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Very sadly John and Judy Stiven have had to endure the loss of their son Lee, who died in Scotland earlier this month. John and Judy are prominent in the Southern Harness Racing industry, breeding their horses at Arden Lodge in Tapanui. John is a founding member of Southern Bred Southern Reared and is unfailing positive about the SBSR brand and it's potential. Here is a note from the family today Many of you will already know that Lee passed away at Dumfries Hospital on Thursday 23rd April just four days after his 25th birthday. His sinus infection developed into an abcess in the brain and tragically he went into a coma and died just a very short time after finally being admitted to hospital. Lee will be cremated at Roucan Loch Crematorium in Dumfries at 9pm this evening our time so if you would like to share a quiet moment for us and Lee then that would be lovely. Lee Stiven, Judy and John Stiven seen here with Countess Of Arden winning photo from Ascot Park in September 2018 (Bruce Stewart Photo) We are fortunate that Lee was staying at the Goldie family farm at Newbiemains, Annan, south west Scotland and he is now at their home until the service tonight. We will be able to connect privately with the Trish, Jim and the boys tonight at their home and share some memories of Lee. We don’t know when or how but Lee’s ashes will be returned to New Zealand and there will be a memorial service held at a later date. John, Judy, David and Cindy, Scott and Danielle, and Kate

Batavia, NY --- Former Vice-President of Operations at Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg, passed away on Wednesday (Apr. 29) at the age of 85. Mr. Samberg was born in 1935 in Detroit, MI where he attended Precious Blood Catholic School and Catholic Central High School. He went on to graduate from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto with a degree in Theology and Writing. He taught English and history for a year at his alma mater, Catholic Central HS and then at Aquinas Institute. In 1983 Mr. Samberg transitioned careers and came to Batavia Downs as their Director of Publicity. His leadership in the organization eventually moved him to overseeing the entire plant as vice-president of operations, a position he held until the tracks initial closure in 1997. In 1998 Mr. Samberg reached out to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) with a proposal to sell the track to them and was eventually able to consummate a deal that year. The track re-opened under its new ownership in 2002. It was the efforts of Mr. Samberg to move Batavia Downs forward that gave the shuttered track a new life under the guidance of the WROTB and that interaction eventually turned out to be financially beneficial to the residents of 15 western New York counties (that include the cities of Buffalo and Rochester) by returning over $220 million in revenues generated by the now modern and thriving racing and gaming venue to the taxpayers of those municipalities over the last 18-years. Mr. Samberg was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who loved life and everyone he knew. He was well respected by all the horsemen who raced at Batavia Downs during his tenure and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Mr. Samberg was predeceased by his parents, Louis and Martha Samberg; loving wife, Barbara P. Samberg; son, Michael P. McDonald. He is survived by his children, Martha Smith, Mark (Jacqueline) McDonald, Margo McDonald and Meghan McDonald (Scott Boone); 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; brother, Carl L. Samberg; sister, Suzanne (Ronald) Marmol; sister-in-law, Donna Warner; several nieces and nephews; and special friend of the family, Bonnie Jones. A Memorial Mass at St. Ann's Home will be scheduled at a later date due to the current situation. Interment at Holy Sepulchre was held privately. Memorials may be made to the American Kidney Foundation or to the Sisters of Mercy. To share a memory of James please visit   By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs  

Ina Height's love of harness racing and her horses' successes have been remembered following her passing on March 31. Ina shared many talented horses with husband Colin Height, an Echuca trainer, attending the majority of races, including Colin's "great horse" Royal Highlander when he raced at the Showgrounds. Other notable horses include Super, who won 21 of 73 starts. According to her daughter, Amanda, a licensed trots trainer and HRV HERO retrainer, "Ina had the important job of keeping Super happy pre-race, by continually rubbing his ear". "It certainly was happy times when Super won the Caduceus Club Cup in the 1990s." The family also made many memories when racing other good or promising horses like Highland Tryax, Billion Kardiamond, Jokers Wild, Steeling, Sarah Emily, Gambler, Miss Clare and Fanagalo. Among their highlights was winning the Weston Milling Championship trophy at Ouyen in January 1996, when Gambler also won, bringing home a double for the family. Colin and Ina are pictured above receiving a trophy on that day. The double also featured in a poem Ina wrote: Lucky by Ina Height (October 2013) Reading the Harness Racing paper, while I was having lunch today, memories are revived. We're hobby racing enthusiasts, from way back then in 1967. Always rushing on race day, pushing for time. Trying to cope with, our other farm work. No rush today! We're retired now, from real work! Dates and place names on the winning photos, spanning across 45 years. Remembering hot, hot summer days. Wet or freezing nights. Double at Ouyen on a very hot January day,  how lucky we were! Two trophies te'boot! How lucky are we? We're still working at it!   Ina passed on March 31, 20 days after a sub arachnoid hemorrhage on March 11. HRV extends its condolences to her family and friends.   Harness Racing Victoria

HOBBS - J.W. "Gary" - Entered into rest on April 3, 2020, under the care of Hospice Buffalo. Born April 8, 1944, in London, Ontario. Cherished son of Morley and Reta (nee Patton) Hobbs; loving husband of Victoria Obrochta; devoted father to Gary (Reagan) Hobbs and Josh (Jill) Obrochta; proud grandpa to several grandchildren; former spouse and friend of Barb Sullivan; Loyal friend to so many. Gary was a referee for local Junior Hockey and a member of NYSHOA. He also played Hockey on several Men's and Senior Men's Leagues before retiring his skates. He was a Sabres ticket holder for many seasons and proudly sang both National Anthems. He never felt too old to try or learn something new and even started guitar lessons at 67. His biggest passion in life was working with Standardbred Horses. He was a Driver and Trainer for Harness Racing and at one point was simultaneously ranked # 1, in both fields, according to the Universal Driver Training Rating System. He Raced Standardbred horses at multiple raceways across Canada and the United States and was well respected by all. He was a member of the WNY Harness Horsman's Association and the US Trotting Association. Gary always had a joke to tell or a good story to share, whether it be about his youth playing pond hockey, his brief stint as a boxer and racecar driver, his days as a field technician working for Com-Doc or his youth growing up in Canada. Gary was a "Proud Lefty" and true supporter of "Make America Great Again". He loved driving his truck and never passed up a chance to share a cup of Tim Hortons Coffee with a friend. There weren't many old classic country songs he couldn't sing along with word for word. He took pride in teaching Gary and Josh the value of life: to be Honest, Work Hard (Smart) and have Gratitude. He always preached to them about removing their hats inside, to keep their shoes shined, to stand up tall and keep their hands out of their pockets and how to tie a good knot in their ties. His retirement days were spent doing what he loved most, shooting pool or playing Euchre at the Orchard Park Senior Center, where he developed many close friendships. He enjoyed having lunch on Mondays with the guys at the car lot and stopping by the Tack Shop at the Hamburg Raceway, just to say Hello! Gary also loved visiting with his horse friends on a Saturday morning and engaging in "The Good Conversation". He enjoyed talking on the phone with his friends and loved spending quality time with his family often over an ice- cream cone. Gary always gave it his all and tried to inspire his family and friends to be their best self with his positive attitude. He was famous for saying "Drive On and Keep Your Stick On The Ice". A Celebration of Gary's Life will be held at a later time and date. Gary donated his body to the University at Buffalo Anatomical Gift program. With Love in our hearts and a smile on our lips, we will remember you always. Forever and Ever~ Amen.

