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It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dorothy "Dottie" Haughton early Monday morning at her home in New Hampsire, surrounded by family and friends. Mrs. Haughton had been ill the past year. She was 87. She is the widow of the great harness racing trainer and driver, Billy Haughton. After his passing, Mrs. Haughton was a long-time Harness Racing Museum trustee and supporter of the harness racing industry.  She was honored in 2009 by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Further details will be posted.  Harnesslink Media  

Nicknames for participants in harness racing—human and equine—have played a role in the sport from the beginning. Many are straightforward and self-evident: The Redman, Scooter, Muscles, Catman etc.; but a lot of the better ones are more creative and mysterious. Bill Haughton was dubbed “The Master,” for obvious reasons. He and Stanley Dancer were christened the “Gold Dust Twins” back in the 1950s when the pair ruled the two Metropolitan New York half-milers. Dancer arrived in 1947 and Haughton showed up the following year. The only options for the 15-20,000 fans who showed up each night were win-place-show betting and the Double. The pair revolutionized the sport with their aggressive style and win at all cost tactics. For an understated guy, trainer-driver Joe O’Brien generated a lot of nicknames. He was “Gentleman Joe,” which became the title of the biography his friend Marie Hill published in 1975.  And he was “The Ice Man,” thanks to his tendency to sit chilly whenever possible. He was also “Jolten Joe” and “Jigglin Joe,” in deference to his penchant for dancing in the bike, as opposed to using the whip. Announcer Frank Salive is “The Velvet Fog,” thanks to his super-smooth delivery. Best known for his WEG stint between 1991 and 2005, Salive has also called races at Pompano Park, Western Fair, Hanover, Clinton and Woodstock. We all know Yannick Gingras as “The Green Hornet,” but Harold Story, who logged his first win back in 1947, and was a mainstay at Saratoga in subsequent decades, was also “The Green Hornet.” Story won 3,000 races and handled the great trotting mare, Scenic Regal. He was a “crafty” type in the Eddie Cobb tradition—feared and respected by any knowledgeable bettor. Lew Williams, the sport’s greatest African-American driver, was “Super Lew.” He tore up Northfield in the 1970’s and was also very successful at Pompano and Windsor. He’s best known for making speed with FFA pacer Whata Baron at The Meadowlands. Williams battled substance abuse issues throughout his career, and died tragically in a tractor accident at age 42. Ulf Thoresen, the first European to win the Hambletonian (Nuclear Kosmos), was both “The Wizard” and “Mr Goldfinger.” Fans loved him because he often won with outsiders. There’s a race in his honor each July at Jarlsberg. Another fan favorite, who also brought home plenty of horses that had little chance on paper, was “Magic Man” Bill O’Donnell. Ron Gurfein, who won the Hambletonian with Victory Dream, Continentalvictory and Self Possessed, all in rein to Mike Lachance, is “The Trotting Guru.” He has always been a sage when it comes to shoeing a trotter for success when the big money is up for grabs. Thankful, the Hoot Mon mare who gave the world the beastly and dangerous, but very fast, Nevele Pride, carried the barn name “Little Evil.” Harry Pownall said Pride’s daddy, Stars Pride, would kick him right out of the bike if he touched him with a whip, so, in fairness, he may have also contributed to the champ’s charming demeanor. Nick’s Fantasy, the only Maryland bred to win the Little Brown Jug, was somewhat lethargic by nature, so he was dubbed “Mr Dozy.” The Tyler’s mark gelding also went by the more respectful “Sir Nick.” He was born in a trailer racing to cross the Maryland line before the blessed event, so he’d be eligible to that state’s sire stakes program. John Campbell drove him for the first time in the Jug, where he set a world record for a sophomore gelding on a half. Nick’s owner, Don Sipe, who was very sick, heard him win the three-year-old classic on the radio, and passed a few hours later. For some reason Run The Table, the only millionaire by the Meadow Skipper stallion Landslide, was “Artie.” He was big and lazy, but John Campbell said he was at his best firing from the gate, which always required some encouragement. Run The Table, who was the first to beat Jate Lobell, was also part of the first father-son team of Adios winners. Strong Yankee (Muscles Yankee), who won the 2005 Yonkers Trot, Kentucky Futurity and Breeders Crown for Trond Smedshammer, was known as “Teddy,” probably due to his cuddly, pet-like nature. He beat Vivid Photo, Classic Photo and Ken Warkentin in the Futurity. Staying Together, the 1993 Horse of the Year in the US and Canada, was known at the Kentucky Horse Park as “Stanley.” Speedy Scot, still a top five trotter 56 years after his birth, was, for obvious reasons, “The Castleton Cannonball.” Western Ace, George Teague’s chippy little Western Ideal gelding, who won the Wilson and Niatross , was “Little Man.” Armbro Ranger, the featured attraction in Steady Star’s less than impressive portfolio, was “Little Nero.” The latter was one year older and they both took their divisions in 1975. Ranger was from Steady Star’s first crop; his grandpa Tar Heel’s line was fading fast at that point. Nero, who, as I recall, carried the barn name “Garbage” due to the oversized dark goggles, elaborate headgear and varied and sundry other crap he wore when he raced, was syndicated for a record $3.6 million by Alan Leavitt. Sometimes great horses draw unflattering barn names. Triple Crown winner Super Bowl, who stood 16.1 hands, was good naturedly referred to as “Big Dummy” by his groom. And Beach Towel, who won 29 of 36 starts for $2.5 million and was Horse of the Year at three, was “Bozo.” Big Towner, with his ancient bloodlines and unpleasant disposition, was labeled “Simpson’s Folly” when he entered the stud ranks at Hanover, but he proved to be anything but. It’s all in a name. Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe's commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.

