On Thursday night the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its 2011 class at an induction ceremony and dinner held at the Mississauga Convention Centre. There were 15 new members voted into the Hall this year, seven equine, four human, and four historic. The theme for the event was Northern Dancer's 50th birthday, with the rooms decorated in his racing silk colors and a display of items related to him. They had his foal registration from the Jockey Club, his official hand filled-in race record, his plaque from the US Hall of Fame, the sales catalog where he went unsold as a yearling, a statue of him, the vet records of his dam Natalma from the year he was born, his foaling record from Winfields Farm, and his plaque from the Canadian Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame was founded in 1976 with an inaugural class of 44 members, but went 20 years without a home until August 1997 when Woodbine provided a permanent site without cost, located at the west end of the building. Along with the panels on the walls dedicated to each member, visitors can see unique, rarely seen memorabilia, including trophies, antique racing programs, winning jockey silks, bronzed horseshoes and a multi-wall mural that shows how this exciting sport has become what is today. A statue of Northern Dancer will Bill Hartack in the irons greets visitors just entering the doors.
Before the ceremonies began, arriving guests participated in a silent auction to support to Hall of Fame, followed by a live auction. There were 40 silent auction items, including paintings, prints, racing memorabilia, and other items donated for the event. There were three live auction items, including an artist's proof of a portrait of Northern Dancer which sold for $2500, a Sadler's Wells halter which brought $2000, and a breeding season for Langfuhr which sold for $7500.
Along with the 11 inducted on Thursday, four "Legends" were inducted in a special ceremony at the Hall of Fame on May 25. The Eel was a leading pacer in the early 20th century setting world records on ice and on 1/2 mile tracks. Thomas H. Burns was the leading jockey in North America in 1898 and 1899, and his 277 win record in 1989 would be unmatched until Bill Shoemaker in 1953. Lily A. Livingston inherited Rancocas Farm in New Jersey in 1901, and then moved to Ontario to build Pontiac Stock Farms in Cobourg where two of her horses won the King's Plate. W.J. Hyatt was an entrepreneur in roofing and transportation before purchasing Bob Lee, who became the centerpiece of his racing and breeding enterprise. He also founded the Supertest Stakes series for Canadian-bred juveniles.
After being introduced by master of ceremonies Jim Bannon, inductees were invited on stage to be presented with Hall of Fame rings for the humans and crystal trophies for the horses.