Day At The Track

Perseverance paid off for Dale Hiteman

07:04 PM 04 Dec 2010 NZDT
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Dale Hiteman
Dale Hiteman

Our congratulations go out to veteran Chicago circuit harness racing driver Dale Hiteman who reached a major milestone Friday night at Maywood Park when he posted his 8,000 career winner with the Dave Mc Caffrey Stable's Daibin N in race six.

Three races earlier Hiteman drove his 7,999 lifetime winner with the 8-1 longshot Mikayla's Rockette.

"I'm leaving town for the winter after this weekend and heading to Florida," Hiteman told me after posting winners 7,997 and 7,998 Wednesday night at Balmoral. "So it sure would be nice to get my 8,000th here on the Chicago circuit. This is where I've spent most of my 35 years of driving horses."

As it turned out Dale reached the 8,000 plateau with a couple of days to spare.

I was the Publicity Director at Sportsman's Park when a young Dale Hiteman came to Chicago from Ohio in the early 1980s and began an illustrious career in our state that earned him an induction into the Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1993

When I spoke to Dale a couple of days ago he shared some of his thoughts with me:

"I remember when Walter Paisley and Daryl Busse got the 3,000 and 4,000 wins. Those were the guys I looked up to when I was a kid," said the 54-year-old Ohioan. "Of course things have changed a lot since. In those days we didn't race year around and most guys like himself both drove and trained horses. Now you have mostly catch-drivers.

"Back then that's how I was raised. You trained and drove horses but there came a time I realized I couldn't do it all, not with a wife and three kids. Something had to give so I gave up training horses and concentrated on strictly on being a catch-driver.

"I like to think that through the years I've respected people. I like to think the race tracks and people like Phil Langley, a man who always ran a tight-ship with no bull, gave me mutual respect. Phil is someone who for a long time has been a very important part of harness racing and for that matter, he still is. I think people like Phil know that I've always gone out there and given it my best.

"In the racing business you're going to go through a lot of ups and downs and if you don't have that competitive fire in your belly you are not going to persevere and reach those high tides in your career."

With 8,000 career dash winners and money won of over $61 million, Dale's perseverance has certainly paid off.

Congrats again Dale.

by Mike PARADISE, for the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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