Selected Emails for The Memorial to Roosevelt Raceway Page 7
Page 7 of Selected Emails
Also read what people
wrote in my Roosevelt Raceway guestbook
by clicking HERE
Tue, 10 Sep 2002
More of my memories..
I'm fast approaching the age of 59, and the first thing to go is the memory.....HOWEVER, I sometimes get flashes of names (and sometimes the silk colors) of drivers from the 60's and 70's.. but please don't ask me
what I had for dinner last night, or breakfast this morning.
The one thing that I remember, was that Ken McNutt always has this big beautiful grin on his face during the post parade, and while scoring.. Years later I think I understood why... I had the opportunity to "help" a trainer at Freehold, and while warming up a horse on the training track (my first time behind a horse) the smile couldn't be wiped from my face for a week.. Once again, thanks for keep the flame alive.
Wendell Wathen, Sr. & Jr.
- Mack Hayman
- Pat Iovine &
his brother Zadok (very rarely drove in NY)
- Arlo Nelson
- David Legum
- Richard Custis
- Austin Galentine
- Sam Ridgeway
- Sandy Levy
- Ken McNutt
- Robert Shuttleworth ( I believe "banned for life")
- Randy Perry
- Forrest Gerry Jr
- Sacher Werner
Jefferon Kelly, Jr.
Sat, 21 Sep 2002
great site few comments
watching the last race from the backstretch near 3/4 pole with my father-in-law. grumpy judge would let us know who won. Went every Monday night. Jogged horses there for 24 years. Comments about Russell Rash knew him well was the most honest trainer/driver there. How about the 55 gallon drums when they first started winter racing with fires in them. Air Record George Sholty. Henry T. Adios Del Insko and when it rained Rock Brewer with the real gentleman Jimmy Cruise.
Momentous and Bob Rahner down the road. and for you real old timers the head of security for many years Abe Simon who boxed in the 20s. And the small judges both at the finish line. My best beer 98 degrees 1961 at the finishline in August.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS Nassau County should be ashamed of the people they put out of work and the enjoyment we had there. John Kopas and Russell said it in the late 70s it will be
'studio racing" boy were they right. They may have taken our trotters but no one can take our memories. Walter from Wantagh. good luck to all as Jack Lee would say "and The Fan can see them all" Adios Butler
Wed, 02 Oct 2002 13:03:04
Your website brought back great memories for me too. I live in South Florida now and had the pleasure of meeting the incomparable Jack Lee, by chance, several years ago. Jack made certain to remind me of Bobbo, his favorite named trotter. I felt great sadness as I read from one of your e-mails that Jack passed on. He was the best and fun to talk with. Some of my fondest memories were the round knishes, sitting in the staircase in the clubhouse on a cold night when all of the seats indoors were taken, waiting 19 minutes on a Saturday night to handicap the 7th race (no exotic wagering) with Doc's Fella winning at 3-5 - that's when you got the chance to talk to your friends about life instead of horses! Also, those big, round colorful clubhouse seats that were on the wire outside and the couches inside. Remember Cold Comfort vs. Kash Minbar, the night Niatross won the Messenger, Ideal Du Gazeau, Momentous, Branch Dan Prince and Viscount Uffington - and how about Jack Lee yelling out "we've got a good chance for a 2 minute mile here". They can't tear down the memories.
Note fr. Jeff:
Are you sure you read from one of my emails that Jack passed on? I'm trying to find it. I hope its not true.
Fri, 4 Oct 2002 21:58:43 EDT
I lived in back of the old garages that were along old country road in 1950 that were part of the RR grounds. My dad was Billy Myer one of the early drivers at RR. I later became a driver and remember it all from i950 till I stopped in 1980. Do you remember the horses; Flower child j m eagle shadydale Yankees one of the greatest horses that ever lived. I became a harness driver myself and count some of my greatest friends john champion,' Mike Santa Maria, carmine, del Hugh bell,lucien,bill popfinger, Alan Myer bob cherrix,phalen,frank popfinger catch drove for me,so did insko. Norman was nuts. No bodynremembers frank brown or sacha well I. Idol thanks for a chance to sound off.
Gary Myer in Florida and safe.
