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STATE COLLEGE — This usually quiet town finds itself still shaking from Thursday’s late-night tragedy in which a gunman killed four people, including himself. “Relatively speaking,” State College Police Chief John Gardner said at a press conference Friday, “State College is one of the safest places in America.” That classification was challenged at 10:14 p.m. Thursday when 21-year-old Jordan Witmer of Benner Township went on a shooting spree at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill, located at 1450 S. Atherton Street. Harrigan’s is attached to the Ramada Hotel. Pronounced dead Thursday night were Dean Beachy, 61, George McCormick, 83, and Witmer. Beachy’s son, 19-year-old Steven Beachy, died Friday. Nicole Abrino, 21, remains in critical condition after being transferred from Mount Nittany Medical Center to a Pittsburgh hospital. Gardner said police are trying to determine a motive and “make sense of what occurred.” Officers were first dispatched to Harrigan’s after a report of shots fired. Gardner said Witmer had arrived at the bar about 8:30 p.m. and was there with Abrino. Police are still trying to determine the exact relationship between Witmer and Abrino. According to police, at one point during the night, Witmer got up from his bar seat, walked to where the Beachys were seated and began shooting. Dean Beachy, a visiting auctioneer from Millersburg, Ohio, suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene. Steven Beachy suffered a torso wound and was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center. He was transferred to UPMC Altoona, where he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. Friday, Centre County Deputy Coroner Debra Smeal told the Millersburg (Ohio) Daily Record. Dean Beachy was listed as an auctioneer at a standard-bred horse auction at Penns Valley Livestock in Centre Hall, the Record reported. Abrino suffered a chest wound. According to police, after the shooting, Witmer fled and crashed his car at the intersection of Waupelani Drive and Tussey Lane at about 10:46 p.m. Officers found Witmer’s vehicle unoccupied, and at 11:09 p.m., State College police were dispatched to 748 Tussey Lane — McCormick’s home — for a reported burglary in progress with shots fired. Gardner said Witmer entered the McCormick residence by shooting a sliding glass door and then kicking his way in. Officers entered at approximately 11:14 p.m. and found McCormick deceased with a gunshot wound to his head. Witmer was found deceased in the living room from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. McCormick’s wife, Joann, 80, was unharmed. She had locked herself in the bedroom and called 911. As questions persisted Friday about the shooter and his motive, Gardner reminded, “What I don’t want to have lost here … four people lost their lives.” Gardner said an investigation revealed that there was no relationship between Witmer and the McCormicks, and it is believed he chose the home at random after crashing his vehicle. After describing the incident, Gardner took time to address some issues regarding the timeliness of certain warnings. Gardner said he wanted “to stress more than anything” that the first thing officers did after collecting relevant information was to send that information to other law enforcement bodies, including Pennsylvania State Police. This information included a description of the suspect. Gardner noted that by the time he arrived on scene at 11:15 p.m., a lot of the information had already been dispersed through local television and social media. “If there’s one thing I think we, myself in particular as the police chief here, could have done better is to release information sooner that the threat had been eliminated,” he said. “We knew there was no more threat to the public,” Gardner said, adding that “in hindsight” he wishes the information had been released sooner so the public hadn’t remained in a “heightened state.” On social media in particular, several Penn State students expressed concern over the fact that no university alert was sent out. Gardner said that during the incident there were “no immediate threats to Penn State or its students,”in part due to the fact that the shooting took place miles off campus. Gardner said the shooting was “a State College incident, not a university incident,” which contributed to the university’s decision not to send out an alert. Penn State issued a statement Friday, saying it was “deeply saddened by the senseless acts of violence that have occurred and our thoughts are with the victims and their families” and adding that it was in touch with State College police Thursday night and was “monitoring the rapidly unfolding off-campus incident.” “The decision to send an action alert is made on a case-by-case basis for each situation, and is based on information available to Penn State Police at the time of the event,” the statement read. “We always review our responses to these incidents and will adjust our processes as needed.” The police department is in the process of investigating more on Witmer’s background, Gardner said. A 2015 Bellefonte High School graduate, Witmer was in the military, but it is unclear whether he was active duty or had just gotten out. Gardner said Witmer had a legal permit to carry a gun. Gardner said the case isn’t “open and closed” because Witmer took his own life, adding that the department will work as long as possible to determine exactly what happened. Gardner said an investigation into whether or not there were drugs or alcohol in Witmer’s system is being conducted. Gardner said mass shootings are “not very common” in the area. A sign on the door at Harrigan’s said the bar would be closed through the weekend and expressed condolences to the victims. Mirror copy editor Sarah Vasile can be reached at 949-7029. Reprinted with permission of The Altoona Mirror ............................................................................... From the USTA Columbus, OH — Dean W. Beachy 62, of Millersburg, OH, died Thursday, January 24, 2019, in State College, Pa. a victim of a random shooting. His son Steven also died as a result of the shooting. Born January 16, 1957, he was a son of the late Albert J. and Emma Jean (Beachy) Beachy. Dean was a renowned harness racing auctioneer and a member of Walnut Creek Mennonite Church. He is survived by his wife, the former Linda Meader, whom he married September 21, 1991. Also surviving are his children Robert Joseph Beachy, Benjamin Dean Beachy, David Albert Beachy, (Steven Lee Beachy, also a victim of the shooting) all from Walnut Creek, 2 sisters Wilma Mae (Daniel) Yoder of Medina, N.Y., Diane Sue Beachy of Walnut Creek and a sister-in-law Esther Beachy of Winesburg. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Dale Lee Beachy. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 AM at the Mt. Hope Event Center in Mt. Hope with Pastor Don Hamsher officiating. A private burial will be held prior to services. Friends may call at the event center Sunday from 5 to 8 PM and Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM. Smith-Varns Funeral Home in Sugarcreek is handling the arrangements. To share a memory, please visit the funeral home’s web site. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Walnut Creek Mennonite Missions Program (330-852-2560).  Steven Lee Beachy, 19, dies Steven Lee Beachy 19, Millersburg, OH, died Friday, January 25, 2019, in Altoona, Pa., a victim of a random shooting in State College, Pa on Thursday. His father, Dean W. Beachy, also died as a result of the shooting. Born June 22, 1999, in Canton he was a son Linda Mary Beachy and the late Dean W. Beachy. Steven was a horseman and a member of Walnut Creek Mennonite Church. In addition to his mother he is survived by 3 brothers Robert Joseph Beachy, Benjamin Dean Beachy and David Albert Beachy, all of Walnut Creek, a grandfather Bud Meader of Rochester, New Hampshire and aunts and uncles Diane Beachy, Esther Beachy, Daniel and Wilma Yoder, Dana and Lorraine Rines and Robert and Polly Meader.  Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 AM at the Mt. Hope Event Center in Mt. Hope with Pastor Don Hamsher officiating. A private burial will be held prior to services. Friends may call at the event center Sunday from 5 to 8 PM and Monday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM. Smith-Varns Funeral Home in Sugarcreek is handling the arrangements. To share a memory, please visit the funeral home’s web site. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Walnut Creek Mennonite Missions Program. (330-852-2560).  The USTA Communications Department  

