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Depression kicks in as 2010 comes around.

January 4, 2010

By J.C. Trevino for ILLINIHARNESSRACING.COM

 

When the clock hit midnight on December 31 2009, some of you celebrated the New Year with a toast, while some with a kiss, while others with their love ones, but I was just getting more and more depressed as each New Year comes and goes. Why? (Some of you think)

 

Well I tell you why?

 

It’s been ten years now since the greatest game in America has been contested at Fairmount Park in Collinsville. Illinois. Harness Racing that is. It’s been ten years since the mobile starting gate has lined up at the top of the stretch and the starter has called for the pacers or trotters to get behind his starting gate.

 

Even though a lot of horsemen made Fairmount Park their choice of racing and a place to make a living during the winter month’s management decided to cut out harness racing after December 31, 1999

         

So can you understand why I’m so depressed?

 

Then right around August for the last ten years rumors start floating in the air that there is a chance that harness racing might return to Fairmount Park. So I get some sort of relieve with the rumors but then every year the rumors go down the drain, when the racing dates come out for Fairmount’s next years racing season, there’s never any harness dates for the next year racing season. 

 

Now here’s the latest rumor I heard that can give you just a little hope, they said once slots get into law if they do that they would built a five eights mile track inside the mile oval and have live harness racing again, for a 30 day meet. Which is better then nothing, but of course harness racing would be raced in the middle of winter when they can’t run thoroughbreds. Trust me they tried and it didn't work. According to rumors management also claims that it cost a million dollars to switch from the dirt surface to the limestone surface, so management figures it would be easier and more profitable in the long run to just build a track on the inside of the mile oval. So you would have a harness track on the inside where the racing fans would be about a hundred yards away from the action and a thoroughbred track on the outside where fans could be right up to the rail. Kind of like Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario, Canada. Now if you would ask some Ontario folks which is better Woodbine or Mohawk racing, Ill be willing to bet 95% of them like Mohawk better than Woodbine since they are closer to the horses and the racing action at Mohawk.  But according to management unless slot machines are allowed at Illinois racetracks there will continue to be No harness racing at Fairmount Park.      

     

So can you understand why someone can be so depressed?  One day you hear there is a chance for harness racing then the next day you hear there is no chance for harness racing unless there is slots. So can you understand why im depressed.

 

To help some of my depression I will go back and try to remember some good memories of harness racing at Fairmount Park. Even though there are probably millions of great memories of Fairmount Park for many different people, I will take you back to some of my great memories to help my depression..   

 

I remember Anthony Morgan with KELLYTUCK NICOLE, Joel Smith with RACY TAR BOY, Perry Smith with SINDAV, Richard Kurtzworth with CHARM MAR MELLOW, and John Reese with EGYPTIAN SANDMAN racing week in and week out in the Invitational going for $15,000. I Remember Billy Downs racing the COLONEL SKY WALKER as a pacer then switching him back over to the trot where he went on to win lots of races. I remember COURAGEOUS RED in the late 80’s having the most wins under 2 minutes racing at Fairmount Park. How about when they had the Saluki Pacing Series in the 90’s and Tom Simmons had a five horse entry with a horse that had competed in the Orange & Blue Final the year when Tom Simmons won it with Brass Door.

 

How about the time a trotter named Nuance Hanover driven by Tom Tetrick won, and three red headed kids ran to the winners circle to get there picture taken. I remember the second kid struggling to get to the winners circle as he couldn’t keep up with his two brothers to see who would sit on their dad’s sulky. Now after reading all the headlines of who’s who in harness racing I can understand why little Tom and Trace would out run Timmy to the winners circle. (I know it’s a little too late but next time cheat Timmy! Trip them.)       

 

What about one of the first millionaires to have raced at Fairmount Park, SAFE HAVEN. What an incredibly good looking pacer SAFE HAVEN was, he was owned and driven by Greg Bowden at the time. Later I remember asking Greg Bowden if he owned SAFE HAVEN when he made all that money, while racing on the east coast. Bowden replied “I wish I would of, but I did bet on him a lot of times and I made some moneybetting on him” he then said “So the first time I had a chance I got him”. Since were talking about millionaires lets not forget about the times that Bob Farrington brought Rambling Willie to race at Fairmount Park. Didn't  Ray Parker beat him with Oyster Catcher? I think he did.  

 

I remember when Dr Luel. Overstreet brought in his Champion pacer DORUNRUN BLUEGRASS to race at Fairmount Park and he brought in the winning’s driver of all time Herve Fillion to drive him one year, then the next year he brought in Sam “chip” Noble III to drive him. Trust me I still have the whip that Chip used that night. Since we are talking about champions lets remember the world champion mare that Trent Stohler has EXTREME VELOCITY who raced at Fairmount Park and later won the BREEDERS CROWN.  Then you have Gregg Haston who was from Indiana that raced at Fairmount Park and won a diving title while driving such good horses like BG QUAIL, DRAKKAR, SUSHINE GEM, and many more.

 

Then there were the two mares that Roger and Jeff Cullipher from Kentucky had CLYDES MOMENT and ALMAHURST RAZZLE the mares that won every filly and mares open the closing meet. What a great one two combo the Culliphers had that year. I remember that same year Roy Saul having the Super Night champion KG BRINNA WILLOWBEE a good mare in here own right but she was never able to beat either one of those mares.  Both of these mares ended up with track records of their own, CLYDES MOMENT has the older mare pacing record, and ALMAHURST RAZZLE has the three year old filly pacing record, breaking it on closing day of the 1999 racing season.    

 

Let’s remember some horses that were owned in Southern Illinois. Their was SPEC’S BOY who was an incredible trotter owned by Robert “RED” Clark from Granite City, then you have TASER GUN who was also owned by southern Illinois connections( Cunningham racing) probably on of the greatest Illinois Bred’s of all time. The pride of Jerseyville SIR RICHARD ERIC who raced and won plenty of races at Fairmount Park with breeder Russell “RIP” Crotchett and Johnny Podres Jr doing some of the driving. Podres, son of baseball legend Johnny Podres professional baseball pitcher who got some of his fame by winning game seven of the 1955 World Series for the Brooklyn Dodgers giving them their first World Championship.  I remember running into Rip this past summer at the Carrollton fair and asking him if he knew about a horse named SIR RICHARD ERIC, he replied “HE’S THE BEST HORSE THIS OLD MAN EVER OWNED.”

 

What about some families that raced at Fairmount Park like the Simpsons (Mr. Buddy, Delores, Dirk, Clay) the Finns (John, Larry, Merle, Randall, Roy, Freddie, Rick, Bobby, etc…..) the Binkley’s (Robert, Ewell, Larry, Clint, Terry) the Coleman’s (Jerry, Larry, Neil) the Smiths (William, Joel), the Millers (Erv, Andy, and now Julie ) and many more families that raced at Fairmount Park throughout the years . Fairmount Park was a place where family and friends would reunite every winter, a place where new friendships were made every year.  Hopefully one day some new memories can be made at Fairmount Park, but until that day comes around I’ll stay in a state of depression unless something changes.            

 

 

EDITORS NOTE 

SIR RICHARD ERIC is also the best horse I have had.

Im sorry to all the hard working horsemen that i left out of  this article.

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