The Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association has honored 44 individuals with induction into the Hall of Fame. They are:
Don McKirgan – Inducted 2017
Don Logan McKirgan was born on October 17, 1940 in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. Early in his career, McKirgan worked for Delvin Miller, and learned much of his future skills from the Hall of Famer. Known as “Ohio’s Trotmaster,” McKirgan has enjoyed success with both gaits, and has won Ohio Sires Stake Championships with Desire in 1977, Shana Hall in 1982, Dottie Dart in 1986, Windswept Song in 1988 and Adochi in 1992. And even at the age of 75, McKirgan conditioned the 2015 Ohio Horse of the Year, Like Old Times. McKirgan, 77, went to Northfield Park when it opened in 1957 and remains stabled there today. He was the leading driver at the Cleveland oval in 1977 and 1981 and led all Northfield drivers in the Universal Drivers Rating in 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1985. McKirgan is credited with 3,640 career driving wins and was elected to the Northfield Park Wall of Fame in 1992. Don and his wife Sandy have been married for 48 years. The couple resides in Sagamore Hills, Ohio.
Marty Wollam – Inducted 2016
A resident of Vienna Ohio has been selected as the 43rd member of the Ohio Harness racing Hall of Fame. Wollam began his illustrious career in 1965 working for Forrest Short. Since then, Wollam has tallied 1,784 trips to the winners as a trainer and 1,139 in the sulky. He also has 12 Ohio Sires Stakes Championships with such standouts as Full Count, Count Me In, Doink N Doni, Contessa Leigh and Neely’s Messenger. Wollam also campaigned Striking Sahbra who collected $217,492 on the racetrack and was responsible for progeny that earned more than $67.8 million. Wollam stated in his hall of fame address “There is not one day I ever went to work. I just went to the barn”.
Dan Ater – Inducted 2015
A native of Clarksburg, Ohio, Ater has become one of the most respected horsemen in the state of Ohio during his 40-plus year career. Ater was elected to serve as a director for the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association in 1991 and the United States Trotting Association in 2008. From 2010 until 2013, Ater took over the managing duties of the Hawkinsville Training Center in Georgia. Away from the track, Ater has been a Deerfield Township trustee in Ross County for more than 19 years, and is a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Over his career, Ater has 1,695 driving wins, winning the driving titles at Lebanon Raceway, Scioto Downs, Northfield Park and Balmoral Park. As a trainer, Ater has made 1,225 trips to the winner’s circle. He was the trainer of such top horses as Western Resolve, Firm Belief, Capital Request, Cruzin Inya Jammys, Mystique Cruiser and Dancin Yankee.
Dan has four children, Kyle, Nick, MacKenzie and Daniel.
Jerry Knappenberger – Inducted 2014
Jerry Knappenberger of Newark, Ohio began his 50 year harness racing career as an assistant trainer for fellow Hall of Famer Terry Holton. In 1998, Knappenberger took over as General Manager of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, a position he held for 17 years. Knappenberger, worked tirelessly for the introduction of Video Lottery Terminals in the state of Ohio. The VLTs have allowed the Standardbred industry in Ohio to return to its place of prominence with increased purses at the four commercial tracks and the 65 county fairs.
Richard “Dick” Stillings – Inducted 2013
Richard “Dick” Stillings of Mount Vernon, Ohio has driven 5,751 career winners with more than $41.7 million in purse earnings. Stillings began his career as a groom for Hall of Fame trainer Dick Buxton. After a three year stint in the U.S. Army, he took jobs with Jimmy Cruise, Sr. and Howard Beissienger. In the 1980’s, Stillings drove or trained some of the best Grand Circuit horses. Stillings won back to back Little Brown Jug titles in 1986 and 1987 with Barberry Spur and Jaguar Spur. Stillings, 69 remains an active trainer/driver. In 2013, he sat behind 1,2015 starters and collected 108 wins.