Donald H. Zich, 76, of Akron, New York died on January 22, 2019, at the Gates Vascular Center in Buffalo, New York. Born on September 19, 1942, Mr. Zich was introduced to harness racing at a very early age as his uncle Herb Schweitzer raced a stable of horses at Vernon Downs. After working with his uncle and learning the business during the summer while still in school, he entered the military after graduation and served his country during the Vietnam conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, Mr. Zich went right back to the track and started his lifelong participation in the sport he loved. During his active years of training and driving at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway, Mr. Zich oversaw his own stable while also catch driving for many years. Horses he steered and conditioned included Tarzan Direct, Gypsy Zipper, Southcote Irish, Gemarillo, Win Jon, Laredo LST, Columbia Stone, Surginski, Hatchet Almahurst, Dovers Dolittle, Quality Wins, Fan Can Do, Flower Time, Two Smart, Cosmic Jolt and his pride and joy Fanny's Filly, who he guided into being the Trotter of the Year in western New York in 1982. Mr. Zich was also a 30-year employee of General Motors at the Buffalo Engine Plant where he earned an associate's degree as a skilled tradesman and worked as a tinsmith. In his spare time Mr. Zich was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved to spend time with his family. He was a friend to everyone at the track and he will certainly be missed by all those who knew him. Don Zich was the beloved husband of Elizabeth P. (nee Ralston) Zich for 53-years; devoted father of Tina M. (Timothy L.) Bojarski, Deborah A. (Darrin M.) Monti and Donald Zich; cherished grandfather of Dana, Lauren, Andrew, Donnie and Taylor; loving son of the late Fred and Mildred Zich; dear step-brother of Beverly; and is also survived by several nieces, nephews and cousins. Relatives and friends may visit the Lombardo Funeral Home (Northtowns Chapel), 855 Niagara Falls Boulevard, near Eggert Road and Sheridan Drive on Thursday (Jan. 24) from 4-8 p.m. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at Holy Spirit Church, 85 Dakota Avenue, Buffalo, New York on Friday morning (Jan. 25) at 11:15 a.m. Online condolences are at www.lombardofuneralhome.com. By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs  

