Poore coaching a different kind of athlete

03:24 AM 04 Jul 2010 NZST
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Harold Poore
Harold Poore
Photo by Donna Williams

Harold Poore is still finding success in his coaching career. Although, he is now coaching harness horses instead of basketball players. He was able to pick up his first win of the harness racing season Thursday, July 1 with his mare, Tambrielle.

Harold, who is referred to by most as just "Coach," is a member of the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Hall Of Fame. He coached high school sports for more than 35 years, including basketball and cross-country at Carmi High School. One of the most memorable moments in Carmi belongs to Coach, as the 1975 boys basketball team lost to Venice on a half-court buzzer beater in the super-sectional in a triple overtime. He boasts a .709 winning percentage, going 117-48 for Carmi before taking the Athletic Director position for the high school.

Poore also experienced equal success with his boys cross country teams. His squads qualified for the state tournaments eight consecutive seasons from 1980 through 1988, and several of his standout runners went on to successful running careers in the college ranks.

Coach first got involved with harness racing as a way to occupy his time during his summer breaks. It has since grown into a passionate hobby for him, owning and training more than 100 horses throughout his 40 years of involvement in the industry. He currently has a two-horse stable at Hoosier Park that includes a four-year-old mare and a two-year-old colt, both Indiana-sired horses.

The win Thursday was especially important to Poore, as it was his first trip to the winner's circle at Hoosier Park since 2008. Tambrielle, named after coach's daughter, Tammy, and granddaughter, Gabrielle, has raced well this season in Anderson, accumulating a multitude of place and show finishes, but never earning a win.

After drawing post position four, Ricky Macomber moved Tambrielle into third going into the first turn behind Southwind Rah Rah (Dan Shetler) and Call Me Flash. The order didn't change until the final quarter. Things initially didn't look good for the Western Hero mare down the stretch as the field closed in tightly. Surprisingly, Macomber managed to squeeze her through an opening where she was able to out pace Call Me Flash and Sam Widger to win by one-quarter of a length. The win was Tambrielle's best time of her career, pacing the mile in 1:57.0.

"This win is very special for me," said Poore. "She (Tambrielle) is really easy to work with and at my age, it really makes a difference. She was off for three weeks because her races didn't fill, so I think getting some rest helped."

After retiring from Carmi in 1992, Poore continued his involvement with athletics. He began to sell sports equipment to Southern Illinois high schools. He now works as a sales representative for Skeeter Kell Sporting Goods located in Kennett, Mo. Each spring, he relocates his operation to Anderson, Ind. to race at Hoosier Park.

"I've been coming up to Anderson now since 2003," said Poore. "I'm able to run my sporting goods business out of my daughter's house and also help with my granddaughter. I used to only buy Illinois-bred horses, but since I started coming up to Hoosier Park, I buy Indiana-sired yearlings. The last five yearlings that I've bought have been from the Indiana sales. I only race at Hoosier Park, so at the end of the meet, I go home and race a little at our county fairs."

In addition to his work as a trainer, Poore also serves on the board of the Illinois Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association and he and his wife, Rose, serve as the secretary for the Egyptian Colt Stakes in Southern Illinois. An avid runner, the 72-year-old is a graduate of Southern Illinois University.

This is just another example of the versatility harness racing can provide to people. While many horsemen and horsewomen choose racing as a career, it doesn't have to be the only way to be affiliated with the industry. Horse racing can serve as an exciting way to invest, a thrilling way to entertain, or, in Harold Poore's case, a great way to spend your free time.

By Seth KONKLE

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