As 2015 comes to a close we take the time to reflect on this year’s racing season at Kawartha Downs, and all of the wonderful moments captured on Saturday nights throughout the summer. Highlights of the season, in chronological order, were:
Gord Brown Night
The season got underway on May 30 with Gord Brown Night. Perennially the leading driver at Kawartha, Gord had achieved a milestone of 4,000 lifetime wins earlier in the year and the evening helped celebrate that achievement and his career to date. By the end of the 2015 season, Gord was once again at the top of the KD drivers’ leaderboard.
Celebration of the Horse
The beautiful Standardbred horse is celebrated every race night at Kawartha, but this night they were shown in a different fashion, being ridden in a race rather than driven. The Racing Under Saddle race was very popular with our racing fans and was captured by Massive Muscles ridden by Sophie Engerran.
In addition to the RUS event, Grace Junkin brought a pair of miniature horses to the track to give fans an opportunity to see the tiny version of what we consider the perfect animal.
Anniversary Night/Ontario Sires Stakes
Kawartha hosted its only OSS event, a Grassroots for three-year-old trotting colts with five divisions, in addition to celebrating the track’s anniversary of 43 years of live racing. We were fortunate to have Carolyn and Lloyd Nugent with us this evening to lead several of the post parades with two of their retired trotters they show at the Royal Winter Fair.
Local horseman Dagfin Henriksen set the tone winning the first OSS split with Tswalu. This was also the only opportunity this year for Kawartha fans to see Alfie Carroll in action. The driver, based in Southwestern Ontario, did not disappoint, winning half of the races on the 10 race card, including three of the OSS races. Carroll ended 2015 as the winningest driver in Canada.
Family Fun Night
The largest crowd of the 2015 season descended upon Kawartha Downs on the long weekend in August to celebrate Family Fun Night. The very popular Hands On Horses was on track giving many happy race goers a tour of the racetrack behind one of our magnificent Standardbred horses. The kids also enjoyed balloon animals, face painting, bouncy castle and the kids activity room which is open every race night with lots of fun games and activities for the youngsters as well as free drinks and snacks.
Inaugural Goodtimes Invitational
Kawartha Downs introduced the Goodtimes Invitational to honour the iconic trotter Goodtimes who started and ended his incredible career at KD. A winner of more than $2 million in his career, Goodtimes is now a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Posters, signed by the 24 year-old Goodtimes himself, were distributed that evening. Goodtimes’ owner and trainer John Bax, his driver Dave Wall and caretaker Julie Morrison Kangas joined us and made the trophy presentation to the winner of the event Rose Run Oriana.
Two race nights, September 12 and 26, were dedicated to memorial evenings. Each race was named in honour of a much loved person or horse who made a contribution to Kawartha Downs. Those honoured were: Ruby Brown, Leona Wright, Ernie & Billie Brown, Doreen & Eric Brock, Ron Luke, Bruce Adams, Earl & Marjorie Shea & Marlene Hie, Ann & Tom Gratton, Mopey Corey, Ivan Johnson, Guy LaRush, Judy Brown, Brenna Leigh Seeley, Roger Hie, James McIntyre & John Fry, Billyjojimbob and Stan Brown.
San Pail Retirement
Kawartha Downs was extremely honoured to celebrate the career of the outstanding trotter San Pail whose retirement from racing was announced earlier in 2015. Trained and co-owned by local horseman Rod Hughes, San Pail led the post parade for the race named in his honour and then stood patiently for several hours as race fans visited him in the backstretch. The Horse of the Year in Canada and the US (a very rare feat) in 2011, winner of $3.1 million, will inevitably be enshrined in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “We end where we started,” said Hughes simply of the official retirement party for his superstar.
On our final night of racing for 2015, we had the opportunity to thank our fans, horse people and staff for another excellent season of racing. Lots of prize draws, giveaways for the kids and adults in addition to the exciting 2015 Kawartha Downs’ Drivers’ Challenge, a six race contest won by Tony Kerwood.
Everyone at Kawartha exends sincere appreciation to all of our talented trainers and drivers, our horse owners, our loyal and new fans, our hard working staff and, most importantly, the horses who put on the show, for another fantastic season of racing.
2016 Racing Season
Our tentative schedule for 2016 calls for racing to start on Saturday, May 28 and continue every Saturday through October 1 (excluding September 17). Post time is always 7 p.m.
Happy New Year!
Photos from 2015 are available on our Kawartha Downs Facebook Page