Friday, 14 November 2014

Canadian Horse Racing Novel: Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track

Canadian Horse Racing Novel: Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track is now online

Murder Trial Shocks Toronto Community.
Sports, crime and horse racing during the 1960s: the saga Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track portrays the life and relationships of Hot-Walker Frannie Harrison and an American draft dodger living in hippie Yorkville Village. The crime-filled suspenseful tale reveals Frannie's days leading up to and following the murder of her fiancĂ© at Woodbine Racetrack. Grief-stricken, she struggles with denial and complicated relationships before escaping to Europe. When petitioned for trial, Frannie returns to Toronto to deal with the painful ordeal that produces shocking and devastating testimonies about life on the fast track.

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Mallory Neeve Wilkins
Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track


Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track
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Monday, 15 September 2014

Canadian Horse Racing Novel, Hot-Walker. Court House - Toronto 1977

Hot-Walker - Horse Racing and Courtroom Drama


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Court House
The saga of Hot-Walker; follows the path of four friends and Francine Harrison who spend years racing thoroughbreds and living in the village of Yorkville, Toronto as well as Montreal, London, and Den Haag. She returns to Toronto where the murder trial of her fiance, an American draft dodger brutally killed at Woodbine racetrack in 1969, is being held. As the only witness to the horrific incident, Francine struggled with relationships during the years awaiting trial, hopelessly making an effort to move on with her life, until the mystery unwinds in 1977 at the Court House...


During the years when Francine and her friends lived in Yorkville Village, the first phase of the complex, Toronto Courthouse, (Completed by Toronto firm of Marani, Rounthwaite and Dick Architects) was opened (1966) at 361 University Avenue and the corner of Armoury Street. It was originally known as Metropolitan Toronto Courthouse. Additions to the structure were completed with the South Wing (1985) and a two storey addition to the courthouse (1987).
The project architect, Ronald A. Dick noted it as an important example of late 20th century Modern design, the largest of its type built in Ontario ... featuring an eight-storey complex for courtrooms and offices connected to the three-storey South Wing. This features a 12-sided plan with an open passageway in the lower level. Covered by a copper-clad roof, the structure is faced with limestone.


The north and south elevations feature fin walls that organize the horizontal grid of metal-framed window openings and limestone spandrels with beveled edges. The courthouse structure was among the last complexes in the province clad with local limestone. Amongst the landscaping, planter boxes, flagpoles and shallow pools with fountains, you would find limestone benches.


 But ... there is a hidden ancient mystery held in the construction of such 'temples' as those within secret societies were aware of, which is limestone is calcite that is formed by rainwater filtered through sand; a sedimentary stone and holds basic properties essential to life, namely the attribute of attracting atmospheric water vapour, condensing it into water, and then letting it pass out into streams and springs. 

Limestone works like a crystal; it is in constant motion emitting a vibrational frequency that amplifies the energy of the surrounding area and matches the electromagnetic field of the Earth and its human occupants. It also has the crystalline property to absorb, store, and transfer life-force energy. Limestone was used for construction because of these crystalline properties ... which are those of resonance, rhythm and vibration ... it is alive, holding the memory of information and like crystals, healing vibrations.

Hot-Walker, Life on the Fast Track  
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Racetrack History - Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track

Horseracing at Greenwood and Woodbine, Toronto: Racetrack History

Hot~Walker begins its racetrack ventures in 1965 at Greenwood Racetrack, a horse racing facility in Toronto, inaugurated in 1874 as Woodbine Race Course located at the foot of Woodbine Avenue and Lake Ontario. The novel tells the story of the murder trial of Francine Harrison's fiance, an American draft dodger, John Mencini who trained thoroughbreds. 
Racing has had a long history in the Toronto area. In the early 1880s, Duggan founded the Ontario Jockey Club (OJC). Thoroughbred racing continued at Old Woodbine on a shortened six furlong (1,207 m) track and Harness races were conducted on the thoroughbred track, but serious problems with mud (including the starting gate being immobilized) led to the construction of a five-furlong (1006 m) stone dust harness track inside the thoroughbred track. This track was known for its tight turns and long back and homestretches.
In the early 1950s, the Ontario Jockey Club, led by directors E. P. Taylor, George C. Hendrie and J. E. Frowde Seagram, undertook an acquisition and consolidation program for southern Ontario racing. By 1956, the OJC operated a new facility for Thoroughbred horse races, which was constructed in Toronto suburbs, and given the name New Woodbine Racetrack. This was the location and setting for the racehorse, SnoMann, and his big win in 1969,


