Northern Dancer was one month away from winning The Kentucky Derby when E.P. Taylor hired a young lawyer from a Bay Street law firm named Jack H. Kenney for the Ontario Jockey Club. Northern Dancer went on, as we all know, to become the cornerstone of Taylor’s breeding establishment and sire of the 20th century. Kenney, hired as an assistant secretary, would soon make a name for himself as one of racing’s bright executives, eventually being named President and Chief Executive Officer of the OJC in 1975, a position he held until before his retirement at age 58 in 1993. During that period he became one of the most dedicated and tireless supporters of racing, both thoroughbred and standardbred, in Canada.
Taylor, who guided racing from the “leaky roof circuit”to major league status in the world, was recognized for his uncompromising dedication to racing. He obviously saw the same qualities in Kenney. Since being named president of the OJC, which Kenney and Taylor restructured into a non-profit corporation for the betterment of the sport, Kenney has been responsible for changes which have been implemented throughout North America. The fully computerized sell-cash Totalisator system, called ABC wagering, was born at the OJC. Kenney’s direction led to the first such system being developed then put into operation at Woodbine. Inter-track wagering was another innovation introduced by Kenney’s leadership. Inter-track Wagering and simulcast wagering gave the sport yet another valuable marketing tool.
Horsemen can also doff their hats in his direction for his persuasive ability at the governmental level, too. He worked to gain significant increases in government assistance to horsemen and racetracks. The results helped produce a strong and vibrant industry in Canada. Racetracks Canada, known as the National Association of Canadian Race Tracks in its formative years, might not have existed if Kenney hadn’t undertaken to single-handedly assume the managerial duties. Kenney was at one time Steward of The Jockey Club of Canada and is still a member. He was co-chairman and one of the founders of the E.P. Taylor Equine Research Fund and is its Chairman of the Board of the Finance Committee. Kenney, who has a residence in Florida, is a member the Board of Directors of Woodbine Entertainment and is part owner of The Very Dry Stable and Double Eagle Stable.