A salute to Mr. Harness Racing

by Murray Brown

Sometimes in this world of ours, we see situations from afar better than we do when they are right beside us.

Such was the case with me last week when I wrote of a group of people who I believed had worthy qualifications for entrance into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame or the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Such a person is the man who I named Mr. Harness Racing many years ago.

I see Myron Bell, usually on The Deck, a couple of times a week and occasionally socially with his lovely wife Stephanie.

Myron is a combination of numerous qualities and the occasional defect. So are most of us.

He loves the sport and most of the people in it. Some like him. Some may dislike him. But nobody who knows him or perhaps of him would deny that he has an incredible grasp of the sport, its horses, its people and perhaps his knowledge of pedigrees which may be equaled by a few, but likely surpassed by none.

Why is he worthy of the Hall of Fame you may ask?

I’m sure you noticed that Brittany Farms, for which Myron has worked as a pedigree consultant and as a racing manager for the last 37 years, received the USHWA Award as harness racing’s breeder of the year for 2019 at the Dan Patch Dinner a few weeks ago.

Myron, in addition to Art Zubrod, Gene Riegle, Tony Alagna, Ron Gurfein, Jimmy Takter, Linda Toscano, Bob McIntosh, Myron’s wife Stephanie and numerous others, of course, with the financial backing and input of owner George Segal, have all contributed to making Brittany the colossus that it has been for decades.

Our mutual friend, Pacey Mindlin, AKA The Wizard, refers to Myron as the number one manager in all of sports.

Mr. Harness Racing has been an integral part of all the success the farm has enjoyed — in the breeding arena, as a purchaser of potential broodmares and stallions and in the development of harness racing stars.

Before I go further in my praise of him, I need to add that there are some, including myself occasionally, who sometimes view him as a pain in the rear end.

He does not suffer fools gladly. I should perhaps rephrase that statement to read that he does not suffer those that he regards as fools gladly.

They are certainly not always the same.

He is not loved by all. But I’ll quote a line from the poem No Enemies, “He who has mingled in the fray of duty, that the brave endure, must have made foes. If you have none, small is the work that you have done”.

Regarding pedigrees, he is usually correct, but is as stubborn in his opinions as any person that I have ever met.

For example, in my opinion, he never really had the faith in Western Hanover that he should have.

Why? Because he believed and to some extent still believes that his maternal pedigree is a poor one.

He saw some horses in his maternal family, horses such as Iron Rail and Post Rail, who were solid racehorses but not stars, but no champions until Western Hanovers came around.

If Wendy Mae Hanover traced to Romola, The Old Maid or Nervolo Belle, Myron might feel differently. I’m not sure.

Our fundamental area of disagreement relates to my opinion that different families may have a different genesis in time.

Myron feels if he cannot point to a specific, long-lasting root mare, then the family, in his opinion, is flawed.

I strongly believe that Western Hanover’s maternal family is quite strong, but has been fairly recent in its development.

I sense that Myron would be reluctant to term it such.

I recall a three way conversation that Frank “The Elder” Antonacci, Myron and myself had about the pedigree of a great trotting mare on The Deck last winter.

Myron dismissed it as not exciting. Both Frankie and I thought it was a very good one, although the family is young and just recent in beginning.

Now on to his Mr. Harness Racing’s achievements.

Among the horses he picked up for the account of George Segal, Brittany Farms or one of his groups are: American Ideal, Captaintreacherous, the international star Propulsion, Tell All, the Triple Crown winner Glidemaster, the Jug winner Mr Feelgood, Western Shore and Real Desire.

Among the noted soon to be or already super broodmares, he had a great hand in securing were Delinquent Account, Gala Dream, So Fresh, Remember When, The Art Museum and many others who do not immediately come to mind.

At the young age of 79, he still watches races every day. He is out on The Deck watching all of Tony Alagna’s stock and those of others at Sunshine Meadows regularly and still often scolds those who in his opinion have erred or who do not meet his standards in knowledge (which is just about everybody at one time or another), sometimes even his boss George Segal.

His favorite whipping boy all around is his younger brother Jeffrey who is as big a fan of racing as Myron himself.

Mr. Harness Racing is not just a passive worker. He puts his money where his mouth is. He presently owns pieces of 27 horses, 26 in the Alagna stable and one in the Lindy Farms operation.

Among the horses he himself owns or has recently owned are Tall Drink Hanover, Bedroom Confessions and It Was Fascination.

The difference between Myron and most owners is that most owners dream of having the next champion, Mr. Harness Racing expects it.

Somewhere at Sunshine Meadows there is a youngster who likely will become his next champion.

I certainly would not bet against it.

Have a question for The Curmudgeon?
Reach him by email at: hofmurray@aol.com.