With roots going back to the chariot racing of ancient Greeks and Romans, harness racing, also known as trotting, was first publicized in the United States through an article in the June 27, 1897, copy of the New York Times. In the article, the Dutch were given credit for developing the sport, and as employees of the Dutch East India Company settled in what is now New York (known as New Amsterdam in the 1600s) they brought this exciting sport with them. Harness racing was not bound by the class distinctions in other forms of racing, such as thoroughbred flat racing, as ordinary working horses are often suited to trotting. Over the years harness racing has developed in North America, and other parts of the world, and is a highly competitive sport in its own right.
Horses used in harness racing are referred to as standardbred horses. The history of standardbred horses in North America can be traced back to the English thoroughbred stallion by the name of Messenger which was brought to the United States in 1788 as a racehorse sire. Born in 1849, the legendary Hambletonian 10 was one of Messenger’s descendants. The lineage of this magnificent horse is reportedly traceable in virtually every North American standardbred, resulting in him being known as ‘The Daddy of ‘em All’.
p>Today there are tracks in North America devoted to the sport of harness racing, among them being The Red Mile in Kentucky, Meadowlands Race Track in New Jersey, and the Mohawk Raceway in Ontario. Located at 240 Main Street, Goshen, New York State, the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame pays tribute to the development of the sport in the United States and honors legendary horses, drivers and owners, while ensuring that the history of the sport is carefully documented and preserved.
Living Hall of Fame Inductees and Honorees for 2013 are Richard “Dick” Stillings, and Robert “Bob” Quigley. The 2013 Living Horse Hall of Fame honors Bettor’s Delight and Life Sign, while 2013 Broodmare honorees include Michelle’s Jackpot, Lady Ashlee Ann and Grand Lady. Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame inductees for 2013 are Sam McKee and Bob Heyden, with 2013 Immortal Inductees including Baltic Speed, Flicka Frost, Carty Nagle, Overtrick, The Abbe, Walter Dear, as well as driver William Wellwood and owner Frank Caton.