Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 5 of 5
1

Virgil Morgan, Jr., arguably the greatest trainer in Ohio history, has been elected as the 47th member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame by a vote of the members of the Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association. Morgan, 55, was the first conditioner to win 5,000 races and has now won more than 6,700 races and $60 million in earnings. He has career Universal Training Rating of .350 and has won the training title at Eldorado Scioto Downs for an astonishing 26 straight years. He was introduced to the sport of harness racing through his uncle, Emory Lewis, and his father, Virgil Morgan, Sr. He bought his first horse at the age of 17 and later started working for trainer Randy Owens before striking out on his own in the late 1980s. He has trained some tremendous performers including Mister Big, Pet Rock, Allamerican Captor, Action Broadway and this year's Ohio divisional champion's Street Gossip and Action Uncle. He has won six Jerry Kaltenbach Memorial Trophies. This award is given annually to the trainer who has earned the most dollars competing in Ohio Sires Stakes. He trained 22 Ohio Sire Stakes champions. Despite his past success, Morgan also has his eye on the future of the sport. His daughter, Kiara, is an aspiring driver and his son, Tre, is an owner. In the spring of 2018, Morgan opened the Winner Circle Training Center, the state's premier harness facility. Morgan will be honored at the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association's virtual banquet on Saturday, January 16. A more formal ceremony will occur during Scioto Downs' 2021 meet.   Jay Wolf

Grove City, OH - The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association (OHHA) will continue its live streaming coverage of Ohio county fair races Monday June 29 and Tuesday June 30 from the Marion County fairgrounds. Live coverage of the Ohio Fair Racing Conference races from the Marion County fairgrounds will be shown on the OHHA Facebook page and the OHHA YouTube channel. Post time is 11:00 AM on Monday and Tuesday. Replays of the races will be available on the Trot and Pace Marketing website, trotandpacemarketing.com, following the completion of racing. The Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association will be live streaming Ohio fair races throughout the summer. For a complete schedule go to OHHA.com. by Frank Fraas, for the OHHA  

Donald “Don” McKirgan, one of the top trainers in the state of Ohio, has been elected as the newest member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He was elected by a vote of the Ohio chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Known as “Ohio’s Trotmaster,” McKirgan has enjoyed success with both gaits, including the 2015 Ohio Horse of the Year, Like Old Times and is credited with 3,640 career driving wins. McKirgan, 77, came to Northfield Park when it opened in 1957 and remains stabled there today. He was the leading driver at the Cleveland oval in 1977 and 1981 and led all Northfield drivers in the Universal Drivers Rating in 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1985. He was elected to the Northfield Park Wall of Fame in 1992. McKirgan has won at least one race at Northfield Park every year before being sidelined for the entire 2004 season. In November 2003, McKirgan suffered what would have been a career ending illness for most people. He was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré disease, an inflammatory disorder that paralyzed McKirgan for nearly half a year. McKirgan will be honored at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association banquet in Worthington, Ohio, on Saturday, January 13. Jay Wolf

Dunkster never wanted to be caught. Not in his stall, not in a field, not on the racetrack. It was on the racetrack that this trait proved most valuable. Dunkster won 89 lifetime races - which puts him in a tie for eighth place among all trotters in North American harness racing history - and earned $894,320 in a career that spanned from 2001 through 2011. On Jan. 21, Dunkster will be inducted into Ohio's Standardbred Hall of Fame at the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association banquet at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbus (Worthington). "He knew what winning was," said Kurt Sugg, who trained and drove Dunkster in the majority of the horse's 287 races, "and he liked to do it." Dunkster's most lucrative victory came in the 2006 Dygert Memorial at Hawthorne Race Course for a purse of $105,000. Sugg and Dunkster made a three-wide move at the three-quarter pole and then held off hard-charging Dink Adoo in a stretch battle to win by a head in 1:54. "Ryan Anderson was driving Dink Adoo and they were coming at (Dunkster) so fast it looked like they were going to go right by," Sugg said. "When that horse got up to Dunkster's withers, he wore an open bridle, he turned his head and he fought that horse off. Hawthorne is a very long stretch and he fought him off the whole way. He never got any closer than that. He just had a willingness to win." Sugg never expected Dunkster to enjoy such a successful and lengthy career. Dean Davis, who passed away at the age of 82 in September, bought five-month-old Dunkster and his mom, Rosemary T, for $5,000 at a sale in Ohio in 1999. When Sugg went to pick up Dunkster as a yearling at Spring Run Farm, he had a good deal of difficulty catching the young horse. It was the start of a trend that continued throughout Dunkster's career. "There were quite a few times the night before his race I'd have about 10 people out in the pasture field trying to catch him so he could go race the next day," Sugg said. "I think he enjoyed the pasture life. Even though he was a very good racehorse, he liked to be outside with the rest of the horses. He got plenty of extra exercise out there running from me. He never did train very often. When he was racing, he would go on the (exerciser) in the morning and then be in the field the rest of the day." At ages 2 and 3, Dunkster often went off stride because he hit his knees. Sugg tried knee boots, then knee spreaders, only to discover by chance that the trotter preferred to go without either. "I think I had him over-equipped for 2-1/2 years of his life," Sugg said, laughing. "As a 4-year-old I was racing him at Northfield. I was by myself, taking care of him and racing him. I had the knee spreaders and they were such a pain to put on and take off by yourself, so I decided to leave them off that night. He raced unbelievable, maybe the best he ever raced. "From then on, he was a really good horse. It's like I finally let him be what he wanted to be, and he said, 'OK, I'm going to go good now.' He totally changed." Dunkster won seven of 12 races the remainder of the year, and then won 50 times in the ensuing four seasons, including a world-record 1:54.2 triumph at Northfield in 2004. He was an Ohio Sire Stakes champion at age 4, a four-time Scarlet and Gray champion, and finished second to Dan Patch Award-winner Sand Vic in the 2006 American-National Stakes. He finished his career with victories at 21 different racetracks and competed in nine different states plus Ontario. "He was an iron horse," Sugg said. "I've never had a horse in the Hall of Fame, so that's pretty special to get him there, to know that I had a little something to do with it. He was an all-around good horse." Dunkster has enjoyed his retirement days at Spring Run Farm, and the horse was still on his toes in the field the last time Sugg visited. "You couldn't catch him," Sugg said. Ken Weingartner

Martin "Marty" Wollam, one of the top trainers in the state of Ohio, has been elected as the newest member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He was elected by a vote of the Ohio chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Wollam, 67, has amassed 1,783 training wins, winning 12 Ohio Sire Stakes Championships with such standouts as Full Count, Count Me In, Doink N Doni, Contessa Leigh and Neely's Messenger. He also campaigned Striking Sahbra, the 2008 inductee into the Ohio Horse Hall of Fame, and Caviar Forthe Lady, a Pennsylvania Sire Stake champion and winner of $567,306. As a driver, Wollam made 1,139 trips to the winner's circle. A resident of Vienna, Ohio, Wollam was selected as a 2011 Wall of Fame honoree by his home track, Northfield Park. Wollam will be honored at the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association banquet in Worthington, Ohio, on Saturday, January 21. For more information on the OHHA banquet please visit ohha.com or call 800.353.6442.  

1 to 5 of 5
1