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2,000 For Bolon; Bessie Is Best

Published: January 12, 2016 10:32 pm ET

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Rod Bolon notched career driving win 2,000 when he piloted Bloomington -- a horse he trains -- to victory in Tuesday’s second race at The Meadows.

Bolon also has collected 644 training victories (since 1991 when the United States Trotting Association began compiling trainers’ records) in a career that began after he graduated from high school in Jerusalem, Ohio.

“I came to The Meadows the day after I graduated, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “I’ve been around forever, so it’s nice to reach 2,000. I’m not into career numbers, but it’s good.”

He learned the business from his father, trainer/driver Paul Bolon, who campaigned horses primarily at The Meadows and Northfield Park, and his older brother, Ben Bolon, a successful driver at The Meadows for several decades. With that introduction to the sport, there was little doubt about his career choice.

“It’s all I’ve ever done, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” he said.

With the support of his principal owner through the years, Jim Snyder, Bolon built his stable by purchasing stakes veterans after their three-year-old campaigns. Among the many horses he’s trained and driven, Bolon cited the trotter Durgin Hanover ($386,902) and the pacer Real Hanover as his favourites. Although Real Hanover earned a chunk of his $478,983 at The Meadows, he sparkled in his handful of starts each year in Lexington.

“He was slow leaving the gate,” Bolon said, “but he loved that long stretch at the Red Mile.”

The Meadows-based trainer Julie Allison helped Real Hanover prepare for a new career after his racing days ended, and he was placed as a riding horse through New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.

Bolon’s win production slowed when he turned over most of the driving duties to his son Kyle. The younger Bolon, however, recently signed on as an assistant to Tony Alagna. Rod said he and his wife Sally, who owns Bloomington, will continue to work with their stable of about 10 head . . . and that we can expect to see him in the sulky more often.

“If I have six or seven to drive each week, that’s great,” he said.


Bessie powered through a snow squall that reduced visibility to near zero and thwarted a pair of challengers as she captured Tuesday’s $20,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows.

Bessie was on the lead when Whata Donato launched a first-over bid and briefly poked her nose in front. The five-year-old daughter of Equinox Bi-Cantabs Chorine fought back for Jim Pantaleano to reclaim the lead and had just enough to hold off the late bid of Princess Pablano and down her by a nose in 1:56.1 over a “good” surface. Anaffairtoremember finished third.

Rick Clapper trains Bessie, who extended her career bankroll to $176,089, for Paula Clapper, Umholtz Racing Stable and Kennedy Sports Corp.

Aaron Merriman piloted three winners on the 15-race card.

(with files from The Meadows)

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