Harry Harvey, the Vermont-born son of a dairy farmer who trained and drove Albatross, one of harness racing’s most important sires, died on Sunday (July 17) at the age of 92 after a long battle with old age.
|Photo courtesy of Ellen Harvey|
|Harvey winning the Sheppard Pace in 1970 with Albatross.|
One of 12 children, he was born October 22, 1923 in Duxbury, Vt. to Mabel and Harry F. Harvey. He drove his siblings to school in a pony cart, worked the fields with heavy horses, made maple syrup and cut ice from the Winooski River to help sustain the big family in a harsh, hilly climate.
During World War II, he helped his father select green draft horses in Montreal, to be shipped by rail to the family farm. He walked them home from the rail yard with his siblings, leading two in each hand. Harvey helped train and sell the horses, in demand due to war-time restrictions on gas and oil.
He saw harness racing at Vermont fairs and when Little Pat and driver Earl West won a race in 2:01 in 1938 at the Essex Junction Fair, his father confidently told him, “You’ll never see a horse go faster.”
One of the young horseman’s duties was to walk the work horses to the farrier over the bridge to Waterbury, where he read every word of Harness Horse magazine. Discerning that Tom Berry was the leading trainer and driver of the 1940s, he launched a job seeking, letter-writing campaign aimed at him that spanned years. He finally got a telegram in 1947 telling him to report to winter training headquarters in Florida. Berry admitted years later that he offered him a job just to stop the letters.
Harvey joined the Delvin Miller Stable in 1951 and was a second trainer in 1953 when Miller entered Elgin and Charles Armstrong’s filly, Helicopter, in the Hambletonian. Miller and his other second trainers, the late Jimmy Jordan and Jimmy Arthur, drove horses with better prospects, but in the 23-horse field, going three heats, Harvey and Helicopter prevailed.
The next year, he left the racetrack to manage Miller’s Meadow Lands (PA) Farm, where Adios was beginning his career as the sport’s dominant sire. It was Harvey who suggested the mare Countess Vivian be bred to Dale Frost when Adios was battling the effects of laminitis. The mating produced Meadow Skipper.
After Adios died in 1965, Harvey bought the Meadow Lands Farm annex where he lived and started his own Arden Hills Farm and racing stable at nearby Arden Downs, the Washington County fairgrounds. For 54 of their 61 years of marriage, Cornelia Harvey managed finances for the farm and stable, taught the children to ride and rode stallions at both Meadow Lands and Arden Hills Farms.
It was at Arden Downs that Albatross, a son of Meadow Skipper, arrived in November of 1969, and where he was trained until sold in May of 1971 and moved to trainer Stanley Dancer a few weeks before the start of his -year3-old racing season. Harvey drove the colt through a 14 for 17 season and top juvenile pacing colt honors for 1970 and prepared him that winter and the following spring.
Harvey was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2001 and continued to operate a public stable until 2009, driving in distinctive solid maroon colors. His long time patrons included Art and his son Tim Rooney, Saul and his sons Richard and Steven Finkelstein.
He trained the Rooney-bred Hall of Fame broodmare Lismore and many of her $4.1 million winning progeny. In 1994, Rooney homebreds Lisheen (1:52.3, $518,405) and Newbridge (1:53.4, $237,528), out of Lismore and Powerscourt, respectively, also Harvey trainees, were first and second in the Mistletoe Shalee. Harvey referred to the pair, who spent nearly every day of their lives together, as the “Ballerina” (Lisheen, refined and quick) and the “Working Girl” (Newbridge, stout but relentless).
|Ken Weingartner photo|
|Harvey with Lislea Phia, left and Lislea Sophia, right.|
Lislea Phia ($542,450 1:50.2), winner of the 2007 Matron Stake, and bred by Tim Rooney, was his last good horse. In his last years, Harvey delighted in watching YouTube replays of her improbable, incredible charge to the wire to win that race, driven by Tim Tetrick.
A skilled woodworker, he made Mission and Shaker style furniture as fundraising items for the Harness Racing Museum and the Standardbred Retirement Foundation. The podium from which inductees to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame accept their honor was made by him from a black walnut tree on his New Jersey farm. Less complex creations included doll beds and fishing pole racks for grandchildren, for whom he also converted wheelbarrows and diaper boxes to makeshift carriages.
He leaves behind his wife, Cornelia Etzel Harvey, who he met when she was a college student riding Saddlebreds at a farm in Goshen, N.Y., daughters Ellen Harvey, Anne Harvey Watson (Admiral James), Kathryn Harvey (Mark Teasdale) and son, Leo Harvey (Kathy Dunn Harvey), as well as grandchildren Elizabeth, Michael, Daniel and Emily Watson, Shawn and Ryan Harvey.
His surviving siblings are Jim Harvey, Helene Harvey and Sister Mary Harvey. He was predeceased by infant daughters Elizabeth and Mary and siblings Irene, Steven, Ruth, Grayce, David, Wayne, Leo, and Mary Ellen.
Funeral services will be private, with a graveside service for friends and family to be held at a later date at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in McMurray, Pa. Expressions of sympathy can be sent to Cornelia Harvey at Tower # 506, St. Dominic Village, 2401 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77021.
Memorial donations to the Harness Racing Museum, 240 Main Street, Goshen, N.Y., 10924 or the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101, Millstone, N.J., 08535 would be appreciated.
|NEXT NEWSROOM ARTICLE|
Straight A Student, Fad Finance tie mark in NYSS at Buffalo Raceway