With a tug and a swirl of red cloth, the little statue was unveiled. The assembled spectators oohed and aahed, and Billy Haughton, one of harness racing's master trainers and drivers, told everyone how proud he was to become a member of the sport's Hall of Fame there in Goshen, N.Y. It was a proper little ceremony, but a couple of members of Haughton's family looked at the statue with some dismay.
"Oh, dear," said Haughton's blonde wife, Dorothy, "it doesn't look like him at all, does it?"
"It's the eyes," said 14-year-old Peter Haughton. "The eyes are sorta funny."
It was not the eyes, but the wide, smiling mouth that harness racing's patron saint, E. Roland Harriman, chose to comment on. "I'm sure," said Harriman mischievously, "that that's the smile he had on his face yesterday when his colt jumped off stride."
The race Mr. Harriman was kidding Haughton about was the final heat of the E. H. Harriman Challenge Cup for 2-year-old trotters, the feature event of Tuesday's Grand Circuit meeting at Goshen's ancient Historic Track. Leading strongly with the finish line only tantalizing yards away, Haughton's Keystone Brian inexplicably went off stride, allowing Stanley Dancer to send Nevele Rascal past for the victory.
That was the way Haughton's luck had been going at Goshen, the village where the dear hearts and gentle people have been racing harness horses with high purpose for more than 130 years. On Monday's opening card, no fewer than 11 horses carried Haughton's green-white-gold silks to the post—and none came back a winner.
But on Wednesday, along came Arthur Nardin, an extrovert from North Bay Village, Fla., to watch Haughton drive his Hambletonian nominee, Nardin's Gayblade, in the three heats of the Historic-Dickerson Cup for 3-year-old trotters. As Nardin was saying, he had brought what Haughton needed—luck.
"I'm the luckiest owner in racing." said Nardin, who is something of a gay blade himself. He told how he had purchased three horses for $5,400 and at the latest reckoning had gotten back better than $1.5 million on his investment. "You've got to be pretty lucky to do that," he said.
As any of the local experts would have been perfectly willing to tell him, however, Nardin's Gayblade did not have much chance to win the Dickerson Cup, even though most of the top Hambletonian prospects were missing from the grounds. (The current favorite, Dayan, was in Ohio to race at Scioto Downs.) At Goshen the favorite was Lindy's Pride, a smooth, steady colt being brought along patiently by Howard Beissinger for Lindy Farms, Inc. of Lindenhurst, N.Y. In only two starts this year Lindy's Pride had twice finished second to Dayan. "The mistake some fellers make is to ask too much too soon," said Beissinger. "I've brought him along slow and easy within himself."
The knowledgeable farmers and horsemen who make up most of a typical crowd at Historic Track bet Lindy's Pride down to 3 to 5 for the first heat of the Historic-Dickerson. Lindy trailed a colt named Voltaire Hanover through the first quarter mile. Then Beissinger quickly moved into the lead, which he never relinquished. On the final turn Haughton tried to make a race of it with Nardin's Gayblade but, as Haughton said, "My horse just hung."