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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rest in Peace, Skip Lewis ...

by Peter Lawrence, Contributor VFTRG
From Facebook friend Ronnie Gurfein comes news that trainer Samuel "Skip" Lewis has passed away. Not much other detail at this point. It occurred in Florida where Skip moved to. A specialist in New York Sire Stake and Grand Circuit colts and fillies, Skip will probably be best remembered for winning the 1984 Hambletonian with trotter Historic Freight [Editor - Video of Historic Freight winning Hambletonian Final may be found here]
Historic Freight driven by Ben Webster, Trained by Skip Lewis (Hambletonian Society Photo)

He also won big races with 1981's champion 3YO pacing colt, Seahawk Hanover [Ed.- A video of Seahawk Hanover's victory in the Messenger Final and an interview with Skip Lewis may be found here], and, in addition, he trained Chairmanoftheboard, one of the colts that was part of the famous Guida/Nihilator five-way entry in 1985's Meadowlands Pace. Skip seemed old school, in a good way, and he looked more like a teacher, or a business guy, to me. You'd usually find him wearing a button-down shirt, with a pen or two in the pocket, and he also wore big eyeglasses. He seemed a bit superstitious, and was funny about he or his horses being photographed before big races. Frankly, he wouldn't allow it. I seem to remember that his horses were stabled right by the Historic Track homestretch, near the grandstand, during Grand Circuit week in Goshen, N.Y., and I also used to visit him at the former Ben White Raceway in Orlando. The barns at Ben White were a funky collection of all shapes and sizes, built during different eras, and Skip's was an "inside-stall" building with high ceilings. But wherever he was stabled, you'd see the neat rows of his yellow and brown trunks and stall plaques. Oh well, yet another link to harness racing's golden era has passed away. Goodbye, Skip.

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