Legend – Standardbred
Fern Hal, an amazing black mare by Gold Hal, whose own sire was said to be a western bronco, was out Fern by Mark Time. She raced at tracks across Canada until she was 15, an age most horses have long been retired. Foaled in 1906, Fern Hal accumulated 152 lifetime wins and a record of 2:05 ¼. Bred by George MacPherson of Kemptville, Ont., she didn’t get to the races until she was five, but she demonstrated that she should have been racing sooner, winning 37 races in 1911 at tracks in Rhode Island, Port Huron, Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois Rivieres.
In 1913 and ’14 Fern Hal invaded Western Canada and won at tracks from Manitoba to Alberta. As was the custom at the time she often raced in multiple heats and sometimes paced seven heats on the same day. Her ability to endure when races were extended to the 5th, 6th and 7th heats became legendary. She eventually moved back east and performed strongly in Ohio, New York, Michigan and by 1918 the “Iron Maiden” had won 100 races, including major races in Montreal and Sherbrooke.
In 1919 Fern Hal moved to the Maritimes and dominated racing in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Now 13, the “Iron Maiden” was purchased by Dr. D.H. McAllister of Sussex, N.B., and with Fred Cameron doing the training and driving, she won 20 races at Sackville, Woodstock and Springhill. The following year she won 23 times, delighting fans at Fredericton, Moncton, Chatham and numerous tracks in Maine. As a 15-year-old in 1921 her age began to show and she managed only three wins. But those who had successfully wagered huge sums with the bookies down through the years likely understood. How could anyone ask more of such a consummate race mare!