10 • A GUIDE TO THOROUGHBRED OWNERSHIP IN CANADA “If we use the right methods in Canada, that is proper feeding, proper exercising and constant effort to adjust what horses suffer from, there is no reason why, in time, Canadian-breds should not rank right up there with the best in the world.” E.P.
TAYLOR C ANADA’S PROUD TRADITION While the birthplace of the Thoroughbred is Newmarket, England, in modern times, no country has had a greater influence on the Thoroughbred breed than Canada.
Canada’s prominence on the international stage of Thoroughbred breeding is due, for the most part, to Edward ‘E.P.’ Taylor.
Master of Windfields Farm, the world’s most successful breeder of Thoroughbreds, Taylor founded the Jockey Club of Canada in 1973.
Taylor was, however, influenced by Montreal sportsman J.K.L.
Ross, Canada’s most prominent Thoroughbred figure in the early part of the twentieth century.
For several years running, Ross was leading owner of Thoroughbreds in North America.
His horse, Sir Barton, reigns as the first winner of the U.S.
Triple Crown races: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.
The year was 1919.
In the fall of 1918, seventeen-year-old Edward Taylor arrived in Montreal to study engineering.
Inspired by Ross, who was also proprietor of Blue Bonnets race track, this was the golden age of Thoroughbred racing in Montreal.
Like almost everyone else in the vibrant city, young Taylor became caught up in all the A GUIDE TO THOROUGHBRED OWNERSHIP IN CANADA • 11 excitement created by Sir Barton and the fun and glamour of horse racing.
Several years later Taylor returned to his family home in Ottawa with a degree in mechanical engineering and an unbridled passion for Thoroughbreds.
Taylor’s influence on the breed is vast.
His horse Nearctic is the patriarch of the most inf luential sire line in modern Thoroughbred history.
In the Spring of 2002 the blood of Nearctic could be found in almost seventy-five percent of Thoroughbred foals around the world.
Most responsible for this phenomenon is Nearctic’s preeminent son, Northern Dancer, who not only won the Kentucky Derby in record time, but proved to be an extraordinary sire.
Northern Dancer’s most exceptional son and Canada’s greatest racehorse was Nijinsky, winner of the British Triple Crown (Two Thousand Guineas, English Derby and St.
Leger Stakes) in 1970, and voted Horse of the Century in Great Britain.
In 1977, Canadian-bred The Minstrel became the second son of Canada’s Northern Dancer to win the English Derby.
The English Derby is considered the race that defines the Thoroughbred.
One and a half miles of twists, turns, hills and dales it is the world’s most demanding course.
In 1984, two more Northern Dancer sons, Secreto and El Gran Senor, crossed the famous English Derby finish almost in tandem.
In addition to Northern Dancer, Sunny’s Halo was another Canadian-bred Kentucky Derby winner.
Victory Gallop (another Ontario foal), defeated a potential triple crown winner in the Belmont. 12 • A GUIDE TO THOROUGHBRED OWNERSHIP IN CANADA QUEEN’S PLATE Thoroughbred racing in Canada evolved from contests held in the tiny British garrison towns and fortresses along the St.
Lawrence River and the Great Lakes.
The Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most prestigious horse race—and the oldest annual horse race in North America—was run for the first time in 1836 at the village of Trois-Rivières on the St.
Conducted under royal patronage, it was called the King’s Plate, for William IV, reigning British monarch.
In 1859, the Toronto Turf Club petitioned his successor, Queen Victoria, to bestow a similar honour upon its organization.
Queen Victoria granted the request and split the annual purse of 100 guineas between the two events.
Over the next twenty years, the Queen’s Plate was staged in a variety of villages across Ontario and seldom without incident.
Drinking, carousing and brawling were the norm.
The melees invariably spilled out on to the track and occasionally someone would be run over.
Finally Sir Casimir Gzowski, Canada’s aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria, convinced the British monarch that to be conducted favorably the race needed a permanent home and it has been run under the auspices of the Woodbine Entertainment Group (formerly known as the Ontario Jockey Club) ever since.
Many of Canada’s outstanding Thoroughbreds have won the Queen’s Plate—Bunty Lawless, Canadian Champ, Victoria Park, Canadiana, Kennedy Road, Northern Dancer, Flaming Page, Awesome Again—to name but a few.
Consequently, you will notice that many premier Canadian races are named after these magnificent Thoroughbreds.
Should your horse win the Queen’s Plate don’t expect to receive a plate.
The trophy is a twelve-inch high gold cup.
The practice of awarding ‘plates’ as racing prizes began with Charles II—the size A GUIDE TO THOROUGHBRED OWNERSHIP IN CANADA • 13 of the plate indicating the importance of the race.
Eventually plates gave way to trophies of varying shapes and sizes and metals. CANADA’S TRIPLE CROWN
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