Dahl's Move From Bike To Easel

Published: May 14, 2014 02:26 pm EDT

When Jerry Dahl bet on his first horse, he never thought that he would end up driving a winner at Roosevelt Raceway.

Although, Dahl, a modest fan, loved the game so much that he started training and driving his own horses. Following the Roosevelt era, and several ‘regular jobs,’ Dahl traded in his driving colours for a palette of watercolours. “It is a different thrill but it’s like being back at the barn, back in the bike, back in the winner’s circle!”

The talented artist read the Roosevelt article and thought it would be fun to do a painting of a horse from that iconic era and share it with those who also have such great memories. The 18x24 rendition of Valiant Bret and Lucien Fontaine will be raffled off at the Meadowlands on Saturday (May 17) evening during the Roosevelt Raceway Legacy Night.

Of course, the affable ‘Loosh’ agreed to autograph the piece, making the artwork all the more treasured. The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame shall receive the funds from the raffle.

Dahl was first introduced to harness racing back in his high school days when a friend offered to take him to Brandywine Raceway. Dahl was apprehensive initially, but finally he agreed and was forever hooked.

While in college in West Chester, Pennsylvania, he met a young Joe Holloway, who let him jog his first horse. Then he went to work at Winterset Farm near Wilmington. Dahl got his matinee license a year later in 1973 and he was off to the races.

Despite a degree in business administration, Dahl stayed with the horses and was working for Walt Warrington at Roosevelt as a second trainer. “I loved Roosevelt,” noted Dahl. “The biggest thrill of my harness career was winning my first drive there in 1983. To me it was like hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium.”

Dahl continues, “I never thought driving horses was a possibility. Herve Filion was my idol when I was just a fan. My biggest thrill came was when I actually got to drive against him.

“I will never forget the day he beat me by a very short nose at Brandywine. I still have that picture in hanging in my kitchen!”

Dahl faired pretty well during his time at the track, amassing 99 wins and steering his mounts to over $300,000 in purses.

“During the late 1980s I could see that things were changing. I was not interested in just training. When I saw Billy Haughton putting up Billy O’Donnell I knew the catch-driving era had begun.”

Dahl raced mainly on the Liberty Bell-Brandywine-Dover circuit. A few years after that phase of his life ended, he began painting water colours in 1988. After many land and seascapes he soon gravitated toward equine art.

“Horses were a part of me and art was in my family. My father was a rare talent. Painting horses keeps me connected to the barn area and the horses that I have loved my entire life.”


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