Columbus, OH — Donald Irving, 68, of Ocala, Fla., died Dec. 28, 2018, from cancer. A member of the USTA for 52 years, Mr. Irving was a highly successful and respected trainer and driver until 1988 and than continued as an accomplished horse breeder in the state of Florida. He was Breeder of the Year for six consecutive years and was inducted into the Florida Racing Hall of Fame in 1999. Mr. Irving is survived by his beloved wife, Sandy; son, Brandon (Jenna Kolles); grandchildren, Beckett and Olivia; brother-in-law, Dr. Denis (Cathy) Rubal; sister-in-law, Cory Rubal (Scott Ovian); nieces, Tina Jo, Katie Ovian, Deborah (Mark) Nicholls, Patricia (Raj) Taneja, Maggie (Shawn) Beatty, Amanda (Matt) Overton, and Melissa (Eli) Gould; nephew, Dustin Ovian; and dear lifetime friends, Barry Speakman, John Walsh, Sam McMichael and fellow horseman Ben Stafford. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dana and Jo Anne; and brother, Daniel. At his request, there will be no service and internment will take place at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society. from the USTA Communications Department

On the morning of January 3, 2019 after a long battle with colon cancer, June Jeanette Hudson, of Huntington Station, New York, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. She was 82 years of age and would have turned 83 on January 5th. She was the daughter of Clinton & Ethel Brooks and born in New York City at the New York Presbyterian Hospital on January 5, 1936. She was preceded in death by her parents who both owned Standardbreds, her husband William who was a Roosevelt & Yonkers Raceways driver/trainer, and a brother, Gerald Brooks. She was a former member of the United States Trotting Association and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, In the 1960's along with her husband she owned horses that raced at Roosevelt and Yonkers Raceways under the stable name of the Orange & Black Stables. During that time she was part owner of an Adios Harry colt named LACH whose name was arrived at by using the first initials of all of the partners last names: Levy, Alder, Cohen and Hudson. She worked in the restaurant industry and at one time worked at Mimmos of Westbury, which was directly across the street from Roosevelt Raceway. It was while she was working at Mimmos that a customer and friend of hers, New York Jets Coach Walt Michaels, appointed her an honorary member of the N.Y. Jets Coaching staff. She was a member of the American Federation of Astrologers and at one time was ranked as one of the top Astrologers in the country. She had taught astrology and had appeared on several TV shows. George Morton Levy, Jr., the son of Roosevelt Raceway's founder, was at one time one of her students. She is survived by children Fred (Susan) Hudson, Lanette (Dave) Woelfel, granddaughter Chelsea Hines, brother Roger (Laura) Brooks and many cousins, nephews & nieces. Arrangement are being finalized and will be announced shortly. Condolences and flowers can be sent to the Butler & Hughes Funeral Home, 69 Indian Head Road, Kings Park, NY 11754. Email: butlerhughesfh@aol.com Phone: 631 269-4555 https://www.butler-hughesfuneralhome.com/ By Fred Hudson  

