Selected Emails for The Memorial to Roosevelt Raceway Page 6
Page 5 of Selected Emails
Also read what people
wrote in my Roosevelt Raceway guestbook
by clicking HERE
in thanks to a flashback to the inimitable "Balloon Man". "A quarter for one, five for a dollar. DON'T FORGET THE KIDS ARE HOME." great site, will write again.
Sun, 29 Jul 2001 22:48:15
I just checked out the "memorial" and I loved it. I too was a huge fan. My grandfarher trainde and my dad drove, Mike Lizzi, Sr. & Jr. Im Mike also. I am sending you a great picture of RR from what I think is the mid to late 60's. if you have any info on getting video of the races (WWOR show, etc) I would appreciate it.
Sun, 26 Aug 2001 15:15:01 EDT
I and a freind were wondering what was the largest crowd to ever attend the
track and also if possible average attendance.
Fri, 31 Aug 2001 20:37:11
Hi Jeff and thanks so very much for this website. Reading your selected email postings has brought back so many memories.
I too literally grew up at RR. I started working on the backstretch in 1969, at that time one of only a handful of "women" who worked there. Strange part about our little click at the time was we all knew each other because we all had riding horses and many of us rode and boarded together. Did you ever hear of the Roosevelt Fillies softball team? We stunk and poor Danny Mettinis probably still has nightmares. Did you ever stumble across news clippings when they shipped our riding horses in and made us hack 8 miles along the back roads of Old Westbury to get to Messenger's grave to publicize the Messenger Stakes? Lordy, there were so many lame stunts we went through.
Some of the people I worked for were Jack Richardson, Dave Dunckley (Empire Stables), Tom Moore, Ben Webster, Real Cormier, John Chapman. I remember the night Dave was killed, I was there the night in Yonkers when Bill Haughton died, I remember the death of Peter. But those are only the memorable names that most people would know. I have heard of so many of my backstretch friends that have passed, I wish there could be some tribute to them.
Alas, all I can say is if I too could go back and do it all over again, the way it was, I'd be there in a flash. The world of the back stretch was a life unto itself. One large family. It did not matter what track in the country you might travel to, there was always someone there you knew and who knew you. It was the best time of my life and yes a part of me diedwhen the Nassau County politicians blinded themselves to other cash offers for the track, seeing only their profits. I am so glad those SOB's went bust too, fitting to join the hundreds of other people that they forced into bankruptcy, loss of livelihood and on and on.
Enough of my still smoldering bitterness of these people, their place in Hell has been reserved for a while now. Are you aware that at that time Gov. Cuomo stated, "Who needs harness racing?" He can join the others.
brrrrrrrrrrrr, enough enough. Once again, thanks so much for your website a preserving a small piece of many peoples lives, many of who will forever go unmentioned but gave so much.
Wed, 3 Oct 2001 06:45:26
just fond this site-i remember sholty with billyjoe byrd ragtime j remember myaka prince with that rush remember the great sat nite cards sir dalrae remember the stale pretzels at the end of the nite going home as teenager back to bklyn on the track bus.remember the 10$ window puching the blue tickets remember the fri nite trot races with savior and hunysukle rose remember sokys tiger i wish i can find old programs from the 70's
Sun, 14 Oct 2001 22:50:04
in thanks to a flashback to the inimitable "Balloon Man". "A quarter for one, five for a dollar. DON'T FORGET THE KIDS ARE HOME." great site, will write again.
Wed, 14 Nov 2001 17:35:24 EST
Hi! I enjoyed your Tribute to Roosevelt Field! I live in East Meadow from 1955-72 I lived at 266 Buick Place and went to meadowbrook Elem Mccleary JHS and East Meadow HS Every Sat my parents took me to Ohrbachs and we ate at the ornomat! Then we proceeded to Fortunoffs! (as a Ritual) and we always passed the raceway! Thanks for the memory!
Tue, 4 Dec 2001 13:12:07 EST
Hello again.....just another word of thanks sgtjeff...not only does this site
bring back a ton of memories,I just got in touch with an old friend of mine
when we worked for Gary Mosher together.He lives in Indiana now and saw some
previous things that I had written to the website.He e mailed me hoping it
was me...I had always felt bad that I had lost touch with him because he
truly is a great person and now thanks to you I can get in touch with him
again.So once again thankyou and keep up the great work...John Treacy
Wed, 6 Feb 2002 08:23:42
I was just spending time looking at your RR website. Great job, a lot of
Just curious, would you know where I could get some of the old seats from
the stands? Figured they would make tremendous gifts for some old buddies
that used to live at RR with me.
