Initiated in 1859 by the then president of the Toronto Turf Club, Sir Casimir Gzowski, the Queen's Plate was inaugurated on June 27, 1860, at the Carleton racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, with the prize of 50 guineas awarded by Queen Victoria. In 1902, the year after Victoria's death, the race became the King's Plate, after her successor, Edward VII. It became the Queen's Plate again when Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952.
Woodbine Racetrack hosted the race in 1876 and 1881 and then continuously from 1883 to 1955. The Queen's Plate has been running at Woodbine since 1956.
Avelino Gomez (1928 - June 21, 1980) was a Cuban-born Hall of Fame jockey in American and Canadian thoroughbred horse racing.
Born in Havana, Gomez began a career as a jockey at the urging of a family member. He won his first race in Mexico City and eventually moved on to the United States where he built a reputation as a very capable rider, gaining considerable attention after winning six races during one racecard at Ascot Park in Akron, Ohio. He eventually began riding at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, where he would make his home and raise his family and where he became a dominant force in racing for more than twenty years.
Canada's top jockey on seven occasions, in 1966 Gomez became the first jockey in Canadian racing history to win 300 races in a single season and his 318 wins that year was tops in North America. His win percentage for the 1966 season of .32 was the highest ever for a North American champion, a record that still stands. He was a four-time winner of Canada's most prestigious race, the Queen's Plate and the winner of the 1977 Sovereign Award for Outstanding Jockey.
In 1978, Avelino Gomez was recognized with the Sovereign Award of Merit for his lifetime contribution to the sport. He was elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1977, the U.S. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1982 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Avelino Gomez died of complications after a three-horse accident during the running of the Canadian Oaks in 1980. He had won 4,081 races with a 24% winning percentage.
The Avelino Gomez Memorial Award is given annually to the person, Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or regular rider in the country for more than five years, who has made significant contributions to the sport. A life-size statue of him can be seen at Woodbine Racetrack.
Edward Plunket Taylor, (January 29, 1901 - May 14, 1989) was a Canadian business tycoon and famous breeder of thoroughbred race horses. Known to his friends as "Eddie," he is universally recorded as "E. P. Taylor."
While a student at Montreal's McGill University in 1918, E. P. Taylor was introduced to the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing at Blue Bonnets Raceway. As a businessman in the 1930s he established Cosgrave Stable to race horses which notably owned and raced the future Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame filly, Mona Bell.
In the 1950s, E. P. Taylor and his wife, Winnifred, began breeding Thoroughbreds. Their involvement led to the acquisition of Parkwood Stable near Toronto and then Windfields Farm at Oshawa. The Taylor thoroughbred horse breeding operation produced Northern Dancer, the greatest sire of the 20th century. In 1970, he was the world's leading horse breeder measured by money won. He was president of the Ontario Jockey Club from 1953 to 1973 where he consolidated numerous money-losing tracks throughout the province into fewer, but viable businesses. He was voted thoroughbred racing's man of the year in 1973 and the following year was elected to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. In 1977 and 1983 he was named the winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder as the leading thoroughbred breeder in North America. Taylor's horses won 15 Queen's Plate races and were named Canadian Horse of the Year nine times. He was also a founder of the Jockey Club of Canada.
With 10,600+ races won and over $286 million in earnings, John Campbell holds a rock-solid place in the history books. He is one of only two Canadian drivers with American horses to win Sweden’s prestigious Elitlopp and has won every major US race, most of them multiple times.
Born in London, Ont., in 1955, Campbell grew up on his family’s farm in the tiny rural area of Nairn, near Ailsa Craig (northwest of London). He recorded his first driving victory at London’s Western Raceway, June 2, 1972, at age 17. In the mid-1970s, John moved on to Windsor Raceway. There, he trained a stable and drove regularly until January of 1978, when he moved to The Meadowlands. He has been in New Jersey ever since.
John Campbell was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal in 2000 for his commitment to the sport of harness racing by the Right Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Canada's Governor General. He was the youngest driver ever elected into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame, at age 35. He is also an honoured member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Northern Dancer (May 27, 1961 – November 16, 1990) was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and the most successful sire of the 20th Century. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association calls him "one of the most influential sires in Thoroughbred history".
A bay colt, Northern Dancer was by Nearctic and his dam Natalma was by the great Native Dancer. In 1952, Edward P. Taylor, Canadian business magnate and owner of Windfields Farm, had attended the December sale at Newmarket, England where he purchased Lady Angela, a mare in foal to leading English-based sire Nearco. The following spring, Taylor sent Lady Angela to be bred to Nearco once again, then shipped her to his farm in Canada later in 1953, and in 1954, Lady Angela foaled a colt in Canada named Nearctic who was voted the 1958 Sovereign Award for Horse of the Year.
At the yearling sales in Oshawa, Canada, the diminutive Northern Dancer didn't find a buyer at the $25,000 reserve price, so he eventually joined the Windfields Farm racing stable.
