Reflections: Sir Gordon Richards Fifty Years Old Oldsters Hold Their Own in Sports Ben White 70 When He Won, Daily Racing Form, 1954-06-07


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R EFLECTI ONS By NELSON DUNSTAN WOODBINE PARK, Toronto, Ont., June 5. A few weeks ago when Sir Gordon Richards, one of the greatest jockeys who ever lived was hospitalized because of injuries, it was disclosed that he is 50 years old. Sir Gordon has been a great racerider and when he was knighted by the Ol i oon rf "l?ncrlanr1 -fVio Vyioi mac applauded throughout the world. Although it is common knowledge that Richards has been active for decades and is getting on in years, the sudden realization that he actually had reached 50, quite an advanced age for a jockey, took us aback somewhat. Athletics generally are for younger men, and a man of 50 who is still a topflight rider such as Richards is a rarity. But there are other sports in which old-timers excel. In harness racing, for instance, the veterans consistently hold their own against the youngsters. Last year, Harry Harvey won the Hamble-tonian Stakes at Good Time Park in Goshen, N. Y., at the age of 29, becoming the youngest driver in the history to take that classic trotting event. For a time it was thought that Harvey ushered in a new age wherein the youngsters would put an end tC the reign of the older drivers, but that will still have to be proved. Old-timers usually dominate the Hambletonian, and it is not forgotten that Ben White was 70 in 1943 when he won the last of his four Hambletonians. And it was only two years ago that Bi Shively, who was then 74, copped the worlds richest harness event. It is surprising to discover how many men who are well on in years still remain devoted to the sport of harness racing, especially to the Hambletonian. These oldsters develop an extra competitive spirit for the Hambletonian, which will be decided on August 4 this Sir Gordon Richards Fifty Years Old Oldsters Hold Their Own in Sports Ben White 70 When He Won at Goshen Bi Shively Marvel of Modern Drivers year, and their energy is boundless as they make their preparations now, months in advance, to teach "these young upstarts" a thing or two in the big race. William H. Cane, now in his 28th year as Hambletonian impresario, is just as active as the drivers and trainers in connection with this event, although Bills work is behind the desk and not behind the flying hoofs of some top standardbred. Bill is now in his 80th year, but he still arrives at his desk bright and early every morning to work on the Goshen race, which has been- an integral part of his long career. On the other side of the fence, there is William E. Miller, who, at 75, thinks it no extraordinary circumstance, to have a colt, entered for this race. No matter what their age, drivers and trainers are not impressed by the heavy favorites for the Hambletonian. They know it is skill and their driving know-how that wins the race, and they feel the older they are the more experience they have to draw from. AAA Miller, although 75, still handles a string of about 30 horses. Now at Rosecroft Raceway, at Oxon Hill, Md., he arises at six oclock every, morning to begin his training chores. He won his first race in 1907 at the old Bright-wood course in Washington, D. C. Since then, he has prospered in the furniture business, and in 1949, when 70, years old, he led all the other drivers in the country. Miller has entered his homebred colt Earl Rosecroft in this years Hambletonian, and he tells us he will bear watching in the race. The age of these drivers who try for the Hambletonian honors year after year cannot he emphasized too strongly. Johnny Longden, or even Lail Sande when he attempted his comeback, cannot compare with these men in regard to age, although it really is amazing to see a man of 70 or more driving a sulky up at Goshen. Bi Shively was 75 years old last year, and Guy Crippen, who drove the 1951 Hambletonian winner, Main-liner,: who was 60 at the time. The last young drier to win before Harry Harvey was Del Miller, then Ti, who scored with Lusty Song in 1950. What manner of men, you ask yourself, are these old-timers who can hold thir own with youngsters? AAA Longevity among participants is not found only dn harness racing, however. In recent months, thoroughbred racing suffered the loss of several of its veterans. The latest of these was the old-time trainer Jack Whyte, who reportedly was 83 years old. But what we are stressing here is that so many aged sulky drivers are still fiercely competing with such comparative youngsters as Del Miller, who is 41, and Del Cameron, who is about 34. Cameron trained and drove the Hambletonian favorite last year, Newport Star, owned by the president of the Grand Circuit, Octave Blake, of South Plainfield, N. J. Newport Star finished sixth, but Cameron has Newport Dream this year and he can more than just dream that he will win the classic for the first time this season with the good colt. Harness racing is not our specialty, but"wed guess that this years Hambletonian winner will be the filly Stenographer, a daughter of Bill Gallon, who won the event in 1941. Last year, this filly won 16 of her 26 starts. She will be handled by Del Miller, a pretty good man when it comes to driving a sulky.

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