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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Harness Racing Returning to New Hampshire? Looks Like It

Bill Faucher, formerly a standardbred trainer and driver (recall Fight The Foe?) is bringing back harness racing to New Hampshire, looking to build a 5/8th mile oval near the former Hinsdale Raceway (last operated as a greyhound track).  Faucher has an OTB facility just about completed and is merely waiting for his license to be approved, likely around Thanksgiving and operating by December 1.. 

With the operation of the OTB, Faucher expects to raise enough funds for construction of the racetrack.  What about Rockingham Park which last raced in 2009 and is now operating as an OTB?  They have given their blessings towards this effort, not planning to infringe on the plans (and likely never expecting to resume live racing.

Of course we are glad that racing appears to be returning to New Hampshire and Mr. Faucher deserves to be applauded, willing to open a racetrack without alternative gaming revenue.  That being said, Hinsdale couldn't make it as a harness track.  Has enough changed since the last harness race in 1985 at Hinsdale Raceway to make a track viable once again?

In case you are wondering, what happened to Hinsdale Raceway?  After the trotters left Hinsdale in 1985, it was converted to a greyhound track called Hinsdale Greyhound Park which lasted until December 15, 2008 when it filed for bankruptcy.  The backstretch was eventual sold and is part of a Super Walmart with the track and grandstand in derelict condition. 

This story had me looking for an update on old Green Mountain Racetrack in Vermont.  If you want to know what happened to Green Mountain, here is a blog which talks about the track's status as of 2012.  The property now houses the Southern Vermont Energy Park but the grandstand remains.


Anonymous said...

If you do a little digging about Hinsdale, you'll find out that while it WAS a greyhound track, it was much better known for its rebate-friendly simulcast division, and was in the news for some pretty shocking shenanigans near the end

JLB said...

Thinking about Hinsdale and Green Mountain brings back many memories. The Rooneys bought Green Mountain and were there during its demise. Racing during the Spring thaw meant muddy conditions that would have the field racing literally in the 6-path, as it was too deep to pass on the inside. Mile times were routinely in the 2:40 range. Sometimes, conditions were so trying that they would reduce the distance to 3/4 mile, and would take 2:00 to go that shortened route.

One interesting anecdote occurred during the gasoline embargo during the early 70"s. Management had gas pumps installed at the track, and based on your residence, you were allotted a certain ration of gas to make the round-trip. Given that our harness-crazy family thought nothing of making a 325-mile round-trip, we qualified for the largest amount.

Early on, Green Mountain furnished the only Sunday racing in the Northeast, and buses would depart from the Port Authority terminal in New York City for the 4-hour trip.

Future Hambo winner Mickey McNichol made his start there, and Ed Lohmeyer Jr. campaigned a top horse named Rocky Adios. Jimmy Doherty would, from time to time, ship a FFA pacer named Miami Beach from Foxboro to take on the local stars.