Ron Waples always enjoys returning to Historic Track in Goshen, N.Y., but this year’s visit will combine business with pleasure. The business comes in the form of competing in Sunday’s $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Memorial Trot, an invitational race for Hall of Fame drivers. The pleasure will be seeing renowned writer Dave Briggs inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame during festivities later that evening.
“I always liked Goshen,” said Waples, a Toronto native who was inducted into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1986. “Even back when I was racing New York-sired horses, it amazed me that there is no betting there but you’ve got all the fans. That just takes you back to your roots.
“When you look up there in the grandstand and it’s full and everybody is hooting and hollering and cheering, it just gives you a very good feeling.”
The Gerry Memorial Trot is the highlight of the third of the four-day Grand Circuit meet at Historic Track. The meet coincides with the sport’s Hall of Fame inductions, which will be held Sunday evening at the adjacent Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Also participating in the Gerry Memorial Trot are Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Dave Palone, Brian Sears, Richard “Dick” Stillings, and Jimmy Takter.
Commemorative cards will be distributed to the first 500 fans on Sunday and the Hall of Famers will be available for photos and autographs following the race.
Waples won the Gerry Memorial Trot in 2015. When asked if he was looking forward to this year’s event, he responded with a laugh, “How did I draw?” When informed he drew post six, he laughed again and asked, “Did I get any power?”
He then said, “It’s a pretty big honour to be in there. The Gerry family, they support (harness racing and the museum) so much, it’s unbelievable really. I think everybody kind of feels the same way; you don’t want to let them down and you want to help out a little bit. If this helps out a little bit, then so be it.”
Among this year’s Hall of Fame inductees are breeders Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, and the late horseman Hakan Wallner. Briggs will join announcer Carl Becker as inductees into the Communicators Hall of Fame.
Briggs, who like Waples resides in Ontario, has received a record 11 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing feature writing and reporting. He also is a three-time winner of the Standardbred Canada Media Excellence Award for Outstanding Written Work as well as the recipient of multiple International Harness Racing Media Awards and American Horse Publication Awards, and the Ontario Equestrian Federation Media of the Year Award.
“I have a special feeling this year because Dave Briggs is getting inducted there,” Waples said. “He’s just one of a few. He’s a great writer and a great guy and just all for the sport. It will be worth the trip just for that.”
Racing begins at 1:00 p.m. each day at Historic Track.