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Author Topic: Sportsman Park grandstand gone !!  (Read 3315 times)
race track phil
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« on: March 04, 2009, 10:43:13 AM »


           I just came home and drove by SPK and it was sad to see the grandstand is gone and the clubhouse section is barely still there !!  I guess all good things come to an end , but I always hoped some kind of way they would re-open with some new owners that were interested in reviving harness racing .  A guy like Bill McEnery with unlimited funds !!  I know it was a dream , but it doesn't hurt to dream !!  I guess the only thing left is the great racing memories of one of the finer era's in Chicago harness racing history . I made my finest scores at SPK and even though the money is long gone , the thrill of winning at SPK is still there !!  For all of us old timers who loved SPK the memories will always be in our thoughts . I just wish I could have got one of the signs posted in the track !!   Section G !!  Thats where I sat for many many years .


                                                  RTP
       
        We all can thank Mr Bidwell for possibly the worst business decision in Chicago history !!   A car track in the middle of a neighborhood filled with people who would have had them shut down even if they were successful !!  You ever hear that song Nobody does it better ?   There song was nobody does it worse .
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Moon
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 10:55:13 AM »

I made almost all of my best scores at SPT, too.

It was a fun place to wander around, too. Like a huge dungeon. You never knew what you would find, like an ATM behind the stairwell.
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big wally
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 11:24:52 AM »

How bout the the Svelte and Dapper GINO!!!
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OHUBETTERBELIEVEIT
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2009, 11:32:43 AM »

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noc
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2009, 12:01:25 PM »

How bout the the Svelte and Dapper GINO!!!
Would that be Gino Oliver Huh Is he still alive Huh
Anyone know what happened to Dan Groth...Was at Balmoral years back Huh
Phil Hart in mutuels Huh

Good size scores both at harness and TBs...
Irish Measure on sunny Saturday in Spring..Paid $17.40  Lighting Jet was 6/5 ran out...
One Saturday evening  STAR ROWAN A, Bill Crone driven and trained owned by William Slevick aka Tug....1st start after being purchased down under..Wires the field in a 158.4 and pays $78.00

Sorry but I have put the many losers out of my mind but the racing was great.
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Moon
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2009, 12:05:51 PM »

R U Tryin Now = $96.80 to win.

One day they had a $10000 giveaway and I won $1000 of it and also had a big day, ending up with over $2000 in winnings. I missed the bus and had to walk to the Blue Line. First time I was ever nervous about the surroundings.
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balmoral buddy
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2009, 12:48:56 PM »

I have been to around 15 harness tracks. Sportsman's Park was #1.
You could see up close the horses, trainers, and drivers, and get a great view of the races with that long stretch.

Where else could you see the drivers sitting up on the porch above the paddock watching the races, waiting for their next drive?

Or sitting outside in the grandstand watching the warmups and races, seeing Frank Calabrese yelling at Longo or Kramer or his current trainer of the month warming up. And who could forget Racetrack Rosie when she almost wore her cowgirl getup!

The memories are sweet.... especially when your horse won the big race of the night, or the big race of the year..... or even just an $8000 claimer. (Geez, that would be the feature race on most days now - how very, very sad.)
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race track phil
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« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2009, 01:43:23 PM »


       Ohyoubetterbelieveit !!

                 You have my sign !!   I expect it to be mailed to me UPS within 3 days or you will be put on suspension and lose all racetrack priviledges . I will send my super booth police unit to track you down and if you resist arrest and fail to give them the sign I will personally have them remove the chicken tenders from the Maywood menu !!

         The clock is ticking .          Bomb        RTP
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OHUBETTERBELIEVEIT
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2009, 03:11:47 PM »

Some more signs I have...

$2     Betting Window

$5     Betting Window

$10    Betting Window

$20    Betting Window

$50    Betting Window

$100  Betting Window


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race track phil
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2009, 03:33:35 PM »


           Just like the grandstand !!!   Those days are long GONE !!


                                              RTP     geezer

          You need a couple rolls of dimes today !!
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Dan Villeky
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« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2009, 10:27:03 PM »


The memories are sweet.... especially when your horse won the big race of the night, or the big race of the year..... or even just an $8000 claimer. (Geez, that would be the feature race on most days now - how very, very sad.)

