The 37th running of the $50,000 R. C. Anderson Stakes for 3-year-old Manitoba-bred fillies goes Friday night and it is named in honour of Robert Carr Anderson.
R. C. “Bob” Anderson was a well known and respected cattleman with a fondness for horses and the sport of horse racing. Everyone who knew Bob said he was the nicest man you would ever want to meet, and you’d certainly have to search long and hard to find anyone with a bad thing to say about him.
That’s quite a rarity in the racing game.
Bob got into horse racing in the 1940s and knew the Whittier Park and Polo Park race tracks very well. When Assiniboia Downs opened, Bob’s love affair with the sport continued. As time went by his Hillside Farm stable would come to include his sons Barry and Wayne.
Bob was a member and director of the Manitoba Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), a member of the Hoof and Horn Club, and a member and director of the old Manitoba Horse Breeders Inc.
Never one to crave the spotlight, Bob worked tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the sport he loved. His contributions did not go unnoticed however, and in 1974 his efforts were recognized by the HBPA with a special award for his contributions to racing.
Using a term coined by Elman Guttormson of the Winnipeg Free Press, Bob Anderson, the “Master” of Hillside Farm, ran a small stable. Highlights?
- Stretch, who won three races in 10 days at Polo Park.
- In early July 1970 Bob’s modest two-horse stable put together a total of seven wins. Gay Will went 3-for-8 and multiple stakes winner Prince Robby was 4-for-5.
- Doc Kope, who won the 1972 Speers Handicap and Assiniboia Downs Gold Cup. His Gold Cup was run in a very sharp 1:49 (one second off the track record) with split times of 1:10 2/5 for 6 furlongs (tied the track record) and a mile in 1:35 4/5 (besting the track record by almost 2 seconds).
Bob and his wife May were good friends with former Downs’ owners Jim and Hazel Wright, and travelled with them to the 1957 Kentucky Derby. Bob also knew Jim Speers well.
Bob’s first farm was on Speers Road and he leased pasture land from Speers in the area of Winnipeg that is now known as Windsor Park. Son Wayne still recalls delivering the Winnipeg Free Press to Speers’ Whittier Park Stock Farm just down the road.
It seems only fitting that the winner of the inaugural running of the R. C. Anderson in 1976, Northern Quill, was bred by non-other than Bob Anderson’s Hillside Farm!
It’s hard to believe that more than 35 years have passed since Bob’s untimely death on June 11, 1975. When Bob Anderson left us, Assiniboia Downs and horse racing in general lost a real friend.
Horse racing misses him.