A legend of the New Zealand racing industry, who was also a well-known Holstein Friesian breeder, has died. Charles Roberts died this week, aged 96. He owned Meadowlands Holsteins in South Auckland. The stud was "the biggest town milk supplier in the Auckland area" at the time, according to close friend Judith Geddes. "Charles was an amazing man. He was a hard worker who bred some high producing Holstein Friesians." "There were periods when the cows were milked three times a day," said Geddes. A prominent cow in the herd was Meadowlands Larawood VG88. She held the production record in the mid-1990s as a four-year-old, producing 15,550 litres of milk, or 1025 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in 305 days. Meadowlands Larawood VG88 was a New Zealand record holder for milk production. Photo / Supplied Her annual production never dropped below 10,000 litres. "He was one of the early adopters of feeding maize silage to dairy cows," said close friend John Rennie. "His Ardmore dairy farm was on peat flats. He built herd shelters. That enabled him to stand cows off pasture and feed them when it was wet." The farm was one of the first in the area to get irrigation to keep grass growing during dry spells, recalled Geddes. Roberts would often stay with Judith and Jim Geddes during trips to Addington for the annual trotting cup. Geddes also knew Charles through her 20-year career working for genetics company World Wide Sires NZ. "Charles did all his own artificial insemination and used a lot of North American genetics," she said. "He was a frequent visitor to the United States. When I told him about a new bull, he'd check it out while he was over there." Roberts was also a veterinarian. He was responsible for post-race drug testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand. He was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses and co-founded standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud. It grew to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, the best harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia. Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

Long-time trots owner, trainer, driver and breeder John Robinson sadly passed last night at age 65. Based in the Rockbank and Gisborne area prior to moving to Coimadai, John had a life in the trots, following in the footsteps of his dad Alan 'Doonie' Robinson, owner of brilliant George Gath-trained horse Heroic Action. John began his career with George and Brian Gath and would work with numerous trainers including Alf Simons, Bob Mickan, the Abrahams family and Clinton Welsh. John would also go on to have his own considerable career, training 77 winners from 681 starts and driving 69 winners from 665 starts. Among the most successful horses he trained were Shepparton and Warragul cups winner Jane's Law, Wedderbun Cup winner Bold Counsel and Arco Belino, a multiple-time winner at Moonee Valley. John is survived by his wife Kaye and son Blake. A memorial will be held in his honour, with details to be announced a later date. HRV extend its condolences to John’s friends and family.   Harness Racing Victoria

One of the legends of the harness racing industry Charles Roberts has passed away. At 96 years old and having battled the demon that is dementia for nearly three years Roberts’s passing in his South Auckland nursing home on Monday morning wasn’t a surprise to his family. But it is still very much the end of an era in harness racing as Roberts was a giant of the industry who leaves behind a legacy that will be matched by few. Roberts was a veterinarian his entire working life and was responsible for post-race drugging testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand which changed the integrity of the industry forever. His veterinary practice aside though he was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses in both the thoroughbred and harness racing codes for decades before co-founding standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud in 1992. After moderate success at times with partner Andrew Grierson the pair changed their business model from from leasing stallions to purchasing their Southern Hemisphere breeding rights. The stud has never looked back and has grown to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, arguably the greatest harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia. Not only has Bettors Delight changed the harness racing breed in New Zealand and Australia through the deeds of champions like Lazarus but in 2014 Bettors Delight’s daughter Adore Me, owned by Roberts won the New Zealand Cup. She later went on to become little miss 1:47.7 in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle, a race Roberts took much pleasure from because he knew in 108 seconds the mare he bred and raced had change the way we thought about times in this part of the world. Adore Me was one of an army of outstanding horses Roberts bred and owned in the last decade of his life and he loved travelling to see them race, even if it was just to hold court at Alexandra Park. In later years that was often with the help of his family and eventually his walking frame. But while his body weakened Charles’s attitude (he always liked being called Charles rather than Charlie) never changed. He was loud to the point of being rambunctious, had the strong opinions of a man with seven decades experience in the industry and a fierce love of the horse, not only his but all horses. His success as a breeder and owner, Woodlands Stud’s enormous generosity as sponsors along with Charles’s contributions to our veterinary industry will ensure Roberts’s legacy in racing continues for decades. He is survived by his daughter Mary (and her husband Paul Kenny), son Mark, seven grandchildren and three great-grand children.   By Michael Guerin

Harness racing world champion Ted Demmler says he will always cherish a special few hours he spent talking and laughing with former fellow reinsman Gavin Lang. Lang, 61, an icon of the sport, lost his battle to a rare form of cancer on Friday. "It was just wonderful - I was there for a couple of hours and we spoke about a lot of things and had some laughs along the way," Demmler said. "I got a big surprise because when I turned up at the hospital Andrew Peace, who was also a brilliant driver in his day was visiting as well," he said. "And anyone who knows Andrew will know he can be the life of the party. We all just had the most special time together." All three are Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame inductees: Demmler in 2011, Lang in 2013 and Peace, a son of legendary horseman Ron "Tubby" Peace, in 2015. Demmler and Peace said during their driving days, Lang "very seldom put a foot wrong". "I drove against both Gavin and Andrew but I seemed to be the number two driver for some of the big stables. I got called upon when the main men got outed or were interstate!" Demmler said. "Gavin was just a super guy and the smartest driver I'd ever seen. We got on very well, but I'm pleased to say that I don't think I was ever on the receiving end of one of Gavin's 'headshakes' when you displeased him!" Andrew Peace was also prominent during the Vin Knight-dominated era of the 1980s but gave the sport away and got employed at Melbourne Airport. A lineup of stars contested the 1990 Horsham Driver’s Championship.  From left to right, Andrew Peace, the late Vin Knight, Gavin Lang, Gaita Pullicino, Lance Justice, Brian Gath, John Justice, Ted Demmler, and Geoff Webster (Greg Matthews Photograph) Demmler hasn't driven for 15 years since being seriously injured in a sickening race fall at Warragul, but was a driving world champion in Europe and an eight time Victorian Drivers' premiership winner, as well as five-time leading Australian driver. He was the first Australian reinsman to land 3000 wins. "I suppose I enjoyed some time at the top levels of the sport, but in saying that, I never classed myself in the same league as Gavin," Demmler said. "He was just a professional - I always held WA's Phil Coulson in the very top bracket, but I'd also put Gavin up there as well," he said. "I can't image life without Gavin, and I've been crying ever since that visit. It can be a cruel world that we live in at times, but Gavin left a legacy that will last forever in our sport.: There will never be another Gavin Lang. Harnesslink sends condolences to Gavin's wife Meagan and daughters Danielle and Courtney.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Opinion piece - In late March, just days after first denying she was going to force the country into lock down a lugubrious looking Jacinda Ardern waved around the “flatten the curve” graphic and told us that if covid-19 was unchecked “our health system will be inundated and thousands of New Zealanders will die" and that consequently New Zealanders now needed to sacrifice fundamental civil liberties and their livelihoods to “save lives.”   There are two critical observations from that press conference.   First, it is now increasingly clear that Ardern misled the country with the claims that tens of thousands of deaths. In an excellent and courageous piece of research (read it here) economist Ian Harrison (who has worked for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements and specialises in risk modelling) demolished the fundamental research on which the government relied for compelling the country into lock down.   No doubt the Ardern government will first dissemble, distract and deny this fact. If that doesn’t satisfy the usually quiescent media expect to see the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group go under the bus as the government claims it simply “relied on the advice it was given.”   Except this is either a bald-faced lie or chronically incompetent. Let’s be charitable and assume it’s the later: Ardern’s incompetence stems from that fact that no one, anywhere, in any position of authority, ever should take a decision of that magnitude without double and triple checking the facts on which you are relying. Ardern didn’t. If one-man band economist Harrison can figure this out why couldn’t the government’s army of advisors?   Nevertheless, emboldened by a public terrified by hysterical, wall to wall reporting from the legacy media, the government doubled down and so we found ourselves locked into lock down, with all its unintended consequences. Consequences which will be severe, long lasting and almost certain to do more damage than Covid-19 will or could.   Which brings us to the second point from that infamous press conference. The lock down we were told was all about “flattening the curve”, to stop our health system from being “swamped.” But then a funny thing happened: the health system (like those offshore here and here and here) didn’t end up getting overwhelmed at all.   So, like slaves chiselling a pretender pharaoh’s name from the pyramids the flatten curve graphics were quietly removed from the press conferences and in the legacy media. They were replaced with a new message – this time “elimination.”  The Prime Minister stated: "We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand.”    To be fair to Ardern you could justify the change in course if it was going to work, no one should expected to pursue a strategy that is clearly flawed solely for political expediency (except of course she has before – see here)   The problem of course is that this new strategy is a), as hopelessly flawed in its empirical justifications as the original strategy, and b) worse, even if succeeds it will cripple New Zealand for years to come.   First, elimination means just that, elimination, and no one outside New Zealand is taking that possibility seriously. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, told a New Zealand parliamentary committee April 14 that eradicating the virus is a “nirvana” scenario. The reasons the elimination strategy is extremely unlikely to be successful are surprisingly simple:   The R0 value of the corona virus is high and its spreads asymptomatically, so in short it spreads extremely easily, making containment with anything short of a lock down impossible. Upwards of 80% of those who contract the virus have no symptoms (ie never feel sick at all) which makes tracking the virus extremely difficult unless you implement mass population testing and contact tracing at a level far beyond New Zealand’s capacity (our contract tracing system has been described as a dinosaur).   The tests the government plans to rely on to identify Covid-19 are well known to generate both false negatives and false positives. It is estimated the number of unidentified cases is between 8 and 10 times the real figures, meaning New Zealand is likely to have tens of thousands of people carrying Covid19 with no symptoms.  In short it is almost inconceivable that New Zealand can eliminate Covid19 without maintaining a permanent lock down. Which begs the question: if weren’t flattening the curve and we can’t eliminate it why did we go into an economy crippling, poverty inducing, long term public health damaging lock down?   But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that somehow New Zealand achieves the impossible and we do eliminate Covid19 – what then? What happens when the dog chasing the car actually catches the car?   The rest of the world will still have Covid19. As mentioned, no one, anywhere else in the world is even considering this strategy. New Zealand will become a de facto prison for its 4.9M “citizens.”   Large scale in-bound travel to New Zealand will be effectively eliminated, and with it the tourism sector, our largest export earner, contributing $45 billion to GDP annually. Without offshore tourism Air New Zealand will become a domestic only airline, so expect few flights to or from our fair shores (great news if you are a hard-green environmentalist, curtains for tens of thousands of employees).   With few onshore flights the opportunities for New Zealanders to travel offshore will become few and expensive – say goodbye to that holiday in Europe or 2 weeks in Fiji and look forward to 2 weeks quarantine when you return home. It’s also very difficult to grow an international business entirely through Zoom so expect the slow but steady strangulation of New Zealand’s export orientated businesses. Likewise expect prices of imports to surge and with the virtual elimination of immigration and a collapsing economy, walled off East Germany-like from the rest of the world, property prices to fall.   And all this assumes that there are no slip ups. But as Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government on Covid19 states: “the reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world. So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.” As Steven Joyce succinctly put it the “idea that we would get rid of Covid-19 is pie in the sky fantasy”   Proponents of the elimination strategy argue that “Colditz New Zealand” won’t be needed for more than 18 months and all we have to do is wait for a vaccine. However, there is no guarantee we will get a vaccine. As David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 states: “You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development - so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”   Neither will anti-body testing be anymore effective, with even the World Health Organisation warning that “there is no evidence that people who have recovered from coronavirus have immunity to the disease [and] there is no proof that such antibody tests can show if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 cannot be infected again.”   In short, there is a very, very real risk that the cavalry is not coming for New Zealand. We could be trapped here for a very long time – like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings – “we cannot get out.”   Finally, we need to consider even if an effective vaccine was developed just how high up the priority list is New Zealand really going to be? If you are handing out vaccines do you prioritise the 5M people at the bottom of the world who are at no immediate risk or other 7.5 billion who are? The US and China are already hoarding and interdicting Personal Protection Equipment – what makes us think a vaccine will be different?   In short, the government’s whole Covid-19 “strategy” from start to finish has been flawed. It was based on flawed modelling and amplified by hysterical media reporting. And now New Zealand’s plan to “eliminate” the virus looks more like a bullet wound to the stomach, the result of which will be long, painful and lonely death. If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated.   Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure. The Emperor's Robes - The Observations of Alex Davis