As I look back we raced an $8000 claimer at Spk. The $8's were going for $5000 back then. We claimed him off of Randy Jacobs at Hawthorne and he raced at Spk and Bmp in the late 90's. I'd guess that was just before Spk closed.
Honest old sucker who was a former class horse and could still get around in 1:55 and change. Have something like six or seven win pictures on the wall of the den from his wins. (six to be exact-just counted them).
Retired him and he's a damned pet of a little girl up in Ohio.
Had more fun with him than we did with a couple who made some rather big bucks for us up in Canada.
What a great place to watch a harness race.
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carl baldwin
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« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2009, 11:05:20 PM »

           I just came home and drove by SPK and it was sad to see the grandstand is gone and the clubhouse section is barely still there !!  I guess all good things come to an end , but I always hoped some kind of way they would re-open with some new owners that were interested in reviving harness racing .  A guy like Bill McEnery with unlimited funds !!  I know it was a dream , but it doesn't hurt to dream !!  I guess the only thing left is the great racing memories of one of the finer era's in Chicago harness racing history . I made my finest scores at SPK and even though the money is long gone , the thrill of winning at SPK is still there !!  For all of us old timers who loved SPK the memories will always be in our thoughts . I just wish I could have got one of the signs posted in the track !!   Section G !!  Thats where I sat for many many years .


                                                  RTP
       
        We all can thank Mr Bidwell for possibly the worst business decision in Chicago history !!   A car track in the middle of a neighborhood filled with people who would have had them shut down even if they were successful !!  You ever hear that song Nobody does it better ?   There song was nobody does it worse .
In my opinion ,the owners of Sportsman Park seen the crowds that Rt.66/Chicagoland Speedway got having a Nascar race and thought they could do the samething of better.
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Moon
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2009, 08:32:46 AM »

In my opinion ,the owners of Sportsman Park seen the crowds that Rt.66/Chicagoland Speedway got having a Nascar race and thought they could do the samething of better.

That was the plan, but they didn't actually get any of the big NASCAR races. They were hoping to be the Midwest's version of Bristol, but all they got was some Formula 1 races and NASCAR truck  races.

/And, IIRC, Sportsman's auto conversion was finished well before Joliet.
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Moon
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2009, 10:53:47 AM »

Some pics:

http://rubbishgoeshere.com/dump/2008/03/bored/

Some more:

http://rubbishgoeshere.com/dump/2009/02/sportsmans-park/

The guy mentions McChump at the end!
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NIATROSS
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2009, 11:10:37 AM »

In my opinion ,the owners of Sportsman Park seen the crowds that Rt.66/Chicagoland Speedway got having a Nascar race and thought they could do the samething of better.


You are wrong.Sportsman was up and running before Joliet ever had a a Nascar race.

Sportsman was ill conceived from the start as it only allowed single lane racing.I went to one of the races and many attempts to pass resulted in accidents.
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Dan Villeky
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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2009, 11:28:26 AM »


You are wrong.Sportsman was up and running before Joliet ever had a a Nascar race.

Sportsman was ill conceived from the start as it only allowed single lane racing.I went to one of the races and many attempts to pass resulted in accidents.

Not only that 'Tross but anyone thinking that building an auto racing facility in the midst of what is considered a "neighborhood" must be certifiably crazy. The noise as far as a mile away was more than obtrusive and the crowds especially the drugged up drunks at the close of the program were more than obnoxious. I have an aunt who lives about a mile away in Stickney. The first race day was not a pleasant experience.
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CLOCKERTERRY
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« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2009, 11:32:18 AM »


In that first set of pictures, there are some booth benches and tables that are of the exact same kind that RLD came and repossessed from the NJC out of Hawthorne. There's even little orange tags on them that probably say, "Property of Richard L. Duchossois"! Yet, he apparently didn't send his goons to pick those tables up out of old Sportsman's, because there they sit! Weird.
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NIATROSS
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« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2009, 12:03:48 PM »

Not only that 'Tross but anyone thinking that building an auto racing facility in the midst of what is considered a "neighborhood" must be certifiably crazy. The noise as far as a mile away was more than obtrusive and the crowds especially the drugged up drunks at the close of the program were more than obnoxious. I have an aunt who lives about a mile away in Stickney. The first race day was not a pleasant experience.

Parking was a joke at the old track on Super Night.Then they go and double or triple the seating without any real plan to deal with the traffic.I think I went the 3rd yr they raced when attendance was way down and parking was still a joke.

I really don't like to pile on when someone makes a mistake BUT ;

The Bidwells got what they deserved when greed was their only motive.
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Buffaloboy
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« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2009, 10:44:41 PM »

           I just came home and drove by SPK and it was sad to see the grandstand is gone and the clubhouse section is barely still there !!  I guess all good things come to an end , but I always hoped some kind of way they would re-open with some new owners that were interested in reviving harness racing .  A guy like Bill McEnery with unlimited funds !!  I know it was a dream , but it doesn't hurt to dream !!  I guess the only thing left is the great racing memories of one of the finer era's in Chicago harness racing history . I made my finest scores at SPK and even though the money is long gone , the thrill of winning at SPK is still there !!  For all of us old timers who loved SPK the memories will always be in our thoughts . I just wish I could have got one of the signs posted in the track !!   Section G !!  Thats where I sat for many many years .


