Settlemoir: The harness racing world is devastated over Sam

Plans for a long-term tribute to McKee in the works.

by Dave Briggs

Jason Settlemoir said Sam McKee’s death is devastating to the harness racing community the world over.

“Sam was loved all over the world. I’ve gotten emails from people from Sweden, Canada, all over the United States, Australia, New Zealand, from people that Sam had touched throughout his career,” said Settlemoir, the CEO and general manager of the Meadowlands Racetrack where McKee worked. “This is definitely devastating.”

Settlemoir said he visited McKee at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon. McKee died unexpectedly from stroke complications on Wednesday.

“This one is very, very hard. Sam was more than just a colleague. He meant so much more to so many, including myself,” Settlemoir said. “Sam had a way of lighting up a room when he walked into it and he always had a knack for knowing if I was having a bad day. He would come into my office or I’d go to his office and every time we’d have a great conversation and I’d walk out of that conversation feeling better thanks to having a different perspective. Sam was quite an amazing human being and he’s going to be missed by so many. It’s very, very hard.”

Settlemoir said discussions have begun about the best way to honor McKee’s memory long-term.

“We’ll be honoring his amazing legacy, both short-term and long-term, and looking at all the ideas. I’ve got a bunch of ideas and we’ll sit down and come up with something that’s truly fitting for Sam for all of our memories,” Settlemoir said. “I just keep praying for his wife Christine and his daughters and all of his family, including his harness racing family as well. There’s just been an outpouring from people all over the world. People sending me notes, emails, Facebook messages, text messages. It’s just been overwhelming. Certainly, Sam is going to be greatly missed.

“The whole thing is just devastating and a total shock. This one is going to take awhile. This one hurts, very badly.”