08/17/2010 2:06PM

Lawson heads class of five for Canadian Hall of Fame


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Mel Lawson, who at age 87 continues to enjoy success as an owner and breeder in Ontario, will be honored Thursday as one of this year’s inductees into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame gala will be held at the nearby Mississauga Convention Centre, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction. This year’s guest speaker will be Tim Steeves, a renowned stand-up comedian and comedy writer. Woodbine television host and analyst Jim Bannon will be the master of ceremonies.

Lawson, who was elected in the builder category, will be one of five Thoroughbred inductees along with trainer Frank Barroby, male horse Victory Gallop, female horse Lady Angela, and veteran horse Victorian Era.

The inductees were determined through the votes of the Hall of Fame’s 20-member election committee, who chose from a list of candidates submitted by the organization’s nomination committee. The nominees were announced on May 3, and the inductees on May 18.

Racing as Jim Dandy Stable, Lawson owned the multiple stakes winner and Sovereign Award winner Eternal Search and was the owner of homebred Sovereign Award champions Let’s Go Blue and Ginger Gold.

Smokey Fire and Utterly Cool, also homebred, have won stakes for Lawson at Woodbine this year.

Ghost Fleet, a younger half-brother to Smokey Fire and Utterly Cool, won two stakes last year and has been stakes-placed this season for Lawson and his longtime trainer Sid Attard.

Frank Barroby, still active at Vancouver’s Hastings, began his racing career as a jockey and recorded his first win in Winnipeg in 1961.

After competing throughout Western Canada and in Ontario, Barroby moved to Vancouver where he retired in 1976 and took up a training career.

Barroby, now 66, has been the leading trainer in Vancouver on three occasions and was inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame last December.

Victory Gallop, bred in Canada by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, did not race in his homeland but was a major stakes winner south of the border.

Trained by Elliot Walden, Victory Gallop won the 1998 Belmont to deny the Triple Crown bid of Real Quiet after finishing second to that rival in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The following year, Victory Gallop finished third in the Dubai Gold Cup and won the Stephen Foster and Whitney handicaps en route to an Eclipse Award as North America’s champion older male.

Lady Angela was stakes-placed in England before being purchased privately at auction by the late E.P. Taylor of Windfields Farm fame. Shipped to Canada, Lady Angela established a permanent niche in Canadian horse racing history as the dam of Nearctic.

A colt by Nearco, Nearctic was the sire of Northern Dancer, who was a champion on the racetrack and one of the breed’s premier influences as a stallion. Northern Dancer was among the inductees when the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Racing Hall of Fame was founded in 1976 and also was inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame at Saratoga the same year.

Victorian Era, who was trained by Lou Cavalaris, competed before Canada’s Sovereign Awards were established and won 18 stakes races during a four-year career which began in 1964.

Lou Cavalaris, himself a Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee, trained Victorian Era through campaigns that saw him voted Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion older horse in 1966 and a co-championship as top 3-year-old shared with Good Old Mort in 1965.

The Ontario Horse Racing Hall of Fame is located here at Woodbine, and four Standardbred inductees also will be recognized.