By John Manzi
January 11, 2002 - When Ed Palladino began his life-long career as a journalist, harness racing was in its golden years.
Back in the 1950s and 60s the fastest growing sport in the United States was harness racing.
Enormous crowds packed the major metropolitan raceways and with the interest in Standardbred racing so great, Monticello Raceway applied for and was granted a license in 1957. A year later, on June 27, 1958, the Mighty M, as it became known, had its inaugural program. Covering the events of the evening for the Kingston Daily Freeman was Ed Palladino.
Enamored by harness racing and the personalities involved in the sport, Palladino was a permanent fixture at Monticello Raceway reporting the results, handicapping, and writing feature stories.
It was at the Mighty M that year that Palladino first met the dean of public relations, Allen J. Finkelson. A man whose charisma mesmerized the industry, Finkelson, being the P.R. man that he was, endeared himself to Palladino, who wrote for one of the biggest newspapers in the tracks marketing area.
I loved the guy, Palladino said about Finkelson, Everybody did. He was so dynamic that everyone wanted to be around him.
The following season the Monticello Chapter-prelude to the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA was born. And right there on the ground floor was Ed Palladino, a charter member.
I served three years as a vice president of then two years as president of the chapter, Palladino recalled.
When he was elevated to sports editor of the Daily Freeman , Palladino made sure Kingston residents were kept abreast of the harness happenings at Monticello Raceway.
The one event that sticks out in my mind from that period was the great match race between Levi Harners, Tar Boy, and Eddie Cobbs, Adios Butler, Palladino said. Cobb let Levi cut the mile and then overtook him in the final strides. It was a tremendous promotion.
But Palladino didnt limit disseminating harness racing news from just Monticello Raceway. He gave live coverage for years to many of harness racings the big events. He especially enjoyed covering the Yonkers Trots and Cane Paces at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways.
He was at Saratoga in the late 1960s when the great Nevele Pride attempted the world record on a half-mile track covering the event for the greater Kingston-area readers.
Nevele Pride, in my opinion was the greatest trotter of all-time and he went some mile that day at Saratoga, Palladino recalled. And what made the story all the more remarkable was the pouring rain that fell just prior to the race.
Among the many friends and acquaintances Palladino made while covering the races at Monticello was Allen Gutterman.
When Gutterman was just starting out in the mid-1960s Finkelson gave him a job at Monticello and we became good friends, too. Palladino said. During the summer of 1975, after Gutterman joined Sam Anzalone at the Meadowlands I worked in the Yonkers publicity department until they found a replacement for Allen.
Later that year, in the fall of 1975, Palladino moved his base of operations to Albany, where he became the sports editor of the Albany Times-Union. Upon that promotion Palladino kept his close ties to harness racing transferring to the Saratoga Chapter USHWA, where he served as vice president for two years.
While working at the Times-Union Palladino was at Saratoga to write about the great Niatross when the champion pacer made a local appearance. Anticipation was high about a track record but instead of continuing his winning ways, the horrified crowd witnessed the great pacer falling over the hub rail.
It was the most amazing thing I, or anyone else, had ever seen, Palladino related. We all came to write about Niatross after he added another victory to his credits. But to everyones surprise that didnt happen. No one could have predicted it. We were all watching from the press box at the time and poor Virginia OBrien, she damn near had a heart attack when Niatross fell.
And what was even stranger, after Billy Haughton won the race with Trenton Time, nobody talked to him about his victory. Niatross falling was the story.
In the mid-1980s Palladino returned to his beloved Kingston Daily Freeman and rejoined the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA.
After a stint as president of the chapter, Palladino was elected to the National Organization of the U.S. Harness Writers. He worked his way up the chairs and served two years as president of USHWA National. Later he was USHWA National Chairman of the Board.
For Ed Palladino harness racing always rated as one of his favorite pastimes. Oh sure, he loves the New York Yankees and Frank Sinatra whom he saw in concert almost 50 times but when he was working as sports editor for the major daily newspapers that constituted his illustrious career, harness racing was sure to get the great coverage it deserved.
And for all Ed Palladino gave to harness racing over the four decades he worked as a journalist he will now join many of his peers in the Writers Corner of Harness Racings Hall of Fame in Goshen. He got there the old-fashioned way; he earned it!
Palladino will be inducted into the Hall on July 7.