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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

KEITH WAPLES

Inducted in 1973

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 8, 1923
Place of Birth: Victoria Harbour, Ontario
Sport: Horse Racing
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1962

First Roosevelt International Trot victory with Canadian-owned horse, Tie Silk

1967

Record 246 wins on Canadian race tracks

1972

First $100,000 victory in Canada with Strike Out

First Little Brown Jug with wholly-Canadian owned horse, Strike Out

Winner, Adios Pace, the Prix d'Ete, and the Tattersalls Pace with Strike Out

 

Honoured Member KEITH WAPLES
Inspire

Story

If Keith Waples was not the leading North American harness racer, it was by choice. He competed almost entirely in the Ontario Golden Horseshoe circuit, with only occasional forays into the U.S. Grand Circuit. Had he ventured further afield, he could have enjoyed even greater success, for within Canada he was considered the master of harness racing. Herve Filion, one of the most world's most prolific drivers, once said: "For me, the driver's driver is Keith Waples. I've been studying Keith for years." Indeed, Filion was known to jump his sulky sideways and edge his trotter through a gap in the field, a technique he picked up from Waples. Waples grew up in Victoria Harbour, Ontario, not far from the farm of J.T. Payette, one of Canada's leading standard breeders at the time. His father was a harness racing enthusiast, and together he and Payette fostered a growing love for the race track in young Keith. He drove his first race in 1936 at the age of 12 and won three heats, thus beginning a lifetime of success in the sulky. The first milestone in Waples's career came on Montreal's Richelieu Park track in 1959 when he clocked 1:59.3 with Mighty Dudley, Canada's first sub 2-minute time for the mile. In 1962, he drove the first Canadian-owned horse, Tie Silk, to victory at Roosevelt Raceway's International Trot Classic, and in 1967, he registered a record 246 wins on Canadian tracks. With Strike Out, one of his most successful steeds, Waples claimed Canada's first $100,000 trotting race at Montreal's Blue Bonnets Raceway, in 1972. That same year, Strike Out, with Waples in the sulky, became the first wholly Canadian-owned winner of the prestigious Little Brown Jug. Together, they also claimed the Adios Pace, the Prix d'Été, and the Tattersalls Pace that same season. In 1970, Waples and a few friends opened their own racetrack at Orangeville, Ontario. With the added responsibilities of owner, trainer, and racetrack manager, he still managed to maintain a stellar competitive record. Going into the 1973 season, he was credited with 2,377 winners in his career with total earnings of over $3.5 million, figures which do not include numerous victories on small Ontario tracks that were never officially recorded. In 1973 and 1974, he won a number of major three-year old pacing stakes with Rob Ron Ritzar, Kawartha Ilene, and Albert's Star. In 1976, Waples and one of his Orangeville Raceway partners, Jim Keeling, founded the Cloverdale Raceway in Surrey, B.C. Together they established harness racing on the west coast and helped it grow into a successful sport. In total, Waples won more than 3,000 races over the course of his brilliant career, ran more than 30 sub-two-minute miles, and collected purses exceeding $5 million. He was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1978.


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