Northern Dancer was ridden by Ron Turcotte in his first victory as a two-year-old at Fort Erie Race Track. He won the Summer Stakes and the Coronation Futurity in Canada and the Remsen Stakes in New York. His record of seven victories in nine starts earned him the Canadian Juvenile Championship.
At three, Northern Dancer won the Grade I Flamingo Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby with jockey Bill Shoemaker aboard. Before the running of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, trainer Horatio Luro asked Shoemaker to make a commitment to ride Northern Dancer in the Kentucky Derby. But Shoemaker chose a colt he had never ridden named Hill Rise as his Derby mount. The unbeaten Hill Rise had an impressive campaign in California, winning the San Felipe Stakes and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. Shoemaker campaigned hard to get Hill Rise as his mount, believing the colt represented his best chance for a Derby win. As a result of Shoemaker's decision, Bill Hartack became Northern Dancer's permanent jockey and guided him to victories in the Blue Grass and the Kentucky Derby, winning the Derby over a fast closing Hill Rise in a record time that stood until it was broken by Secretariat in 1973. (Secretariat's record still stands). Hartack and Northern Dancer won the Preakness Stakes, and finished third in the Belmont Stakes to Quadrangle and Roman Brother. After the Belmont, Northern Dancer won Canada's Queen's Plate by seven and a half lengths before tenderness in his left front tendon ended his racing career. He was named North America's champion 3-year-old colt of 1964, and Canadian Horse of the Year.In his two years of racing, Northern Dancer won 14 of his 18 races and never finished worse than third. In The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Northern Dancer was ranked #43.
Roger L. Attfield (born November 28, 1939) A resident of Nobleton, Ontario, Roger Attfield won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Trainer a record six times. Of the seven horses who have won the Canadian Triple Crown, three were trained by Attfield. A winner of twenty Canadian Triple Crown races, he holds or equals the record for most wins in each of the three races. In 2001, he set a record for most wins by a trainer in the Breeders' Stakes and in 2005 set the record for trainers by winning his fifth Prince of Wales Stakes. At the 2008 Queen's Plate, Attfield tied the record with Harry Giddings, Jr. as a trainer with eight wins. This was his first win as an owner. Overall he has trained nearly forty Champions, six of which were voted Canadian Horse of the Year.
As the trainer for Kinghaven Farms, in 1990 his stable was the leading money winner in North America. In the United States, his horses race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, the Fair Grounds Race Course, in New Orleans, Louisiana and at the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. Attfield trained horse has won a number of important U.S. Stakes races including the 1995 Wood Memorial and Gotham Stakes.
Desmond Sanford "Sandy" Hawley, CM (born April 16, 1949 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) is a Hall of Fame jockey.
Sandy Hawley started his career as a 17-year-old boy, hotwalking horses at a Toronto racetrack. Two years later, he became a regular rider at racetracks in Ontario and then rode at racetracks on the East Coast of the United States. Hawley became the first jockey to ever lead the Canadian standings in a full season as an apprentice. In 1969, a time when there were no Sovereign or Eclipse Awards for jockeys, Hawley rode 230 winners, the most that year of any apprentice jockey in North America. He went on to race in the United States where he led all jockeys in victories for the years 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1976. In the 1973 season, he became the first jockey to ever win 500 races in one year, breaking Bill Shoemaker's record.
Racing in California, Hawley was named the winner of Santa Anita Park's prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. Given to a North American rider who demonstrates the highest of standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the racetrack, Hawley has had the lifelong reputation of being a gentleman and a man of honor. In 1976 he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States after he broke thoroughbred racing's all-time money-winning record for a single year.
As a boy growing up in Canada, Hawley developed a love for the game of ice hockey and while riding in California, he got an ice-level job as a penalty timekeeper for the home games of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, giving himself a great view of his favorite game.
He won the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1973 and 1976 as Canada’s top athlete and was decorated with the Order of Canada, his country’s highest individual civilian honor for outstanding accomplishments by a citizen. In addition to winning a large number of major Stakes races in the United States, four times he won Canada's most prestigious thoroughbred horse race, the Queen's Plate. Twice, Hawley won seven races in a single day at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack and at Santa Anita Park had six wins in a single day on two occasions. Hawley and Avelino Gomez each won the Coronation Futurity Stakes a record five times. Gomez won the race four years running between 1964 and 1967. Hawley won the race five out of six years between 1971 and 1976, his streak broken by Gomez's fifth win in 1972.
Hawley's best result in the Kentucky Derby was two third place finishes one of which was with Golden Act in 1979 aboard whom he finished second in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Overall, Sandy Hawley's career as a jockey spanned 31 years from 1968 to his retirement on July 1, 1998. He had 31,455 mounts, garnering 6,449 wins and won 18 riding titles at Woodbine Racetrack.
Sandy Hawley was voted the 1986 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award and that same year was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the United States National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1992 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.