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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

HARNESS HALL INDUCTIONS

By Ken Weingartner, USTA

Goshen, NY — A crowd of more than 280 people gathered Sunday evening at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame to celebrate the induction of the Hall of Fame class of 2024.

Trainer Jim Campbell, trainer/driver Ed Lohmeyer, and breeder/owner David McDuffee led the group, which was honored during the annual induction dinner on the Museum lawn.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday were immortals Colonel Elisha A. Buck, James Clark, and Direct Scooter, as well as racehorses Gimpanzee, Mission Brief, Tall Dark Stranger, and Wiggle It Jiggleit, plus broodmares Shyaway and Western Montana.

Inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame were Tim Bojarski and the late Dave Brower.

Campbell was the sport’s Trainer of the Year in 2022, when he became the third trainer in history to win the Hambletonian (with Cool Papa Bell) and Hambletonian Oaks (with Fashion Schooner) on the same day. The feat also made him the fourth trainer ever to win both those top trotting events twice, joining Hall of Famers Billy Haughton, Joe O’Brien, and Jimmy Takter.

Award-winners trained by Campbell during his career include Tagliabue, Galleria, Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner, Broadway Donna, Real Cool Sam, and Cool Papa Bell. Tagliabue and Broadway Schooner were Campbell’s other Hambletonian and Oaks winners, with Tagliabue being driven to victory in the Hambo by his Hall of Fame brother John.

Campbell has won six Breeders Crown trophies and more than 1,450 races lifetime. He is approaching $55 million in career purses and ranks 13th in history in earnings since the inception of official trainer stats in 1991.

John Campbell introduced his brother to the crowd at the Hall of Fame ceremony.

“It’s an honor to receive such a special award, to be elected into the Hall of Fame,” Jim Campbell said. “It’s a lifetime achievement of 45 years of training horses, and most certainly I didn’t get here without the help and support of so many people over the years.

“I started off working for my dad (Jack) at Windsor Raceway. My dad was a great horseman and a great teacher. Dad suggested that I go work for John in New Jersey; that I would have a better opportunity working with John. John was just like working for dad, except he was teaching me on the biggest stage of harness racing and getting himself established as well. I can’t thank my brother, John, enough. John has taught me so much over the years and helped me with my career. I’m very proud of the fact that in 1989, John was the leading driver, and I was the leading trainer, at The Meadowlands. It was a very special year for the both of us.

“One of my dad’s best days in racing was when Tagliabue won the Hambletonian. Dad was marching toward the track to congratulate John and I, and a security guard went to stop him. Dad told him, ‘My two boys just won the Hambletonian, you’re not stopping me.’ And they didn’t. Well, dad, your two boys made it to the Hall of Fame, thanks to you.”

Lohmeyer graduated from high school in 1961 and was beginning to make a name for himself as a driver and trainer, but saw his career paused in the mid-1960s while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. Upon his return, he won the driving title at Green Mountain Park in 1969 and three years later he trained and drove homebred pacer Eddy Jeff to $117,885 in purses – an amount that topped all 2-year-olds in 1972.

In addition to Green Mountain Park, Lohmeyer won driving titles at Atlantic City, Freehold, Liberty Bell, and Monticello before curtailing his driving at the age of 37 to focus on training. Top horses associated with Lohmeyer included Landslide, Pacific Rocket, and Pacific Fella. He also made an impact as a breeder, with broodmare Flat Foot Fluzy being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, and more recently as the breeder of two-time O’Brien Award-winner Adare Castle.

Lohmeyer retired in 2021 with 2,336 career driving wins, the majority of which came prior to 1981. He was credited with 493 training victories since the inception of official trainer stats in 1991.

Introducing Lohmeyer was his cousin, Hall of Fame driver Catello “Cat” Manzi.

“This is a great honor, of course, to be among all the Hall of Famers that came in before me,” Lohmeyer said. “It’s just unbelievable to be in that group now. Being at my age, I knew a lot of them. I feel very honored.