A 70-year-old woman died after she was hit by her own car as she prepared to go to a harness racing event to watch her grandson compete. Mary Brady died in an accident that involved her car near the National Equestrian Centre in Devonshire just before her 18-year-old grandson, Kiwon Waldron, raced in the traditional Boxing Day event. Mr Waldron rushed to the scene of the tragedy on Vesey Street and the organisers were on the verge of cancelling the event when they were told the news. But grief-stricken Mr Waldron insisted the races went ahead and that he would compete as scheduled. Charles Whited Jr, president of the Driving Horse and Pony Club, said Mr Waldron told him: “I want to race. Ineed to do it.” Mr Whited added: “We decided to support him and went ahead.” The incident, which left Mrs Brady trapped under her car, happened about 12.30pm. She was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but was later pronounced dead by doctors. Police have launched an investigation into the accident. Mr Whited told The Royal Gazette: “We were certainly prepared to call the event off. “But it provided Kiwon the opportunity to be in his element and gave him time to think about everything.” He said that Mrs Brady and her daughter Liz Waldron, along with Mr Waldron’s brother, Kentwan, were strong supporters of harness racing. Mr Whited said: “Mrs Brady has been coming to the races for ever, rain or shine — to hear that it was her, everybody was in disbelief, just devastated. “It’s a huge shock. She was part of the family. We are all walking around with very heavy hearts. “Their family plays a huge part in harness racing in Bermuda, and everybody is just having to deal with it.” The Boxing Day races, which said were “Bermuda’s Kentucky Derby”, has weathered tragedy before. David Mello, a competitor, died of a heart attack in 1996 just after a race. Mr Whited said: “As a result of that, Boxing Day is always tough. To have Mrs Brady pass away on that day certainly compounds that. It is a very close-knit family.” He added that “everybody came running saying to keep an eye on Kiwon, there’s been a very serious accident”. “I ran to see exactly what had happened and the rest is history. It’s a tragedy, based on the information I received, I kind of knew that the outcome was not going to be good.” Mr Whited said: “When something happens within our organisation, it affects all of us. I called the committee together and it was very emotional for us all.” He said that he had spoken to the Waldron family yesterday. Mr Whited added: “It’s starting to sink in and the boys are just coming to grips with it. “Unfortunately, that’s just part of life — we never plan on it. But under these circumstances, it was such a shock. But we have to stick together and be strong for family when they need you. That what we do.” Mr Whited said that a memorial for Mrs Brady would be held. He added: “We will definitely be doing something in memory of Mary Brady. We will take time to recognise her support and her family’s support over all these years.” By Jonathan Bell Reprinted with permission of The Royal Gazette

HARRISBURG PA - Maurice J. "Maury" May, former president of the United States Harness Writers Association and a member of the harness racing organization for 55 years, passed away December 8 in Amherst NY at the age of 92. A high school graduate at age 14, May began a 47-year career at the Buffalo News in 1942; he is remembered by colleagues as "the aide who ripped the news flash of the D-Day Invasion off the teletype machine." After serving in the Navy, he returned to the News and rose through the ranks to become assistant sports editor. Among his several "beats" during his News career was the strong harness racing circuit of Buffalo-Batavia in Western New York, where he chronicled the local racing and also kept his readers abreast of area horses and horsemen who did well on the national harness racing scene. "Maury's Picks" were a longtime feature in the News. May served the first of his 24 years as an USHWA director in 1966, representing the Western New York Chapter, of which he would become president. He was elected national president of USHWA for the 1985-1986 term, and received a key to the city from Buffalo mayor James Griffin. He was the Buffalo Area Bowling Council's Man of the Year in 1983, and in 1997 he was one of the first inductees into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame. May is survived by two sons, Maurice Jr. and Michael; a daughter, Marcia May Farley; a brother, Richard; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his wife, the former Mary Kurch. There will be no services. United States Harness Writers Association

