“Driving rain, chilling wind, sodden lawns and muddy course, a combination of conditions most unsuitable to racing, failed altogether to prevent a great throng of holidaymakers attending the opening of the Ontario Jockey Club’s meeting at Woodbine Park on Saturday. Intermittent showers of Friday night and early Saturday morning gave no promise of a “pretty day,” but racegoers were not deterred, and, regardless of conditions, were there to the number of more than twenty-thousand. It was striking testimony to the popularity of racing.
Dame Fashion could not be denied, and went on parade despite the oppressive grey gloom which overspread the landscape. There was an incongruous display of modish gowns, fur coats, straw hats, oilskin “slickers,” new spring finery for both sexes, not to mention umbrellas, which added to the “low visibility.” The tea rooms and lunch counters plunged into the category of “big business” for the afternoon, while the cold-drink attendance shivered in their loneliness. The day was ruinous to fine footwear and dainty gowns, cloaks and millinery, but it was King’s Plate day, and nothing else mattered.
The victory of the Seagram Stables’ Haplite in the Plate was not altogether unexpected. The chief diversion of the crowd seemed to find something to beat the Waterloo color-bearers. The Riverdale Stables’ Attack ran gallantly, and was just half a length behind the winner, but the others were beaten off. Charles Millar’s Taurus was third by ten lengths, with J. C. Fletcher’s Davenport three lengths in rear of the Millar candidate.
It was the sixty-seventh running of the Canadian racing classic, and a field of fourteen Ontario-bred horses reported to the starter. The riders wore “mud colors” instead of the brilliant new silks usually seen in the Plate, and added to the sombre note occasioned by the murk and lowering skies. There is something magnetic about the King’s Plate, and it is doubtful whether any other event, racing or other sport or recreation, would have drawn out so finely representative a throng of spectators as the contest for the 50 guineas donated by his Majesty the King, the $10,000 added by the club and the plate itself. The “King’s Plate” is a bauble the intrinsic value of which is comparatively little, a cup of plain design with a suitable inscription, but it is the most-coveted prize in all Canadian racing.
The entries closed on March 15, with 40 Province-breds in the list. Their preparation and condition have engrossed the attention of owners, trainers and caretakers throughout the winter and spring. All this effort, all these hopes, everything for which the thousands ignored the rain and cold, were decided in less than two minutes of actual racing. But the tradition and sentiment and the sporting instinct make King’s Plate day one of red letters throughout the Dominion. Visitors came from far and near in Ontario, and other parts of Canada and the United States.
The colorful spectacle of the Viceregal entry was missing owing to the absence of Lord and Lady Byng in Western Canada. Lieut. Governor and Mrs. Cockshutt attended in semi-state, and witnessed the running of the Plate from the stewards’ stand.
The races which preceded the Plate event, keenly exciting though they were, were viewed with some impatience by most of the spectators, who were there to see the Province-breds strive for mastery. There was a delay of five or six minutes at the starting gate. Attack was away sharply, and Jockey Mooney took her slightly to the front in the rail position rounding the first turn in the mile and an eighth journey. She opened up a length and a half going up the back stretch, where Jockey Erickson, on Haplite, moved up, and then restrained his mount, content to follow Attack’s pace.
Once straightened in the home stretch, Haplite was sent up with Attack, and the pair battled head and head to the finish. The Seagram gelding showed in front at the sixteenth pole, and gradually wore down the tiring Riverdale Stables’ candidate. The latter bore out toward the middle of the track near the finish, but did not interfere materially with Haplite.
Meanwhile the others were struggling for third and fourth places. Mr. Millar’s Taurus closed stoutly at the head of the stretch, but tired in the run home. Davenport, the fourth horse, was shut off at the first turn, and made up much ground in the final six furlongs, but was unable to get up with the front runners.
The net value of the race to the Seagram Stables is $7,550; to the Riverdale Stables, $1,500; to Mr. Millar, $1,000, and to Mr. Fletcher, $500. The winner is by Hapsburg-Letty Lind. Her dam was imported from England in foal. Attack is by Atwell-Gallant Foe. Taurus is a son of the imported Sobieski-Troutling, while Davenport is by the King’s horse, Anmer, now in this country; dam, Pampinea.” (Frederick Wilson / The Toronto Globe, 05/24/1926)