“This is a special place, Goshen. I started at 12 years old at the Goshen mile track, going with (my uncle Al Manzi), and he taught me how to rake shed rows, clean harness, walk horses, and become a horseman. This was before Monticello was built, and Uncle Al had to come here and train horses with his brother Richard and his brother John. So, I had the greatest foundation, which carried me through 64 years in the horse business.

“The friends I’ve made in this business, it’s immense, and I have a wonderful family. I think that’s what this is all about for me.”

McDuffee, an insurance agent by trade, entered harness racing in the 1980s with partner Tom Walsh, and has expanded his Standardbred “footprint” as an owner by several degrees of magnitude in the intervening years, with nine Breeders Crown victories, two Hambletonian Oaks, two Little Brown Jugs, and three Kentucky Filly Futurities numbering among his successes. He was USHWA’s Owner of the Year in 2021.

Horses associated with McDuffee over the years include 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, 2022 Trotter of the Year Bella Bellini (a mare he bred) and 2002 Trotter of the Year Kadabra, as well as award-winners Conway Hall, Magical Mike, Pizza Dolce, Poof She’s Gone, and Venerable.

McDuffee was introduced by Hall of Fame trustee Steve Jones.

“This is an incredible honor for me,” McDuffee said. “I can’t believe I’m here. It’s amazing.

“I’m going to tell you, it took a village to get me here right now. As an owner, to get to the Hall of Fame, you’ve got to be the luckiest guy in the world. Not just in the people you surround yourself with, but how you end up with the horses that get you there. And every horse I’ve ever had, I could stand here and tell you a story about them. Every single horse has a history.

“This is a great thrill for me.”

Brower, who passed away unexpectedly in October 2022 at the age of 53, was a mainstay of The Meadowlands for many years, achieving his biggest recognition as a broadcaster on the nightly racing show from the New Jersey oval, in addition to being that track’s morning-line maker and handicapper.

The author of the book “Harnessing Winners” was also a co-host for Hambletonian Day television coverage on many occasions and worked in broadcasting during the Grand Circuit meets at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio and at Lexington’s Red Mile.

Brower’s sister, Laura, accepted the Communicators Hall of Fame honor on behalf of her brother.

“On behalf of my mother and the rest of our family, I would like to thank you for extending this incredible honor to my brother,” Laura Brower said. “Losing Dave so suddenly has been tough for my family, as I know it’s been tough for his harness racing family too. If Dave were here, the last thing he’d want to do is make a long speech, but I know he would say how much he loved being part of the harness racing community, and now I can understand why.

“Growing up with Dave, for as long as I can remember, it was all about the horses. He could never get enough. And to make a career out of it was like the perfect storm. Not many can say that they love what they do, and Dave genuinely loved it all.

“It’s been a tough year-and-a-half leading up to this day, but I’m starting to get past the sadness, and to really celebrate him, his life and his accomplishments, tonight being the greatest of all.”

Bojarski got started in harness racing in 1986 at Batavia Downs, near his western New York home of Akron, authoring a tip sheet and writing profiles of horsemen.

He is in his 23rd year of writing for Hoof Beats, the award-winning magazine of the U.S. Trotting Association, for which he has been a columnist for 11 years. Bojarski also is employed by Plainridge Park, the Standardbred Owners of Massachusetts and that state’s stakes program, the New York Sire Stakes, and Batavia Downs.

“As a member of (the U.S. Harness Writers Association) for the last 23 years, presenting awards is something I’m quite familiar with,” Bojarski said. “However, I’m not used to being on this end of the transaction, so haven’t quite wrapped my head around this yet.

“Wanting to write and being given the chance to do so are two different things, so I have to thank the many people who gave me those opportunities.

“The ultimate gratification is to have the respect of your peers, and that’s what really makes this night special.”

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