History


Written By Owner Marv Chantler…

rockandmarv
“In 1967, my father had just retired and was looking for a hobby. He lived in Newton Robinson, next door to the Honorable W. Earl Rowe, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor at the time. He made daily visits to the farm to watch John Baxter and Charlie Watson jog and train horses. In September, my dad went to the Standardbred Auction sale and purchased a yearling by the name of Mighty Lucy Bay. Bred to trot, all she wanted to do was pace. When they put the hopples on her, she took them like a duck takes to water. She raced as a two yr. old and took a mark of 2:10 at Garden City Raceway in St. Catharines. She earned over $3000 in her sophomore year which was quite good considering her purchase price had been $800.
The average price for a yearling that year was $700.

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At the time, I was working in downtown Toronto for Gulf Oil. Living in Toronto was fun but I soon missed the country life, so I would come home on weekends and end up at Rowe lands helping with my dad’s horse. My interest persisted, and I wrote my trainers licence, then my drivers licence and drove my necessary qualifying races at Orangeville and Greenwood. My first pari-mutual race was at Garden City. With the opening of Orangeville Raceway, and racing on Sunday afternoons, it was an excellent venue to work in Toronto thru the week and be home to race on the weekends. My interest in racing persisted to the point that I left my full time job to train and drive horses for my father and me. About 6 months later I realized I had made a big mistake. My skills as a driver were questionable and I was missing my regular weekly pay cheque.

In 1972, the Rowe family sold Windsor Raceway and was getting involved in starting Barrie Raceway. I was interested in this venture and trained under Joe DeFrank in Windsor as a Race Secretary. I worked in Barrie during the construction of the Barrie oval. As a Race Secretary, I was unable to own or race any horses so I sold all my horses. This period of no horse ownership lasted until 1977. From 1977 until 1980 I was traveling extensively but managed to own two horses with a couple of partners and we raced some claiming horses at Greenwood and Barrie with some success.

It was 1981 , and I had just moved to a new 50 acre farm in Loretto. This was the year that Mardon Stables was created. Donmar Stables had been first choice for the name but that was already taken; so, the reverse–Mardon–became the official name. In the beginning our new farm required a lot of work. I was still traveling the world for Ritchie Bros Auctioneers.

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Two years later  I built the half-mile training track. It was during these two years that  I kept horses with Ben Wallace at Seneca College, in King City. With the notice that Seneca was being closed down, Ben had to make the decision to go back teaching Geography or go out on his own training horses. This decision was the inception of Wallace Standardbreds, a partnership between Ben and Mardon Stables. At this time we had 4 or 5 horses. Wallace Standardbreds continued to grow under Ben’s guidance and when it reached some 50 horses in training, Ben took over its entire ownership and management. During the period with Wallace Standardbreds, Mardon Stables enjoyed ownership of championship horses like, Hogan’s Heroes, Cocomo Son, Stretch Mark, Armbro Vanilla and its biggest winner, Armbro Rosebud.

In 1997 Armbro Rosebud was named the OJC’s two year old of the year and was awarded the O’Brien in January for the best two year old filly in Canada that year. At 3, Armbro Rosebud came back again as the dominant OSS 3 yr old filly and was retired to the breeding shed later that year.

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At that time, Mardon Stables started racing from its home in Loretto. Bruce MacDonald, who had worked for Ben Wallace and groomed Rosebud, took over as head trainer for Mardon Stables in late 2000. Since that time, Mardon Stables has enjoyed the limelight of such champions as Card Trick Hanover and Armbro Acquire. For a short period Card Trick Hanover shared the world record for aged mares with a mark of 149.1 She won the Matron as a 3 year old and the Lady Liberty as a 4 year old. With USD converted to Canadian dollars, she earned over 1 Million Dollars for her owners, Mardon, Eugene Fewster, Dan and Shawn MacIsaac. Armbro Acquire was purchased as a yearling and as a 3yr old, won the largest purse ever for Mardon Stables. On November 8th 2003, he won the Gold Super Final for3 yr. old colts and geldings in 152.3 for a purse of $ 300,000.

Mardon Stables is not a public stable but does have some other owners involved with them on some horses. Over the years we have enjoyed bringing people into the ownership of standardbreds and have enjoyed the friendships that have evolved. Dick Bartel, Eugene Fewster, Joe Carbone, Keith Cowden, Craig Wallwin, Dan and Shawn MacIsaac, Ken Webber, John McCormack and John Church and Carlo Rovella ,Peter Campagna are such friends.

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Mardon Stables has grown from its original 50 acres to 100 acres. It has accommodations in the new barn that Rosebud built for 19 horses giving a total of 29 stalls. There are 10 paddocks for daily turnouts and a 4 horse Exerciser that gets used daily. Mardon’s current full-time staff of 3 is looking after approximately 8 horses while maintaining the track and up to date facilities. Bruce, Kim, and Grant are our full time people while part time staff includes,  and Poppa Joe webmaster

Future Plans for Mardon Stables include a swimming pool to augment our top notch training. We look forward to more years in the horse industry while continuing to pursue our goal of being a first class racing stable.”