Bower's two-out-of-three victories brought him 10% of the winning purse of $59,155.15 in this $100,000-plus Hambletonian. It was a substantial birthday present for this mild, pleasant athlete from Ravenna, Ohio; six hours after he crossed the finish line in the third heat, he turned 33.
But his day's work was worth much more to Ned Bower. A Hambletonian winner, especially one of his age and ability, does not want for superior horses for many years afterward. And Leonard Buck is undoubtedly the man to buy them for him.
There are also intangibles. After the last winning heat, a huge crowd of reporters, photographers and general well-wishers surrounded Bower out on the track in front of the grandstand. Through it, a pink-cheeked young lady of 12, dressed in her party best for Hambletonian Day, pushed her way to the driver's side and held up her program. "Would you sign this, please, Mr. Bower?" she said.
She was the first to ask Ned Bower for his autograph. There will be many more, on other days.