Tue, 26 Mar 2002 13:30:10
I just saw your RR website, you brought back many many many memories. I
found it via Subtalk/Other Side of the Tracks, I go by Piggo12.
I started going to RR about 1974, taking the bus from Bergen County in NJ
(I preferred the trip to YR, but the racing at RR with the longer stretch
was better). I certainly do remember the guy doing the "race calls" in the
stands, the disco in the grandstand (circa 1977). I remember being there on
the night of the 1977 blackout and thinking the Russians had bombed NY or
something; after all, why did they rush the last 4 races so much. The tote
board was very cool, I loved it. I also remember the $10 combo bet, $5 win
and $5 place. The only way to get a $5 bet is as the track only had 2, 10,
50 and 100 windows. Some of the horses that stick in my mind Count Kef,
Sandra Lil, Intrepid N, Armbo Nesbit, PayOff N,(what a speed demon, he
could cut a half in 57 flat in the 70's) Nicawampus Leroy (never saw a horse
who could close like him, we drove to YR in a hurricane on night because
they had a special 1 1/16 mile race and he had the rail; we figures he
couldn't get shuffled back too far from the rail), on the trotting side, I
recall some trainer would bring these two monster trotters, In Command and
In Control to RR for a dozen or so races a year, the rest of the time they
would terrorize the PA Fairs.. I also loved the classified racing system,
C-1, B-2, and even AA before you got to JFA and FFA. I most certainly
remember the drivers you mentioned, but to call Russell Rash and Real Comier
(we called him Fake, he was too bad to be real) "great drivers", makes me
hope you were kidding. Carmine was always my favorite, no one could rate a
horse on the lead like him and go wire to wire.
I really enjoyed your site, I spend most of teenage years there (I'm 42
Sat, 9 Mar 2002 11:07:13 EST
What a terrific website and what a great idea. I never thought so many people felt the same way I (we) do about the loss of such a special place....
I can't believe it's been 14 years! I will collect my thoughts and add a story or two to your website shortly. BTW that "red haired kid" lol is indeed Howard Oil, the Monticello and occasional YR race-caller. Speaking of which, I recently met George Anthony, trainer
and part-time YR announcer who used to say "The less you bet , the more you lose....when you win!" Of course none of them compare to Jack Lee...ahhh memories.
Thu, 28 Mar 2002 15:58:27 -0500 (EST)
I just had to write to tell you how blown away when I found this
website! Although it was a long time ago, nostalgia swept across me and
My father worked at Roosevelt in the Cloud Casino. I'm not sure of the
years but I do know that he started there in the 50's and stayed until
he retired from there in 1974.
I was a teenager in the 50's and underage, and, at that time, didn't
care too much for harness racing, but I did go once to the Cloud Casino.
Later on, I realized how special Roosevelt Raceway was to me!
Oh, the excitement when my father brought home programs autographed by
celebrities! A couple who come to mind were Joan Crawford and Morey
Amsterdam. Somehow, sadly, through the years, they were lost.
I was crushed when they demolished it! It was almost a religious symbol
Thank you for bringing these sights back to me. Your website is
(Mrs. Katherine Jenkins-Murphy
Port St. Lucie, FL 34983)
GOD BLESS AMERICA
Fri, 29 Mar 2002 14:05:55
Saw your memeorial to Roosevelt Raceway. My grandfather, Ralph Canale, had the
distinction to work as a pari-mutuel clerk for both Yonkers and Roosevelt on
their opening nights. He worked for both tracks until 1980. I nver had the
opportunity to see racing live at Roosevelt, but enjoyed it on WOR. The
International Trot was always a great race. After representing my friendsat a
real estate closing, they treated me for lunch at a restaurant located at the
mall that now occupies the former raceway. I was sick just looking at the
grandstand and seeing what had been done to the site, knowing that this is where
my grandfather spent parts of 24 years of his life. I am an avid fan of harness
racing and attend Yonkers weekly.
