15 Spinning Wheel Road, Suite 432 • Hinsdale, IL 60521
Looking Back to Washington Park (01/31/13)
Posted Thursday January 31, 2013
By Mike Paradise
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.
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