Columbus, OH – Phil Langley loved obituaries.  No one alerted us to more deaths than he did, a practice that didn’t abate even after he stepped down as the USTA harness racing president at the end of 2016.  And it wasn’t just that he would let us know that someone had passed away.  Almost always, the notification came attached to a personal quote, anecdote, or story from Phil, along with a brief message asking that his words be included as part of the tribute to the recently departed. It struck me as odd, at least at first.  Over time, though, I grew to understand that harness racing, and especially its people, were fundamentally central to the core of who Phil was, and, beyond that, part of the sport’s shared, collective past.  History must be preserved.  Attention must be paid. The irony is that Phil, the longtime USTA president and Hall of Famer who passed away on Saturday (April 11) at the age of 83, would never have expected anyone to insert themselves into his obituary.  He would have told me not to do it.  That he’s not here to issue that directive is profoundly sad. Here’s what you should know about Phil.  He was smart, a Dartmouth graduate who never played up his Ivy League pedigree.  He saw things largely in black in white, but had great appreciation and patience for viewpoints that weren’t his own.  I can’t remember winning many arguments with him, but that’s because he usually was right, and he never failed to hear me, or anyone else, out.  He was seen as an old school guy, but under his leadership, the USTA embraced and launched an extensive social media initiative and beat every other breed registry to the punch in pioneering online entry.  He was gentle and he was kind.  He loved his wife and kids, of whom he was incredibly proud, and doted on his grandchildren.  He loved being the USTA president, and was proud of the organization and the staff.  He looked out for people.  He had a brilliantly dry sense of humor, loved to laugh, and was a skilled storyteller.  He was stoic about problems and challenges, and I never heard him make an excuse or utter a word in self-pity.   He loved horses and the men and women who cared for them.  He was honest and direct.  If he told you that he would do something, you knew that he would.  He was my friend. Phil had a habit of not saying goodbye at the end of phone calls, which would often conclude abruptly and without warning.  I never quite understood it, and until you got used to it, those endings could be rather jarring.  But when I would think back on the conversation that we had just had, there was nothing left unsaid, nothing that required further clarification.  As he did in every other facet of his life, Phil had covered all the bases. The United States Trotting Association extends its sympathy and condolences to the family of F. Phillip Langley, our leader and our friend.  Thank you for sharing him with us. by Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

Phil Langley, 83, president of the USTA for 13 years, died April 11, 2020. He was elected as a USTA director in 1983 and became president in 2003 before resigning at the close of 2016. His leadership at the USTA was characterized by great advances in technology, such as online entry for races at all levels and a social media presence that made it possible for people across the globe to follow racing's people and horses at any time, on any electronic device. Mr. Langley, a native of Wisconsin, learned about racing from his father, who was a mailman, restaurant owner and in the 1930s, took over administration of the Elkhorn Fair and later the Wisconsin State Fair. "I learned to read by helping my dad figure out which horses qualified for a race," Mr. Langley said. As a boy, he saw the 1943 Hambletonian winner Volo Song race at Elkhorn, Wisc,, where his father was race secretary. The trotter suffered a fatal broken bone and had to be euthanized, a memory that stayed with Mr. Langley throughout his life. "My dad stayed with him at the vets until they gave up. Sad day in Elkhorn," he said decades later. Mr. Langley graduated from Dartmouth University in 1959 with a history degree, a passion he continued as a racing official, with a Standardbred library whose titles stretched back to the Civil War. Mr. Langley's career as a race secretary and executive centered on the Chicago tracks, and he held management positions at Sportsman's Park and was director of racing at Balmoral and Maywood Park. He was part of the ownership group of both those tracks. He was inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Hall of Fame in 1994 and into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., where he was also a trustee, in 2007. Mr. Langley served as a member of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee and the Racing Industry Charitable Committee, which served the needs of backstretch employees. Mr. Langley worked with both the Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs on their harness racing meets for many years in an advisory capacity. As a horse owner, his top performer was Thisbigdogwilfight p,5,1:49.1, a winner of $978,789 lifetime. Mr. Langley is survived by his wife, Margo; son, Dr. Pete; daughters, Kate and Meg; and five grandchildren. Dan Leary Director of Marketing and Communications U.S. Trotting Association | 6130 S. Sunbury Rd. | Westerville, OH 43081-3909

