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Bill Galvin Racing Alliance Looking for Writers, Poets and Artistic Students in Ontario!

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Bill Galvin Racing Alliance Looking for Writers, Poets and Artistic Students in Ontario!

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BGRA is again co-ordinating the Youth Literary Derby and the Youth Art Derby.

After last year’s success in their youth contests, the Bill Galvin Racing Alliance (BGRA) is again co-ordinating the Youth Literary Derby and the Youth Art Derby.

The Youth Literary Derby will see Ontario elementary school children in Grades 3 to 8 submit either a poem or a short story with a Standardbred theme. There will be junior (Grades 3-5) and intermediate (Grades 6-8) divisions for both parts of this contest.

For the Youth Art Derby, in addition to the junior and intermediate divisions, a senior division has been added for Ontario students in Grades 9-12. Drawings or sketches must have a Standardbred theme.

Last year, the 21 Finalists and their family members were invited to an Awards Night at Woodbine Mohawk Park Racetrack in Campbellville, for the awards presentations and a VIP experience. Most of the Finalists had never been to a racetrack before and the following email was received after the event from one of the families. 

“I just wanted to say thank you to you and your organization for the outstanding event you put on yesterday. Our family had tons of fun and learned a lot, and the other families we met last night loved it as well. It was an amazing experience for the children and adults alike.”

The BGRA will be planning a similar event for the Finalists this year.

In 2023, well known Standardbred breeder and owner, Tom Rankin, sponsored the youth contests and welcomed the general public to an open house event at his breeding operation in St. Catharines, Ont. Over 300 people attended the event to meet the broodmares and foals, and some of the youth contest entrants were inspired by their interactions with the horses. Rankin will again host an Open House event at his farm on Saturday, May 25.

“We sincerely appreciate Tom’s commitment and involvement and we’re extremely excited that he’s willing to host another open house and sponsor the Youth Contests,” said Karen Hauver. 

For the second consecutive year, Equine Guelph will offer its Youth Horse Behaviour and Safety online courses to winners that are 13 years of age or older.

What is the BGRA?

In 2023, five harness racing enthusiasts, Ken Middleton, Kathy Wade Vlaar, Jane Belore, Brenda Lothmann and Karen Hauver formed the non-profit organization committed to encouraging partnerships and programs to promote the industry.

“Bill Galvin, made a tremendous impact on horse racing in this country and was part of just the second class to be inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s Communicator category,” said Director, Kathy Wade Vlaar.

“After Bill passed away in 2020, my sister, Barb Lennox had the idea to form a group which would continue his legacy. We called on some other harness racing enthusiasts that had a connection to Bill and they were more than happy to volunteer their time,” said Karen Hauver. “Unfortunately, Barb passed away before the organization got off the ground, but she wanted us to continue with the plan”.

In 2023, its inaugural year, the BGRA hosted multiple Youth Contests, a successful Open House event at Tom Rankin's breeding operation, and the innovative Drive to Win Virtual Reality experience.

This year the Drive To Win VR Experience will have an expanded tour throughout Ontario making stops at racetracks, festivals and special events. The schedule kicked off with a three-day run at the Can Am Equine Expo in Ancaster in late March. 

Participants have the opportunity to sit in a race bike and wear a VR headset that puts them into an actual Standardbred race. The experience has been enjoyed by all ages, from first timers to Hall of Famers and the reactions have been amazing! 

Acknowledging the invaluable support they have received from the industry, Director, Jane Belore emphasizes the collective effort driving the BGRA's success, “We just couldn’t do all of this without our dedicated Directors, volunteers, individuals and industry partners”.

For further details on the BGRA's initiatives, visit the website at

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