Hal S. Jones – Inducted 2012
A native of Kentucky, Jones has spent his career managing Standardbred breeding farms. After serving in World War II, Jones assisted his father in managing Mac-Dot Farm, a breeding and training facility outside of Columbus in the late 1940s. He moved to Pickwick Farm near Bucyrus in 1951 where he played a major role in developing the use of artificial insemination in Standardbred racehorses. Jones has also managed Blue Chip Farms (NY), Hanover Shoe Farms (PA), Lana Lobell Farms (NJ), and Cameo Hills Farms (NY). Jones is also a member of the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York.
Tom Charters – Inducted 2011
A native of Springfield, Ohio, Charters began his career with horses in the 1960s working as a groom at the Madison Co. Fairgrounds and Scioto Downs for several seasons. He later worked for trainers Dick Buxton and Delvin Miller. He worked as a race secretary in Macau and at The Meadows in Pennsylvania before becoming Executive Director of the Breeders Crown in 1984. He was successful in establishing that series as harness racing’s championship events and was later named president of The Hambletonian Society.
Dave Rankin – Inducted in 2010
Dave Rankin is a native of Bremen, Ohio, and grew up in a racing family. His extraordinary skills with horses surfaced soon after he began driving in the 1960s. He achieved success at the Ohio fairs and then took his talents to Scioto Downs. When the Ohio Sires Stakes started, Dave was one of the dominant trainer-drivers for many years. He was noted as a trotting specialist, but he also developed many outstanding pacers, including Barefoot Hanover, a heat winner in the Little Brown Jug and third in the Meadowlands Pace.
David Miller – Inducted in 2009
David Miller is a native of Columbus and hails from a large family with deep roots in Ohio harness racing. He honed his driving skills at Scioto Downs and the Ohio fairs and dominated the drivers at Scioto in the 1990s. Then he moved to the Meadowlands and became one of the top drivers in North America, winning the Little Brown Jug in 2003 and in 2008.
Jerome Osborne – Inducted in 2008
Mentor businessman Jerome Osborne, born in 1922, has been a strong and steadfast supporter of Ohio harness racing since the mid-1960s. He’s enjoyed success at the highest levels with such stars as Majestic Osborne, Osborne’s Bret, Sharky Osborne, Justabit Of Magic, Empress Osborne, Obsborne’s Gypsy, and Osborne Creed, a star pacer in the early 1970s.
Robert O’Donnell – Inducted in 2007
Robert O’Donnell has been selected as the 34th inductee into the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame. He is a past president and director of the Ohio Horsemen’s Association and served for 12 years on the USTA board of directors. Robert operated Hobby Horse Farm in Grafton, Ohio for many years and he bred and raised countless superb pacers.
Ivan Sugg – Inducted in 2006
Ivan Sugg had the dream year of his four-decade training career in 2003 when he won the Pacing Triple Crown with No Pan Intended, just the tenth horse in history to do so. Sugg, a native of Deshler, Ohio, was also voted Trainer of the Year that year. The affable trainer followed his father into the business, and the trend has continued, with Sugg’s sons Kurt and Duke also active in the sport.
Terry Holton – Inducted in 2005
Trainer/ Driver Terry Holton has long been regarded as one of the top horsemen in the Midwest, and he was formally acknowledged as such with his 2005 induction into the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Holton, a native of Newark, Ohio, has driven the winners of more than 1,700 races and has earnings of more that $4.7 million. He got his first exposure in harness racing in 1953, and after graduating high school in 1960, Holton went on to win his first race. He has won numerous driving and training titles at Scioto Downs, and is a longtime Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association director. Holton has overcome many obstacles throughout his life; however his biggest battle was overcoming pancreatic cancer. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Holton has been a great icon for Ohio, which makes him the 2005 Ohio Hall of Fame inductee.
