We promised you trivia question answers!

11:37 AM 05 Mar 2014 NZDT
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Harness racing
What do Ron Pierce and Roger Plante, Jr. have in common aside from their initials?

And now, the answers to the trivia questions that have appeared in this space recently.

We'll deal first with Bob "Hollywood" Heyden's question, paraphrasing from the previous article:

"Jerryconnors, this year Shebestingin and Beeamagician both went faster than any of their three-year-old colt counterparts. What was thelastyear that thathappened?" (Bob's brain is always in hyperwarpdrive, and sometimes the words come out of his mouth as if frantically trying to keep up with the gray matter that had just produced them.)

When I originally told of this encounter, I did not include my first, smart-ass answer: Since Bob was asking me the question in 2014 (the February of the Dover USHWA/banquet), I said, "2013," which was the previous and, thus by definition, "last" year.

That of course was a correct answer. (Watch, and it'll turn more correct the further you read.)

Heyden wasn't impressed, giving a "Geez" and a shake of the head as if wondering why he wastes his time trying to educate the unwashed. "Before that, I mean."

As I did recount earlier, my next response was, "I don't know." Which was the second correct answer - because 2013 was the FIRST AND ONLY time that Bob's phenomenon had ever occurred! And of course you can't know something that doesn't exist. So BOTH of my answers were correct!

I owe thanks for verification to David Carr, veteran computer guru and statistical researcher for the USTA (along with being a Tottenham Hotspurs fan, as is Roy Davis). David said that when he saw the article, he set up the computer parameters, and could trace the data back to 1951 - and that 2013 was the first year that the phenomenon occurred. (Though, according to David, it had happened three times previously among two-year-olds - but that's for a future column.)

After Hollywood's stumper, I mentioned, I happened upon an amazing piece of trivia in the Dover paddock:

Not 10 feet apart from each other were two gentlemen who are both members of a very, very exclusive club - they were both the leading dashwinning drivers at tracks that hosted just ONE season of harness racing!

They accomplished their feats 15 years apart. And they both have the same initials!

I did plant one clue in yesterday's story - if you read Ron Pierce's career travels carefully, you may have noted "Minnesota" thrown in there. In 1986, Pierce was the leading driver during the only year they had harness racing at Canterbury (which, for different trivia fans, was where Governor Jesse Ventura's post-election celebration was held). Forrest Skipper won there that year,too - in the Dan Patch Pace, of course.

So now we know that the other driver's initials are also "RP" - and from there it's a short jump to Roger Plante Jr., now a solid regular on the Delaware circuit, but for three weekends in 2001 plying his trade at Oakridge Racecourse in Virginia - where he won their only dash title with 14 triumphs.

Oak Ridge Estate in southwest VA is an historic plantation/horse farm/events site that was purchased by the Holland Family in 1989, with John Sr. later thinking to try to secure a couple of off-track wagering permits in the Old Dominion - but that required him to hold a pari-mutuel license. So he carved a mile track on the grounds, brought in tents for a paddock and temporary fixtures for fans (no simulcasting in or out, the latter disappointing Plainridge, and I know because they called me, who had written a story, and asked me), and conducted Friday-Saturday-Sunday racing from September 21 to October 7 of 2001. (Alas, for overall naught for Mr. Holland's oval, as he did not get the off-track permits.)

There was only that one season of harness at Oakridge (how the USTA records spell it) - nine days, 101 purse races. Plante won 14, one more than Clifton Green, to secure its only dash title, and join that super-exclusive club that both he and Pierce have membership in.

And now to end - FOR POSSIBLY THE ONLY TIME EVER IN PRINT - the list of the drivers who won the 101 races at Oakridge!

14: Roger Plante Jr.
13: Clifton Green
11: Brian Allen
7: Dan O'Mara, Fern Paquet Jr.
5: Mark Gray, Donnie Russell
4: Gary Messenger
3: Ken Billman, Joe Offutt, Del Richards
2: Kyle DiBenedetto, Gerry Bookmyer, R. Scott Gregoire*, Jukka Paljarvi, Tim Roach, Tom D. (father of ...) Tetrick, Bryce Truitt, Don Wilson II
1: Mark Clark, Rusty Cox, George Filion, Grover Freck, Warren McIlmurray, Jim Morand, Barry Probber, Basil Sapienza, James Smallwood, Kelly Staten

* - Mr. Gregoire gets a special mention because he swept the Daily Double on the inaugural card.

By Jerry Connors for Harnesslink.com

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