                                                  RTP
       
        We all can thank Mr Bidwell for possibly the worst business decision in Chicago history !!   A car track in the middle of a neighborhood filled with people who would have had them shut down even if they were successful !!  You ever hear that song Nobody does it better ?   There song was nobody does it worse .


I understand how you feel. For a long, long time, each day I would be driving home and would have to pass Roosevelt Raceway as each day a little bit of it would disappear and the construction crews would grow.

It is sad.
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Mel from Moline
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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2009, 08:08:34 AM »

While I have no problem with any posters winning big bucks at the place.....GOOD RIDDANCE..... any horseman who had to spend a sumer in that shit hole with the bad air and stench would know quick. But , that's just my opinion of that place.
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race track phil
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2009, 01:02:54 PM »

While I have no problem with any posters winning big bucks at the place.....GOOD RIDDANCE..... any horseman who had to spend a sumer in that shit hole with the bad air and stench would know quick. But , that's just my opinion of that place.
              Mo ,         You really hated SPK and it can't be just from that smell thats closer to Hawthorne because you don't complain about Hawthorne !!  Common fess up what really happened to you at SPK ?  I don't recall that stench thats 6 blocks away !!

        Your going to smell horseshit at any track .  Come clean what happened ?

                                                RTP
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Moon
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2009, 02:32:14 PM »

I was wondering if it was just something during the summer harness meet. Because during the spring and fall, for SPT and HAW thoroughbred, it never smelled much different than Arlington Park or Comiskey.
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balmoral buddy
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« Reply #22 on: March 07, 2009, 01:05:01 PM »

              Mo ,         You really hated SPK and it can't be just from that smell thats closer to Hawthorne because you don't complain about Hawthorne !!  Common fess up what really happened to you at SPK ?  I don't recall that stench thats 6 blocks away !!

        Your going to smell horseshit at any track .  Come clean what happened ?

                                                RTP

I was always told the smell from the nearby wastewater treatment plant got worse during the end of each month, because they had already used their monthly allotment of chemicals that is used to suppress the smell. Not sure if this is true or not, but I do know that the hotter the weather, the worse the smell, because the biological breakdown of the waste works faster when the temperature is hotter.
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Mel from Moline
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« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2009, 04:10:11 PM »

              Mo ,         You really hated SPK and it can't be just from that smell thats closer to Hawthorne because you don't complain about Hawthorne !!  Common fess up what really happened to you at SPK ?  I don't recall that stench thats 6 blocks away !!

        Your going to smell horseshit at any track .  Come clean what happened ?

                                                RTP
RTP, you got me. I can't stand SPK because as a groom it was awful to work in those barns in the summer and as a trainer I did no good there. I had a very nice 2 yr filly back when that got 1 3rd in a stake consolation and thats about it. I always felt SPK was an "old boys club" to the Nth degree. Strange part was Langley never treated me bad even when I first started training on my own as ayoung guy nobody. By the way, Hawthorne was muvh cleaner and in the doubleheader winter days the smell was NO WHERE nere as bad as in the summer. No big deal, I just hated it. Good catch tho, your right. thumbs up
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« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2009, 05:37:29 PM »

Right about now, if it was still open, I would be leaving Sportsman's Park and heading home, probably having lost money (I never could figure out SPT in the first month - all those layoff horses vs. all those broken down cripples coming  up from the Fairgrounds). I would still be happy, though.

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mackfan
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« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2009, 01:46:57 PM »

No matter how much Balmoral, Maywood and Hawthorne try, going to those tracks just isn't the same. Nothing beat going to Sportsman's on a hot summer night and sitting in the open grandstand watching some of the best horses in the world race that would ship in for the American Nationals and Free For Alls. I hope that some day Quad Cities may again re-open. I've heard the track, grandstand, and parking lot are still there but the barn area has been sold out. Anyone think it could happen if legislation passed to help boost the racing industry?
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Mel from Moline
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« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2009, 02:28:49 PM »

No matter how much Balmoral, Maywood and Hawthorne try, going to those tracks just isn't the same. Nothing beat going to Sportsman's on a hot summer night and sitting in the open grandstand watching some of the best horses in the world race that would ship in for the American Nationals and Free For Alls. I hope that some day Quad Cities may again re-open. I've heard the track, grandstand, and parking lot are still there but the barn area has been sold out. Anyone think it could happen if legislation passed to help boost the racing industry?


