Toll Gate & Heber M. Sweeny
Few horseman can boast that they purchased a world champion and a future world champion over the telephone. Heber Sweeny, former mayor of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and noted Maritime sportsman and horseman could make that claim. A successful businessman, Sweeny raced Standardbreds in Atlantic Canada, Maine and other parts of the United States for decades. His green and white colours were a familiar sight from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.
His many outstanding horses included former world champion Toll Gate p, 2:00 3/4 and Dudey Patch, a horse that went on to become a world champion (an inductee into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame) for the legendary Joe O’Brien. Sweeny purchased both by telephone. His acquisition of Toll Gate in 1934 was front page news in the Maritimes and from 1934-36, they hooked up to set track records at 11 Maritime tracks.
While he considered himself to be an “amateur” driver, he was the leading Maritime driver in 1934 and 1935. He had Signal Senator in the feature race at Fredericton Raceway on September 15, 1937, when Walter Dale established the Canadian half-mile track pacing record of 2:02 1/2 that stood for 40 years. Sweeny built his own track at Bridgewater in 1940 and it was operated until the mid 1950s. In 1943, Jollity paced heats of 2:05 1/2 and 2:05 1/4 at Bridgewater, the two fastest miles paced over Canadian half-mile tracks that year.