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Newest Hall Class Inducted In Goshen

Published: July 4, 2011 2:44 pm ET

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On a mid summer’s eve on Sunday, July 3, with the occasional pop of a firecracker foretelling the next day’s significance, inductions for the Harness Racing Hall of Fame were held in Goshen, New York.

Inductees Jim Simpson, president of the sport’s most prolific breeding farm, Hanover Shoe Farm, and racing judge Walter Russell were the headliners. The pacing mare Eternal Camnation and Gallo Blue Chip, the sport’s leading money winning pacer, with $4.2 million, were also inducted, along with broodmares Artistic Vision, J Cs Nathalie and Tsunami Hanover.

The newest members of the Communicators’ Hall of Fame, the late publicist Joe Hartmann and television personality Gary Seibel, were feted as well.

Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, a top breeder in Sweden and engineer of the Museum’s Currier and Ives exhibit’s recent tour of Europe, received the Museum’s Pinnacle Award, while Steve Oldford was honoured as the Museum’s Amateur Driver of the Year for providing the most donations, in lieu of driver’s commissions, to the Museum.

In introducing Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms and a noted trainer before that transition, Ellen Harvey described his interactions with an early trainee, a cranky pony named Champ.

“Champ taught Jim perhaps the most traits of a good horseman -- patience and persistence. Some days he could catch Champ right away, some days not. Some days he ended up in the dirt, some days not. But Champ never totally eluded capture and Jim always dusted himself off and got back on that pony.”

“I am optimistic about harness racing’s immediate future,” said Simpson.

Referring to a new lessee at the sport’s flagship track, the Meadowlands, he said, “We are now partners with several national and international gaming companies with substantial resources to help promote the sport. Slot machines at the tracks have given us a chance to expand our markets. It is now up to our industry to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Russell Williams, in introducing Walter Russell, noted his academic career outside harness racing.

“Many people with a fine intellect, good powers of observation, a delightful wit, and a Ph.D. in English from Emory might have been lured into a tenured professorship at a major university,” said Williams. “But our honouree was not overcome by the allurements of the academic life, though he taught at a number of universities, when he could spare time from serving as one of harness racing’s best-respected officials.”

“Being a racing official is almost undefinable,” noted Russell in his acceptance remarks. “Not merely like being an umpire or referee, it begins with judging the harness race and keeping the program moving, but ends with having learned a great deal about life and racing's health in general.

“Ultimately we serve the public and the animal. To be honoured for this work is something I would never have thought about and to be mentioned with someone like Milt Taylor, who was the model for officials, is unexpected. I am very proud of the people I worked with, and am lucky to have worked with some of the greatest participants of this sport, worked at some of the most successful racetracks and seen some of the greatest horses in history.”


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


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