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Gene Riegle, 83, Hall of Fame driver/trainer, dies
Monday, October 17, 2011 - from the USTA Communications Department

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Columbus, OH --- Gene Riegle, 83, a developer of many trotting and pacing champions and a member of Harness Racing’s Hall of Fame died Oct. 17, 2011, at his Greenville, Ohio home. Details regarding his passing and funeral arrangements are not yet known, but will be reported when they become available.

Gene Riegle
Few horsemen have had careers as lengthy and as productive as Gene Riegle. The Ohio-born driver-trainer worked for decades at the top levels of the sport, producing many champion pacers and trotters. He was elected to harness racing’s Living Hall of Fame in 1991 and was inducted into the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1987.

Over the years, Mr. Riegle trained such stars as the 1973 Kentucky Futurity winner Arnie Almahurst, the 1972 Adios winner Jay Time, the 1990 freshman pacing champion Artsplace, the 1991 and 1992 freshman and sophomore pacing champion Western Hanover, the 1981 and 1982 freshman and sophomore filly pacing champion Three Diamonds, and other stars such as Leah Almahurst, Troublemaker, and Life Sign.

For several of his most productive years, in the latter portion of his career, Mr. Riegle was associated with Chicago owner and breeder George Segal, and in the early years Mr. Riegle’s signature chartreuse and red colors were seen behind horses owned by another pair of Chicagoans, Mr. and Mrs. Rex Larkin (Poplar Hill Farm).

Mr. Riegle was born on June 3, 1928, in Greenville, Ohio, long a hotbed of harness racing activity. His father, Roy Riegle, was an accomplished horseman and the younger Riegle got his start by taking on the most menial of chores around his father’s barn. While the budding horseman was still in his early teens, Mr. Riegle’s father and mother (Delilah) were killed in an automobile accident; Gene took over the training duties and his brother, Dick, took on his mother’s business of making driving colors and also became Gene’s assistant trainer.

In 1945, at age 17, Mr. Riegle won the first start of his career with Victory Dale at the Darke County Fair in Greenville, in a race in which he beat Hall of Fame horseman Sanders Russell. His first “big” horse was Red Sails, in 1952, and he burst fully onto the national scene when he drove the trotter Mr Saunders to second and third place finishes in the 1958 Hambletonian.

Among his other accomplishments, Mr. Riegle authored a chapter in the 1996 revision of “The Care and Training of the Trotter and Pacer,” in which he recounted techniques for training pacers.

Important parts of Gene Riegle’s legacy in the sport are his two sons, Alan and Bruce, who have both had outstanding careers as Standardbred trainers. The elder Riegle won 1,579 races as a driver and from 1992 through 2006 he trained 203 winners who earned a total of $8.3 million.


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