The Old Woodbine facility was completely renovated and renamed Greenwood Raceway in 1963. It held both harness racing and thoroughbred racing meets until its closure at the end of 1993. Steeplechase races were held at Woodbine/Greenwood for a few years. 
In 1994, the thoroughbred and harness operations were moved to Woodbine. The stadium was demolished and replaced by residential and commercial development, including a betting parlour. Half of the property became Woodbine Park. It is the only horseracing track in North America which stages, or is capable of staging,thoroughbred and standardbred horseracing programs on the same day. A bit of racetrack history.

Yorkville Village Toronto sets the scene 1960s.


Yorkville Village Toronto's counter-cultural mecca.

In the novel ... HOT-WALKER recalls the life and times of a young innocent woman, Frannie Harrison, who sets out to find her own life in the turbulent 1960s where anything goes. Ultimately, she ends up in an area of young people living in one of Toronto's oldest adjoining villages, YORKVILLE, founded in 1830 by entrepreneur Joseph Bloore. It began as a residential suburb. The village grew enough to be connected by an omnibus service in 1849 to Toronto.
 By 1853, the population of the village had reached 1,000. Development increased and by the 1870s more land was needed and Potter's Field, a cemetery stretching east of Yonge Street along the north side of Concession Road (today's Bloor Street) was closed, and the remains moved to the Necropolis and Mount Pleasant cemetery.
By the 1880s, the cost of delivering services to the large population of Yorkville was beyond the Village's ability. It petitioned the City of Toronto to be annexed. Annexation came on February 1, 1883, and Yorkville's name changed officially from "Village of Yorkville" to "St. Paul's Ward". The character of the suburb did not change and its Victorian-style homes, quiet residential streets, and picturesque gardens survived into the 20th century.
In 1923, the Toronto Hebrew Maternity and Convalescent Hospital was opened at 100 Yorkville Avenue and a year later the name was changed to Mount Sinai Hospital. The facade of this building still stands today.




Cheap rent in the Village.
And then ... some forty years later, Yorkville became known as  "a festering sore in the middle of the city" with a new generation of alternative lifestyles who changed the scene and the area became dominated with hippies and young people from all walks of life. 
HOT-WALKER takes place in the 1960s when Yorkville flourished as Toronto's counter-cultural mecca. The hip Village's development from its early coffee house days, when folksingers such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell flocked to the scene, to its tumultuous, drug-fueled final months. Yorkville was also a battleground over identity, territory, and power. This neighbourhood soon came to be regarded as an alternative space both as a geographic area and as a symbol of hip Toronto in the cultural imagination, as then underground literary figures, such as Margaret Atwood, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Dennis Lee appeared regularly in the area. 
Yorkville was also known as the Canadian capital of the hippie movement and by the late 1960s folk music had given way to folk-rock and then psychedelic rock and Yorkville was bustling with electric as well as acoustic performances. In total, there were as many as 40 clubs and coffeehouses offering live entertainment every night of the week, and music lovers could hop from venue to venue to catch a seemingly endless number of acts. In 1968, nearby Rochdale College at the University of Toronto was opened on Bloor Street as an experiment in counter-culture education. Those influenced by their time in 1960s-70s Yorkville, include cyberpunk writer William Gibson. The Victorian homes became seedy, contaminated, uncared for and turned into a dangerous location.
Transition into high-end shopping district
It was after the construction of the Bloor-Danforth subway when the value of land nearby increased as higher densities were allowed by the City's official plan. Along Bloor Street, office towers, the Bay department store and the Holt Renfrew department store displaced the local retail. As real estate values increased, the residential homes north of Bloor along Yorkville were converted into high-end retail, including many art galleries, fashion boutiques and antique stores, and popular bars, cafes and eateries along Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue. Many smaller buildings were demolished and office and hotels built in the 1970s, with high priced condominium developments being built. Today, the remains of the Victorian homes that line the side streets are owned by the wealthy and most have been renovated beyond recognition as it is now classified as one of the 'most expensive' retail districts in North America.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Women Jockeys, Women Heros

Women Jockeys in Canadian Horse Racing 

Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track, the sports-crime romance novel, explores the ins-and-outs of thoroughbred racing, including the introduction of Karen Sharp, woman jockey. A sports-romance-crime novel about Life on the Fast Track during the 1960s, and the relationships of  those living in Yorkville and working on the racetrack.


