Greg Blanchard picks Somebeachsomewhere’s 2007 victory as his personal favourite from nearly 20 years of Grand River Raceway’s Battle of Waterloo.
ELORA, ON — Racetrack executive, announcer and all-round harness racing fan Greg Blanchard says Grand River Raceway’s Battle of Waterloo has been the springboard for some of the best horses the sport has ever seen, none bigger than Somebeachsomewhere who launched his Hall of Fame career at the Elora track in 2007.
“He really turned heads in the elimination. It was his first start ever. He set the Canadian record and he really stamped himself. In the final, he had a tougher trip that day, but was very impressive once again. Just to see what he went on to do after and follow his career so closely from then on makes that Battle for me probably the most special one I’ve seen,” Blanchard said.
Monday night Grand River Raceway will play host to another group of future stars with two eliminations for the 17th edition of the Battle of Waterloo, as well as three eliminations for its companion race for fillies, the Battle of the Belles. Blanchard will be at the track Monday interviewing winners, continuing a personal connection to Grand River’s signature race that goes back some 15 years.
“I just like kind of the down home atmosphere. It’s grassroots racing meets big league,” Blanchard said. “It’s a fun day out for kids and adults alike. You get to see great racing, as well. Great food and it promotes the best of Ontario harness racing.”
The $180,000 Battle of Waterloo final for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing colts and the $120,000 Battle of the Belles final for Ontario-sired two-year-old pacing fillies will be contested as part of the track’s 24th annual Industry Day afternoon card on the Aug. 5 Civic Holiday Monday.
Blanchard the Raceway Manager at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, and Dresden Raceway, says he’s learned a lot from Grand River.
“I would say the way they’ve really tried to go above and beyond in creating a fun experience for fans,” Blanchard said. “We’ve adopted a similar approach (at Western Fair) where we have some fun, interactive contests for the fans and try and get them engaged and make it more of an experience, some value added for them when they come to the track.”
The sharing of ideas between tracks has been enhanced this year with the establishment of a Standardbred Alliance of, mostly, smaller Ontario harness tracks that includes Western Fair and Grand River. Blanchard said he’s excited and optimistic about “the sharing of ideas and resources and some of the brainpower that everybody brings to the table. Ourselves, Grand River and the other tracks in the alliance, we’re all unique. We all do some things well and maybe need help in some other areas. So, that’s what excites me is we’re going to get to closely share our ideas and resources and work together for the overall betterment of the industry.”
In the meantime, Blanchard will take a moment to appreciate all that is great about the Battle of Waterloo.
To hear our conversation with Greg Blanchard — including what song he kills with in karaoke — check out our weekly podcast, the Harness Racing Report, produced for Grand River Raceway by award-winning journalist Dave Briggs, at https://soundcloud.com/grandriverraceway