The iconic trotter Goodtimes, who had an indelible impact on the sport of harness racing, has been laid to rest. He was 31.
One of the most talented Standardbreds ever produced in Canada, the son of Balanced Image from the Dream Of Glory mare Goodtime Kathy, was bred by Charles Armstrong and Gus Schickedanz and purchased as a yearling by trainer John Bax’s Parkhill Stud Farm and Liberty North Stable (Barbara and John Cooper).
“The time had come,” Bax explained. “Of course, we’re all sad but I want to remember him with the joy he brought not only to our family but to harness racing. For many people he was the only Standardbred they’d ever met. My kids grew up with him, he will always hold a very special place in all of our hearts. He’d been with us for a long time and communicated with us almost like a human.”
The success of a horse takes an army and John was quick to acknowledge Goodtimes’ great supporters including driver Dave Wall – “he drove him like he was his own and took very good care of him for many years.” Caretaker Julie Morrison Kangas, “she looked after him for years and was responsible for him in three countries in Europe and then in later years my daughter Robyn was great with him and performed Osteopathy therapy on him.
“I also want to thank Dr. Terry Ruch who was always helpful with Goodtimes and a strong supporter over the years. And to all of the fans and track management who cheered him on during his long career, and beyond, it was a great ride.”
Goodtimes’ first career start came at Kawartha Downs, which at the time was John’s home track, on July 3, 1993, as a 2-year-old. That season, and the next, his main focus was the Ontario Sires Stakes program where he excelled. He then went on to become one of the sport’s premier open trotters racing at the top level throughout North America and beyond for six more years.
A pinnacle of his career was in 1999 when he represented Canada at the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden as well as coveted races in Norway and Finland. Goodtimes was second in his Elitlopp elimination and third in the final. That was his 8-year-old and most successful season when he was finally awarded the O’Brien Award as the country’s top open trotter after having it elude him for several years. That was also the year he captured the Maple Leaf Trotting Classic and the Frank Ryan Memorial (his third title) in world record time.
Goodtimes’ final charted line came 10 years after his first, also at the Fraserville, Ontario oval, and with a win, the 50th of his career. In both of those starts John Bax was in the bike and when he returned to the winner’s circle that night he knew it was a fitting way for the horse to end his remarkable career. His summary was 50-42-38 for C$2.2 million in earnings in 244 lifetime starts.
Goodtimes, affectionately known as Doogie, retired as a world champion with numerous awards under his harness and was deservedly inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame the very next year. That same year, 2004, Woodbine Entertainment Group renamed the Colonial Trot, a Grand Circuit Stakes event for 3-year-old trotters, to the Goodtimes to honor his incredible career. For several years Kawartha Downs’ signature race was also named in honor of the great trotter.
Despite his retirement from racing, Goodtimes still visited many Ontario racetracks as a goodwill ambassador for horse racing. He also participated in numerous demonstrations at the Royal Winter Fair. Fans, many who had never been close to a horse before, could pet and have their photos taken with him and it was that much more special that they were interacting with a superstar of the sport.
“He was a very special horse and we are so grateful to have been able to have him in our lives for as long as we did,” John concluded.