Magical, memorable Goshen

The home of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame remains a special place everyone should experience at least once.

by Bob Heyden

The July 4 weekend at Goshen this year was my 35th or so time there, nearly all at Hall of Fame dinners. It was also my best, ever.

Part of that is because I was there for three full days this time as Ellen Taylor’s mother, Margot Taylor, was inducted into the Hall of Immortals. Being there longer, I was more able to get the full, complete impact of being at Goshen. The town, the village, the people, the hospitality, etc. You may have noticed I said ‘town’ and ‘village.’ There are signs for both. I don’t know the difference, and don’t want to know. Whatever the powers that be did or didn’t do — or will do — hands off Goshen please. It is a memorable, ultra-special place that allows you to walk right out of a dream into a world you once knew. Amiability abounds.

The Hall of Fame itself has never been better. An expansive toy section, with an enthusiastic man named Jim Brooks at the wheel promising more, is well worth it. A half hour in the Roosevelt exhibition flew by. Can it really be 35 years now?

The Haughton wing never gets old. The halls are alive in the building with variety and life and color and energy everywhere. Janet Terhune, Joanne Young, Christine Roberts and Chris Tully, everyone was more than accommodating. A promise delivered. If you have a bucket list, add this on. If you don’t, start one.

The street fair is always fun and the weather gods stepped in to make it feasible. They did again on Hall Night with some of their best ever timing. I’m not sure how to describe the street fair, but whether 9 or 90, there was plenty for you both.

I got to sit with Jimmy Takter and Per Eriksson pretty much all night on Saturday at the cocktail party and with The Meadowlands stakes race card on as an added bonus. Their families, too. I have known both nearly 40 years. They are A-list stars born on another continent, but 100 per cent at home in Goshen.

On May 16, 1960 Rod Serling presented a Twilight Zone episode where a gentleman goes back to Willoughby — to his youth — and sees himself a couple of decades removed. It was Serling’s favorite from season one. Goshen is Willoughby to many of us. The venue seems to have stood still, it’s us that are getting on. Ray Schnittker’s annual party on the first turn; several days of racing; a jam-packed activities schedule from the town and the Hall itself. Moving parts everywhere.

You forever find yourself looking at someone 60-70 feet away and wondering if you know them or not. Then, without cue, a roar goes up from the crowd, and a race on the half mile track is only 50 per cent over. That’s right, everyone is cheering loudly at the half of non-betting races. Fandom from another era? Not at Goshen where this is the norm.

Thanks to Kate Forry for being everywhere with a smile; Mark/Kelly Ford’s daughter Regan for outriding; Barry McPherson for bringing from central Jersey his characteristic fandom — and always welcome — presence.

Thanks to all the businesses, many with shingles out that just might be on the third century, for participating. I thought about saying time stood still in Goshen but is that impossible with all those moving parts. Peter Gerry told us that his brother Ebby is officially a Florida resident, but the walls said something different. Superfan Bill Heim and girlfriend Carol were there because they wanted to be there. What a time.

Yes, I sure am looking forward to Goshen 2024. This past weekend found me talking to a host of distinguished people, even some that are still with us.


Almost four full decades ago, 39 years to be exact, the 1984 Meadowlands Pace eliminations saw 40 enter to get to 12 in the final and 12 in the consolation. The $1,293,000 pot was the biggest ever in the now 46 editions of the Meadowlands Pace.

The first elim went to Long Fella with Tom Harmer (post 5, $8.40) by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:53.3.

The second elim was Andrel and Carmine Abbatiello (post 4, $40.80) by a neck — from last at the 3/4s to first — in 1:53.

The third elim went to Guts with William O’Donnell (post 10, $4.20) — only favorite to win an elim — by three lengths in 1:53.1.

The fourth elim was King Towner also William O’Donnell (post 1, $11.80) by 1 1/4 lengths in $17.60.

The final was won by On The Road Again ($7.20) from post 12 with Buddy Gilmour. OTRA was the 1984 Pacer of the Year.

The consolation was captured by Bill O’Donnell with King Towner (post 2) paying $11.80.

Favorite Butler B G in the consolation was fourth at 6-5 from post 12.

The 2-year-old champion, Walton Hanover, was fourth in his elim and second in the consolation.

Panorama was fifth in both his elim and the conso. He then sired 1993 HOY Staying Together.

Troublemaker was on the lead in his elim but faded to eighth. He won in the inaugural 3YOCP in the 1984 kickoff to the Breeders Crown series.

Pat Crowe — unsuccessful in 1982 trying to advance Cam Fella to the Pace final — was 10th at 87-1 with Greener Pastures.

Legal Notice — the winner of the very first NA Cup in 1984 — was the 4-5 choice to click in his elim but was a disappointing seventh.

Ahhhhhhhh! It’s Ahlberg. Talk about overachieving. Marvin Maker’s lone Meadowlands Pace experience came in 1984 when he was third in his elim to advance to the final. The longest price of any of the 40 in the elims on the tote board. Then, in the final, at 87-1 he dead-heated for the show spot with Hobos Willy.