Day At The Track

Looking back to Sportsman’s final night

10:19 PM 09 Aug 2013 NZST
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Sportsman’s Park final program Jet Laag
Sportsman’s Park final program
Jet Laag - With the late Brian Pinske in the sulky at Sportsman’s Park

In about two months it’ll be the 16th anniversary of the closing of Sportsman’s Park to harness racing. The old Cicero, Illinois track’s final Standardbred program was Friday, October 10, 1997 and attached is that night’s front page of its program.

As you can see by the top headline Dave Magee was the leading driver in the Sportsman’s Park final meet while Joe Anderson took the trainer’s title for a sixth consecutive year.

After finishing second to Tony Morgan in the Sportsman’s driver race the previous two years (1995 and 1996), Magee reclaimed the driving crown in 1997 for an unprecedented 11th time.

Earlier Magee won the Sportsman’s Park driving titles in 1981 through 1983, in 1987, 1989, 1991 through 1994 and in 1997.

The final stake race was the $20,000 Rambling Willie for ICF pacers 3 and up. There were 12 horses battling on the seven-eighth’s track, The 35-1 longshot Oliver G Slim, trained and driven by Merv Chupp was the $73.60 upset winner of that stake, coming from 10th with a :26.1 final quarter in 1:53 flat.

Oliver G Slim that night beat the likes of Broadway Preview, Hot Chilli Pepper, Bingo Johnnie and Jeffrey’s Pet.

The last harness race contested before the demise of Sportsman’s Park was an $8,000 ICF claiming event with a $5,000 purse on the 10-race card. It went to Rose and George Bonomo’s Lake Hills Doc, driven by Andy Miller.

The Top 10 drivers on the 1997 and last Sportsman’s Park meeting were Dave Magee, Tony Morgan, Andy Miller, Dale Hiteman, Joe Anderson, Lavern Hostetler, Dean Magee, Dan Knox and Jim Curran.

A year earlier (1996) Joe Anderson became the first trainer in Sportsman’s Park history to win over 100 races and $1.2 million in purses and he did it again in 1997.

From second through 20th the final trainer’s race it was Brian Pinske, Doug Larsen, Jim Eaton, Dave McCaffrey, Gerry Hansen, Julie Miller, Jim Meade, Ken Rucker, Merv Chupp, Andrew Patterson, Roger Welch, Mitch McKenzie, Perry Smith, Mark Fransen, John Butenschoen, Ronnie Roberts, Homer Hochstetler, Lloyd Daulton and Neil Coleman, in that order.

Mike Paradise

The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

 

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