BANGOR – Bob or “Simmi” as he was known by his many friends, 51, died unexpectedly April 7, 2020, at a Bangor hospital. He was born Feb. 27, 1969, in Bangor, the son of Robert W. Simmons Sr. and Sally (Sprague) True. Bob attended Hall Dale High School and graduated with a general education degree. Upon his graduation, he spent most of his younger years in the harness racing circuit in various cities and states, a love of which he developed from his mentor Uncle Zeke. While working with horses, he made many lifelong friends that he loved dearly. After he relocated to Bangor, his love of golf became his passion, and he spent countless hours at the Pine Hill Golf Course golfing with his many golfing buddies. He was a devoted Patriots fan and faithfully watched every game! Bob was predeceased by his beloved mom, Sally True; and Nana, Margaret Moody.Surviving, are his two sisters, Shelby Brown and her husband, Mark, Crystal Magee and her husband, Paul; nephews Jason Brown and his wife, Sarah, Chris Brown and his wife, Bethany; great-nephew, Ben Brown. We would like to extend a special thank you for the excellent care and attention Bob received from the nurses and doctors at the DaVita Dialysis Center and the Eastern Maine Medical Center. A special heartfelt thank you to all of his devoted friends that took him in like he was a part of their family. He loved you dearly. A celebration to honor Bob’s life will be held at a later date. Condolences to the family may be expressed at

LEWISTON – John T. Butler Sr. died peacefully at his home on his own terms with much dignity and love on April 6, 2020, at the age of 98. He was born in Lewiston, Maine, on July 4, 1921, to Arabella and Patrick F. Butler who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1915.A 1941 graduate of Lewiston High School, John was drafted in 1942 to serve his country in World War II. He entered the United States Air Corps (now the U.S. Air Force) and was stationed at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. His compassionate nature and empathy for others earned him a promotion to the 235th Medical Corps where he proudly served in Africa, India and China until the war ended in 1945. His World War II experiences were memorable and he often recounted to his children and grandchildren stories of the medical team with whom he served. He viewed his years of service to his country as an important part of his life. After the war ended, he worked for his uncle, Jim Butler, who invented head numbers for horses that are still used today in the harness racing industry. John traveled to state fairs and racetracks throughout New England and New York state renting these head numbers.  While working at the racetracks on weekends, John spoke often to the jockeys who complained about the lack of comfort with their riding boots. Being a young entrepreneur, John listened to their needs and created a boot, called “the Butler 500”, which quickly became a favorite among the harness racing jockeys. He had the boots manufactured in Maine and he sold them by mail order throughout the U.S. and Canada.  During the week, he worked for O’Brien Dye Co. who produced products for the shoe industry. He worked for them until 1952 when he and his brother Frank Butler decided to start their own business, Butler Bros., to supply products to the thriving shoe industry in New England. Today, Butler Bros. is run by his son, Patrick, and the Company has grown into a full line industrial distributor serving customers in 48 states with 130 employees. John rarely missed a day of work and still came into the office right up until the weeks preceding his death.John also found the time to serve on the Board of Directors of Peoples Savings Bank for 20 years. John married his true soulmate, Rosemarie Cote, at St. Patrick’s Chapel in Lewiston in 1953 after meeting her at a City Hall dance and sweeping her off her feet with his boyish charm and sparkling blue eyes. Their loving marriage spanned 65 years and they had 5 children. John lived a remarkable life and made a lasting impression on everyone he met. He was a charming, funny, decent, honest and hard-working man. An incredible father, he stressed to his children the importance of a strong work ethic, common sense, and fairness to others. He also knew how to have a good time by organizing nightly neighborhood baseball games (where he was the designated pitcher) and creating lasting family memories with summers spent at Old Orchard Beach. Born on the Fourth of July, John’s annual birthday celebration with family and friends was the highlight of the summer. Always in rare form and the center of attention for his special day, he joked that the fireworks that day were for him and not our country’s birthday. Hard work was the theme of his life; and, he even had a poem that his children, grandchildren, co-workers, and friends had to learn and recite back to him (sometimes for a dollar). The poem was called “Work” and it went like this—”Work, this is my work, my blessing and not my doom. For all who live, I am the one by whom, this work shall best be done, and in the right way!” John was an avid golfer and played competitively for many years with his dear friends. He had an uncanny memory for great golf matches and great shots, and he would retell those stories often and with amazing accuracy, much to the chagrin of his playing companions. He also enjoyed weekly poker games with longtime friends and played well into his 90s. He was predeceased in death by his beloved wife Rosemarie, “the love of his life”, his son John, Jr., his four siblings and their respective spouses, sister Margaret and husband Russell Stinson, sister Josephine, brother Frank Butler, and sister Madeline and spouse Martin Pierter. John will be remembered and sadly missed by his children, Shaun Butler and husband Ray Harris of New York City, Kathleen Butler Simpson and husband Steve Simpson of Lewiston, Patrick Butler and his wife Patricia of Lewiston and Portland, Mary Lou Harris and husband Tim of Lewiston, and Ann Butler of Lewiston. John was also deeply loved by his grandchildren and step grandchildren who brought much joy into his life. They include Jamie Caouette, Nik Caouette and partner Nongnuch (Kum) Makarom, Jason Butler and wife Titayawan (Fon) Butler, Tori Butler Doucette and husband Jeff, Alexandria Butler Paradis and husband Michael, Michael Butler, Matthew Butler, Andrew Butler, Jonathan Powell, Jessica Harris and Corey Harris. In addition, he loved his seven great grandchildren, Madison, Natalie, Braden, Zhylis, Chama, Tavin, Jorah, and his beloved dog, Izzy, his constant companion to the end. The family would like to extend special thanks to John’s youngest daughter Mary Lou Harris for her devotion and selfless daily care so John could stay in his home until his death. The family also wishes to thank his granddaughter Jamie Caouette and caregiver Nancy Cole, as well as the hospice staff, Peg Phelan and Beth Dubois, for their loving and thoughtful care. Condolences and fond memories may be shared with John’s family at Visiting hours and details of the upcoming funeral will be provided at a later date. Arrangements are under the care of The Fortin Group Funeral Home, Cremation and Monument Services 70 Horton St. Lewiston, 784-4584. Arrangements are under the care of The Fortin Group Funeral Home, Cremation and Monument Services 70 Horton St. Lewiston, 784-4584.In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to one of the organizations important to John Butler. The Store Next Door at Lewiston high School is a program managed by John’s granddaughter, Jamie Caouette, to provide basic needs such as food, hygiene products, clothing and school supplies to homeless and at-risk students. Online gifts can be made online at or checks can be made out to “The Store Next Door” and mailed to: The Store Next Door, Attention Jamie Caouette, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston Maine, 04240. Alternatively, gifts can be sent to Honor Flight Maine, a nonprofit to honor veterans for their sacrifice and service. For more information or to donate online visit