Tue, 2 Apr 2002 20:02:23
I want to offer a correction to your Roosevelt Raceway tribute page, but also a thank you. You make a reference to "Doc Robbins." He was my grandfather and the correct spelling is Robins. However, I thank you for a nice tribute to him. He was a wonderful man, not only in business, but also as a grandfather.
Date :Wed, 24 Apr 2002 10:29:49
Thanks for putting up the Roosevelt memorial. It brought back wonderful memories, but perhaps most importantly, brought to closure my continuing search for Jack E. Lee. It appears from a letter from his son that the greatest, most entertaining announcer ever to pick up a headset passed a few years ago.
As part of the Roosevelt history I wanted to add to the collection of Lee quotes one that I'll long remember. As the horses got to the paddock turn the second time one night in the early '80s, one pacer, coming from behind needed to make a big move, and Mr. Lee exclaimed to a very appreciative Roosevelt audience:
"He's four wide! He's out on the Meadowbrook Parkway!"
Wherever Jack is now, I hope he has the best view.
Date :Sat, 18 May 2002 10:57:32 EDT
I AM NEW TO THE INTERNET AT THE AGE OF 58, AND ACCIDENTALLY DISCOVERED YOUR
RR MEMORIAL SITE. IT ALMOST BROUGHT TEARS TO THESE HARDBITTEN 58 YEAR OLD
EYES. THE FIRST TIME I WAS AT RR WAS IN 1960. I MUST SAY THAT MY FAVORITE
OF ALL FAVORITES WAS GEORGE SHOLTY.. DO YOU REMEMBER HIS OVERWEIGHT ASS'T.,
SAM RIDGEWAY..NEVER COULD WIN A RACE. I ALSO CAUGHT A CHUCKLE WITH THE
LISTING OF RUSSELL RASH AS A "TOP DRIVER". MY MEMORIES ARE OF SOMEONE WHO WAS
HELD TOGETHER WITH BARBED WIRE AND RUBBER BANDS, AND ALMOST NEVER WINNING A
RACE.. SIMILAR TO FRANK GALANTE OF TODAY'S YR DRIVERS.
I WAS AT THE INTERNATIONAL TROT THE NIGHT THERE WAS APPROX. 55,000 IN
ATTENDANCE. I REMEMBER HAVING TO SLIP $1.00 TO THE PARKING LOT ATTENDANT AT
YR IN ORDER TO PARK CLOSE TO THE EXIT. IT'S SCARY TO SEE THE WHOLE PARKING
LOT EMPTY WHILE WATCHING THE RACES ON CHANNEL 71.
I HATE TO DIGRESS TO YONKERS RACEWAY, BUT REMEMBER SEEING SACHER WERNER
SEVERAL TIMES AT THE CAFETERIA ON 167TH STREET IN THE BRONX, AFTER A NIGHT'S
I COULD GO ON FOREVER, BUT TWO CLOSING THOUGHTS.. THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO
THE RACES, I WAS SIXTEEN, AND BET $2.00 TO SHOW ON A TROTTER DRIVEN BY ARLO
NELSON (I BELIEVE DEL INSKO'S BROTHER IN LAW. I COLLECTED $12.00 AND WAS
HOOKED FOR LIFE..
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.
Wed, 29 May 2002 21:44:10 EDT
Hello Sgt Rosen , I am writing in response to your website on Roosevelt Raceway I was wondering whether I could fond more information on Roosevelt Raceway as my father worked there in the 60's and 70's as a groom ( he worked on Billy Haughton's horses quite a bit ) I even met Mr'. Haughton when i was very young. I guess i'd like to know if I could find info on past employees.
Sun, 2 Jun 2002 19:20:20 EDT
HEY JEFF NICE JOB ON THIS GREAT WEBSITE. I MISS ROOSEVELT RACEWAY AND THE GREAT HISTORY IT BROUGHT TO THE SPORT. I REMEMBER THE CLOUD CASINO AND WISH THE TRACK WAS STILL OPEN. I MISS THE OTB SHOW ON WOR WITH STAN AND SPENCER, THEY REALLY PUT A GREAT SHOW TOGETHER WHILE SHOWING SOME OF THE RACES OF THE NIGHT.SOME OF MY FAVORITE DRIVERS WERE CHAPMAN, ABBATIELLO, FONTAINE, DOKEY, BUDDY GILMOUR, SANDY LEVY, STORMIN NORMAN, INSKO, ETC ETC. I MISS THE VOICE JACK E LEE AND HIS CREATIVE RACE CALLING. I MADE MANY TRIPS TO ROOSEVELT FROM THE BRONX AND ALWAYS LOOKED FORWARD FOR EACH MEET TO OPEN THERE. HARNESS RACING WILL NEVER BE THE SAME WITHOUT THIS HISTORIC TRACK!!!!! THE TOTE BOARD WAS REALLY A SITE TO SEE!!!! I WILL KEEP WITH ME ALWAYS MY GREAT MEMORIES OF THIS ONCE GIANT RACEWAY AND ITS HISTORY.
