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Looking Back to Washington Park (01/31/13)

Posted Thursday January 31, 2013

                                               By Mike Paradise


                                       Looking Back

                         Washington Park Harness Racing

  While old Washington Park race track was mostly known in the 20th century for thoroughbred racing where such notable stars as Citation, Whirlaway and Native Dancer competed and Nashua (the winner) and Swaps had their famous $100,000 match race, the south side track also hosted harness racing from 1962 until February 5, 1977 when its Grandstand burned down, putting the facility out of business.

  The track was located in Chicago’s south suburban of Homewood, IL in Cook County, just west of Halsted Street.

  Listed below are the demise racetrack’s champion drivers and the years they won:

Year    Driver                                      Wins

1962    Harry Burright                         23

1963    Chris Boring                            31

1964    Robert Farrington                   140

1965    Robert Farrington                   145

1966    Robert Farrington                   111

1967    Robert Farrington                    92

1968    Don Busse                              68

1969    Robert Farrington                    45

1970    Robert Farrington                    42

1971    Joe Marsh Jr.                          51

1972    Joe Marsh Jr.                          66

1973    Walter Paisley                         75

1974    Walter Paisley                         56

1975    Walter Paisley                         53

1976    Daryl Busse                            63


   Most of the harness racing photos from old Washington Park were destroyed by the 1977 fire.

  However I did have a picture to post from the old racetrack and that’s because it’s one of this author winning his first in a very brief career of amateur race drives.

  The winning horse was (No. 6) Grand Ace, trained by Bob Farrington, and the time for the mile was a not-so-quick 2:11 flat (I think that old iron jog-cart slowed us down) in November of 1973.

  Coming up to be second is my old Chicago Tribune colleague Neil Milbert.

  The surprising win occurred the first time I ever drove a horse and it came in “The Newspaper Derby. “

  My total amount of preparation for the media race consisted of sitting in a sulky in a backstretch barn the day before the race while rain was washing-out my opportunity to jog a horse.

  I was so clueless on race night you might note in the picture I didn’t even wear glasses or goggles.

  To view Archived Notes and Quotes click here


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