Looking back over the years when racing experienced a time of introspection and growth, Jockeys' rooms at virtually every racetrack were described as dark, dingy, overcrowded, lacking in recreational areas, without proper reducing facilities, no eating and resting spaces, and very little room to move about and work. The jockeys' rooms were not a priority to management but the Jockeys' Guild and its representatives set about a campaign to improve conditions both on and off the track. Jockeys still had very few rights when dealing with stewards. If a steward did not like a rider's looks, they could, and often did, tell that rider to go somewhere else to ride. There was still widespread abuse of a jockey's rights to work his trade.


The popular ‘big names’ and leading riders of the 1940s were Adams, Arcaro, Atkinson, Meade and Longden, who continued to dominate in the early 1950s but were joined by a new name; Shoemaker. After completing his sophomore year of racing with 388 victories, good for a tie in the leading rider standings, Shoe­maker topped all riders in earnings in 1950 with over $ I-million.

Another fact to be reckoned with for jockeys was women entering their ranks. Although women jockeys were barred from riding at registered race meetings, in the mid-1900s, Wilhemena Smith rode as Bill Smith at north Queensland racecourses. She was nicknamed Bill Girlie Smith because she arrived on course with her riding gear on under her clothes and did not shower on course. It was only at the time of her death in 1975 that the racing world was officially told that Bill was really Wilhemena. Subsequent inquiries revealed that William Smith was actually a woman who had been born Wilhemena Smith in a Sydney hospital in 1886. In an era when women were clearly denied equality, she had become known as a successful jockey in Queensland country districts as 'Bill Smith'.


The modern era of female jockeys began as Kathy Kusner successfully sued the Maryland Racing Commission for a jockey's license in 1968 under the Civil Rights Act.  In late 1968, Penny Ann Early became the first licensed female thoroughbred jockey in the US, and entered three races at Churchill Downs  in November, but the male jockeys announced that they would boycott those races. On February 7, 1969, Diane Crump was the first female rider to ride in a Thoroughbred race in the United States at the Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida. She made history again, the next year, when she became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 15th aboard Fathom. Even though the male jockeys fought the presence of females in the irons, the barrier had been broken. Two weeks later on February 22 at Charles Town in West Virginia, Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman to win a race and went on to win 11 of her first 22. Others soon followed suit and over the years American women jockeys have proven their ability. Julie Krone has the most winning races by an American woman. 





Jockeys must be light to ride at the weights which are assigned to their mounts. There are horse carrying weight limits, that are set by racing authorities. The Kentucky Derby, for example, has a weight limit of 126 lb (57 kg) including the jockey's equipment. The weight of a jockey usually ranges from 108 to 118 lb (49 to 54 kg). Despite their light weight, they must be able to control a horse that is moving at 40 mph (64 km/h) or more, and weighs 1,200 lbs (540 kg). Though there is no height restrictions for jockeys, they are usually fairly short due to the weight limits. Jockeys typically stand around 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) to 5 ft 6 in (1.6m).


For the most part Canada has generally followed the U.S.'s lead in the area of opportunities for female riders. Canada has far fewer tracks than the U.S. and has only two female jockeys with 1,000 wins. However, in both actual and relative numbers as well as overall success rate, Canada has far surpassed its southern neighbour in opportunities for women at the highest level; namely their respective Triple Crown series.

Starting with Joan Phipps in the Canadian 1973 Breeders' Stakes, 9 different women have competed in 27 Canadian Triple Crown races, 34 times with a combined 2 wins, 3 places, 3 shows. By comparison, since Diane Crump rode in the 1970 Kentucky Derby, only 6 different women have competed in 18 total U.S. Triple Crown events with a combined record of 1 win, 1 place, 1 shows. Moreover, while no US Triple Crown race has ever featured more than one female rider, that feat has occurred on 7 occasions in Canada. Most impressively, 3 different women - Francine Villeneuve, Chantal Sutherland and Emma-Jayne Wilson (twice over) - have each raced in all three of the Canadian Triple Crown races. Women Jockeys in Canada are supreme riders!

Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track Canadian horse racing crime novel
Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Mallory Neeve Wilkins
Sports Crime Romance Novel

Hot-Walker, Life on the Fast Track (youtube) Book Trailer ... ebook online .