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Hall Of Fame Drivers In Action

Published: June 28, 2010 8:39 pm ET

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The 12th annual $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Sr. Memorial Trot at Goshen Historic Track on Sunday, July 4, will feature seven of the finest horsemen in the sport of harness racing, including the three winningest drivers in North American history.

The race, featuring Hall of Fame trainers and drivers, includes this year’s inductee, Dave Palone, along with Jim Doherty, Herve Filion, Wally Hennessey, Mike Lachance, Bill O’Donnell, and Cat Manzi.

After the race, drivers will sign photos and greet fans at the south end of the grandstand. Post time is 1 p.m. for the races at Historic Track.

Palone, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday evening, is one of the few top drivers who did not grow up in a racing family. He is a six-time Harness Tracks of America Driver of the Year and in both 2008 and 2009 crossed the $10-million purse barrier. He ranks No. 3 in wins in history, with 13,773 victories, and has led North America in triumphs three times while finishing in the top eight every year beginning in 1990. He entered this year having won at least 532 races in 18 consecutive seasons. He ranks third in North America this year, with 297 wins.

Filion will come out of semi-retirement to compete at Goshen. He is the leading driver in North American harness racing history, with 15,179 wins, and won or shared the HTA Driver of the Year Award a record 10 times.

Manzi is second to only Filion in career races won, with 13,784. The ultra consistent Manzi has not won less than 200 races in a season since 1986 and he has $142 million in earnings (good for fourth place in history). He is the only driver to win at least one race at the Meadowlands every year since it opened in 1976.

Lachance has won the Hambletonian four times and crossed the 10,000-win threshold last year. Lachance’s $181 million in purse earnings place him second to only John Campbell’s $268 million.

Doherty, known as “Gentleman Jim,” drove in the inaugural season at The Meadowlands and is one of the few drivers to have competed there every season since that track opened in 1976. He has 4,589 wins as a driver and also is well known as a trainer of horses such as top older trotter Fool’s Goal, who made $3 million in his career.

Hennessey is best known as being the regular driver of two-time Horse of the Year Moni Maker (1998 and 1999), steering her in both her North American and European campaigns. Last year was the 21st consecutive year that he had 200 or more victories. Hennessey is a native of Prince Edward Island and rewrote the record books there in the early 1980s.

O’Donnell, known as the “Magic Man,” has won 5,733 races and $98 million in purses during his career. In 1985, he became the sport’s first $10-million man. In 1993, he drove Cambest to the fastest mile ever, 1:46.1, in a time trial at Lexington’s Red Mile.

‘Hall’ Helmet Auction

Bids are now open for the ultimate in harness racing memorabilia – a regulation harness racing helmet festooned with the signatures of all the living Hall of Fame members. The sale of the helmet will benefit the Harness Racing Museum and Standardbred Retirement Foundation. The helmet was donated by Big D’s and will soon include the signatures of the two newest Hall of Famers, Hal Jones and Dave Palone.

The minimum opening bid is $200 with $50 increments. Bidding will conclude at the Hambletonian Charity Golf Tournament on August 2 at Hackensack Country Club.

To bid on the helmet, contact Gail Cunard at [email protected] or call 845-294-6330.


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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