Wed, 5 Jun 2002 02:52:47 EDT
Dear Sgt. Jeff,
Your Roosevelt Raceway memorial website was just brought to my attention
yesterday and I want to tell you how deeply touched I was by it. My name is
Elise (CeCe) Levy and I am the daughter of George Morton Levy with whom the
name Roosevelt Raceway is synonymous. I truly grew up at the track, knowing
all the drivers, trainers, most employees, etc. We lived right down the
street from the track and most of my childhood, teen years, and young
adulthood was spent at Roosevelt either in the stable area, the maintenance
area or the grandstands. Roosevelt was my playground and how I loved it. My
father built the track with a dream and felt that it was his baby, he would
be so honored and moved by so many loving tributes that you have accumulated
in your site. I can't believe how many people's memories are routed in the
track and how it touched so many lives. The tributes are fantastic and
brought me to tears many times, so many forgotten names and images were
brought back vividly. You have really done a wonderful service to all those
racing fans who miss the track as much as I do. Fortunately, I have numerous
stacks of photos of every era of the track's history and lots of racing
documentation to help keep the dream alive. Many thanks to you and all those
that have contributed to this special tribute to RR. Roosevelt was such a
valuable part of my life, it is a great comfort to see how many others were
touched as well. Thanks Jeff, I look forward to hearing from you and
hopefully meeting you sometime in the future. I speak for my brother,
Robert, and myself when I say sincere thanks.
Mon, 10 Jun 2002 10:01:19 EDT
I HAVE A FEW MINUTES IN THE OFFICE, AND NATURALLY WENT TO YOUR SITE. DOES
ANYONE REMEMBER THE FOLOWING DRIVERS????
AUSTIN GALENTINE...BENOIT COTE...SANDY LEVY (WORKED W/G.SHOLTY).. I REMEMBER
A "P" DRIVER, WHO ONE NIGHT SPENT AN ENTIRE RACE ABOUT 6 WIDE..LAWRENCE
BEER...BART WAGNER (A FREEHOLD IMPORT)... A GREAT TROTTER, "MIGHTY INDIAN"
DRIVEN BY A GENTLEMAN FROM MURFREESBORO, TENN., BY THE NAME OF LARRY
NELSON..AND I HAD THE PLEASURE TO SPEAK WITH HIM FOR ALMOST AN HOUR, ABOUT
40 YEARS AFTER HE WON A RACE AT YONKERS (THAT STORY WOULD FILL YOUR WEBSITE)
I THINK MY FAVORITE OF FAVORITES WAS IRVIN PAUL, DRIVEN BY CHARLIE KING , AND
I USE THE WORD "DRIVEN" IN QUOTES.. I COULDN'T BELIEVE THE NIGHT I CAUGHT HIM
AT 4 TO 1, IN A MILE AND A QUARTER RACE..A DREAM COME TRUE..
DOES ANYONE REMEMBER A HORSE NAMED FOX, DRIVEN BY MACK HAYMAN??? IF IT
RAINED, YOU COULD BET YOUR MORTGAGE MONEY, BECAUSE HE IMPROVED THREE CLASSES.
HOW ABOUT BLACK TROOPER DRIVEN BY AL BURTON..ALWAYS QUIT IN THE STRETCH, BUT
I CAUGHT HIM ONE NIGHT WHEN SHOLTY DROVE.
