Although he recorded his first victory in 1908, Vic Fleming was still regarded as one of the greats in the history of Canadian harness horsemen when he was inducted in the first year of the Hall of Fame elections. Born in Dundas, Ont., Fleming raced in Canada for many years, annually topping the lists of top drivers and trainers, before heading stateside where he became known as “The Dundas Kid”. Acknowledged as a master driver, Fleming rose to immortality in the sport when he steered Billy Direct to a 1:55 mile in 1938 at The Red Mile in Kentucky. The time was the fastest mile ever recorded by a harness horse and stood for many years.
The list of Vic Fleming’s accomplishments in harness racing is lengthy and impressive. One of his most memorable feats occurred behind the champion double-gaited mare Calumet Evelyn. One afternoon at Lexington, Ky., Fleming drove her to a 1:59.1 pacing record. A mere four days later they returned to notch a 2:00 effort, this time on the trot. Fleming was also the first and youngest Canadian driver to record a 2:00 mile. Other horses who benefited from Fleming’s tutelage was the unruly Grattan Bars, who was a first-year inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Others were The Widower, Nate Hanover, Mr. McElwyn, and that’s just scratching the surface.
Fleming was one of the most popular trainers in the sport. He was involved in a serious racing accident at Delaware, Ohio, in 1945, which curtailed his driving duties. Upon his retirement from active participation, he became a respected racing official. Fleming died at the age of 68 in 1955 and was elected to the Hall of Fame of the Trotter shortly after his death. A few lines in a magazine article summarized Vic Fleming and his career: “Vic Fleming was a good guy, very personable, a great horseman who could hang up a trotter or pacer with the best and he did not make many mistakes as a driver.”