Day At The Track

Looking back: Bonefish and the summer of '75

09:30 AM 19 Jan 2015 NZDT
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Bonefish, harness racing Bonefish, harness racing
Bonefish and trainer, driver and co-owner Stanley Dancer going for a jog
Bonefish and trainer/driver Stanley Dancer
Bonefish winning 1975 Hambletonian; race call by Stan Bergstein

The 2007 National Hall of Fame Equine inductee Bonefish was one of many great horses the renowned horseman Stanley Dancer raced in Illinois, especially in the 1970s.

Bonefish, a son of Nevele Pride was the 1974 Two-Year-Old Trotter of the year when he won 10 of 16 starts, including the Review at Springfield, for Dancer who drove, trained and co-owned the youngster.

In 1975 Bonefish was named the Three-Year-Old Trotter of the year, after winning 17 of 28 starts and earning almost $220,000.On July 2, 1975 Bonefish held off a fast-closing Meadow Bright (See photo) in 1:59.2, at that time a Sportsman’s Park track record mile, in the American National sophomore trot.

About a month later Bonefish captured the 50th edition of the Hambletonian in four heats. The trotter also was victorious that year in the Founder’s Gold Cup, the Empire State Trot and the Greenwood Trot.

A week after his Hambo triumph Bonefish was syndicated for a reported $1 million and went on to stand at Castleton Farm in Lexington, Kentucky from 1976 through 1987 before being exported to Sweden.

Over 100 of his foals were 2:00 performers with three trotting under 1:55.

In 1988, at the age of only 16, Bonefish was found dead in his paddock in Sweden.

In 1975 Dancer also came to Sportsman’s Park for the American National 2-year-old trot and again was behind the winner when Nevele Thunder splashed his way to a 2:06.3 clocking in the rain.

The American National 2-Year-Old Colt Pace landed 23 starters and was split into two divisions. The favorite Raven Hanover (George Sholty) took the first in 2:01 while the local hope Late Show (Jerry Graham) won the second in 2:03 for Misty Farm of Salam, Illinois and Rac Ed Nav Stable of Hillsboro, Illinois.

The illustrious Rambling Willie, trained and driven by the late great Bob Farrington, was a fan favorite that summer, rattling off five consecutive victories. The future Hall of Famer finished off his Sportsman’s Park campaign with a 1:57 flat clocking on July 26 in the $35,000 Fort Dearborn Free Fort All Pace before a big crown of 18,881 patrons and a 1:52.2 win on August 4 in the $35,000 Paul Wixom Free For All Pace.

Some of the other major stake winners that summer were Handle With Care (Peter Haughton) in the $50,000 U.S. Pacing Championship, Title Holder (Tom Brinkerhoff) in the $111,000 American National Maturity Pace, Young Quinn (Charlie Hunter) in the $40,000 Governor’s Cup on the Fourth of July and Nero (Joe O’Brien) in the American National 3-Year-Old Cot Pace.

The $50,000 Pete Langley Memorial Pace, a pre-Super Night 3-year-old ICF colt stake at that time, saw Robert Winter’s Frosty Arden go wire-to-wire for driver Joe Marsh Jr. in 2:00.1.

The average attendance in 1975 for Sportsman’s 60-night summer meeting was 14,381 while the nightly on-track mutuel handle averaged over $1.4 million.

Walter Paisley’s 63 dash winners were 20 more than runner-ups Daryl Busse and Jim Dennis. Joe Marsh Jr. (38) and Jerry Graham (35) rounded out the Sportsman’s Park Top Five in ’75.

They were followed by Stan Banks, Jim Dolbee, Carmen Alessi, Jim Curran, Dwayne Pletcher, Lew Williams, Stan Bayless, Dennis Bird, Henry Lunsford, Del Pletcher, Nelson Willis and Wayne Temple, in that order.

by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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