sunset with wiener dogs race to finish line with fans cheering

Rozema’s Round Up -July

Written by: Chad Rozema, Grand River Raceway Manager


We have reached the midway point of our 2023 racing season, having concluded the month of July with eliminations for our signature events, the Battle of Waterloo presented by Winbak Farms and the Battle of the Belles. Wagering showed further growth in July with the all-sources handle totaling $3,881,265, an increase of 22% compared to July 2022. The per race average was more than $29,000 for the 13 race cards contested. The Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools remain solid averaging $6,185 and $7,269, respectfully.

The race for top dash driver continues to be a good one with Colin Kelly (26) taking a two-win lead over Travis Henry (24), thanks to a strong back half in July that saw the reinsman win 21% of the time. Anthony Haughan’s 23 wins have him right on the leader’s heals with Brett MacDonald (19) and Jason Ryan (18) lurking nearby. Jodie Cullen, the defending top trainer at Grand River kicked off the month sending out 4 winners on the July 3rd program and hasn’t looked back, sitting atop the leaderboard with 13 wins. Brett Lester (9), Jake Roberts (8), Lori Lepage (8), and Anthony Beaton (6) round out the top 5.

Fireworks erupted a couple of days after Canada Day when Savoir Duharas and Ryan Desroche posted a $124.70 upset in the fifth race on July 5. Trotting mare Tijuana Seelster added two more wins to remain undefeated in 5 starts this year at Grand River and sophomore pacer St Lads Criminal made it a cool half dozen in a row after going 3 for 3 this month at the Elora oval. On July 10th, Sea Can erased Sicario’s track record for aged gelding trotters when he toured the track in 1:55.1 for Scott Young and Mark Etsell. A week later, former horse of the year in Canada and 2021 North America Cup winner Desperate Man made his debut at Grand River a winning one with a 1:51.4 score, equaling Lawless Shadow’s season’s best clocking at the ‘River’.
I had the pleasure of taking in my first Wiener Dog night on Friday, July 14th and what an incredible atmosphere it was. More than 3,000 spectators poured in to watch and cheer as the ‘pups’ battled it out over three heats and a final. The venue was electric and I look forward to more of those nights in the future.

Looking ahead, our feature card Industry Day takes place on Monday, August 7th highlighted by the Battle of Waterloo presented by Winbak Farms and the Battle of the Belles. The action-packed 11 race program gets underway at 12:30 pm. The wagering menu is stacked boasting a $10,000 guaranteed pool Late Pick 5 starting in race 7, $7,500 guaranteed pools in the Early Pick 5 (R.1), both Pick 4’s (R.2&R.8), and the Super Hi 5 in the main event eleventh race. There will be lots of great stuff on track to enjoy so come on out and spend your holiday Monday with us.

Later in the month, we are proud to host Harness The Hope Night on Friday, August 18th in support of breast cancer awareness, research, early detection, and improved treatments. Come on out in your pink gear and show support for this great fundraising initiative.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of racing at Grand River. The action continues every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6:30 pm with the exception of Industry Day on Monday, August 7th starting at 12:30 pm. Note that we are dark on Friday, August 25th. Hope to see you all at the track!


Photo: Wiener Dog Race, taken by Louise Frost