Mon, 07 Oct 2002 11:28:17
According to an e-mail that was posted on April 24, 2002, Ira Bahr wrote of Jack Lee's passing a few years ago, however a later e-mail mentioned Jack living in Deerfield Beach, FL. I am looking through my biz cards - Jack gave me one when he was the announcer at Freehold with his Florida number - I do remmeber that he and his wife had bought a small home here, but that was several years ago. I'll let you know if I find out the real whereabouts. I was also friendly with Allen Finkleson and his family but have lost touch with them since his passing (and his daughter's passing).
Please let me know if you find out anything further on Jack. I too hope that he is well.
Mon, 14 Oct 2002 03:37:56 EDT
How can anyone from the Roosevelt days ever forget the infamous Gam Wah the chinese restaurant on Old Country Road in Westbury. If you went to the races you had to go to Gam Wah after. They went hand in hand. Win or lose, you ended up in Gam Wah. It was just across from the Island Inn (John Peel Room). I can remember nights walking in after a night of racing at Roosevelt. Walking in there seeing the Matre'd John, Harry (Unc) the part owner. Walking into the bar seeing John and Taw ( dont know if the spelling is correct) the bartenders. The place would be packed to the rafters with racing and sports celebrities alike. I remember seeing Del Insko, Buddy Gilmour, Ben Webster, John (Sonny) Patterson, Carmine Abbatiello, Jimmy Cruise, Real (Cocco) Cormier, Herve Flion, Pat Crowe, Lucien Fontaine, (Stormin) Norman Dauplaise, Billy Haughton, Donald and Stanley Dancer. The later days likes of Michel Lachance, Teddy Wing, John Campbell, Billy Odonnell, Rene Poulin, Luc Oullette, Gerry Sarama, Rejean Daigenault. Also little known drivers at the time like Gerard McDonald, Marc Fontaine, Marc Gilmour, John Plutino, Mike Forte, Gary Mosher. Also a zillion trainers and assistant trainers were there too. Just too many to name. You knew everyone who was in there. But the funniest thing of all was you knew who made money and lost money that night. The drivers, trainers, owners and racing fans who won that night were all sitting up front with huge smiles that stretched the length of Old Country Road. They were buying drinks and dinner for the majority of the people in there. The people who lost money that night were all sitting in the back of the restaurant looking to run a tab. They did not have two nickles to rub together between 5 people. The tab that most had run probably was never paid for in the long run. But it was just a night out with all the racing fanatics there. Gam Wah was the place to be at following the final race at Roosevelt. But as soon as Roosevelt Raceway closed, soon after went Gam Wah. It was sold to the Scotto Bros catering people. It's now Chateau Briand a catering facility. The majority of their business was the racing people from Roosevelt.
Back in 1999 I saw Harry Mock the part owner of Gam Wah. I was at the Meadowlands for a Hall Of Fame dinner. I saw him in the crowd of people. I walked up and said hi. He remembered me which I was shocked. We talked for a short time. He was real sick as he told me. As of today I never seen him again.
John the bartender is part owner of a Chinese Restaurant in Port Washington Long Island. But for the rest of the staff I never seen or heard from them again.
Sat, 2 Nov 2002 18:56:33
I'M WITH CUSTOMS AT THE NORTHERN BORDER IN UPSTATE NY BUT BORN AND RAISED IN MINEOLA.I CLEARED 8HORSES ONTHE WAY TO FLA. FOR THE WINTER AND THE 2 OWNERS AND I STARTED BSING ABOUT RR.I HAD SO MUCH FUN THERE, WOULD BRING MY FRIENDS AND HANG AT THE CLOUD CASINO.I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL IN UNIONDALE AND OUR BUS WOULD GO UP MERRICK RD PAST THE DIRT TRACK.I CAN STILL SEE CARMINE RUSH TO THE FRONT FROM THE 7 SPOT,BE ELBOW TO ELBOW ON A HOT SAT. NIGHT,PARKING IN ORBACHS TO SAVE 2 BUCKS,ALL THE PROGRAMS ON THE GROUND AFTER THE 5TH RACE,THE BLUE SEATS UPSTAIRS,JIMMY MAROHN,MOMENTOUS,STORMIN NORMAN,TED WING,ETC.ITS SO SAD THE WAY THEY TREATED THAT PLACE-I THINK OTB KILLED IT.I'VE BEEN UP HERE SINCE 1991 AND DIDN'T REALIZE THEY FINALLY TORE IT DOWN,THE BASTARDS.WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE SEATS?ANY FOR SALE.TAKE CARE.