W.D. “Tom” Thomson – Inducted in 2004
Ohio native Tom Thomson has spent a lifetime in the sport, thanks to his association with the Little Brown Jug in Delaware. He has continued the legacy of his late father, Hank, by keeping the Delaware County Fair and Little Brown Jug as the premier stop on the Grand Circuit. Thomson serves as Director of Racing at Delaware, as well as President and Treasurer of the Little Brown Jug Society, and a member of the Delaware County Fair Board. Thomson has also served the industry as Grand Circuit president for the past 13 years.
Sam “Chip” Noble III – Inducted in 2003
Trainer/Driver Sam “Chip” Noble III was born in Xenia, Ohio, and broke into racing at Lebanon Raceway at the tender age of 17. Known over the years for his fantastic percentage figures, Noble won driving titles at Latonia and Lebanon before turning his attention to bigger circuits. Chosen to represent the United States in the biennial World Driving Championship in 2001 and 2003. Noble was also the first two time winner of the Jerry Kaltenbach Memorial Award as the top trainer on the Ohio Sires Stakes circuit in 1993 and 1998. Earned the Meritorious Award from the Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers’ Association in January, 2000 as the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades.
Robert C. Sidley – Inducted in 2002
Operator of Northern Farms, Painesville, Ohio. Owner and breeder revered for his work with the Lake County Fairgrounds. Past President of The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, Harness Horseman International, and the Lake County Agricultural Society as well as a director of the United States Trotting Association. He is also enshrined in the Ohio Fair Managers Hall of Fame.
Roger Huston – Inducted in 2001
Buckeye native is arguable the sport’s foremost race caller. With more than 40 years behind the microphone, Huston has called races in 15 different states, six countries and on three continents. Long know as the voice of The Meadows, the man of many rings is no-doubt best know for his memorable calls of every Little Brown Jug since 1967.
Richard Brandt – Inducted in 2000
Veteran driver/trainer won more than 800 races and $2.1 million in purses during seven decades in the sport. Top horses included Chet Lynn Hayes, Town Leader and Ocean Mouth. Native Ohioan was a decorated WWII veteran, and one of the original founders of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.
Tom Aldrich – Inducted in 1999
Native Ohioan who grew up with a love of racing, Aldrich graduated cum laude & Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio State University in 1972, and from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1975. Joined Harness Tracks of America as a research analyst, then became general manager at Rosecroft in Maryland. Returned to his home state as GM of Northfield Park in 1985. Past HTA President.
Charles Sylvester – Inducted in 1998
Legendary trainer of trotters, the Toledo native has campaigned such standouts as Mack Lobell, Diamond Exchange, Pine Chip, Running Sea and Muscles Yankee. Sylvester won three Hambletonians (Mack Lobell, Park Avenue Joe, Muscles Yankee) and is the winningest trainer in Breeders Crown history, with 12 championships. – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1997.
Carl Milstein – Inducted in 1997
Cleveland native Carl Milstein owns Northfield Park, which he has led to a position of national prominence. Honored by the Ohio Chapter of Harness Writers with achievement and meritorious awards, he is also a businessman involved in many endeavors including property development, apartment buildings and poultry. Milstein is credited with assisting in the resurgence of downtown Cleveland through the development of care centers, nursing homes and housing for the elderly and handicapped.
William S. Brown – Inducted in 1996
Lebanon, Ohio native who made his mark as a top farm manager. Started in the industry at age 12, and was assistant trainer for legendary horseman Frank Ervin before going on to manage Castleton Farm. In the 1970’s, moved to Blue Chip Farms in Walkill, NY, and molded that operation into top breeding facility. – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1997.
Robert Steele – Inducted in 1995
Only General Manager the first four decades of Scioto Downs’ history. Columbus native has also served as executive and judge at top tracks like Delaware County Fair, Red Mile and Brandywine. WWII veteran, member State Fair Hall of Fame, executive committee of Harness Tracks of America. Active in community affairs, including Franklin County Sheriffs and County Board of Health.
