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Western Harness Association
Nov 1963 Hoof Beats and Raceway Roundup

THOR HANOVER, a four-year-old son of the great pacing sire, Adios, got Western Harness' 35-day fall meeting off to a swift start when he blazed a mile in 1:57 4/5 in winning the Girl of the Golden West Pace opening day (Oct. 1) at Hollywood Park. It was his best race time ever.

A somewhat moody horse Thor Hanover sprang a $144 surprise in capturing the $169,430 Messenger last year. It was the richest harness race of all time (unless this year's Messenger tops it)

In the absence of John Simpson, Thor Hanover was handled by Jack Williams, Jr., who has been busy commuting hither and thither to pilot his Adora's Dream in the HTA pacing series.

A year ago Western Harness postponed its opening three days because of the World Series between the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.

This year the WHRA management stuck to its guns and went ahead with the published schedule even with the L. A. Dodgers replacing the Giants against the Yankees. The track opened to a crowd of 9167 the day before the series started, and thereafter bucked the TV gazers.

Western Harness has corralled all the greats of the American pacing world for its $50,000 Classic on Sat., Nov. 2, and the first Saturday of the meeting had Irvin Paul, Stephan Smith, Henry T. Adios, Cold Front, Rip Spangler, Vineddy and Midnite Hardy starting in a $10,000 free-for-all. Irvin Paul was the winner of last year's classic, equalling Adios Butler's world record of 2:111/5 for one and one-eighth miles.

Midnite Hardy is a rag-to-riches horse that might turn out to be the Cinderella horse of the meeting. He is a graduate of the fair circle who started life as a trotter and was converted to pacing by his owner, Charles Dean of Aurora, Ill. Midnite Hardy is a one horse stable at Hollypark. Mr. and Mrs. Dean do all the work around his barn except for letting young Howard McCullough, 29, do the driving. Midnite Hardy arrived at Hollywood Park with four sub 2:00 minute miles to his credit this year, all of them over the Springfield, Ill., track during Grand Circuit week.

The country's best known drivers will all be seen in action during the meeting-Stanley Dancer, leading money winning driver of 1962; Joe O'Brien, eight-time WHRA champion, Bill Haughton, Del Insko, Jimmy Cruise, Del Miller, Eddie Wheeler, Jim Dennis, and others.

One of the newcomers is Don Huff, 45-year-old native New Yorker, whose father, Allen, campaigned in harness racing in California some years ago. One of his horses is Regal Yankee, a two-year Tar Heel colt bred by former New York slugger Charley (King Kong) Keller.

Dave Harding, 33-year-old chief assistant to Joe O'Brien, scored his first Western Harness victory when he captured the first race with Lassie Song for a $9.20 payoff the second day of the meeting. During the absence of John Simpson and O'Brien, who were racing at the Lexington Trots meeting, Harding drilled such top horses as Thor Hanover for Simpson and Mighty Indian for O'Brien. A previously related Thor Hanover posted the first sub 2:00 minute mile of the meet while Mighty Indian, with Jimmy Cruise driving, took the Hollywood Trot opening day. (Biff Lowry)