In 1978, then harness racing driver-trainer Freddie Hudson was campaigning the horse SJ Al on the New York and New Jersey Circuit. In a race at Freehold Raceway, Hudson won the race and as he entered the winner's circle and was almost at a stop SJ Al reared up in the air and did a 'Hi-Ho Silver.' The track photographer was able to record the incident.
The publicity director at Freehold at that time was Steve Wolf, now president of the U.S. Harness Writers' Association. Wolf had a copy of the photo made for himself, and it hung in his Freehold office, where it hung until the grandstand and office were destroyed in a 1984 fire. The picture survived the fire with very little damage and was again displayed in his new Freehold office, until 1999, when he moved to Florida. In 2000, he took the position of publicity and racing director at Pompano Park, and the SJ Al photo hung in his office during his employment there.
In an interview with Hudson, he said he remembers the race as if it was yesterday. He said he had won the race and was bringing SJ Al to a stop -- when all of a sudden he went straight up in the air.
"He went so high up that my seat hit the ground and I almost fell out of the bike," Hudson said. "I had to bend my body forward and loosened up on the lines and I just waited for him to come back down. I heard someone in the grandstand shout ‘holy (expletive deleted),' and as he came back on the ground I looked over at the photographer and said ‘did you get it' and he replied ‘yes.' "
In January 2012 Wolf found out that Hudson did not have a copy of the photo and generously offered his to him. At the Dan Patch awards Ted Black, President of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of USHWA, of which Hudson is now a member, met Wolf and picked up the photo, which will be presented to Hudson at Rosecroft Raceway on closing night, this Saturday, June 2.
by Susan Arrington, for rrtrotting.com