The Southern Harness Racing community and the Southern district in general, has lost a very much loved figure with the death earlier this week of Father Dan Cummings. This was a hard story to start, but having spoken to a host of people who knew Fr Dan well, I’ve been given an insight into this man and feel privileged to be able to reflect that to many who will have known him and valued him. He was a loved family member, priest, and good mate. There’s a lot I didn’t know about, particularly Dan’s life outside of the harness breeding and racing world, but luckily plenty of people have been able to fill in some of the gap, not least of these his sister Julie. Father Dan attended St Kevin’s College in Oamaru as a boarder and upon leaving school, he went home to work on the family farm at Lawrence, before heading to Mosgiel to begin his training for the priesthood. Julie said “He was very close to Mum. She started working on breeding thoroughbreds which he enjoyed and continued (with it) quietly as he continued his training.” Dan had also developed a great love for rodeo, especially calf roping and bulldoging. Training for the priesthood didn’t put a damper on competing; he won numerous titles in the late ‘60s, ‘70s and early 1980’s. “He had a tin calf set up out the back of the Seminary, as local Mosgiel people will tell you, so he could practice his calf roping,” said Julie. Follow rodeo competitor Pat McCarthy of Chatto Creek in Central Otago remembers those early days well. “The first trip I can remember with Danny was that I picked him up after the Millers Flat Rodeo and we drove to Waimate. We had one hell of a trip. We sang songs and laughed the whole way. Just the two of us for the best part of five hours.” He also fondly remembers Dan’s ability to improvise in the days when saddles weren’t tailor-made for rodeo events. “There weren’t many western saddles round in those days. Danny had an old stock saddle -not sure whether it was an Australian breaker or what it was. There was no horn on the front so Danny had a bolt stuck in the pommel. He had it braced back round the seat of the saddle. It was really quite something. Danny used to practice in it. Most people wouldn’t have even got into the saddle let alone trying to rope in it.” In the rodeo world there were road trips, banter in abundance and loads of laughs. Pat continued, “I always associate Danny with the Waimate Rodeo because we used to have a hell of a party at Johnsons Pub. Bill Johnson was a great friend of Danny’s. I remember one night we were in the pub and I said to Danny ‘We should sue you because you married me and you married Bill and none of them turned out.’ You could say things like that to Danny.” Dan also had a few party tricks back in those early days. “Danny was a hell of a gymnast and he kept himself in real good shape. He used to have an act he’d put on in the pub where he’d get up on his hands with his feet in the air and walk along the bar. He was a hard thing and he loved a good time.” McCarthy says he had a deep respect for his follow rider. “Before he went away and became a priest he did a bit of living which a lot of these clergymen didn’t do, so he could relate to anything. I was telling someone the other day ‘If every priest or Preacher was like Danny Cummings, religion would be totally different.” Outside of competing he was also the Secretary of the Outram Rodeo Club for thirteen years and Mid-Canterbury horse trainer Simon Adlam remembers him turning up at his stables proudly wearing the Club’s logo. “He used to rock in here on his way to Christchurch wearing a pair of jeans, a denim shirt with Outram Rodeo on it and a red, white and green Tamizhan cap like the old timers used to wear.  I use to say to people that were here, that they better watch themselves because a priest has just turned up,” Adlam said. As a Catholic Priest in the Otago Diocese he spent some time in many parishes, including St Bernadette’s (Forbury – handy to the race track), Mornington, St Mary’s Kaikorai, Port Chalmers and latterly at St Thomas Aquinas in Winton. “Training to become a priest takes seven years but Danny took two years off in the middle to study for an MA at Otago University,” Julie said. Cummings was in Port Charmers during the 1990 Aramoana Massacre when thirteen people were killed including local policeman Stewart Guthrie. “At that time he was also a Police Chaplain because as a priest they all have other wee jobs. He was very close to Stu and his wife.” Other roles that Dan held included being Hospital Chaplin, and he was in charge of Catholic Education in Otago. Father Dan also spent ten years at the Winton Parish of St Thomas Aquinas where he was able to continue training his pacers which were stabled at Derek Dynes stables. “He loved it down there. He had fond memories of being able to train with Derek. He   got very involved with music for the church, while at Winton. He loved the technical challenge of setting up speakers and sound systems,” Julie said. Dynes son in law Trevor Proctor says although pedigrees were talked about regularly, there was always plenty of other chat. “They used to talk about religion and the other religion (the horses). It used to blow my mind when they talked about breeding. They’d go back years and years. It was unbelievable just listening to them,” he said. Dan held an Open Drivers licence for twenty five seasons. He recorded his only ever win driving Tact Hayley Jane for Dynes at the Wairio meeting in December 2004. “He said ‘I don’t think Derek wanted to win the race so that’s why he put me on.’ He said ‘I drew one on the second line and the horse that drew one (on the front) lead all the way. I think I messed it up for him,” Proctor recalls. And the following day spirits were high at St Thomas Aquinas. “When he won that race Dianne and I got a photo of the win, presented it to him, and it was hung in the church at Winton. On the Sunday after the races he joked that there were more losing tickets on his drive than there was money in the plate.” And Proctor said Dynes was always under pressure to head to church but that was something Dan never quite achieved until the very end. In referring to this, Brent McIntyre from Macca Lodge said “When he was at Winton one of the O’Reilly boys rang Derek and said ‘He’ll get you, he’ll have you going to church every Sunday.’  Old Derek used to say the only way they’ll get me in the church is if they carry me in.” Simon Adlam continued the story – “When Derek passed away, Father Dan took the service. “At Derek’s funeral in Winton the first thing Father Dan said was ‘I finally got ya.” As a priest Dan was required to take a number of sabbaticals and one was to England where he was to stay for nine months, attending a university studying a theological paper, the last three months though were spent at a racing stable In France. Julie said “He didn’t see the need to sit the exam because it wasn’t going to mean anything. So he went to a racing stable in France which he thoroughly enjoyed. He didn’t speak much French so there was a barrier there, but I remember him saying ‘If they give me a grooming brush and a hoof pick I’ll know what they’re saying.’ He was basically the boy. I think he got to sit in the cart a couple of times. As a trainer Father Dan held a training licence for twenty nine years, training seven winners including Petra Star and Maureens Dream. Maureen’s Dream was his first winner at the Tuapeka Meeting at Forbury Park in November 1984. Julie says in his later years Dan returned to live at Lawrence on the home farm, and together with Peter, got great satisfaction in breaking in and training the fillies that the lodge kept and in particular seeing Bonnie Joan perform at the highest level. “He got a huge thrill out of Bonnie. Although rodeo and racing were secondary to his priesthood, in the last few years he’s really enjoyed training the horses. He got a great thrill training two and three year old winners Notaword and Tuapeka Jessie. He never boasted but I think he was quite proud of that.” Notaword won as a two year old at Forbury Park in July 2018 and in November 2019 Tuapeka Jessie won at the same venue as a three year old. Kelvin Harrison with Notaword in America West Otago breeder and trainer John Stiven said when it came to training, one of Cumming’s pet subjects was horses tying up. “He often told me that when he was training from Forbury Park where the horses never got out to grass, he never had any problems with tie ups. When he was at Winton and Lawrence they did. He’s been extremely helpful to me in sorting out Countess Of Arden. He analysed the blood tests we had on her in a totally different way.” Tuapeka Lodge Stud was established in 1965 and since 1977 has been run by Dan, his brother Peter and his sister Julie. “Dan was very aware that it had to pay for itself which it has done over the fifty plus years it’s been operating,” Julie said. Dan, who oversaw the preparation of the stud’s yearlings for the National Sale in Christchurch was a pioneer when it came to publicity using the internet and he was the first to introduce videos for prospective buyers to view. “He liked to push the boundaries by making the videos for Tuapeka Lodge and being the first. He filmed and edited them all himself. He was way ahead of his time. It must be twenty years ago that we started making those videos. He would ride my horse and lead the yearling and we would video it so the people could see the legs and the feet of the horse as they were trotting. He loved the challenge of doing that,” Julie said. Over the years Father Dan has built very strong relationships with a number of people. Perhaps one of the longest is with fellow breeder Brian West who met the Cummings family forty years ago through a work colleague who owned a farm next to Tuapeka Lodge. In 1985 West tried to buy Tuapeka Kay (Smooth Fella – Tuapeka Star) from the Cummings as a foal. “It didn’t happen and we had to buy her at the Sales. So that’s when my connection with the Tuapeka horses began and I met Dan after that.” West says Cummings had a vast knowledge of Standardbred pedigree. “He was a star really. We literally spent thousands of hours talking about what was happening overseas. This of course was way before semen transport and shuttle stallions. We had second rate stallions coming here because at that time racing was thriving in North America. It was very expensive compared to here. On one of my early trips over there horses were grazing on a farm at $12.00 US a day and here it was $1 a day. That gives you a comparison as to where we were in terms of money and strength. In the States the old boys looked after what went on and they looked after their own interests first. That’s why it was so difficult to get stallions to shuttle down under. I mean, who would breed today to an unraced stallion like Vance Hanover. He wouldn’t get a shot especially now days when there’s only about 2000 mares being bred from,” West said. West and Fr Dan enjoyed some trips overseas together, one a month long to North America and Canada with bloodstock agent John Curtin. “We realised during the trip that we were way behind in regards to pedigrees. It was also a great learning exercise for Dan and I because we found out what the American farms were feeding their foals to grow them into good strong yearlings. Nobody here had any idea of what we should be feeding young horses in those early days.” West and Cummings also had a close association