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Champions Required

The View

Heart. Determination. Grit. Tenacity. Desire. They are words not found on a pedigree page or in a sale catalogue.

Generally reserved for winner's circle interviews and end-of-year speeches, they are uttered about our champions. They are said about our victors, not our also-rans. Every breeder is hoping that their horse will possess these traits, and every owner and trainer is looking for something that will indicate these characteristics on the racetrack.

The term, "train the will" is something you may hear sports coaches and motivational speakers say. How do you teach the young hockey player to want it more than her rival? How do you teach the budding scientist to not only put the hours in at the lab, but think and dream about solving complex problems 24/7? And how do you teach the young racehorse to try a little bit harder? Some believe you can teach this. Others feel you are born with it.

Recently, I had the tremendous honour of being named President of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. At a reception to pay tribute to the Hall's most recent inductees, I looked out at the names and pictures that adorn the Hall of Fame walls, and I thought of the words I wrote at the beginning of this column.

It seems that virtually every horse and person in the Hall of Fame has gotten there by more than pedigree and talent alone.

When it comes to the horses, we consider it a given. The best breeding alone may make you a racehorse, but if an equine athlete is going to make a true impact on the sport, there has to be something else there.

When it comes to the builders of our industry, the ones who are the reason for us being here today, the same holds true. Those who have had the heart, determination, grit, tenacity and desire, have driven this sport and industry for the past 250 years. They have shaken things up when needed, pushed for change and growth, and fought for what is right.

Even those on the losing side of a battle generally help move things ahead by forcing others to think, re-think, evolve, and grow.

You and I may have completely diametric views on how to make things better in the sport, but both of us are more valuable to harness racing than those with the pedigree and conformation to make a difference, who choose to stay on the sidelines.

We are going through a time of change in this industry. We need more. More horses, owners, breeders, fans, bettors, young people, revenue, funding, excitement, energy… The list is endless.

How do we get it all done? Quite simple, really. We need more champions.

Darryl Kaplan
dkaplan@standardbredcanada.ca


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