Monday, 20 May 2013 12:30

Cardston racing in the 1950's

Written by Garry Allison - Rocky Mountain Turf Club
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The late Angus MacDonald, Ken and Anne Buxton celebrate 50 years in horse racing The late Angus MacDonald, Ken and Anne Buxton celebrate 50 years in horse racing

Back in "the day" even Cardston had a reputable race track, and the Cardston track attracted some of the top riders, trainers and owners through its history.

"July 15, 1950 was the first time I ever ran on the Cardston track," said longtime horseman Ken Buxton. "I went there especially to beat Tom Three Person's horse Cracker Jack. I believe most know Three Persons had the best string of race horses in southern Alberta in that era, and Cracker Jack was one of the best. I took Greydon Power to Cardston, the same horse I had won with at Millarville.

"Well, I beat Cracker Jack, but I didn't beat another horse and I ran second. I ran second in the Cardston Derby but we ran again the next day and we won... it was the era when we'd run the same horse two days in a row at these smaller meets." Ken had a real shock when he went to Cardston for the first time.

"It was the first time where I went into a town and there were no beer parlours. Anyway, this kid I had brought with me to ride Greydon Power and I were having a meal and were complaining to the waitress about the situation. She just smiled and told us her mom was a bootlegger.

"They ran a good meet in Cardston. The Cardston Derby paid $450 and the race I won paid $300 or $400, and that was as good as Lethbridge in those times.

"You know, when Three Persons died in 1949 it was just a few years later when racing ended in Cardston. I did go back to Cardston to race, but it was quite a distance from where I lived up at Bowden. The track at Cardston was just about where the fair grounds are now. It was a good track; as good as we had. I really had no complaints with it." He said Cardston had a white rail, inside and out and Ken recalls barns or sheds for the horses. At other spots horsemen would tie their prized race horses to a fence or to their vehicles as they arrived in town. There was a starting chute at each end of the Cardston track for a flying start.

The chute, for seven or five furlong races, was like a long horse stall, with no front or back. The horses moved into the chute and when they were calm, and lined up for the standing start, the starter dropped the flag. "The first time they ever used a starting gate on the bush was at Lake McGregor, about 1954 or 1955," said Ken. "People like Stan Marks and Phil Wiest got their starts on tracks like Lake McGregor." Ken said the race track at Macleod, where he ran once or twice, was just across the river and was a real good track.

"We (wife Anne and he) were in horse racing for a living and if we'd get outrun a few times we'd head out for an easier spot. In those days, and before that, there seemed to be a race track everywhere." Ken, who was a champion outrider at the Calgary Stampede, was also a jockey in his real early days. His first race was the year of a big party for the Queen's Coronation.

"It was 1936 at the old Innisfail Stampede, in the Shetland pony race. Dale Saunders was on his uncle's fast stud and Iris Glass was on an even bigger pony, and she won," Ken said with a laugh.

"I believe we got $3, $2 and everyone in the race got $1."


Read 2282 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 21:54