. The chestnut gelding won the race by a flaring nostril after a thrilling stretch duel with Mt. Sassafras. The race was clocked at a record 2:26.40, the fastest running of the third jewel of the Triple Crown to this day.

Simultaneously to his racing pursuits, Michael was also heavily involved in the equestrian sporting community. He was Chair of the Canadian Show Jumping Team and was thrilled to be involved in 1988 and 1989 when Ian Millar and Big Ben won back-to-back World Cup Finals. During his term he was recognized for helping to streamline the team’s affairs and, most notably, was instrumental in developing the charitable tax program so that people could donate horses to the team and collect a charitable donation receipt. Similarly, he was also the driving catalyst in creating the maintenance cost deduction program for team horses with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Through his team involvement, Michael also became active with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where he was Chair of the Horse Show Committee from 1992 through 1994. He remained involved over the next decade in various roles including Finance, Sponsorship and Marketing.

Known for his sharp mind, keen negotiating skills, wit and sense of fairness, Michael will be greatly missed by the horse industry, colleagues, family and friends.