By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY July 5, 2002 The folks from Historic Track in Goshen could go by the slogan where it all began; where it is today.
Beginning yesterday (July 4) and continuing through Sunday (July 7), harness racing goes back to its roots at that National Historic Landmark because it is the place where racing harness horses all started.
Goshens Historic Track is the worlds oldest harness track. Racing began there in 1838 yes Virginia, you heard it right, 1838! This season marks the 164th consecutive year that Standardbreds raced over the double-oval just behind Main St. in the village.
But racing wasnt confined to just the half-mile track in Goshen. For many decades there was harness racing at the other track in Goshen, the mile track known as Good Time Park.
Oh, its no longer there, but you can still see the track bed if you look closely while traveling past exit 124 on the Quickway. For 26 years beginning in 1930 through 1956, except for 1943 the sports most prestigious race, The Hambletonian, was raced at the mile track, Good Time Park.
But in 1957 the race was moved to DuQuoin, Illinois and racing ceased at the mile track.
Goshens mile track was unique in that it was a kite-shaped mile track, which meant it had three turns as compared to vast majority of tracks that have just two turns. If you get a chance to stop by the Orange Inn in Goshen on Main St. you can see an arial view of Good Time Park showing the three turns on the mile oval.
But racing continued yearly at Historic Track, which was originally called Goshen Raceway.
With the two tracks and the fact that harness racing began in Goshen, its no wonder that the hamlet was known as Trot Town, USA. Another moniker appropriately tagged on Goshen was, and still is, The Cradle of the Trotter.
When pari-mutuel racing was instituted in the early 1940s racing fans could wager on the races at Historic Track, then Goshen Raceway.
But in the late 1970s wagering on the races was discontinued when the track became a not-for-profit organization gaining National Historic Landmark status.
However, not being able to wager on the races didnt hamper the crowds nor the enthusiasm of the race fans. And in recent years Grand Circuit Racing has become part of racing programs once again.
This year the New York Sires Stakes (NYSS) along with the County Fair divisions of the NYSS and the Landmark Stakes, for both two and three-year-olds, make up the majority of the races at Historic Track. And in recent years, amateur racing has returned not only to Goshen but to over 42 tracks in the U.S. and Canada.
The highlight of the weekend events will be the Hall Of Fame Trot featuring horses driven by Hall of Famers on Sunday.
Among those competing will be Buddy Gilmour, Clint Galbraith, Howard Beissinger, Mike Lachance, Ray Remmen, Doug Ackerman and the two newest Hall of Famers, Harry Harvey and Catello Manzi.
Star Role Fastest
Of NY Sire Stakes
Star Roles clocking of 1:54:2 was the fastest of the three divisions in the $145,000 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) for sophomore pacing colts and geldings presented last Sunday at Monticello Raceway.
Other division winners included Nukamickie in 1:57.1 and Mr Fuji in 1:56:3. Each division went for a purse in excess of $48,000. All three victors are sons of Magical Mike, who is the pride of Blue Chip Farms in nearby Wallkill.
Star Role, whos coming off a 1:52 victory in the Cleveland Classic, continued his winning ways for driver Jeff Gregory and now is undefeated in five seasonal starts. But Star Role had to reach down for something extra to hold off a late charge from last years two-year-old New York Sire Stakes champion Dee Magic Man and driver Wally Hennessey. The margin of victory was just a head for Star Role who was parked by the quarter pole in 27:1 and still had a 28:1 quarter in reserve for the final two furlongs. Third place went to Givemethelumber, driven by Stephane Bouchard.
Star Roles 1:54:2 victory was the fastest mile thus far this season at the Mighty M and just four-fifths of a second off the track record for 3-year-old colt pacers.
Gregory also was victorious in another NYSS division, reining Mr Fuji home first over Vantastic Mike and driver Stephane Bouchard in 1:56:3. Third place went to Here and Gone in rein to Howard OKusko Jr.
A third NYSS division went to Nukamickie, handled by Wally Hennessey.
Using the front-end route, Nukamickie cruised to an easy three-length triumph over the Jeff Gregory-driven, Four Starzzzz Ed. Bells Pond Road was third for Frank Galante.
And in other action Sunday, the Peoples Pacer, Vans Cam, made his first start for his 100 mythical owners and finished third in 1:58.1.