Five people and five horses have been elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year.
Thoroughbred inductees include Builder Sue Leslie, Jockey Gary Boulanger, Trainer Michael Keogh along with horses Tepin and Play the King.
Boulanger, a native of Drayton Valley, Alta., began his riding career in 1987, spending his early years at tracks in the U.S where he was frequently the leading rider at Longacres Racetrack and Calder Race Course (1994, 1995). In 2000, he returned to Canada, riding primarily at Woodbine, he would frequently get the call to ride for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Frostad.
In 2001, the top money-winning year of his career, he rode Sam-Son Farm’s Hall of Fame filly Dancethruthedawn to wins in the Canadian Oaks and the Queen’s Plate.
In 2005, Boulanger suffered what could have been a career-ending injury in a racing accident at Gulfstream Park. His return to the track came in 2013 when he began to pick up rides for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse.
Gary continues to ride, splitting his time between Florida and Woodbine, and is considered an elder statesman in the jockeys room. The 2017 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient has won 3,610 races, including 41 grades stakes, and earnings just shy of $80 million US.
Keogh is a two-time winning Queen’s Plate trainer, first with Woodcarver in 1999 and then with Triple Crown champion Wando in 2003.
During that Triple Crown-winning season, Keogh was also training stablemate Mobil, who would earn a Sovereign Award at age four.
Since 1993, Keogh’s stats include 2,689 starts with 330 wins and over $21.5 million in earnings.
Leslie has dedicated the better part of her life to the sport of horse racing — breeding, owning and training thoroughbred horses in Ontario for almost 40 years. Positions she has held, both past and current, include president/chair of the Horsemen’s benevolent and protection society of Ontario, president/chair of Ontario horse racing industry alliance, director on the Avelino Gomez memorial foundation, director of LongRun thoroughbred retirement society, as well as being a member of the Jockey Club of Canada and Canadian thoroughbred horse society. In 2011, Leslie was honoured with a special Sovereign Award for her work.
Tepin, given the nickname ‘Queen of the Turf’, spent most of her racing career under the direction of Woodbine’s leading trainer Casse and the ownership of Robert Masterson.
Racing from ages three to six, the striking bay filly accumulated a record of 13-5-1, including nine Grade 1/Group 1 wins or placings in three countries — Canada, England and the U.S.
In 2015 she won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) against the boys. The following year, in what would be her final year of racing, she travelled to England and won the prestigious Group One Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Her final career win came in the 2016 Woodbine Mile (G1) when she put an exclamation mark on her career with a half-length win, again over the boys.
Play the King, conditioned throughout his four-year career by Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield for breeder/owner Kinghaven Farms of King City, made 29 starts with 19 trips to the winners’ circle and earned just shy of $1 million.
Play the King’s stakes success began at age four with a win in the Toboggan Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct, and was followed by wins in the Jacques Cartier, Vigil Handicap and the Toronto Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Woodbine, as well as wins in the Highlander Handicap, the Suffolk Sprint in Boston (G3) and finally the Nearctic Stakes (G3), to earn him the 1987 Sovereign Award for champion older male horse and champion sprinter.
The following year brought repeat wins in the Nearctic Stakes (G3) at Woodbine and the Toronto Budweiser Breeders’ Cup before making his most noted performance, the Breeders Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Representing standardbreds in the class of 2020 is driver Paul MacDonell, trainer Ben Wallace, female horse Amour Angus, male horse McWicked and veteran horse Rambling Willie.
Guelph native MacDonell’s driving career is highlighted by both consistency and superstars, with earnings surpassing $1 million for 33 consecutive years, due in part to piloting such horses as Hall of Fame Honoured Members Somebeachsomewhere, Admirals Express and Invitro.
Wallace, a native of Puslinch, Ont., honed his training skills working for Hall of Famers Keith Waples and the late Bill Wellwood before striking out on his own.
He trained 1999 pacing Triple Crown winner and Canadian horse racing hall of fame member Blissfull Hall, Breeders Crown winners Totally Western (2002), Pans Culottes (2003), as well as a list of million-dollar-plus winners including Apprentice Hanover, Easy Lover Hanover, Zooka, Cam Swifty, Camotion and Lookout Victory.
Awarded an O’Brien as Canada’s trainer of the year in 1999, Wallace has recorded 1,947 wins and more than $38 million in purses, surpassing the million dollar mark in 18 consecutive seasons (1996-2013).