Thursday, June 3, 2010

Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

On the evening of June 2, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Woodbine Racetrack hosted a wine and cheese reception to introduce its 2010 inductees and to unveil display cases for Hall of Fame members Hugo Dittfach and Gustav Schickedanz.

The event began with a video tribute to the 2009 and 2010 inductees. Each human and horse were honoured with a few seconds of video clip displaying their character or greatest moments. After a few words from Woodbine handicapper Jim Bannon and new Hall of Fame president John Stapleton, the display cases honouring Dittfach and Schickedanz were unveiled.

Dittfach, an inductee of 1983, strung together a career that made him one of the foremost jockeys in Canadian Thoroughbred racing history. A winner of 4,000 races, Dittfach was a leading rider across the country, picking up titles in Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Ontario. Dittfach won the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s premier race and North America’s oldest continually run Thoroughbred race, in 1961. Among his accolades are a Sovereign Award as leading Canadian rider, and the 1991 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.

Schickedanz, a longtime Ontario owner and breeder, was inducted into the Hall in 2009. Schickedanz’s horses call Schonberg Farm in Schomberg, Ontario their home, but the 81-year-old Schickedanz’s success has extended across the world. Most notably the breeder of multiple grade I winner and leading sire Langfuhr and his champion sons Wando and Mobil, Schickedanz is the only Canadian to have bred the winners of the Kentucky Oaks (Gal in a Ruckus), and the Arlington Million (Jambalaya).

The 2010 induction ceremony will take place on August 19 at the Mississauga Convention Centre. Leading this year’s inductees is Victory Gallop, the Canadian-bred winner of the 1998 Belmont Stakes. Victory Gallop, bred in Ontario by Ivan Dalos, placed second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. The son of Cryptoclearance won an Eclipse award in 1999 as champion Older Male.

Also to be honoured in the horses category are Lady Angela and Victorian Era, both long overdue for recognition. Lady Angela is best known as the dam of Nearctic, sire of Northern Dancer. Victorian Era was Canada’s Horse of the Year in 1966.

Also worth noting is Mel Lawson, who, like Schickedanz, is a veteran contributor to the industry with his Jim Dandy Stables. Lawson has campaigned Sovereign Award winners Eternal Search, Let’s Go Blue, and Ginger Gold during his nearly 50 years in the industry.

From the standpoint of an industry participant and fan, and having worked for Schickedanz for nearly five years, the reception provided for a very enjoyable evening. The Hall of Fame looks better than ever, with enough well thought out and interesting displays to keep any racing enthusiast busy for hours.

For more information and a complete list of 2010 inductees, visit

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