By John Manzi
MONTICELLO January 3, 2003 Eldon Harner, former Monticello Raceway driving champion and the son of the late Hall of Famer Levi Harner and brother-in-law of Hall of Famer, William Buddy Gilmour, died Sunday, December 29 after injuries received in a horse accident. He was 69.
Harner, who was stabled at Pompano Park Harness Track, was taking one of his horses, Toibin N, from its stall on Friday morning, December 27, when the horse bolted out of the stall, running over Harner and knocking him unconscious. Harner was then rushed to North Broward Hospital where he passed away early Sunday morning.
A third-generation horseman, Harner spent many seasons competing here at the Mighty M. A fan favorite, he was a threat to win every time he was in the sulky. While competing here, he won a pair of driving titles. His .366 universal average was tops in 1971 and two years later, in 1973, Harner again finished on top in percentage with a .390 average.
One of his standouts during his Mighty M years was a pacer named Kat Byrd, a 1:58.4 winner of over $208,000. In 1969 Harner won the prestigious Cane Pace one of racings Triple Crown events for pacers with Kat Byrd. During the early 1970s Kat Byrd was the scourge of the Free-For-All ranks at Monticello, winning almost at will. Some other notables Harner raced at the mighty M were Wolf Pack, Tara Row Gil and Powerful.
Harner, a consummate horseman for more than 50 years, reined 1,679 winners and amassed purses of $10,441,194 in his illustrious career. Eldie, as we all called him, competed in his first race in 1952 at the age of 18.
Some of the other outstanding horses Harner developed and raced were Fortune Teller p, 3, 1:54.1 ($1,683,000), winner of the 1982 Woodrow Wilson Pace, Sheppard Pace, Oliver Wendell Holmes Pace and Goshen Cup; and Apaches Circle p, 2, 1:55.2 ($660,000), who was the winner of the 1983 Haughton Memorial Pace.
Harner was a Korean War veteran, a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose, the American Legion and a 32nd Degree Mason. He is survived by his mother, Arlene (Rishel) Harner of Millville, Pa.; former wife Susan (Leiby) Harner of Coral Springs, Fla.; one son and two daughters, the late Stephen L. Harner, Susan Harner Wingert of Liberty and Jennifer Harner Rogan of Coral Springs, Fla. and five grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will take place at the Bunnell Funeral Home in Millville, PA (570) 458-5031 with a viewing today and burial tomorrow, Saturday, January 4. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Millville Fire and Ambulance Association, P.O. Box 80, Millville, PA 17846.