at Sale time where their yearling were boxed side by side in the same barn for many years. “In 2008 we actually prepared the yearlings for Tuapeka because Julie and Lew’s farm at Mosgiel where the horses were being prepped was flooded out.” West vividly recalls one standout yearling in the draft that year. “When the yearlings arrived here there was one absolute standout so I phoned Dan and asked him how much he had that yearling insured for. He said $50,000. I told him he should double it. The horse (Tuapeka Mariner) sold for $250,000 so it was a wonderful experience going through that with him as well.” West, Father Dan and Braeden and Caroline Whitelock spent lots of time together. “We did a lot of stuff outside the horse world but we always gravitated back to the horses, pedigrees and families.” After trying for a few years, West finally convinced Dan to go with himself and the Whitelocks to the Breeders Crown in Australia. Fr Dan’s connection with Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who live in the Manawatu, goes back a long way, in fact horse wise, right back to the early 1900’s. It transpires that Braeden’s great great grandfather George Craw owned a horse called Nelson Derby which won the 1915 Great Northern Derby. Unfortunately due to the depression Craw had to sell the horse which ultimately went on to win the 1925 Auckland Cup, but for his new owner. As a sire Nelson Derby sired Single Star which was the grand dam of Hindu Star. Hindu Star’s third foal was Sakuntala (Armbro Del) and co-incidentally Dan’s parents Cliff and Joan bought her in 1974. “When Caroline and I got married we went to see Dan at the Catholic Presbytery in Dunedin. We’d never met him before but we asked him if we could buy a filly. It didn’t come to anything but Dan rang us later and said Tuapeka Star was for sale. Ivan Harris had bought the filly off him a few years before but she hadn’t had a foal for three years,” said Braeden. Subsequently the Whitelocks bought Tuapeka Star and have had great success with the family. She left Braeside Star the grand dam of O Baby which won four Group One races. “We’ve been good friends since. We’ve talked about horses, breeding, and life around many things. He’s (Fr Dan) remarkable to me because he put other people first. He’s done that in his work and his life and hasn’t bothered about material things. His priority has always been the people, their hardships and how he can support them.” I get Whitelock says it was Fr Dan who came up with the idea of a horse trek as a way of supporting well known Christchurch vet Bill Bishop and his wife Helen when they lost their house to a fire. “We got a group of twenty people and trekked from Hawarden to Hanmer Springs over three days, staying in woolsheds. We ended up with a priest, a vet and a couple of Americans. It was great.” “Dan rang one day and said he was a bit bored. I told him that wasn’t a problem.” Braeden purchased Avana which was bought at the 2019 Yearling Sales, and the Cummings took a half share. Dan broke Avana in and worked her up before sending her to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen at Rolleston where she’s currently in work. Mid Canterbury trainer Simon Adlam has also been a big part of Fr Dan’s life, having trained many Tuapeka horses – the first being Tuapeka Wings in 2004. Their association began on the recommendation of Derek Dynes who spent some time in Mid Canterbury training horses down the road from Robert Cameron whom Adlam worked for. “Dan (asked) Derek when they were both down in Winton if he knew a guy called Simon Adlam. Derek said yeah yeah he’s alright, he’s one of you lot, meaning that I was a Catholic,” said Adlam. Tuapeka Lodge started sending some of it’s race mares north to Adlam. “Often I’d race them through the winter, time trial them and send them back to become broodmares.” Adlam trained good mares Raindowne and Wave Runner for Tuapeka, and with his family he visited Lawrence on a number of occasions. “We called in to see him not long after he’d shifted back to the farm and we took the kids down there because they were educated at a Catholic school. They couldn’t believe a priest could train and would ride horses around a farm. He always had an interest in the kids. This year Caitlin prepared a yearling for the sales and he came over and gave her a few pointers on how to lead the horse round the ring.” Adlam looked forward to getting a call from Dan every fortnight. “He knew what was happening breeding wise and what was going on in America. He was just brilliant.” For the last ten years Macca Lodge has looked after the Tuapeka Lodge broodmares in the spring. After the foals are born and the mares are served they all return to Lawrence. Stud master Brent McIntyre says he always enjoyed visits from Father Dan. “Dan was a straight shooter. He was a great thinker when it came to breeding. He’s done it for a long time so he was an interesting guy to have a yarn too. He would often think outside the square,” he said. McIntyre’s association with Tuapeka Lodge began in the early 2000s when he purchased Jamie (Albert Albert – Tuapeka Tango). Her pedigree goes back to Lumber Dream mare Mains Lady which is another family the Lodge has had great success with. “Both sides of their breed have done a hell of a job. There’s always been a superstar. The family has done a great job in making sure it’s gone ahead.” McIntyre says Dan had a special way with the mares and foals. “He was a great man to come round and inspect his foals especially in the first two weeks when (the mares) are really protective of their foals. But with Dan he’d just walk out in the paddock and say ‘woo stand’ and walk round them and inspect them. It was unreal. He’s the only guy I’ve seen doing that. He must have had a few old rodeo tricks up his sleeve.” However, according to Julie there was one mare he never quite mastered; “Maureens Dream. She was a very strong willed mare. For the ten or so foals she had she would chase the stud master out of the paddock. I remember she was at Peter Cowan’s at Mosgiel once. We told Peter not to go in there but he thought he’d go in on a bike. Well she chased the bike, he dumped it, jumped the fence and she kicked the bike. I remember going with Danny to Wai Eyre and he thought he was cocky enough to walk up to her but he didn’t go too close. So Brent may be right with most mares but not with Maureens Dream,” she said. One of the South’s great successes has been the Southern Bred Southern Reared group of breeders who collaborate to promote southern yearlings that have been prepared for the National Sales in Christchurch. McIntyre says Dan was an integral part of that group. “He going to be missed. He was like the wise old owl. Everyone would be away on a tangent and he would bring them back into line. He had a deep respect.” John and Judy Stiven from Arden Lodge in West Otago also had a close relationship with Father Dan. “We’re really going to miss him at Arden Lodge because when he was down this way he’d would call us from the ‘Koi (Waikoikoi) and say ‘I’m fifteen minutes away, get the billy on.’ “He liked Judy’s baking. He would have a yarn about this and that and then say he needed to get going,” Stiven said. Father Dan at Arden Lodge – Photo Judy Stiven John was one of the founders of Southern Bred Southern Reared and he said initially Dan wasn’t part of the group, but once he joined he really enjoyed the company. “He enjoyed working with a positive group. His experience doing banners on the website was great for us but he still liked to have his Tuapeka Lodge banners up first, and he’d always remind us of the extra hits his site got. One of his strengths was to listen and then sum up on everything that had been said. I guess he learn that by being in the Priesthood. He’ll be greatly missed by SBSR.” Over the last few years Tuapeka Lodge has reduced the numbers of mares the stud breeds, and Bloodstock agent John Curtin recently sold their last three race horses. The Stud is the longest continuous vendor at the National Sales in Christchurch and over its fifty five years of operation it produced an incredible ten sales toppers. 1977: Columbus (Bachelor Hanover – Sakuntala colt) $26,000 1979: Young Tala (Young Charles – Sakuntala colt) $20,000 1985: Tuapeka Direct (Smooth Fella – Sakuntala colt) $81,000 1987: Tuapeka Kay (Sooth Fella – Tuapeka Star filly) $180,000 1990: Ermis (Smooth Fella – Tuapeka Star colt) $34,000 1991: Kokona (Vance Hanover – Maureen’s Dream filly) $25,000 1993: Urrain (Vance Hanover – Marsa Star colt) $85,000 1994: Iraklis (Vance Hanover –Tuapeka Star colt) $88,000 1999: Lavros Harrier (Falcon Seelster – Marsa Star colt) $170,000 2008: Tuapeka Mariner (Christian Cullen-Seamoon colt) $250,000 “He got a huge delight out of seeing them well presented and well behaved,” Julie said of Dan who prepared most of the Tuapeka yearlings. Sakuntala (Armbro Del – Hindu Star) bought by Dan’s parents Cliff and Joan in 1974 from Templeton breeder Ted Graham was certainly the backbone to the stud’s success. Julie says Dan got a great thrill out of watching the many yearlings he prepared turn into outstanding racehorses. However in later years it was Bonnie Joan that held a special place for him. The Somebeachsomewhere mare won ten races; seven as a three year old and she earned $210,464. One of the most satisfying wins for the family was her winning of the 2017 Southland Oaks Final. Bonnie Joan and Dexter Dunn after winning the 2017 Southland Oaks -Photo Bruce Stewart. Julie Davie, Peter Cummings, Dan Cummings, Brent McIntyre, Sheree McIntyre and Jed Mooar – Photo Bruce Stewart Dan said after the win, “Even when she qualified on the grass at Balfour she seemed to be stronger. She’s got a great cruising speed and looks relaxed. The other feature she’s got is gait speed, and she doesn’t have to grind to get to the front. She seems to be able to do it, and then they leave her alone which is great.” “She’s the best filly we’ve raced in our own name,” he added. Dan was able to see Bonnie Joan’s first foal after he was born at Macca Lodge, and Julie said when the colt came home to the farm he was right proud. “He’s a cracker, just stunning and Danny was very very proud of him. I’m not on the farm, but he rang me and said the colt was a real beaut. He’ll probably be called Tuapeka Dan but we haven’t done that yet,” she said. Dan loved a feed of oysters and he loved to go skiing with the family. “Dan, Chris, Peter and Jim (their brothers) did like to go fast.” In his last days Fr Dan had many visitors. Along with other friends, the committee of Southern Bred Southern Reared called into the Lodge to say their goodbyes to him as did Brian West and the Whitelocks. “People round New Zealand came to see him in the end. They all had to go and see his foals. He was pretty proud of them,” said Julie. “Caroline, Brian West and I and a few other friends were lucky enough to go and see him a few weeks ago and spend the weekend with him. It was a very unique time to spend with him, just before the lockdown,” said Braeden Whitelock. “It was extremely difficult saying goodbye to him. He was just a lovely kind generous man.” said West. People from all around New Zealand are sad to say goodbye to Dan Cummings. He had a wonderful presence, and he made his mark in the best possible way on all those he encountered, no matter what the circumstances. We were all very fortunate to know him. Rest in peace Father Dan. By Bruce Stewart

