Goshen, NY --- The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is inviting Immortal nominations for the Class of 2012. All Museum members, in good standing, have the privilege of nominating persons and horses who they feel have made a significant contribution to the sport of harness racing.
The nominees must be deceased three years or more to be eligible for consideration. Nominations must include a complete biography of the subject and detailed harness racing career statistics, when applicable.
Nominations must be postmarked no later than March 1, 2012. They may be e-mailed on or before that date to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, 240 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924.
Last year, in July, the Immortals Nominating Committee announced that the trustees of the Museum had unanimously endorsed the election of Lucas Brodhead, William H. Wilson and racehorse Classical Way. On Sunday, July 1, 2012, “Hall of Fame Day,” these significant contributors to the sport of harness racing will be inducted into the Hall of Immortals during ceremonies held under the tent on the Museum lawn.
Lucas Brodhead, Jr. was born in Frankfort, Ky., on April 12, 1844. He received his formal education at the famous private academy of B.B. Sayre at Frankfort, where he was the schoolmate of many brilliant young men. Afterwards he attended college for a short time in Toronto, Canada.
In 1869, Brodhead was appointed superintendent and farm manager of Woodburn Farm. Established in 1849 by R. A. Alexander, Woodburn became the first large-scale farm in America devoted to systematic and planned racehorse production of both Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. After R. A. Alexander’s death in 1867, his brother A. J. Alexander inherited Woodburn Farm, though he neither knew nor cared anything about horses. Often absent, A. J. Alexander initially left the responsibility of the horses to Daniel Swigert. After two years Swigert resigned to start his own farm, and Alexander promoted Brodhead to oversee Woodburn.
Among Brodhead’s duties at Woodburn were the decisions as to which horses were bought and sold and which were chosen as studs for the farm’s broodmares. Under Brodhead’s management, Woodburn produced some of the best stock in the country. In 1874 Woodburn produced its greatest Standardbred racehorse, the Immortal Maud S., the first trotter to beat the 2:10 mark. From 1880 to 1892 Woodburn flourished and Brodhead developed into one of the most distinguished figures in the horse breeding world. Many foundation stallions and mares managed by Brodhead produced a major portion of the great trotters that we know today.
Between 1866 and 1896, mostly under Brodhead’s supervision, Woodburn Farm had sold 744 trotters at public and private sale for the sum total of $747,254. Following the Panic of 1893, A.J. Alexander discontinued breeding horses at Woodburn and the farm was converted to raising cattle. By 1901 the last of the remaining stallions had been dispersed.
Lucas Brodhead died in 1914 at the age of 70.
William H. Wilson was born in Whiteside County, Ill., on November 5, 1837, and grew up in Chicago. At the age of 15 he made his way west where he split rails, rafted lumber, drove stagecoaches and became a self-made Western man. As he grew older he began to handle horses, and was successful in trading and commission dealing. He became a good trainer and occasionally drove in races. In 1862 Wilson married Anna Eliza Cook of Cynthiana, Ky., and the union would prove to be a decisive factor in the shaping of his career.
In 1873, Wilson leased Hall of Fame Immortal George Wilkes from his longtime friends William and Zacharia Simmons. Wilson took him to Lexington where he stood the son of Hambletonian 10 for a $100 stud fee. In Wallace’s Monthly it is noted that Wilson “was always far-seeing in all matters relating to the trotting horse and his bloodlines and never was this better illustrated than by his selection of George Wilkes to take to Kentucky, at a time when that stallion has absolutely no reputation as a sire.”
In marketing George Wilkes, Wilson was tireless and innovative. He found brilliant ways to finance his breeding operations, at a time when Kentucky overflowed with high-bred horses. In that first season, Wilson brought no less than 82 mares to George Wilkes. It was an amazing feat. Seeing the stallion’s new potential, the Simmons brothers declined to renew Wilson’s lease for a second year. It was because of Wilson’s faith in George Wilkes, however, that the stallion became one of Kentucky’s premiere sires.
In 1875 Wilson built the Abdallah Park stock farm at Cynthiana, Ky., which became the home of Goldsmith’s Abdallah and the site of trotting meetings, including the annual Harrison County Fair. In 1874, Wilson was instrumental in establishing the Kentucky Trotting Horse Breeders’ Association, which John Hervey describes as “the most famous body of its kind ever known, as well as the most influential in the history of harness racing.” In 1875, the Association staged its first race meeting at the track which is today known as The Red Mile. Wilson’s greatest breeding triumph was Immortal McKinney, who was foaled at Abdallah Park in 1887.
William H. Wilson died on July 14, 1892, at the age of 54.
Classical Way, a daughter of Speedy Scot out of Kerry Way -- both Hambletonian winners -- was foaled on March 2, 1976. She was a homebred of Clarence F. Gaines, founder of Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., and was trained and driven throughout her career by John F. Simpson, Jr.
As a 2-year-old in 1978, Classical Way showed promise by winning 7 of 17, finishing on the board in 11 and earning $39,489. In 1979, 3-year-old Classical Way won 16 of 20 and earned $217,025. In July, at a Grand Circuit event at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal, she set a world record for 3-year-old filly trotters on a five-eighths-mile track (1:58.4). Later that summer Classical Way won the Arden Downs Stake at The Meadows. In October she became the first filly in a dozen years to win the Kentucky Futurity as she defeated a field of the sport’s best trotting colts in straight heats, besting Chiola Hanover, Lindy’s Crown and Hambletonian winner Legend Hanover. Classical Way was voted 1979's 3-year-old Filly Trotter of the Year.
As a 4-year-old in 1980, Classical Way won the American Trotting Championship at Roosevelt Raceway, earning the right to represent the U.S. in the 1-1/4-mile Roosevelt International Trot, where she was also victorious. With her win in the 1-1/2-mile Challenge Cup, Classical Way became only the third horse -- after Speedy Crown and Savoir -- to sweep Roosevelt’s three major international events. The following month she lowered the 1-1/8-mile trotting record to 2:11.3 in the American Classic Trot at Hollywood Park. In October, Classical Way time trialed at The Red Mile to a world record 1:55.2 for all-age mares trotting on a mile track. Two-time world champion Classical Way was voted 1980 Trotter of the Year and Older Trotting Mare of the Year, finishing the season with a 16-9-2-1 record and earnings of $350,410. Classical Way ended her racing career in style, winning the 1981 Prix de France -- her final race. She retired as the fastest trotting filly or mare of all time.
As a broodmare, Classical Way produced six foals, five of them fillies. Her best performer was Celestial Way 3,1:57.3 ($61,527) by Bonefish. Celestial Way produced the gelding Columbus Hanover 4,1:53.4 ($469,078).
Classical Way was euthanized at Hunterton Farm at Stoner Creek, Paris, Ky., at the age of 29 due to the infirmities of old age. She was laid to rest at Stoner Creek Stud cemetery, joining such greats as Meadow Skipper and Nevele Pride. At the time of her death, Classical Way was owned by Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg of Menhammar Stuteri AS of Sweden.
If you would like further information on the 2012 inductees or the induction ceremony and the events leading up to it, please contact the Museum at 845.294.6330 or visit our website, www.harnessmuseum.com.
The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 240 Main Street in Goshen, N.Y., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last tour 4 p.m.). Thanks to USTA support the Museum is currently offering free admission for walk-in visitors and group docent-guided tours at a minimal charge per person. For additional information about the Museum, its membership program, special events and educational programs, please call 845.294.6330 or visit www.harnessmuseum.com.