Jack Darling

Hall of Fame Inductee, 2022

Standardbred Trainer

For over three decades, Cambridge, Ontario based trainer, Jack Darling, has enjoyed a successful career campaigning 1,076 winners and conditioning horses to nearly $22 million in earnings.

After a friend introduced him to harness racing with a trip to London’s Western Fair, Darling continued going to the track and eventually decided that he wanted to make a living training harness horses.

Darling went directly into training on his own by claiming his first horse for $1,500.  He was able to keep moving horses while turning a small profit, and his stable continued to grow.  He moved to Windsor, racing at Windsor Raceway and Detroit’s Hazel Park, spending winters racing at Pompano Park, Florida, where he would meet long-time partner, Dan Smith. The pair owned and raced many top horses together including Northern Luck ($907,984), North America Cup Champion Gothic Dream ($1,528,671), and Twin B Champ.

In 1995, four fillies put Darling into the limelight – Diamond Dawn (winner of $175,000), Low Places (who would win a 1996 O’Brien Award), Faded Glory (winner of more than $250,000 as a freshman) and Diehard Fan (over $200,000 as a two and three-year-old).

In 1996, Darling was voted Canada’s Trainer of the Year after a season surpassing $1.8 million in earnings.  He then enjoyed a career best year for earnings in 1997 when he surpassed the $2 million earnings marker, due in large part to stable stars Gothic Dream and Northern Luck.

Some of his other noteworthy horses over the years included Bayside Hall, Distant Sign, American Angel, Mattnamaras Band, Pearl River Matt, Twin B Survivor, Northern Sky, Silent Swing, St. Lads Popcorn and Stonebridge Terror.

Darling’s latest protégé, Bulldog Hanover set a world record of 1:45.4 to become the fastest horse in harness racing history. The Hanover Shoe Farms-bred son of Shadow Play – BJs Squall retired with 28 wins in 37 races, multiple stakes victories, lifetime earnings of $2.78 million, four of the nine fastest race miles in history, a record total of six wins in under 1:47, Horse of the Year honours in Canada and the US and the 2022 Cam Fella Award.  He is now standing stud at Seelster Farms in Ontario.

In addition to his success as a trainer, Darling made time to give back to the industry.  He was the driving force behind two major fundraisers in 2014. In the spring, he rallied the harness racing community to raise money to televise the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug.  That fall, he was instrumental in organizing the Waples Tribute evening at Mohawk, raising funds for the daughters of his good friend, trainer Mark Austin, who passed away suddenly in August 2014. Both efforts raised well over $100,000.

Darling was honoured with the Lloyd Chisholm Memorial Award by the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association to recognize his tremendous contributions to the Ontario harness racing industry during 2014.  Darling also received the United States Harness Writers Association Unsung Hero Award and the Good Guy Award in 2014 and then again in 2022 for his public relations efforts in not only sharing the story of Bulldog Hanover but also making him available to meet racing fans.