Just passing this on.
Sent: Tue, 22 Jul 2008 10:09 pm
Subject: Fwd: Ben Webster - Hall of Fame
It has come to my attention that a website has been created to petition for
my Dad to be inducted into the
Harness Racing Hall of Fame. I have included in this email many facts that I
have previously sent to the Harness Writer's Association many times. I would
be grateful if you would visit www.electbenwebster.com
and enter your vote
and if you would then help spread the word.
In 1996 I began my mission to see my father inducted into the Hall of Fame
of the Trotter and I will not give up until it happens. Each year as I see
the latest inductees enter the Hall of Fame I wonder – What is the
determining or influencing factor to become a member? To be amongst the
chosen few of many distinguished members of the harness racing industry to
be honored? To have a place for other members and fans to remember, respect,
and smile in memory of the many great moments’ one has given to this
Over these years I‘ve learned the committee considers the following
¨ Candidates shall be chosen on the basis of ability, integrity,
sportsmanship, character and their contributions to harness racing.
¨ To be eligible a candidate must be active in any phase of Harness Racing
at some time during the period after September 1940.
¨ Regardless of time in the sport a candidate may be considered if he or she
has shown extraordinary accomplishments in the sport over a reasonable
period of time.
In response, I confirm those criteria with the following:
Western New York is where my father began his life long commitment to
harness racing during the 1950’s. His accomplishment’s there granted him
invites to drive “in the big city.” In 1965 our family relocated to Long
Island so that dad could race at Yonkers and Roosevelt. His talented hands
guided him to victory nightly and his insight to simple changes in equipment
turned horses around on the spot.
My family followed the sire stakes each summer through the countryside’s of
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Ohio – memories
include yearly trips to the New York State Fair; the Little Brown Jug
including the year he took a gelding by the name of Seatrain to the winner’s
circle; I recall Oil Burning winning the O.T.B. Classic in Monticello so
vividly that it still brings tears to my eyes; and the International racing
competitions in foreign lands representing OUR United States. He became
known as the “Master of the Half-Mile” and “Benny the Whip”.
When the Meadowlands opened in 1976 we moved to New Jersey where Dad’s
legacy continued. He won the Oliver Wendall Holmes opening week with Oil
Burner. He drove the great pacing mare Tarport Hap through her short career.
In 198 I was privileged to join him in Lexington as he won the Kentucky
Futurity with Flak Bait. And winning The Hambletonian with Historic Freight
seemed to make his life complete. There were countless years he was among
the leading drivers at the Meadowlands, Yonkers and Roosevelt, not to
mention the whole country, and broke records at every track he raced. He has
won nearly all of the Grand Circuit and state stake races at least once.
Oil Burner and Flak Bait are in his repertoire of horses he both owned and
trained from yearlings. Additionally, he owned and trained, as well as put
together the breeding for the premier sire, No Nukes. He has proven to do
more with a two-year-old than most people do in a horses’ career. He drove
numerous great horses for top owners and trainers in the industry, many of
which are already members of the Hall of Fame. He knows that each and every
individual involved in a horse’s life makes a difference in its performance.
Furthermore, his generosity to the industry never stopped at the top, grooms
of yesteryear continue to thank him.
Yes, he has had his ups and downs in this industry, but he was not alone in
them and those others involved are in the Hall of Fame. When Ray Remmen was
bestowed this great honor in 1998, he commented to Dad that he should not
go in before Dad. I have discussed my cause with numerous individuals
involved in and around the industry, and some whom are just fans, and many
of them think he has already been inducted. As Mike Farrell put it so
eloquently in 1998 regarding Ray Remmen being “among the last of a vanishing
breed”, he is so right. This industry has changed so very much since my
childhood and yes, my father is probably the last of the vanishing breed of
It is impossible to sum up my father’s career with one letter. The horses
(Four Leaf, Ferric Hanover, Seahawk Hanover, etc.) and races of my memories
are endless. It is time to give him the honor he is long overdue receiving.
Don’t put this off another year, do the right thing and induct him into the
Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame now!
I hope you enjoyed this little step back in time and I deeply thank you for
I would like to thank John, Trade and Larry for helping in this fight and
thank you all on behalf of my brothers, Mark and Daryl, and myself.
Laureen Webster Somers