HOW ABOUT CHIEF GORGE, ANOTHER QUITTER DRIVEN BY NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST LOU
HOW ABOUT SUNTOWN COAL, A TROTTER DRIVEN BY FRANK TAGARIELLO..ANOTHER QUITTER
Tue, 25 Jun 2002 08:13:33 -0400
Just found the Roosevelt Raceway site you created and thought I would
forward this to you. It is an email I just wrote as a response to an email I
received from an old high school classmate. His email is below mine. My
uncle worked for Jack Richardson and occasionally cared for some horses
owned by Gilles Villemure.
How touching a tribute to someone that most people have never heard of.
Along those lines were many "behind the scene" players such as Bernard (Bernie) Herz.
Bernie gave up a promising and lucrative career as an accountant for a shipping magnate in the late 60's/early 70's to be around the sport he
loved dearly: harness racing. Bernie started out as a stable hand (read: shit-picker) and eventually made his way to groom and then assistant trainer. He, too, was a regular on the circuit at Roosevelt and Freehold; and traveled in the winter to the flats in Florida for the winter.
Bernie never was much for showing off. He continued to live in the stables and boarding rooms with the stable-hands even after he made his way up the ranks. But that was his downfall as well. While checking on a possible leg injury to one of his boss's horses, he got kicked a good shot in the head. The spiral downward was quick. It lasted over 20 years.
The ringing in his ears (tinitus) was strong. He put on pound after pound out of frustration and boredom as he again did his best as a stable-hand.
The hearing aids helped drown out some of the ringing and gave him some ability to carry on a conversation; but not much. He ate Chinese food for dinner every night at a place near the track and
the restaurant owners and workers became like family to him. He didn't even order his food. He came in; sat down; the conversation, as best possible, started; and the food came.
That is where my family could get in touch with Bernie when the need
arose. We left a message at the Chinese restaurant. It was easier than calling
the rooming house or stable area.
Bernie drifted from track to track, collecting disability and hanging with the horses; talking to them; teaching young stable-hands the art of
grooming and caring for the massive animals. He was hired by a rich old coot for a while to teach his granddaughter how to care for her horses at their
Best job he ever had. But it wasn't the track. Nothing was the same.
He took the first opportunity he had to disagree with the old man and
bailed back to stable drifting. Back to the life he loved. Eventually his health got so bad he had to live with an oxygen tank. That's when he moved into
the basement apartment at my parents' house in Brooklyn where he had lived
(with his father, my grandfather) for a short time before all this horse-sense started got a hold of him.
Bernie passed on a few years ago; a pack of Camels and a racing form at
his bedside. Against our religion, my mother had his body cremated. She tried to gain permission from the developers at whatever was being built at the former Roosevelt Raceway to spread his ashes there. The site work was just beginning. She didn't get any firm answers so my father drove her there
one Sunday and she spread Bernie over the field he loved so.
A lot people might look at my Uncle Bernie's life and say "what a waste."
Open your eyes and ears and noses! See the beauty and the strength; the hooves pounding and the whip cracking; the manure settling among the hay.
I hope I stay as happy doing what I'm doing as long as Uncle Bernie did.
I don't like horse racing in the least. Never did.
With loving memories,
Tue, 30 Jul 2002 18:00:27
I just ran across your site, and what memories it brings back! I started going to Roosevelt and Yonkers back in 1962, after getting introduced to the game at Monticello 2 years earlier while working as a waiter in the Catskills. I was attending night school at Queens College, and more ofter than not, would head the car towards RR instead of attending classes. I remember the night Savoir won the International Trot, there must have been 55,000 people there. The best race I ever saw was the mile and a half race where Ideal Du Gazeau was parked the whole trip, broke 3 or 4 times and still came on to win. Also, remember those 3 wide moves down the backstretch by Buddy Gilmour with Fly Fly Bird. One memorable night, I hit every single race, a horseplayer's dream, was up a ton going into the last race, thought the chalk couldn't lose, did not feel like waiting around to collect a $4 price, so I threw a $30 win bet on Nickawampus Leroy, hard-hitting closer for Georgie Phalen. He paid $11 or so, so I got home even later than usual. (I live in NJ). In the 70's and 80's, we used to do Freehold - Roosevelt doubleheaders on Saturdays, grabbing dinner at Arby's or Nathan's on Old Country Road. When we had time, we ate at Gam Wah, the famous Chinese restaurant, and who could forget "Mimmo's of Westbury" as Jack E Lee used to say. By the way, for those interested, I heard he is now living in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
The Memorial to Roosevelt Raceway
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