Billy Johnston will be remembered as the most important and influential individual in the history of pari-mutuel harness racing in Illinois and a pillar of the sport in North America for a half century. “I started working with Billy in 1965 and for the next 50 years we had a sometimes contentious but very successful relationship,” said Phil Langley, who served as USTA president from 2003-16. “In my opinion, the success of harness racing in Illinois was due to Billy’s promotional instincts and time after time coming up with new ideas.” The man who left an indelible imprint on the sport died on March 26, 2020 at age 84. “He was a genius in this industry,” said Illinois Circuit Court Judge Lorna Propes, a member of the Illinois Racing Board for 17 years starting in 1989 and its chairman from 2003-06. Johnston’s 45 years of service as a USTA director was exceeded in longevity only by Corwin Nixon’s 47 years. From the mid-1960s through 1997 Johnston headed the Chicago Downs Associations and Fox Valley Trotting Club meetings at Sportsman’s Park, firmly establishing it as one of the premier harness tracks in North America until the sport was discontinued in October 1997. At times during the 1970s Sportsman’s harness meetings outhandled the matinee meeting at one of the nation’s premier Thoroughbred tracks, Arlington Park, located in the same metropolitan Chicago market. “There is no denying that Sportsman’s is one of the most progressive tracks in the nation, striving to do its best for racing buffs and the Chicago racing community,” Jerry Connors wrote in the September 1984 issue of Hoof Beats. The same could be said for Maywood Park and Balmoral Park when Johnston headed the chain-of-command at those Chicago circuit tracks. In 1977 he put together the ownership group of Pat Flavin, Dick Roggeveen, Lester McKeever and Sid Anton that secured a long-term lease to race at Maywood. Early in 1987, under his leadership, members of that ownership group joined with Hawthorne Race Course owners Tom and Bob Carey and members of the family of the New York Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, to buy Balmoral Park. Originally all of the Chicago area track owner/operators were planning to pool their resources to buy Balmoral from Edward J. DeBartolo but then Arlington owner Dick Duchossois threw a curveball by announcing he had reached an independent agreement to buy the track. Encouraged by his son, John, Johnston immediately contacted Steinbrenner, with whom he’d established a friendly relationship during visits to one of the four dog tracks he co-owned in Florida. Steinbrenner was eager to stay involved in racing. He had been a 48 percent owner of the Thoroughbred track Tampa Bay Downs before being outbid by his 52 percent partner, Stella Thayer, when they put the track up for auction in December 1996 and she then took control. When Johnston made the Balmoral pitch, he was receptive. Steinbrenner’s family and a business associate invested 50 percent of the $8 million that Johnston offered DeBartolo for the track. DeBartolo felt he owed Steinbrenner a favor and pulled out of the deal with Duchossois. While Steinbrenner had the reputation of being a control fanatic, he announced: “What we do at Balmoral is up to Billy Johnston. I’ll get him the sponsors. After that I don’t have anything to do with it.” Later the Steinbrenner family bought out the Carey brothers’ shares in Balmoral and the holdings of Flavin and Roggeveen in Balmoral and Maywood. “They worked together very well,” Roggeveen said of the Johnston/Steinbrenner partnership. “Billy knew the business through and through and Steinbrenner added a little more muscle. Billy loved the business. He was a natural for it and Phil Langley was hand in glove with Billy in everything.” “I know it will surprise some but Billy was great to work with and very supportive, a good friend for many years,” Langley said. Like Steinbrenner, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar had great respect for Johnston. “I enjoyed being around Balmoral,” said Edgar, who bred and owned Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds before and after his two terms as governor (1991-99). “Billy was probably as smart a businessman as anybody I ran into in the horse business. I always thought he was a resourceful guy to deal with. “He knew what he had to do to make the tracks viable. He kept an eye on the bottom line so they could stay in business. He wasn’t going to give away any money; you knew that up front. At the same time you always knew he wouldn’t ask for everything. He’d be willing to compromise. If he had to do a compromise with the other tracks or the horsemen you knew he could work something out. “I always found him to be a good person to have in racing.” Johnston headed the hierarchy during the heyday of Illinois harness racing at Sportsman’s in the 1970s and later at Balmoral and Maywood from 1998 through 2015. With him at the helm, Maywood inaugurated its richest and most prestigious race, the Windy City Pace, in 1983 and hosted the inaugural Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly pace in 1984. The following year Sportsman’s was the site of the inaugural Breeders Crown older trot. Johnston’s Sportsman’s and Maywood/Balmoral management teams conducted harness racing after pari-mutuel racing was introduced at the State Fairs at Du Quoin and Springfield and they inaugurated the state’s richest Standardbred race, the World Trotting Derby, in 1981 to replace the Hambletonian, which moved from its long-time home in Du Quoin to The Meadowlands that year. The $700,000 purse for the 1991 World Trotting Derby is an Illinois record that still stands. ‘They did a great job of running the fairs,” Judge Propes said. “They made those into national meets and did a lot of innovative things there to interest fans and push the industry forward. Billy was a true innovator, so prolific and always looking for something to improve.” Year after year the American-National series races lured the finest horses in North America to Sportsman’s and later Balmoral, as did the Windy City Pace at Maywood and the World Trotting Derby and the World Trotting Derby Filly Division at Du Quoin (before they were discontinued following their 2009 renewals because of the state’s continuing budget crisis). In 1988 Sportsman’s had 24 stakes races — 16 of which had purses of $100,000 or more — and stakes purses totaled $3.5 million. The caliber of horses who came to Sportsman’s and Balmoral for the American-Nationals was significantly superior to that which Arlington and Hawthorne attracted for their graded stakes races for Thoroughbreds (with the exception of 1986 when the 13-day tent meeting at Arlington was the greatest in Illinois Thoroughbred history and in 2002 when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup). Albatross in 1972 set his world record of 1:54.3 at Sportsman’s on his way to his second straight Horse of the Year title and such national brandnames as Rambling Willie, Falcon Seelster, Incredible Finale and Pacific later made it their home track. When Sportsman’s introduced the Super Night stakes race extravaganza for Illinois-breds in 1989 it immediately became the biggest night of the year in Illinois harness racing. Super Night’s great success continued at Balmoral after Sportsman’s ceased harness racing following its 1997 meeting for its brief and ill-fated $60 million transformation into an auto racing/Thoroughbred racing venue known as Chicago Motor Speedway. The $3,777,549 bet on Super Night on Sept. 16, 2000 at Balmoral stands as the highest harness handle in the pari-mutuel history of the sport in Illinois that dates back to 1946 at Maywood. “Billy was very persistent and very beneficial for racing in Illinois,” said Dr. Ken Walker, a former member of the USTA board of directors whose Walker Standardbreds is the state’s foremost Standardbred breeding farm. “Phil would throw stuff at him and Billy would take off with it.” In 1992 Balmoral enhanced its stakes schedule by adding the tradition-rich Hanover Stakes, which had led a nomadic existence after being introduced at Lexington in 1947. Before being consolidated and finding a home at Balmoral divisions of the Hanover were raced at Liberty Bell, Freestate Raceway, The Meadows, Rosecroft Raceway and Meadowlands. In 1995 Balmoral held races in conjunction with the World Driving Championships and its leading driver, Dave Magee, won the competition. The emphasis on quality wasn’t