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – There is no question Meridian Farms has been the biggest player in Atlantic Canadian harness racing for the first part of the 21st century and sadly the chief architect of its P.E.I. operation has left us far too soon. Brian Andrew passed away Wednesday at the age of 70 after a lifelong career in the Island education system and a passion for harness racing. An accomplished trainer and driver, Andrew operated Meridian Farms in Milton in partnership with younger brother William. A devoted fan of the industry, Andrew poured his life into Island racing, serving on boards like the P.E.I. Harness Racing Industry Association and the Atlantic Classic Sale Committee, among other commitments. No one could ever question Andrew’s resolve to lend a helping hand to other horse people and always make decisions that were in the best interest of the industry as a whole. Known for his friendly demeanour, Andrew could almost always be seen with a smile on his face and always called anyone he came across pal. RELATED: Click here for a 2014 feature on Andrew. His standardbred nursery and racing operation at the Meridian Farms location in Milton was always pristine with Andrew making sure everything was always presentable and professional. Under Andrew’s tutelage, Meridian Farms would stand the top stallions in the Atlantic Sires Stakes program and would be the top consignor to the two Atlantic yearling sales every fall. A fierce competitor on the race track, Andrew drove some of the top overnight pacers at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park (CDP) with horses like Ironside, War Cry Ranger, Victory Creed, Matt Trapper and Every Day and would dabble with trotters racing the open classes like Players Champion and Shy Beauty, among numerous others. As a driver, Andrew recorded 398 wins and $485,587 in earnings since his first trips in the race bike in the 1970s. His driving duties were toned down considerably this season with just 45 drives and his last trip to the winner’s circle as a driver was in June at the CDP aboard trot mare Hello Chipper. As a trainer, Andrew conditioned 270 horses to 270 wins with more than $310,000 in prize money. Fittingly, Andrew’s final training win was in an event steeped in history as Keep Coming claimed the Johnny Conroy Memorial Invitational pace at Truro Raceway in Bible Hill, N.S., with a 1:55.1 victory for driver David Dowling. We have lost another giant of the game. To his wife Carol and children Blake and Rachel, I share my deepest sympathies. As for Brian, may you rest in peace pal. Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com. Reprinted with the permission of The Guardian

HARRISBURG PA - Steven C. Beck, former superintendent of Hempt Farms, the "Home of the Keystones" of the late Hall of Famer Max C. Hempt, passed away on October 30 at the age of 74. Born in Freeport IL, Beck went into the military service of the country soon after high school. While with the Navy, he was stationed in, among other places, Cuba and Panama when they were international "hot spots." He ended his military service attached to a Marine battalion deployed in Vietnam. In 1968 Beck went to work at Hempt Farms and spent almost a quarter of a century at the Mechanicsburg PA nursery. He rose through the management ranks there until retiring as Farm Superintendent in 1992. He met his wife Betty Ann Hobbs, known as Ann, in 1971, and they were married a year later. After Beck left Hempt, he and Ann established the small breeding operation Anchor Farm in Carlisle PA until full retirement in 2006. They were living in Mechanicsburg at the time of Beck's passing. Besides Ann, Steve Beck leaves behind twin sons Craig and Jeff, along with six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a sister, Barbara Bacus. Beck was interred on November 14 at West Branch Cemetery in Haldane IL.  