Not likely on QCD. I would give it a 1 % chance. ONLY if slots were allowed.BTW, I'm a QC guy.
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2009, 02:44:44 PM »

Nothing will ever compare to sitting in the SPK grandstands in the early spring with those damn heaters that were just a tad to high up LOL. I remember one time this is no lie My uncle and I were sitting in the grandstand  and someone shouted GUN  man we all just started running over them seats to damn funny....  oh how I miss those chili dogs or the *** stand that you would hit between doubleheaders in the early 70's
Jim
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race track phil
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« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2009, 03:27:06 PM »

Nothing will ever compare to sitting in the SPK grandstands in the early spring with those damn heaters that were just a tad to high up LOL. I remember one time this is no lie My uncle and I were sitting in the grandstand  and someone shouted GUN  man we all just started running over them seats to damn funny....  oh how I miss those chili dogs or the *** stand that you would hit between doubleheaders in the early 70's
Jim
   Funny that you mention that Dalrae , I know it happened more than once and the 2nd time I was sitting with my Dad and he was capping and all of a sudden people were scrambling and you could hear the people running !!!  My dad calming turned the page like nothing was happening and I was afraid someone would running with the crowd might run into us !!  I told my dad get up and at least lets move to the side of the stairwell that leads downstairs for protection . He reluctantly moved .

                                              RTP   geezer
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NIATROSS
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« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2009, 03:40:16 PM »

I was in the grandstand main floor when that happened.I stood up against a concrete beam and watched the crowd go wild.
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« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2009, 03:51:33 PM »

This is so awesome that other people remeber this
Jim
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balmoral buddy
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« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2009, 03:55:56 PM »

Nothing will ever compare to sitting in the SPK grandstands in the early spring with those damn heaters that were just a tad to high up LOL. I remember one time this is no lie My uncle and I were sitting in the grandstand  and someone shouted GUN  man we all just started running over them seats to damn funny....  oh how I miss those chili dogs or the *** stand that you would hit between doubleheaders in the early 70's
Jim

It was probably just Racetrack Rosie in her cowgirl outfit. She actually had six shooters in her holsters. Knowing Rosie, they may have been real and loaded. What a character. And she made all of those outfits herself, and used to make a cake when it was one of the drivers' birthday
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childewood
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« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2009, 08:01:41 PM »

I was there too.
People were running out onto the track.
I didn't realize what was going on so I just walked up to the teller and made my bet.
Ahhh, the good ol days at SPK.

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georgie
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« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2009, 11:51:30 PM »

Best place ever. I looked the pictures and wanted to cry! Ok ill admit it, I did cry. Spent a lot of my youth and my 20's, 30's there and it is so sad to see
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« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2009, 03:36:08 AM »

The sights, sounds and smells of Sportsman's were one of a kind.

I was there for two "gun" incidents.  People running through the stands like crazy.  I was young and "invincible" so I just stood there and watched. 

Nothing felt as good as those hot August nights where the temp and humidity were both high.  I can still feel the sweat running down my back.  Then head downstairs between races for some A/C and a frozen ***.

I can hear Gil and his unique calls.  Clancy, Laurinda, Spyder Wright, Union Special.

Often you could tell from his calls who Gil bet.  Once Butch Paisley was driving a heavy favorite but found himself 15 lengths off the lead with just 3/8 of a mile to pace.  Gil's lament was "so much to do...so little time."

Even if he was having a bad night gambling, Gil would "get up" for the feature race.  Pacing Boy's "mojo" would be working and Song Cycle would be "going downhill, cruising!"

Sometimes change sucks.
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union
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« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2009, 12:05:50 PM »


I raced my first  trotter horse at sportsmans in 1968  Shocked

John Blevins was my trainer  bowing

My heart breaks seeing those pictures  Bomb  Bomb
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race track phil
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« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2009, 12:12:16 PM »


            Johnny Blevins a name from the past !!

            Miles Dares -  Bengal Song -  Tight Schedule a winner where Gil first said vast improvement in a phrase after the race .

                                                RTP
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« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2009, 02:41:54 PM »

http://www.harnessracing.ws/videos/Albatross_World_Record.wmv
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« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2009, 03:02:28 PM »

One more from spk  and you have to love those andy frain ushers lol
http://www.harnessracing.ws/videos/Isle-of-Wight.wmv
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race track phil
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« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2009, 03:04:11 PM »

  I just watched that great race !!  You know whats unique about that race Ed Byrd was in the race and I believe he never won a race in under 2.00 !!!

                                                 RTP

        Thanks for the race .
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nwaryas
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« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2009, 07:22:46 AM »

Went to Hawthorne yesterday and everything is torn down. Good riddance. It was starting to become an eye sore.
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