On Sunday, November 16, accomplished Standardbred owner Ted Gewertz will add another trophy to his wall. That is when he will be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of USHWA at the scribes’ 56th annual awards banquet, which will be held at The Fountains on Sands Road in Middletown, NY.
In 2004, when Gewertz had Windsongs Legacy and Housethatruthbuilt, he felt as if he was on top of the world. And he was – the harness racing world that is.
Windsongs Legacy and Housethatruthbuilt earned combined purses in excess $2.55 million that year. Windsongs Legacy had nine wins in 12 starts, while Housethatruthbuilt won 11 of her 15 races that year.
“I can’t tell you how exciting that season was and what a great time my partners and I had travelling to watch them race,” Gewertz recalled. “We won the Hambletonian with Windsongs Legacy and the Breeders Crown with Housethatruthbuilt. Wow, what a year we had.”
Scant few people have ever owned more horses than Gewertz, who got involved with limited partnerships early on.
“I usually owned anywhere from 20 to 60 per cent and I was lucky to be involved with top stakes horses,” he said. “And for a guy who loves to win, that was right up my alley.”
“Giant Victory was one of my real favourites, too. We won the ‘91 Hambo with him, but I think I had the most fun with ‘Dewey’ because we had such a great group of partners.”
Of course, the aforementioned were the cream of the crop as far as the horses Gewertz has been involved with, but make no mistake, he helped pay the bills on plenty, currently 800 or so, 74 this year alone.
Originally from the South Bronx (New York) and because of his perspicacity he got a free ride to an education starting at the Bronx H.S. of Science and on to City College of NY (CCNY) and finally to New York University School of Law, where he was a classmate of Colin Powell.
Like many from his era, Gewertz would spend the summers of the mid-1950s in the Catskills waiting tables at the hotels that brought the population out of the sweltering city. “That was before Monticello Raceway opened, but later on I used to go to the races there on occasion.”
In the early 1960s, Gewertz started going to Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways three or four times a week and he became a fan of several drivers.
“There were lots of great drivers there during that era and everybody loved Sach Werner, but my all-time favourite back then was Hughie Bell.”
During those years one could find Gewertz at the Palladium (Dance Hall) in New York City on the nights he wasn’t at the racetracks boogying to hot Latin music.
“They call it Salsa today, but it’s really not the same as the music from my era,” he admits. “And I also liked early Rhythm and Blues, you know, the music prior to 1955. They called it race music, but it was great and hard to find on the radio.”
After he finished his schooling, Gewertz became a lawyer, and a good one, specializing in corporate law, and his firm was, and is, one of the biggest defending corporate America.
Still, harness racing bubbled under, and Gewertz would spend many an evening at the racetrack.
I’ll tell you a funny story,” he continued. “I used to get thrown out of the box seats so many times until I found out if I owned a horse I would be okay. So I decided to buy a horse so I could sit in a box without any harassment.”
During the ‘60s, Gewertz got involved in handball, an urban sport which utilizes a ‘Spaldeen,’ and he became an outstanding handball player. Today, at age 76, despite two hip replacements he still is playing — and winning.
“I play singles, exclusively. Since I had my hips done it’s hard for me to play doubles anymore.”
But it’s not hard for Gewertz to go and watch his stock race.
He has a piece of over 70 horse this year, and some of his better ones include Somwherovrarainbow, Shebestingin, Thirty Two Red Neighsay Hanover and Driving Miss Crazy , to mention a few.
But to fully understand Gewertz’s participation in harness racing one just needs to peruse a list of outstanding horses he’s been involved with. However, it is much too extensive to be included here.
Harness racing is very lucky to have a gentleman like Gewertz involved. He certainly isn’t shy about investing in the industry.
Although he has many accolades in his chosen profession, Gewertz is very proud of his Owner of the Year Award that was given to him by the US Harness Writers Association in 2004.