Neil, who has been in indifferent health for some time, suffered severe back pain late in the week and was removed to hospital on Thursday. The family, including his wife, Rose  were summoned on Friday evening and he passed some hours later. His last harness racing runner, Mach Up, had been a winner for Mark at Addington a few hours before.  He was 80 Neil has been closely associated with Mark's training career from the start of it. "We had been family friends for years. Neil was in Kumeu earlier and transported the horses down south for Roy and Barry and was then in Christchurch so the association continued when I moved south" Mark said. Neil played a key role in that stage of Mark's career as a backer, advisor and "volunteer" stable hand. In more recent times he was the man finessing the track before fast work at Rolleston and master of the kitchen for staff breaks. But he did a lot more than that. Much more. He raced any number of successful horses, most notably the $2.5m winner Smolda and his contemporary Fly Like an Eagle as well as outstanding horses like Waikiki Beach (19 wins), Major Mark (12 NZ wins)  Follow the Stars (16 wins), Classic Cullen (16 wins) Border Control (18 wins)  Ohoka Dallas and  Russley Rascal ) to name a few.  But he remembered with affection lesser winners of earlier days in the north of which he told many stories. And his winning tally could have been much higher but for the fact that Neil just loved "the deal" and was always prepared to sell horses for export before they reached their potential. He preferred to race with one or more partners than solo ownership though he did both, "You always leave something in the horse for the next owner. I have always followed that and if you do it they will come back for more" he used to say and a lifetime of experience in doing deals meant he was a man to listen to. "He was just a really good bloke and of great support to me in so many ways" Mark said "Roy and Barry had a horse for him, I think Speedy Demo who  started his racing association with our stable. He was a good friend of Peter Wolfenden in those days and Peter Young trained for him as well. He was a regular at the Kumeu track which is where we got to know him well" "Like everyone else you always expected him to bounce back from a bout of bad health. He had done it so many times" "It is a sad day for those of us who knew him but you are reassured by the knowledge that Pilch had done so many things in his life that he would have gone having no regrets" Although Neil realised he was nearing the end of his life it never affected his spirit. He went to the Yearling Sales and spent $120,000 on one lot {"He was one of our owners we couldn't put a limit on !" Mark says) and more recently has invested in several new ventures including the trotter Musculus just two weeks ago in anticipation of another Harness Jewels runner. He had hoped to be at Addington Friday where he had three runners engaged and then head north for Cambridge. It is a great sadness for Neil Pilcher's family and many friends as well as a host of associates that this time he will not be there. Courtesy of The All Stars site

Pompano Beach, FL…May 15, 2018…Prominent harness racing breeder Betty L. McGreevy, 87, passed away recently in Aurora, Colorado. Known for her meticulous ways in caring for her horses, Mrs. McGreevy had been involved as an owner and breeder for several decades, breeding champions in Florida along the way. Born July 14, 1930 in Petersburg, Indiana, she, eventually, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana where she owned and operated Lark Commercial Painting and Sandblasting. After the passing of her first husband, Betty married Mike McGreevy, a champion mini race car driver in the 1950’s. They purchased a farm in Perrysville, Indiana and, in 1979, relocated to Trenton, Florida where they began breeding, training, racing and boarding Standardbreds. Among her many successes as a breeder were Spin Mogul, Cracker Gold and McRyan Michael, all Super Night champions during their respective racing seasons. In 1986, she was named Florida Breeder of the Year. Betty retired in 2014 and she and her husband moved to Bell, Florida before moving to Colorado. Her husband preceded her in death by 45 days. Known for her forthcoming wit, Betty once said, “My father was wider in the eyebrows than most men in the shoulders.” Betty McGreevy is survived by her daughter Elaine (Ed) Koschik, grandsons Mike (Jessica) and Chris, and four great-grandchildren, Ryan, Joshua, Matthew and Sophia. By John Berry