confined to the major racing events. After buying Balmoral, Johnston and his partners invested more than $10 million in renovations and upgrades. The clubhouse and grandstand were refurbished; the five-eighths-mile track was replaced with a one mile track; the hub rail was removed; a state-of-the-art lighting system was installed; and a new receiving barn and paddock were constructed adjacent to the grandstand to accommodate the 120 horses on a typical racing card. “As a track operator Billy was par excellence,” remembered Lester McKeever, who went on to become president of Harness Tracks of America after partnering with Johnston in the Maywood and Balmoral ownership groups. “He wasn’t always easy to get along with but he was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man of integrity. Integrity was so important to him.” One of the measures Johnston took to ensure the integrity of the racing product was installation of a computerized diagnostic machine for pre-race testing for “milk-shaking,” the practice of tube-feeding a baking soda solution to horses about four hours before they race to block a buildup of lactic acid and thereby increase their resistance to fatigue by allowing access to oxygen reserves. Similar testing subsequently was adopted by other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada. Johnston and Langley’s innovations set the stage for off-track betting parlors in Illinois. At Sportsman’s in 1984 they pioneered inter-track simulcast betting with the Chicago Thoroughbred tracks. Using the argument that off-track betting parlors would be an extension of the inter-track betting network by allowing each track to have two satellite facilities within a 35-mile radius of the parent track, Johnston was instrumental in persuading the legislature to legalize OTB making Illinois the first state where it wasn’t government-run. Balmoral opened the first parlor in Peoria in 1987. In the fall of 1991 Maywood and Balmoral introduced dual-simulcasting on Friday and Saturday nights, a precursor to full-card simulcasting (that began in Illinois in 1995). The dual simulcasting programs at the mile track Balmoral would begin at 7:45 p.m., those at its little sister half-mile track Maywood would start at 8 p.m. and they would alternate races every 10 minutes until midnight. Johnston also had Balmoral and Maywood rotating racing nights. In addition to Friday and Saturday, Balmoral would have programs on Sunday and Tuesday and Maywood would race on Monday and Wednesday. This was in keeping with Johnston’s long-held conviction that racing six nights a week at the same location is detrimental to the sport. “There are too many races and there are horses and horsemen who really can’t make a go of it,” Connors quoted him as saying in the 1984 Hoof Beats story. “We have to start emphasizing quality over quantity. Everybody has to cut back.” Although calling for cutbacks sometimes put him in conflict with the leaders of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, he earned the enduring respect of Mickey Izzo, currently projects manager of the Illinois Racing Board and formerly executive secretary of the IHHA. “I was executive secretary of the IHHA from 1985-1998, I sat through many contract negotiations with him and what I can say about Billy was that he was tough but fair,” Ezzo said. Illinois Racing Board member Tom McCauley had a similar experience when he served as the legal counsel for Arlington. “I negotiated with him from time to time and I always liked him,” McCauley recalled. “Billy was a force of nature. Some people found that off-putting but it kind of energized me. He always was a straight shooter in negotiations. He did an awful lot for harness racing.” One of the reasons Johnston knew all of the ins and outs of racing was because of his family background and because of his experience as a harness driver, owner, trainer and breeder. His father, William Johnston Sr., was one of the founding fathers when the Hawthorne Kennel Club was remade into a Thoroughbred track in 1932 and renamed Sportsman’s Park. He went on to become president of Sportsman’s National Jockey Club in 1947 and served until 1967. Sportsman’s was used exclusively for Thoroughbred racing until 1949 when it added harness racing (three years after Maywood inaugurated pari-mutuel betting on the sport in Illinois). Langley’s father, Pete Langley, was a steward at the harness meeting and subsequently became a member of the track’s management team, working closely with Billy’s father in much the same way the sons started doing 20 years later and continued doing until 2015. By the early 1950s Billy was showing up at the track with regularity. After high school he went to the University of Miami (Fla.), where he also furthered his racing education by frequenting the greyhound and Thoroughbred tracks during the winter. After graduating from Miami in 1957 he fulfilled what in the era of the draft was known as “his military obligation” in the Coast Guard and was discharged in 1961. By then he was immersed in harness racing. Johnston recalled in a Chicago Tribune interview that he drove “for about a dozen years,” winning his first race at Maywood and his last at Washington Park. “That was before catch-driving became a big thing,” he said. “There were a lot of guys like me who drove their own horses.” William H. Johnston Jr. first appears in the USTA archives as a driver in 1958 but he probably drove earlier because prior to that year only drivers with 25 or more purse starts had their information recorded. The archives have him driving in 153 races from 1958 through 1966 and recording 20 triumphs, 13 seconds and 19 thirds and earning $22,047 in purses. By far his best year was 1958 when he won nine of 53 starts and had $8,329 in earnings. “The first horse I had was Key Club,” he said. “It was around 1954. Del Miller sent her to me after she made breaks at Roosevelt Raceway. She was considered dangerous and unmanageable. I was told ‘put her nose on the gate and hold on’ and I did what I was told. She won and paid around $44 and her time was the fastest of the night but it was no great time.” Stormy Bidwill succeeded the ailing William Johnston Sr. as president of the National Jockey Club in 1967. Thereafter Bidwill focused solely on Thoroughbred racing, while Billy Johnston continued to concentrate on harness racing with Phil Langley (who became race secretary in 1964) working as his right hand man. “Billy was an extremely good promoter and he got along well with all the big names in racing,” Langley said. “People don’t give him enough credit for all he did.” Just as Billy Johnston followed his father into racing so did his sons, John and Duke. After he moved up to chairman of the board in the 1990s John succeeded him as president of Balmoral and Duke succeeded him as president of Maywood. Like their father, both were innovators and they maintained the high standard of excellence that he had set during his years as a mover and shaker. “Billy’s tentacles reached throughout the industry and he had a great deal of respect from everyone, knowing he was not a pushover but also knowing he was fair,” said his former partner McKeever. “His word was his bond.” “Billy was very open-minded and very willing to come to self-examination,” said McCauley, speaking from both the perspective of his present position as a Racing Board member and his former position as Arlington’s attorney in which he often was an adversary at the bargaining table. “Billy would test ideas and he was thorough in his investigations. “In my evaluation he was very, very good for Illinois racing. I can’t think of anyone who can take his place.” by Neil Milbert Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association

Lochie Marshall –  A club man through and through Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry. Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia. He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.  “He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.” “As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.” As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves.  He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.   He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners. He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes. Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables. Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”

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