As the 'winter' training season moves toward completion I was recently reminded of why dreams, anticipation and excitement remain at top of mind for harness racing stakeholders and observers of the standardbred sport. The following excerpt from a Harness Horse 1948 story, following the Harrisburg Sale, rightfully references baseball's 'Hot Stove League' as of similar context:
"Once again, for the week of the Standardbred Sale, Harrisburg, Pa. was the harness horse capitol of the world. To ordinary citizens, not bitten by the trotting and pacing "bug", the year may end on December 31, but to the addicts of the sulky sport the annual auction marks the windup of one year and the beginning of anticipation for the coming season. It will be a long, barren winter for the devotees of America's fastest growing sport, until the bell rings again in the spring, but the "Hot Stove League" that takes over after the great get-together at Harrisburg will keep the spark burning.
Practically everybody that is anybody in the world of hopples, knee-boots, goggles and hand-holds that could get there was on hand. The usual meeting place at the close of each day-the lobby of the Penn-Harris Hotel-was jam-packed with the leading owners, drivers, breeders, track officials, the ever-present turf writers, and just plain followers of the game.
There was more interest shown by the general public in the Harrisburg area than ever before as crowds of spectators flocked out to the Farm Show Arena to see the colorful bidding and mill around the stalls of the more famous sales entries. A publicity program, featuring spot announcements and a series of special events broadcasts direct from the arena by the popular Harry Hinckley of Station WHP, did much to acquaint the local residents with this unique sporting spectacle.
Among those appearing on the radio were the popular young drivers Del Cameron and Joe O'Brien; Sam Wiedrick, the Maywood Park impressario, describing the latest projects for the fast-growing Chicago course; C. T. Black, owner of Pleasantdale Farm, one of the newest breeding establishments located in Berryville, Va.; and Charlie Ruderman, Gouverneur, N. Y., interviewed just after buying the pacing flyer Gene Abbe 4, 2:034/5 (hmt).
The crack team of auctioneers and spotters, headed by George Swinebroad really put on their "act" in fine style, and though the final results surpassed the 1947 sale in both totals and averages it was no easy battle. The "double play" team of Bob Jewell describing the horses and Swinebroad selling, carried the major share of the burden with "Doc" Bond and Bud "Two-Two" Hamilton pitching in energetically- with mike and gavel, alternating in the steady cajolery of the buyers. Murray Kay, Jack Wright, and others acting as spotters, plus the busiest man in the arena,
the indefatigable one and only David "Piggie" Friedman carrying the slips to the successful bidders, also played their part nobly.
One of the lighter moments of the long grind of buying and selling came during a slight lull in the sale. Down the aisle leading to the ring came a drummer, piling on the sticks with a real flourish, and vividly dressed in a spic and span red and white driver's outfit. Following close behind came the two fillies from the consignment of George Swinebroad, standing ready in the stand, to hustle the bids for Miss Annie and Kiss N'Tell.
It soon developed that the originators of the scheme were the irrepressible pair of Delvin Miller and Dick Case, Swinebroad being the most surprised man in the arena. Donning the red. and white driver's cap himself, George sold his fillies in grand style, warning the buyers that he would remember who had failed to bid on his stock. Dick Case also gets credit for the best publicity stunt of the sale; the furnishing of shoulder holders carrying the Rosecroft Raceway card for the mammoth two pound, ten oz. catalog. Dick is now General Manager for the W. E. Miller plant a few miles outside of Washington, D. C., that is making rapid progress in getting ready for the scheduled opening of the Maryland season next spring.
Eclipsing all previous records for a harness horse auction, The Standardbred Sale Company sold a total of 670 head for $1,018,370 at the State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa., November 8th through 12th. It was the second million dollar sale for the standardbreds, with both the over-all figures and the average price of $1,519 per head topping the 1947 marks. As usual, the regally-bred consignment of the Hanover Shoe Farms, Hanover, Pa., numbering 72 yearlings, was the headliner of the sale, bringing $264,800, while the Hanover average climbed to $3,667.18, as compared to $3,396 in 1947 and $3,077 in 1946."
Now, back to the reality of 2013 pacing prospects. Recent visits to Sunshine Meadows exhibited some attractive pacing prospects as they learned their lessons, demonstrating what "dreams" are made of:
Rock-A-My Baby bf 4-8-11 -Me And My Baby-
Breeder and Owner: Glenby Farms
Stable: Brooke and Bruce Nickells
This well moving homebred is the first foal from Me And My Baby p, 3, 1:51 ($607.841), she from My Baby And Me by. She has the pedigree to be special
Bogotodayonly bf 5-22-11 Panspacific Flight-Bogo's Dream-Dream Work
Breeder and Owner: Lauren B. Nickells
Stable: Brooke and Bruce Nickells
This Indiana eligible filly is especially smooth gaited; effortless. She's the third foal of Bogo's Dream p, 3, 1:54.2s and is a full sister to That Man Of Mine p, 3, 1:53 ($53,981)
Surfin Hanover bf 5-3-11 -Sandlark Hanover-Big Towner
Breeder and Owner: Hanover Shoe Farms
Stable: Fred Grant
14th foal of the dam that has produced nine winners, two under 1:50 including Always Cam, p, 1:49.2f (by) and Scoreboard Hanover p, 1:49.1 (No Nukes).
Paces easily and with power - a good looker
In The Pink bf 4-22-11 -Bold Pink-Big Towner
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms
Owner: William Donovan
The dam has p, 5, 1:51.3 records ($216,852). 2nd dam Cool Pink p, 4, 1:54.2 ($149,295)
Stable: Jonas Czyneyson (Team JC)
Classy, smooth going filly
Lindysbathinbeauty brf 3-2-11 -Sunshine Sister-
Breeders/Owners: Adam Victor & Son Stable Inc. and Lindy Farms of Conn.
2nd foal of Sunshine Sister p, 3, 1:54f ($147,217), first foal of dam Sunshine Lady p, 2, 1:55.1f in 2012 by
Stable: Lindy Farms
Good moving filly that's likely a prospect she being from perhaps the greatest first crop pacing sire ever
Lindy's Real Deal brc 2-20-11 Bettor's Delight-Real Appealing-
Breeder and Owner: Lindy Racing Stable
The dam has p, 3, 1:51.2 marks ($64,294)
Stable: Lindy Farms
One of the better pacing prospects we've seen this winter/spring training season
Anticipation bf 5-3-11 -Real Fanfare-
Breeder: Perretti Farms
Owner: Perretti Racing Stable LLC
Stable: Charles Sylvester
2nd dam Remember When, p, 4, 1:50.3s ($917,523)
Pedigree would indicate a bright future.
We wish these fine two year-olds and their connections all the best for a very successful 2013 racing campaign. For many, hopefully your dreams and aspirations will be realized.
Thomas H. Hicks