Burroughs Voted Into U.S. Hall Of Fame; Ballot Announced

Mal Burroughs (in blue and tan driving colours) after winning the 1997 Hambletonian
Published: July 9, 2024 02:51 pm EDT

The Hall Of Fame Screening Committee of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), after meeting with a select group of Harness Racing Museum trustees, announced on Tuesday, July 9 that Malvern (Mal) Burroughs has been elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

The direct election in the Veterans designation is provided for in the USHWA bylaws, allowing for one longtime distinguished contributor to the sport who has cut back on current direct activity being put straight in by the committee, selecting from nominations made by chapters of USHWA.

Burroughs is often described as a “self-made man,” learning about life by living it with the assistance of the Seton Hall (NJ) Seminary, to which Burroughs always donated his fees as an amateur driver. Burroughs borrowed $8,000 to purchase a used dump truck, with the business growing to the point of his construction company being used in excavation of the World Trade Towers site and, more importantly to racing, the building in the swampland of northern New Jersey of a racetrack named The Meadowlands, now one of North America’s flagship harness operations.

Burroughs became an owner in the 1970s, and began to drive his horses in the Billings Amateur Series in the early 1980s. When he needed a fulltime trainer to oversee his growing stable, he turned to a Swedish expatriate named Jimmy Takter, himself now a U.S. Hall Of Famer – and Burroughs’ harness racing successes really hit high gear, especially after purchasing Malabar Farms in New Jersey with his wife Barbara in 1982.

Burroughs and Takter teamed to produce the filly Gleam, a earner of more than $580,000 and the winner, with Burroughs driving, of the Hambletonian Oaks, filly companion race to the famed Hambletonian. But even brighter lightning was to strike for them only a few years later, with Malabar Man.

This Supergill-Lady Love McBur homebred had a rough start as a two-year-old in 1996, with Burroughs needing heart surgery and Malabar Man needing to overcome foot difficulties. But Malabar Man won 13 starts at two, including the Breeders Crown, and was voted U.S. divisional champion, and at three in 1997, he had a storybook campaign, winning the Hambletonian for his amateur driver (still only the second amateur driver to win the classic), the Breeders Crown, the prestigious Orsi Mangelli Trot in Italy, and U.S. Horse of the Year honours. Malabar Man will now be “reunited” with his breeder/owner/driver in the Hall.

Malabar Man’s Hambletonian triumph, combined with Gleam’s Oaks win, makes Burroughs one of only a dozen drivers, and the only amateur, to “do the Hambo double,” with many of the other drivers already enshrined in the Hall.

Burroughs always found the time to make major contributions to the sport’s leading organizations, including the Hall Of Fame, the Hambletonian Society, and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, in addition to his largesse to the Seton Hall Seminary, which played such a large part in his early life.

Burroughs will be feted for his Hall Of Fame selection on two occasions: the first comes on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2025, at the Dan Patch Awards Banquet hosted by USHWA, to be held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida; the second will be the official date of his Hall induction, Sunday, July 6, 2025, at the annual Hall Of Fame Dinner in Goshen, New York.    

The Hall Of Fame Screening Committee of USHWA, after meeting with a select group of Harness Racing Museum trustees, also announced that Tom Aldrich, Bob Boni and Chris Ryder will appear on this summer’s Hall Of Fame ballot.

The Hall Of Fame candidates, selected from nominations by USHWA’s chapters, will be voted on by members of the Hall Of Fame and by eligible USHWAns. The ballots, which will be distributed within the next few weeks, will also find USHWAns voting for the Communicators Hall Of Fame candidates Judy Davis-Wilson and Debbie Little, put forward by the writers’ directors from chapter nominations. A candidate must receive 75 per cent of the yes-no ballots cast to earn election into the Hall. Results will be announced in mid-summer.        

Tom Aldrich is perhaps most renowned for his 30+ years in upper management at Cleveland’s Northfield Park, where his innovation and attention to customer service combined with that of the track’s energetic late owner Carl Milstein and other key executives to make Northfield Park one of the shining examples of racetrack operation in North America, such as inaugurating the Free-For-All pacing event, the Battle Of Lake Erie.

A graduate of Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati’s College Of Law, Aldrich had many positive formative steps along the way, working for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and as Executive Assistant at Harness Tracks Of America to double Hall Of Famer Stan Bergstein. It was while serving as general manager of Rosecroft Raceway near D.C. that he met his late wife Lynn, daughter of a Pennsylvania racing family, herself a noted driver, and a worker in several Maryland official capacities.

Bob Boni rode a wave of steadily more-responsible jobs up the harness “ladder” – Pine Hollow Stud; the Wall Street Stable in partnership with Lou Guida, whose most spectacular star was champion Nihilator; Dreamaire Stud; and his own International Bloodstock, now his Northwood Bloodstock Company. The list of champions associated with him is too long to be categorized here, but must include the 1:46 pacer Always B Miki.

The innovator of using videos to market yearlings, Boni serves on the boards of the Harness Racing Museum, the Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association of New Jersey, and is the Chairman of USHWA’s Breeding Awards Committee. He was the point man in ensuring that New Jersey racing received a sizable appropriation from that state’s legislators, helping to revitalize racing in the Garden State.

New Zealand native Chris Ryder worked from a young age with horses, some Thoroughbred until his body outgrew his desire to become a jockey, in his native land, then came to North America with his wife Nicola, a CPA, when she got a job in Manhattan, New York. He quickly established himself as a master of conditioning horses of all varieties, especially top performers, and even more so with female trotters and pacers.

McArdle, Bettors Wish, Tattoo Artist and Breeders Crown winner Gem Quality are among the male stakes and Free-For-All stars he has trained. But the list of female Standardbreds benefiting from his services is longer, and just as distinguished: Cathedra Dot Com, Mystical Sunshine, Put On A Show, Party Girl Hill, Niki Hill, I Luv The Nightlife and today’s star pacing mare Twin B Joe Fresh, now successful at four after stellar campaigns at two and three.

(With files from United States Harness Writers Association; Photo of Mal Burroughs [in blue and tan driving colours] holding the Hambletonian trophy after Malabar Man's victory in the 1997 edition)

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