Don E. Mossbarger D.V.M. – Inducted in 1994
Established Midland Acres, one of Ohio’s leading breeding farms and premier Standardbred nurseries, located in Bloomingburg. Stallions at Midland have included Nobleland Sam, Speed In Action and Final Score. Midland-bred foals are a consistent and successful presence on the Ohio circuit and beyond. Served as president of the Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association.
Jerry K. Kaltenbach – Inducted in 1993
A leader in the Ohio harness racing industry and a founder of the Ohio Sire Stakes. Member of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund committee administering the stakes. Resident of Hilliard, Ohio. Director of Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and trustee of PACER (Political Action Committee for Equine Racing). Past president and long-term member of Franklin County Fair Board.
John Hervey – Inducted in 1992
Regarded as the foremost writer on the sport of harness racing in his era. Longtime editor of The Horse Review and feature-writer and columnist for The Harness Horse. Native of Ashtabula County, Ohio gained his early knowledge of the sport while attending races in the Cleveland area. John Hervey Award for excellence in reporting of harness racing named in his honor.
Larry Evans – Inducted in 1991
Longtime publicity director for the U.S. Trotting Association was father of the Trotting and Pacing Guide. Known for his “Fair Affairs” column in Hoof Beats, which symbolized his commitment to fair racing across America. Known as a champion of the “little guy” in harness racing. Elected to the Writer’s Corner of the Living Hall of Fame in 1984.
Richard “Dick” Buxton – Inducted in 1990
Native of Mount Vernon was known as a top trotting horse trainer. Drove 1,563 winners in his career and his mounts earned $4,116,832. Developed such outstanding trotters as Senator Frost and Killbuck Mary. Leading victories included the Kentucky Futurity and the Governor’s Cup. Apprenticed under Curly Smart.
Hugh M. “Doc” Parshall – Inducted in 1989
Considered one of the greatest horsemen in Ohio’s history. Won first race in 1921, and trained and drove Hambletonian winners Lord Jim and Peter Astra in 1934 and 1939. Born in New Petersburg, Ohio. Also developed Chief Counsel, Blackson, King’s Counsel and Fearless Peter. Captured four straight Ohio Governor’s Cups. Named Immortal of the national Hall of Fame.
William N. “Doc” M.Millen – Inducted in 1988
One of canniest and winningest drivers of the Ohio Fair circuit for many years. A leading driver in the U.S. during the 1940’s. Born in London, Ohio and resided there until his death at age 94. Raced Standardbreds for nearly 60 years. Drove Ohio stars Director The Great, Miss Ellen W., Lark and The Woodsman. Immortal of the national Hall of Fame.
Gene Riegle – Inducted in 1987
Honored for his leadership in Ohio racing and his spectacular career as a driver and trainer. Greenville, Ohio native trained such standouts as Three Diamonds, Life Sign, Western Hanover, Artsplace, Troublemaker and Arnie Almahurst. Won first race in 1945 and has since driven winners of more than 1,550 races and $4.4 million in purses. Member of the Living Hall of Fame.
Corwin Nixon – Inducted in 1986
Longtime president of the U.S. Trotting Association (director since 1955), he helped guide harness racing into 21st century. Former member of Ohio State Legislature, including stint as House Minority Leader. President and general manager of Lebanon Raceway: former board member of Harness Tracks of America. Worked for the betterment of harness racing on many levels: – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1992.
Dr. John Jackman – Inducted in 1984
Honored for his contributions to veterinary medicine and helping horsemen in the care of their horses. Graduate of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1919. Honored as school’s most distinguished alumnus in 1962. Served as prominent Ohio veterinarian for more than 50 years. Director of Scioto Downs. A licensed owner, his best horse was trotter Hiland Hill.
Don Millar – Inducted in 1983
Leader in harness racing on local, state and national levels. Executive vice president of the U.S. Trotting Association from 1948-1967 before moving on to Hanover Shoe Farms. Father of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund. Bred Hambletonian winners Christopher T and Timothy T. – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1991.
