Under a cloudy sky with a cold north wind sweeping across the track the racing season opened in Springhill on May 24th, with over 600 paid admissions. The attendance was considered good under the circumstances.
Tribute to the Late T.B. Ryan
During the afternoon on behalf of the Racing Association, Dr. Dougan paid tribute to the late T.B. Ryan.
“As we open this track for the 1949 racing season we are reminded of a man who passed away since we last met here; a man who helped to measure and lay out this track; a man whose interest in racing did much to keep the sport alive in this community. In memory of the late T.B. Ryan we ask you to rise and observe one minute’s silence.”
It was a fine gesture in memory of a man who throughout the years did much to promote horse racing here.
Dr. F.C. Dougan of Charlottetown officiated as starter and announcer, but despite his sharp and pointed criticism, which won applause from the fans, it took nearly four hours to complete the program. The drivers, particularly, came in for sharp criticism which should do much to improve racing from the point of view of the spectators. Delay in getting the horses on the track for the various heats also irked the started and he voiced his feelings very clearly. Beating the pole horse to the wire as they scored brought threats of a $10.00 fine, but the drivers were careful not to disobey their orders a second time.
Pari – Mutuels Paid Well
In the early races the pari-mutuels paid well. Dick Budlong owned by Don Macaulay and driven by Ripley, took the first head in the No. 1 classified, paying $11.50. In the No. 2 classified, Billy Bishop, owned and driven by Randy Clark, took the first heat and paid $19.50. This was topped in the No. 3 Classified when Betty Brown drove Joan Frisco to victory and paid $20. – the biggest pay-off of the afternoon.
Accidents Delay Program
While there were broken wheels during the afternoon, only one serious accident happened when Earl McCarthy, behind Audrey Dawn, ran into Ed. Ridgeway and smashed both bikes. The drivers were tossed high in the air but neither were seriously injured. McCarthy was having trouble handling Audrey Dawn and on another occasion was warned by the Judge when he narrowly averted a second accident.
Peter Budlong Still Good
Peter Budlong, owned by Don Macauley and driven by Ripley, took three straight heats in the Free For All, but was pressed by Peter Brooke, owned and driven by M. Trenholm of Port Elgin. Breeze Hanover, owned by the Moncton Club and driven by T. Etter, was third.
Dick Budlong Takes Three
Don Macauley’s Dick Budlong left no doubt of his mastery in the No. 1 Classified as he took three straight heats. He was hard pressed by Louise Fingo, owned by S. Horseman of Moncton, who provided the fans with the best thrill of the afternoon as he made his drive down the stretch. Dick Budlong won by only half a length and had to be right under the wire to be certain who was the victor. These two horses were well matched.
Billy Bishop Shows Improvement
Billy Bishop, owned and driven by Randy Clark, won the plaudits of the fans as he captured the first two heats, falling back to second position in the third. Mike Casey’s Pearl Direct, also made a good showing with two seconds and a third. Rhodes Letcher’s Haliburton, now on the pace, got away to two bad starts, but came into his own in the third heat when he led the field to the wire.
In the No. 3 Classified Betty Brown guided Joan Frisco to the pole at the eight mile mark and was never headed. In the next two heats Joan Frisco acted up and fell back. Coal Dale, owned by A. Arseneau of River Hebert, and driven by Burbine, took the second heat and was second in the third, showing much promise. Rosie Volo, owned by Rayworth and Goodwin of Moncton and driven by T. Etter, took the third heat.
Pat Crowe is a member of the Springhill Heritage Group. To learn more or read past article of the Heritage Corner, visit www.springhillheritage.ca.