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Monticello remembers John Gilmour
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - by John Manzi, publicity director, Monticello Raceway

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Monticello, NY --- John Gilmour, a nine-time Monticello Raceway driving champion, passed away on July 5 in Monticello, N.Y., and on July 9 the raceway and many of his fellow horsemen eulogized him and the many accomplishments of his six-decade career here at the Mighty M.

 
Geri Schwarz photo
My Buddy Chimo, being led by Vita Yakin, was joined by many of the Monticello drivers on their way to a place in front of the grandstand.

At that service, Gilmour’s all-time favorite horse, My Buddy Chimo, was walked from the paddock to the middle of the racetrack in front of the grandstand by fellow horsemen and family members. Once there, they were joined by a horde of fellow drivers, more family members, and longtime friends and they gathered around My Buddy Chimo as Zeke Parker placed a blanket on the horse and the emcee spoke of Gilmour’s prowess in the sulky.

The blanket had copy on both sides; one side included his race wins and congratulated him on a great career and the other had a tongue-in-cheek comment of Gilmour’s fierce competiveness when he competed in a horse race.

It was well known by his fellow drivers to never try to wrestle the lead from him once he was in command and the statement on the blanket extolled that sentiment.

Known around the backstretch as “Sep,” Gilmour had accumulated 4,492 driving victories in his six-decade career. He was one of the four famous Gilmour brothers which included Buddy, George and Lloyd. Collectively they drove more than 14,250 winners, mostly during the heyday of harness racing where two-track driving on a daily basis was never an option.

Among the members of his family who were on hand for the ceremony included his daughters, Janet and Heather; son, Michael; granddaughter, Megan; ex-wife, April Karkos; and longtime girlfriend, Vita Yakin. Cousins Dean Gilmour and Mark Gilmour also attended as did several nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Zeke Parker took the microphone and told the assembled crowd of some of his experiences while racing with Gilmour.

“I’d park him and he’d park me but after the races we’d go across the street and have a beer together,” he said. “John was a tough competitor on the race track but off the track he was just the opposite, a real mellow, easy going guy.”


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