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Jim Dennis, 79, dies
Sunday, February 22, 2004 -

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Jim Dennis, 79, inducted in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, died this morning at his Solana Beach, Calif. home.

Dennis trained several stars, including Sir Dalrae, p, 4, 1:56f ($678,314), the 1973 Harness Horse of the Year, who he also owned, and his half-brother, Mr Dalrae, p, 5, 1:522 (1,150,807), the 1984 Pacing Horse of the Year.

Dennis also raced Adios Vic, who defeated the immortal Bret Hanover four times -- and in fact gave “Bret” four of his only six career losses.

Perhaps the most exciting win in their rivalry came in the 1965 Review Futurity at Springfield, Ill., which Bret Hanover entered on the crest of a 35 race win skein. Dennis got a pocket trip with “Vic” and they powered to a :27 final quarter-mile -- stunning at the time -- and defeated the three time Horse of the Year in what may be the greatest upset of all-time.

Dennis trained his stable in the Golden State for several decades. He was a leading driver at Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways in New York City and at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles.

He also campaigned his stable in Chicago from 1963 until 1991.

"He was the model horsemen," said Phil Langley, president of the U.S. Trotting Association and a long-time Chigago racing secretary. "He was a great trainer and driver. He ran an immaculate stable and the fans loved him because they knew he was always going all out. He was my friend for over 40 years and will be missed."

As a driver, Dennis won 2,677 races and horses he drove won $12.9 million. He had not driven or sent out a starter as a trainer since 1991.

Funeral arrangements are not yet known.

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