By Ken Weingartner
Goshen, NY — Getting to compete in the annual Mr. & Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry Sr. Memorial Hall of Fame Trot is an honor. Winning the race makes it even better.
“Even better? That makes it the best,” said grinning driver David Miller, who won Sunday’s $10,000 event, which pitted five Hall of Famers against three of the evening’s inductees at Historic Track. “I think I was second in it one time, and I finally got to win it. Put that in my column too.
“I won the Legends (Day Trot at Canada’s Clinton Raceway) earlier and now I’ve won the Hall of Fame race,” he continued, adding with a laugh, “Hopefully that’s not telling me something.”
Miller won the Hall of Fame Trot with Zagster, a 6-year-old gelding trained by Nick Surick. Zagster was second at the quarter, but soon took a lead he never relinquished on his way to a half-length victory over CR Blazin Beauty, driven by Jimmy Takter, in 1:56.4. The time was the fastest ever at Historic Track by a trotter older than the age of 3.
Joining Miller and Takter in the race were Hall of Famers Brian Sears, Dick Stillings, and Wally Hennessey as well as Linda Toscano, Joe Holloway, and Blair Burgess, who were being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday night at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, located adjacent to Historic Track.
Sears finished third with Marley’s Guy followed by Toscano with Osprey Vision, Stillings with Well Connected Kid, Holloway with Lucius Vorenus, Burgess with Gwally, and Hennessey with Campbellini.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Miller said. “It’s an honor. There is a lot of tradition here and these guys have all put in a lot of time and had a lot of success. It’s just fun to come back, meet up, and get to race.”
Trainers Toscano and Holloway were making their first purse starts as drivers in a number of years. Toscano’s most recent was in 2008, Holloway’s in 2003. Burgess had made six starts this year and 21 in 2018.
“I had a good time,” Toscano said. “I was nervous about it going in, but (trainer) Dave Russo is awesome. He found a horse for me when my horse couldn’t make it and the horse was as safe as a church mouse, he did everything I asked him to do, and I had a really good time.
“I drove in a qualifier on Tuesday because of this (race) but before that it was a while. Everyone talked me into doing this and I really had a good time. It was fun.”
Toscano, Holloway and Burgess were not the only Hall of Fame inductees to get in on the action Sunday at Historic Track. Renowned owner Ted Gewertz, also a member of the 2019 HOF class, was co-owner of the winner of the day’s first race, Lights Come On, in a division of a New York Excelsior Series A race for 3-year-old male trotters. Lights Come On won in 1:57 with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer Anette Lorentzon.
Bartlett won three of the nine races on the card. He also won with Lucky June Bug in 1:59 in a division of the Excelsior Series B for 3-year-old male trotters and with Liquorstoreblues in 1:59.1 in a division of the Excelsior Series A for 3-year-old female trotters.
Andy Miller, though, was the day’s big winner among drivers, capture four events. He won with Ev’s Girl in 1:58.4 in a division of the Excelsior Series A for 3-year-old female trotters, Reckless Image in 2:01.2 in a division of the Excelsior B for 3-year-old female trotters, Amal Hall in 1:58.4 in a division of the Excelsior Series A for 3-year-old female trotters, and Jason’s Camden in 1:57.1 in a division of the Excelsior A for 3-year-old male trotters.
The day’s remaining race was won by driver Scott Zeron with Boo Thang in 1:58.1 in a division of the Excelsior Series B for 3-year-old male trotters.