William Murray – Inducted in 1983
Founder of Bonnie Brae Farms in Wellington, which stodd such top stallions as Jug champion Melvin’s Woe, Combat Time and The Widower. U.S.Trotting Association director from 1948-1981. From harness racing family, as his father was a prominent Russian trainer. Member of The Ohio State University College of Agriculture’s Hall of Fame. An Immortal in national Hall of Fame.
Joe Neville – Inducted in 1982
Noted for being co-founder of the Little Brown Jug, harness racing’s premier 3-year-old pacing event, with Henry “Hank” Thomson. Served U.S. Trotting Association as general counsel, director and chairman of the Fair Committee. Member of the Hambletonian Society, vice president of the Grand Circuit. Immortal in national Hall of Fame. Owner of top horses Iosola’s Ensign, Milestone and Eddie Havens.
Henry “Hank” Thomson – Inducted in 1981
Longtime Delaware (Ohio) newspaper publisher co-founded the Little Brown Jug in 1946 (with Joe Neville). The Jug has become the premier harness racing event for 3-year-old pacers. Instrumental in bringing major league harness racing to Delaware County Fair, the only U.S. county fair to host the Grand Circuit. – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1988.
Charles D. Hill – Inducted in 1980
Longtime track manager, owner, breeder and officer of Harness Tracks of America. Established Hill Farm in 1953, home of top Ohio stallions B.F. Coaltown and Falcon Almahurst. Opened Scioto Downs in 1959. Major force in almost every aspect of harness racing for half a century: honored as an Immortal in national Hall of Fame. Known for his civic and charitable endeavors.
Howard F. Beissinger – Inducted in 1979
Third-generation horseman known as on of the sport’s leading horsemen and best trotting men. Won three Hambletonians-Lindy’s Pride (1969), Speedy Crown (1971) and Speedy Somolli (1978). Steered Lindy’s Pride to 1969 Trotting Triple Crown. Other Beissinger champions were Entrepreneur, Tarport Lib, Widower Creed and Ahhhh. Elected to national Hall of Famm in 1974.
Robert Farrington – Inducted in 1979
Made harness history by becoming first driver to top 200 wins in single season (1961) First driver to pilot 3000 annual winners which he did three times. Retired with 3,163 victories and $9,004,596 in earnings. Drove and conditioned Rambling Willie, known as “the Horse that God loved.” Winningest driver in America (1961-1967): – Inducted inot the nation Hall of Fame in 1979.
Edward “Pop” Geers – Inducted in 1979
One of history’s most respected horsemen. Tennessee native won his first race at age 20 and opened his own stable in 1875. Drove his first sub-2:00 mile in 1916 at Ohio State Fair. A dominant horseman of the late 1800’s, honored with the naming of Tompkins-Geers Statkes now contested at Scioto Downs. – Inducted into national Hall of Fame in 1958.
Walter J. Michael – Inducted in 1979
President of the U.S. Trotting Association 1958-1969. Established Northfield Park in 1957 and served as its president. Started Pickwick Farm in 1950 where he raised or owned more than 1,600 horses during his career. Stood top stallion Gene Abbe, leading money-winning sire 1965-1967. President of Ohio Locomotive Crane Co., and The Superior Equipment Co. Elected to national Hall of Fame in 1968.
Stephen G. Phillips – Inducted in 1979
Revolutionized the sport of harness racing by inventing the mobile starting gate. Began as a starting judge in 1910 and spent 26 years on the Grand Circuit. Served as a starter for first Hambletonian in 1926. Starter at over 100 U.S. Tracks, he started an average of 1,900 races each year of his career. Elected to national Hall of Fame in 1962.
T. Wayne “Curly” Smart – Inducted in 1979
Won first Little Brown Jug with Ensign Hanover (1946) and captured 1952 Jug with Meadow Rice. Ohio native drove 1,873 winners and earned $2,689,333 in 50-year career. Know as one of the sport’s wittiest citizens. Track superintendent for Delaware (Ohio) County Fairgrounds. – Inducted into the national Hall of Fame in 1969.