WAYNE COUNTY, Ill. -- A two-vehicle crash in rural Wayne County, Illinois, Friday claimed the life of Fairfield, Illinois man Brian P. Cotton. Cotton, 31, was working as a driver for a local Amish construction company when he was killed in a crash at the intersection of Ill. Rt. 161 and Enterprise Road in northern Wayne County. According to Illinois State Police, Cotton was traveling westbound on Ill. 161 in a 2015 Dodge Ram pickup truck when he ran beneath the trailer of a northbound semi that allegedly ran a stop sign at the intersection. Cotton was pronounced dead at the scene by Wayne County Coroner Jimmy Taylor. A passenger in Cotton’s truck, Amish worker Emery Stutzman, Jr. 32 of Cisne, Illinois, received major injuries and was airlifted from the scene to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. The driver of the semi, Steven S.F. Vanarkel, 29 of Holt, Missouri, and two passengers -- his wife Jessica N. Vanarkel and the couple’s 10-year-old son -- escaped injury. An Illinois State Police accident reconstruction officer has joined the investigation into the crash. Authorities say charges are pending. Cotton was well-known across Southern Illinois as a harness racing driver, competing at many county fairs. By Len Wells Reprinted with permission of The Courier & Press

Pompano Beach, FL…May 10, 2018…Pompano Park’s iconic handicapper, Ed Ransom, 77, passed away recently at North West Hospital in Coral Springs, Florida after a short illness. He, along with his brother, Ronald, published the popular Kelly’s Tip Sheet for many years. Edward John Ransom was born in the small town of Walton, New York on February 14, 1941 and was educated in New York before graduating from Duke University in 1965. Having taken an interest in law, he attended Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, graduating from that private institution in 1969. Although he worked in various capacities in the field of law, his true passion was working in the equine industry and, indeed, he was able to find work as a timer and photo finish operator at various tracks, enabling him to create the tip sheet which has been a “bible” to many horse racing aficionados. In a recent interview, he said, “It gives me great satisfaction to pick a winner or two for our visitors at the track. Over the years, I have made countless friends so I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in any other vocation.” Mr. Ransom is survived by his wife, Glynis, two sisters, Marianne McNabb of Lake James, N. C. and Beth Ransom of Winter Springs, FL, as well as the aforementioned brother, Ronald, of Margate, Florida. Funeral arrangements are pending. by John Berry

Batavia, NY---James E. Boyd, age 83, of Batavia, New York died peacefully Thursday April 5, 2018 at the Northgate Health Care Facility in North Tonawanda. Widely known as "Gentleman Jim", Boyd took over the Batavia Downs track announcing duties from the legendary Max Robinson in 1984 and continued to call races there until it closed in 1996. He was also the announcer at Buffalo Raceway and called races at Finger Lakes racetrack. Mr. Boyd called the richest race ever held at Batavia Downs, the $268,756 Breeders Crown aged-mare trot in 1988 won by Armbro Flori and also Getting Personal's 1:53.3 track record in 1993. "Jim was known for a very steady voice and very accurate calls," Todd Haight, Director/GM of Racing at Batavia Downs said. "Even though it's been over 20 years since his retirement, our old-timers still ask about him." Besides calling the races, Jim was also a salesman in the Buffalo area for many years, Boyd was born in Batavia, the son of the late Harry S. and Marjorie (Price) Boyd and was also preceded in death by his wife Josephine (Nevin) Boyd and siblings, Raymond, Robert, Ronald "Don" and Harry "Jack" Boyd. He was a graduate of Batavia High School and Alfred State College and served honorably in the US Army during the Korean conflict. Upon returning home he became a member of the Glenn S. Loomis Post #332 of the American Legion in Batavia and rose to the position of Post Commander. Boyd is survived by his beloved daughter, Deborah (William) Evans of Nevada, dear friends, Paula (Frederick) Leigh of Batavia along with many nieces and nephews. The family will be present from 10 - 11am Thursday April 12, 2018 at the Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel LLC located at 4120 West Main Street Road, Batavia, New York 14020 where his Funeral Services will be celebrated by Jim's nephew, Rev. David Boyd at 11 a.m. He will be laid to rest alongside his beloved wife in Grand View Cemetery with military honors. In lieu of flowers, memorials in his memory are suggested to Volunteers for Animals of Genesee County.   By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs  