The year 1981 was in the hey-days of harness racing at Sportsman’s Park, the center-piece track of the Chicago circuit. There were a number of “firsts” taking place during that summer at the five-eighths mile track in Cicero, Illinois, The first $2 million handle on a single Illinois harness racing card was recorded on July 11 when 20,047 patrons, the largest crowd of the 1981 Chicago harness racing season, wagered $2,069,079 on track on a 10-race program. That evening was also the first time that all 10 races on a Chicago circuit card were timed in 2:00 or faster highlighted by Osborne’s First and Doug Hamilton teaming up for a world record mile of 1:55.2 for an aged pacer on a five-eighths track in that night’s Free For All.. The first Sunday program in Sportsman’s Park history was held on May 17 with Artie’s Dream (Shelly Goudreau) taking the $70,000 American National 3-Year-Old Pace in 1:58. Opening Night, eight days earlier, saw Burgomeister (see photo) and his National Hall of Fame trainer-driver Billy Haughton, follow his victory in the prestigious Hambletonian, with a one and ½ length triumph in the $61,510 American National Maturity Trot with a 2:03.3 mile. Also in the summer of 1981 Banker Barker (Mike Zeller) would come on with a mighty rush to take the American National 3-Year-Old Trot in 2:00.3. The $100,450 American National Maturity Pace was annexed by Bandelier and driver Walter Paisley in 1:56.3. Eugene Waszak’s Madame Butterfilly, the second longest shot on the board, won that season’s $56,750 Violet Stakes. The Roger Davino Stable’s Whizzer R White, driven by Dave Magee, set a track record for a 2-year-old pacer with a 1:59.1 clocking in the July 21 Poplar Byrd stake, The 3-year-old ICF star that summer was the Dan Shetler Stable’s Coffee Dan, a son of Egyptian Dancer who went unraced as a freshman. Coffee Dan went 9-for-12 in his first season of racing for his then Illinois owners George Barounes, Robert Parrish, 809 Corporation and Shetler. Coffee Dan captured the $77,500 Cardinal Final and later the $120,800 Langley on July 3 (see picture) where he defeated Foolish Eyes (Jim Curran) with in 1:58 flat. Coffee Dan would earn $158,349 that year. Shetler also drove the winner of the $60,000 Midwest Derby Final when Tarport Boss uncorked a big move in the stretch. Meanwhile Royce lived up to his billing by winning the $60,000 U.S. Pacing Championship Final in mid-August. Wieker’s Del, driven by Delvin Insko, took advantage of a great trip and notched the $200,000 Orange and Blue Stake, at that time the richest race for 2-year-old ICF pacers. Sportsman’s on-track attendance and handle figures for the summer of 1981were extraordinary, to say the least. The average nightly attendance was 13,196 while the handle nightly averaged a robust $1,627,058. Sadly those glory days of Illinois harness racing are long-gone. By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

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