08/24/2006 11:00PM

Stavro's many efforts honored


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - A sellout crowd of 430 was on hand Thursday evening as the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its 2006 inductees at the nearby Mississauga Convention Centre.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, marking its 30th anniversary, honored five newcomers on the Thoroughbred side: the late Steve Stavro, trainers Jim Day and David Cross, and the horses Lauries Dancer and Bold Ruckus.

Inductees gained entrance either by receiving 75 percent of the vote from the Hall of Fame's selection committee or the veterans committee, which was the case with Cross.

Jim Bannon, Woodbine handicapper-analyst and television host, was the master of ceremonies, and comedian Gordon Paynter and retired riding legend Pat Day were guest speakers.

The climax of the evening was the induction of Stavro, who earned a spot in the Hall of Fame's "builder" category on the strength of his contributions as an owner and breeder and in various industry roles.

Glenn Sikura, himself an owner and breeder and president of the local Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, presented the signature Hall of Fame ring to Elaine Stavro, one of Stavro's daughters, who acted as the family spokeswoman.

"My father used to say you can buy a winner, but to breed one is the real challenge," said Stavro. "His legacy is still with us."

Steve Stavro, racing under the nom du course Knob Hill Stable with his wife, Sally, campaigned numerous stakes-winning homebreds, including Benburb and Thornfield, both Canadian horses of the year.

Jim Day, an Olympic gold medal winner in equestrian competition before he turned his attention to Thoroughbreds in the late 1970's, received his ring from Pat Day, who now works with the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.

"I've been associated with a lot of horsemen in my career, and I'd put him up against anyone," said Pat Day.

The trainer and jockey teamed up on several noteworthy occasions in the early 1990's with Dance Smartly and Sky Classic, both of whom were Eclipse Award winners during Jim Day's long association with Sam-Son Farm and the late Ernie Samuel.

"I think behind every successful trainer has to be very good horses," said Jim Day, who won four Sovereign Awards as outstanding trainer and has trained five Canadian horses of the year, including four for Sam-Son.

Cross trained Sunny's Halo, winner of the 1983 Kentucky Derby and Canada's champion 2-year-old of 1982. Shirley Foster, wife of Sunny's Halo's owner, the late Pud Foster, was the presenter.

Lauries Dancer, owned and bred by the Angus Glen Farm of the late Arthur and Helen Stollery, won the Canadian Oaks, Alabama, and Delaware Oaks en route to being voted Canada's Horse of the Year in 1971.

Bold Ruckus, one of Canada's all-time leading stallions whose progeny include millionaires Beau Genius, Kiridashi, Bold Ruritana, and Krz Ruckus, died at age 20 in 1996.

The Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, a dual-breed facility located here at Woodbine, also welcomed six new Standardbred inductees: Run the Table, Armbro Feather, As Promised, driver-trainers Doug Brown and Jacques Hebert, and Armbro Emerson, who was the choice of the veterans committee.

Run the Table, a 22-year-old champion pacer and stallion, was led through the crowded dining room and posed for pictures in front of the podium before returning to his temporary stall outside the building.