Standardbred industry icon, H. Charles “Charlie” Armstrong, has passed away.
Charlie has been a major contributor to horse racing and breeding in Ontario and North America for nearly 70 years, and was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2015, at the age of 93.
He developed a love of horses as a child, at Armstrong Bros. Farm, founded by his father Elgin and uncle Ted, both construction magnates. Following his father’s death, Charlie and his wife, Lenore, continued to operate the farm with great success, while serving as chairman of Armstrong Holdings Brampton Limited.
Overtime, Armstrong Bros. Farm developed into the second largest standardbred breeding operation in North America. Building on this father’s success with a filly called Helicopter, who was the first Canadian-owned horse to win Hambletonian in the U.S., Charlie saw her daughter, Armbro Flight, become one of the top trotting mares in North America, and the foundation mare for the farm’s breeding program. The mare was honoured by Canada Post in 1999 with a commemorative stamp.
Armbro horses have consistently won the most prestigious races in North America since Helicopter’s Hambletonian in 1953. Their breeding program has included many top stallions such as Jade Prince, Dream of Glory, Carlsbad Cam, Armbro Emerson, Village Jiffy, Adios Pick, and, most recently Island Fantasy, King Conch, Camotion and Dexter Nukes.
While the family company dispersed in 2005, Charlie continued to raise and race Standardbreds with his daughters at Village Acres Farms in Brampton, Ontario through 2010. They produced a steady line of winners including Village Jig, Village Connection, Village Jove, Village Blues, Village Jiffy and Village Jericho.
In addition, Charlie was a director of the Ontario Jockey Club and of the Hambletonian Society. Other accolades include: Canadian Standardbred Horse Society’s Achievement Award in 1996; Wall of Fame Honoree for the Little Brown Jug in 1999; Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association – Van Bussell Award in 2003; and inaugural Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Industry Icon in 2011.