Day At The Track

Brandywine Reunion night enjoyed at Harrah' s

03:48 AM 14 Sep 2017 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Brandywine Reunion photo, Harness Racing Harness racing
(L to R) are Diane Davis Karp, Judy Davis-Wilson, Al Kraszewski, Jim Larente,Jr. (wife Michele behind him), Cami Larente, Jamie-Linn Larente, Maddy Deam, Peggy Seaman, Eddie Davis, Steve Ross & Marv Bachrad
World Wide Racing Photo
Left to right as best we can identify are Diane Davis Karp, Judy Davis-Wilson, Al Kraszewski, Jim Larente,Jr. (his wife Michele behind him), Cami Larente, Jamie-Linn Larente with friend Maddy Deam, Peggy Seaman, Eddie Davis, Steve Ross & Marv Bachrad are
World Wide Racing Photo

CHESTER PA - This past Friday Harrah's Philadelphia Racetrack and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association (PHHA), hosted the third of its "Summer Series of Racetrack Remembrances," this time featuring Brandywine Raceway - "Beautiful Brandywine" - located just over the state line in Delaware, exactly 12.1 miles from the Harrah's facility.

The night was the best-attended of the three featured Friday nights, possibly because Brandywine was not only the closest track to Harrah's, but it also had the longest existence - some 37 years, from 1953 to 1989.

It was the pioneer of pari-mutuel harness racing in the Delaware Valley, its summer scenic charms - the spectacular sunsets; the Canadian geese circling to land in the infield pond, and always before the second race; its retractable clubhouse windows - gave many area harness fans a memorable night at the races.

Hall of Fame horsemen such as Billy Haughton and Stanley Dancer annually had divisions of their stable at "The Big B," and the greatest equines in the sport's history competed there, with all-time greats Rambling Willie and Direct Scooter setting world records there.

Three and four generations of people associated with racing and management at the Delaware oval (a half-mile track until 1969, then converted to a 5/8-mile track) came out to Harrah's on Friday, to keep in touch with longtime friends and to greet people whom they had not seen in many years.

"What a superb night it was," said former Brandywine publicity director, now Hall of Famer, Marv Bachrad. "I saw people I had not seen since Brandywine closed. It was so great to reminisce about the old days plus the videos of top races from Brandywine on the big screen TV and all the memorabilia that people brought to display made for a wonderful evening."

Of the four drivers who participated in ten or more races Friday, half had family that were a part of the Brandywine tapestry - Allan Davis's father Eddie was the leading driver at Brandywine for several seasons, and before Eddie's success there was success for Mike Lachance, whose son Pat is a Philly regular; Victor Kirby's grandfather Vinal raced at Brandywine for most of the track's history; and Jon Roberts' father William, known as "Bib," often made jaunts over from his Maryland base.

There was a memorabilia show and contest held, and appropriately the three top prizes went to people whose family had deep roots at Brandywine: first place was taken by Judy Davis-Wilson, herself program director at Brandywine and whose entire family, especially father Olin, raced there for years.

"Everyone that worked or raced at Brandywine were like family," Said Judy Davis-Wilson. "We all looked forward every season to seeing everyone again as Brandywine was one of the first stops of the Grand Circuit. Tonight, it was just like old times with so many horse people and former employees coming out. It was just a great evening."

Second place was taken by Michael Wirtschafter, Brandywine unofficial "official historian," whose great-grandfather, Nathan, founded the racetrack and whose grandfather, Howard, ran it for 30 years; and third place was taken by Bob Shahan, leading driver at Brandywine for its last few seasons, for - his collection of leading driver awards from Brandywine! The judging was done by Jody McDonald, popular sportscaster for local radio station WIP and a harness fan.

The mixing of the state-of-the-art high-class racing at Harrah's Philadelphia and the nostalgia for the bygone days of "Beautiful Brandywine" made for an enjoyable mix on a pleasant late summer's evening, with many smiles seen among the patrons throughout the evening.

In addition to the reunion night, Harrah's and the PHHA also had a live band, free mechanical bull rides and other games in addition to an outdoor grill, all on their outdoor grandstand patio overlooking the races.

by Jerry Connors for the PHHA


Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article in USA: