Holloway, Key Family Honoured

Published: December 17, 2021 01:31 pm EST

Veteran trainer Joe Holloway, a member of the Hall of Fame, has been selected as the W.R. Haughton Good Guy Award recipient, and the late Robert Key and his family have been voted the LeeAnne Pooler Unsung Hero Award, in recent year-end voting by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

Holloway got his start in the sport as a caretaker for a downstate Delaware horseman named Francis Tierney – who was also a Catholic priest who wanted to pursue an activity related to his parish, so he took up the training of Standardbreds in that area where many families trained and cared for horses. Holloway was an altar boy for Tierney, and also joined him at the racetrack, and from those humble beginnings Joe progressed to the highest echelons of the sport.

Jennas Beach Boy, the world’s fastest horse in his day (1:47.3) and a two-time Pacer of the Year, is probably Holloway’s best-known horse, but the year of another three-year-old pacing colt he trained, Perfect Sting this season, wasn’t bad, either – a winner in the Breeders Crown elim and final, along with multiple other stakes events, making him the richest competitor of the year with earnings of $1,273,647.

But the figure that probably earned Holloway this award was this horse’s eight second-place finishes – never beaten by more than three-quarters of a length, averaging a margin of less than half a length in gallant defeat, and missing out on just south of $800,000 by finishing second instead of first in these races. You learn more about a person in adversity than in success, and Holloway’s triumph is that he would patiently and logically answer all questions about his horse, no matter what the finish, recalling the boundless spirit that was possessed by the person after whom this award is named, Bill Haughton.

Billy Haughton was also the person who got Robert Key started in the business – a western Pennsylvania lawyer, Key needed Haughton to testify in a case, and while conversing Haughton was so enthusiastic about the sport that Key said he may go in on a horse or two. A few months later, Haughton called Bob and told him he was a quarter-owner of five horses, and liking the sport so much, plunged ahead; a racing/breeder career later Key had produced numerous first-rate Standardbreds such as Hambletonian champion American Winner and the foundation broodmare BJ’s Pleasure.

When Mr. Key passed away in January of this year, his will provided that over $100,000 in donations would go to many of the sport’s major organizations, including USHWA, and Bob’s wife Patty notified the communicators of this generous bequest. USHWA is using money coming from Mr. Key’s generosity to support the Clyde Hirt Workshop, a program that brings potential harness journalists to The Meadowlands on Hambletonian Week, shows them the “behind-the-scenes” operations of both communications and the backstretch, and then assigns them various tasks and projects to complete, giving them real insight into the harness communication process. The Hirt Workshop will be bigger and better than ever this coming year because of the generosity of Mr. Key and his family.

Joe Holloway, and the late Robert Key and his family, will be honored at USHWA’s Dan Patch Night of Champions Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 20, 2022 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Souvenir Journal should contact Lynne Myers at [email protected]; sponsorship opportunities can be explored with Shawn Wiles at [email protected]. For tickets for the Awards Banquet, contact Judy Davis-Wilson at [email protected]; to book rooms at the Rosen Shingle Creek, go to the USHWA website, where in the middle of the first page is a link directly into their reservations computer.


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