Hall Of Fame Welcomes Newest Class

Published: July 4, 2010 11:27 pm EDT

On America’s birthday, the Harness Racing Hall of Fame welcomed its latest class in Goshen, New York, with fireworks accentuating the close of the evening, just after dark


Bunny Lake and Varenne were inducted to the Living Horse Hall of Fame, with crystal discs celebrating the occasion presented to their connections, Wendy Spring for Bunny Lake and Francesco Ruffo for Varenne. Anne Zweig accepted Immortal Hall of Fame honours for her late husband Dr. Harry Zweig, pioneer of the New York Sire Stakes, and Garrett Hermanson accepted for the late breeder Alden Goldsmith.

Brittany Farm Manager Art Zubrod recalled the day that Three Diamonds, an honouree as an Immortal, died at the farm.

“She was just a classy mare, always so easy to work with, we all loved her. We buried her at the farm, she was the first horse in our cemetery. The girls at the farm had put white roses in the grave with her and I gave the go ahead to the guy working the backhoe to cover her up. I looked up and this guy had tears running down his face.”

Maine’s Todd Whitney accepted honours as the amateur driver who has contributed the most to the Harness Racing Museum through donation of his driving commissions. Sculptor Bev Lopez’s 50 years of creating the statuettes of the Hall of Famers was honoured with presentation of the Museum’s Pinnacle Award.

Hanover Shoe Farm Publicity Director Murray Brown and Jim Moran were inducted to the Communicator’s Corner of the Hall of Fame. Brown evoked his rough and tumble childhood in his acceptance speech.

“I’m living a dream,” he said. “When I first discovered harness racing, I was about 18 years old and most of my time was devoted to playing cards and getting in trouble. Harness racing pretty much saved me. My dream was to go to Hanover Shoe Farms – to me, Hanover Shoe Farms is what harness racing was about.

Brown concluded by paraphrasing vintner Robert Mondavi.

“A man who is passionate about what he does will never work a day in his life,” he said, “And I’ve never worked a day in my life.

Jim Moran, announcer and publicity director at Vernon Downs for nearly 50 years, reflected his affection for the people in the sport in his life’s work.

“During my rewarding career, I have simply tried to convey to the media and fans and others the same admiration and appreciation that I’ve felt for this great sport and its gifted performers,” he said. “Realizing that my efforts on behalf of Vernon Downs these past 48 years have been deemed worthy of Hall of Fame merit by the people I have worked with, respected and admired makes me very appreciative and proud.

The evening concluded with acceptance speeches by the living Hall of Famers, Hal Jones and Dave Palone.

“I’m probably the luckiest guy here,” said Jones, whose pioneering work in artificial insemination caused a sea change in improved health conditions for mares, stallions and foals and the ability to quickly proliferate improved bloodlines throughout the breed. “I’ve been at the right place at the right time, one time after another,” he said, after acknowledging that marrying his wife of 60 years, Marie was, “the best move I ever made. She could cook, she could clean and she could always tell if a foal was a little off.”

Dave Palone, one of the few Hall of Fame drivers not to grow up in the sport, recalled a childhood experience at the Meadows’ marquee event.

“I remember Dad taking me to my first Adios when Armbro Ranger and Joe O’Brien beat Keystone Ore and Stanley Dancer. I think they thought it was something I’d get tired of. My dad bought me my first horse and mom helped me design my colours. Mom and Dad, I’m thrilled you could share this moment with me.”

Palone concluded by recalling his comeback after a serious femur fracture and asking those in attendance to remember some of his colleagues who are currently recovering from serious injuries.

“Richie Silverman, Daniel Dube, Aaron Merriman and now Marcus Johansson, please, drop them an email or send them a note,” he asked. “ I’ve been there, I know how much it means. John Campbell did it for me and he showed me that he’s not just a great driver, he’s a great person, too.”