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Longtime Western New York harness racing owner and trainer Robert Gruber III of Lakeview, N.Y., passed away on Saturday, March 31 after suffering a medical emergency during an on-track training session.   Mr. Gruber, 52, started his training career in 1991. During his 27-year career, his horses made 9,220 starts and won 1,235, making over $4.8 million in purse earnings. His best campaign was in 2009 where to found the winner's circle 130 times, collecting more than $565,000.   Racing throughout the Northeast, Mr. Gruber's operation was based in Western New York. His stable made many of their starts on the Buffalo Raceway/Batavia Downs circuit.   He was the husband of Carol Gruber, father of Robert Gruber IV, brother of David, Karen, Kim and Denise. Visiting hours for Mr. Gruber will be Sunday, April 8 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Lombardo Funeral Home (Southtowns Chapel), 3060 Abbott Road near Lake Avenue in Orchard Park, N.Y. Funeral services will follow immediately with interment in the Marilla Cemetery.   On-line condolences may be made at www.lombardofuneralhome.com   by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

The industry will farewell a friend and beloved brother this Friday when a service will be held to honour Doug Webster. The trots owner, stablehand and brother to prominent trainer Geoff Webster passed last week, inspiring an emotional salute from driver Emmett Brosnan when he won only hours later on Geoff’s horse Courageous Affair. “That was pretty special,” Geoff said. “It’s been pretty tough, but (Doug’s) had a good life.” Geoff said his brother had been born with a disability and had been cared for by his parents and then Geoff. “They didn’t think he’d get past 30 or 40, but we had a good 50th and then a good 60th birthday,” Geoff said. “It has been a tough road for him, but he is just one of those people who makes a lot of friends along the way.” Geoff said Doug had a great connection with horses, both helping in hands-on roles as well as a prolific owner. “He’s had a lot of nice horses and has always been really interested in horses, they’ve been his life,” he said. “He often helped Mark Webster and me train in Adelaide, and then when I came over here he helped me in Victoria. “Probably his best one was Scruffy Murphy, who he had in partnership with Greg Lutze. And he had a win the other week with Rift Valley, who was another one he had with Greg Lutze. There have been a lot of other horses along the way, especially with Dom Martello.” A service for Doug Webster will be held at St Mary’s Basilica, 136 Yarra St, Geelong, from 11am on Friday, April 6. HRV extends its sincere condolences to Mr Webster’s family and friends. Michael Howard (HRV Media/Communications Co-Ordinator)

The harness racing fraternity is mourning the passing of legendary administrator Max Laughton OAM. Mr Laughton, a Penrith harness racing icon, passed away last night. He was the longest-serving President at Penrith Paceway, serving on the Executive Committee since 1964 and had been President since 1988. Amongst this, Mr Laughton worked in the New South Wales Police Force, starting his career in 1948 at Penrith and eventually became the Chief Police Inspector in 1984. After 40 years of service in the Police Force, Mr Laughton was awarded a Merit of Services Award. Retiring from the Police Force in 1988, Mr Laughton devoted all of his spare time to Penrith Paceway. He originally obtained the 'harness racing bug' at the age of 24 when he began working horses with Alf Phillis. Mr Laughton was a foundation member of the Penrith Harness Racing Club and in 1999 it was his decision to build the registered club. As a mark of respect, drivers will wear black armbands at tonight's race meeting at Penrith. A funeral for Mr Laughton will be held next Wednesday, March 28, at Pinegrove in the North Chapel at 3pm which will be followed by a wake at Penrith Paceway. Harness Racing New South Wales extends sincere condolences to Max's beloved wife Lorna, his family and friends. "Max was an admired administrator, a rock for the Penrith Club and will be sorely missed in all harness racing circles," HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny. Amanda Rando

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