Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Racetrack history from 'Hot~Walker'. - Greenwood and Woodbine Racetracks

Hot~Walker begins its racetrack ventures in 1965 at Greenwood Racetrack, a horse racing facility in Toronto, inaugurated in 1874 as Woodbine Race Course at the foot of Woodbine Avenue and Lake Ontario. The novel tells the story of the murder trial of Francine Harrison's fiance, an American draft dodger, John Mencini who trained thoroughbreds. 
Racing has had a long history in the Toronto area. In the early 1880s, Duggan founded the Ontario Jockey Club (OJC). Thoroughbred racing continued at Old Woodbine on a shortened six furlong (1,207 m) track and Harness races were conducted on the thoroughbred track, but serious problems with mud (including the starting gate being immobilized) led to the construction of a five-furlong (1006 m) stone dust harness track inside the thoroughbred track. This track was known for its tight turns and long back and homestretches.
In the early 1950s, the Ontario Jockey Club, led by directors E. P. Taylor, George C. Hendrie and J. E. Frowde Seagram, undertook an acquisition and consolidation program for southern Ontario racing. By 1956, the OJC operated a new facility for Thoroughbred horse races, which was constructed in Toronto suburbs, and given the name  New Woodbine Racetrack. This was the location and setting for the racehorse, SnoMann, and his big win in 1969,


The Old Woodbine facility was completely renovated and renamed Greenwood Raceway in 1963. It held both harness racing and thoroughbred racing meets until its closure at the end of 1993. Steeplechase races were held at Woodbine/Greenwood for a few years. 
In 1994, the thoroughbred and harness operations were moved to Woodbine. The stadium was demolished and replaced by residential and commercial development, including a betting parlour. Half of the property became Woodbine Park. It is the only horseracing track in North America which stages, or is capable of staging,thoroughbred and standardbred horseracing programs on the same day.