So what do an Egyptian God and a horse named Papyrus have to do with our Osiris Stakes?
According to Egyptian mythology, “Osiris” is the name given to the god of the afterlife. It is also the name of a racehorse that was foaled in England in 1926. Osiris, the horse that is, was the son of Papyrus, winner of the 1923 Epsom Derby.
Osiris, a winner of several stake races in England, was purchased by Colonel R. S. McLaughlin of Oshawa for $10,000 and imported to Canada in 1932. McLaughlin, a perennial leading breeder of racehorses in Canada and a millionaire, was Chairman of General Motors Canada. For whatever reason when McLaughlin registered the stallion, Osiris became Osiris ll.
Osiris ll called McLaughlin’s Parkwood Stud Farm home until 1941, when he was gifted to racing icon and Winnipegger R. James Speers. This gesture of goodwill was to assist the breeding efforts of western horsemen and shocked many, as McLaughlin had turned down cash offers for the use of the valuable stallion. Osiris ll was shipped to Winnipeg to stand at Speers’ Whittier Park Stock Farm.
Osiris ll was the leading sire in Canada in 1938, 1940, 1942 and 1947. In total, he sired 121 winners of over 500 races worth an estimated $500,000. His progeny included multiple stakes winner Fort Garry and 1947 Canadian Derby winner Sir Berrill, among many other noteworthy steeds. Osiris ll died at Speers’ farm in 1948. He was 22.
In 1950 Speers established a race at old Polo Park to honour the mighty sire. The Osiris Juvenile Plate was a $1,500 added 4 ½-furlong sprint. This event was run annually until Polo Park closed its doors in 1956. The winner of the inaugural running of the Osiris Juvenile Plate was pioneer Alberta horseman F. M. “Tiny” Holden’s Beau Orage.
This year’s running of the Osiris, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds, marks the 50th anniversary of the $30,000 Osiris Stakes at the Downs. The race was first known as the Osiris Plate, with the inaugural running taking place in the Downs’ first season in 1958. It was run annually thereafter with the exception of 2003 to 2008 when the purse was redistributed to boost the value of other stake races. The race was re-established in 2009 and we’re glad to see it back considering its storied past.
Previous winners of the Osiris Stakes include: Balooga Bull (2011), P.C.’s Bluff (1993), Mr. Macho (1979), Major Enterprise (1978) and Ruling Lark (1968).
No one owner has ever won the Osiris three or more times, but a number have won it twice. Three trainers, Brian Palaniuk, Clayton Gray and Tom Dodds, each won the race three times, but Dodds has the distinction of winning the race in three consecutive years (1991, 1992, 1993).
Jockey honours in the Osiris go to Downs’ all-time leading rider Ken Hendricks, who scored four victories in the prestigious race (1971, 1976, 1978, 2002).
So today we honour one of Canada’s leading sires, Osiris ll, and celebrate the golden anniversary and rich history of the race named in his honour, the Osiris Stakes.
Fifty fabulous years and counting!
Next Post Time for Live Racing: 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 21, 2013