Mon, 02 Dec 2002 00:31:52
Hello Mr. Jeff Rosen,
I was going through some old pictures at our office in Pittsburgh and I
came across a framed Photo finish of a Triple Dead Heat from Roosevelt
Raceway on Nov. 27th 1957. It is the 9th race a pace, one mile,
finishing time was 2:09. The three way tie was (1) Flaxey Dream Paid
8.80, 7.10, 7.60 (6) Great Knight 3.60, 3.70, 3.70 and (3) Navy Song
7.90, 7.40, 6.30.
The Photo for win by Jones Precision Photo Finish is in the Photo.
Without cutting the sealed frame open I can't tell weather it is a
newspaper photo or an actual print of the photo finish.
To the right of the finish line in the photo there is a list of the
winning horses with payoffs the Drivers, Owners and Trainers.
F. Alden Gray, Director of Racing is listed on the bottom.
The Photo is slightly under 8 1/2" x 11" black and white. It appears
to be in excellent condition.
I have been trying to contact Jones Precision Photo Finish to see if
they are still in business. If you can help in this regards it would be
It is nice when people try to preserve history. I did a search for
Roosevelt Raceway and came across your site. I hope this information
is useful to you.
Good Luck and Best Regards.
Thu, 12 Dec 2002 15:27:14
great web site. I grew up on Staten Island, but now live in the midwest. I was more of a thoroughbred fan. Only went to RR a few times. But I still remember seeing Une de Mai winning the International trot. Maybe around 1971 or 72? For a while I wondered what happenned to RR since I never saw any news or race results. I agree with what you said, it was so impressive seeing all the bright lights when you got up close! nice job on the site.
Stephen L. Nelson
Battle Creek, MI.
Thu, 26 Dec 2002 23:16:27 EST
I was pleased to see that Roosevelt Raceway did not go away unnoticed. I used to make a weekly excursion there in the late 70,s and early 80's. A bunch of us used to hop the express bus from Ridgewood, Queens. I believe the busdriver's name was George. We would pay him the busfare home before we went into Roosevelt just in case. We would get off the last stop going home. His classic words "Gates and Myrtle" wake up you are in Ridgerwood will always be remembered.
I remember the great races with Big Towner winning every week. Niatross winning the Messenger. the FFA/JFA races with Seatrain, JM Jupiter. Fly Fly Solly, Mr. Sandman. I actually checked the USTA and Seatrain is still alive and living on a farm in Maine.
It was a fun time for me and it was a great night out to have fun and maybe win a few dollars once in a while.
Mon, 13 Jan 2003 23:02:39 -0500
I found myself on your site today (found it almost by accident while eating
lunch in my office, surfing the net a bit) and I was unable to pay attention
to work the rest of the day. The memories that your site stirred in me -
well, let's just say I read many many pages of the letters you have posted.
I spent many many happy evenings at Roosevelt and Yonkers from 1972 on -
even when I was having losing nights without cashing any tickets (I may not
have known then how good those times were, but I sure know now!) Those
first few times I went, driving into the massive parking lot and walking
through the grandstand turnstiles with my "Doc Robins" all prepared,
comments and picks for the night ready - life just couldn't get any better.
And the horses - I know there have been many faster perhaps greater
standardbred champions in recent years, but are they really better than the
likes of Albatross, Superbowl, Nansemond, Isle of Wight, Armbro Nesbit,
Handle With Care, Delmonica Hanover, Savoir, Flower Child, Une De Mai,
etc.... I don't think so.
And the drivers - who better than Stanley Dancer, William Haughton, Herve,
Buddy Gilmour, Carmine, John Chapman, even Russell Rash driving Nickawampus
Jeff, keep the memories alive for us all. I'm going to look in my basement
now where I know I have some old programs from Roosevelt and Yonkers. I'll
keep you posted on what I find.
Marshall calls the pacers............
Mon, 20 Jan 2003 09:39:30 -0500
Jeff, I must say I truely was moved reading the guestbook and emails that people sent you regarding the place I dreamed of as a young teen. In my senior year of high school I went to the Max Brewer School of Harness racing ran by a man named Don Vickers. I could not wait for the chance to get in the sport. As a youth I had worked a friend who's dad owned thoroughbreds and spent a lot of time on the Aqueduct and Belmont back stretch. My father was a long time horse player and quite the handicapper but didn't like the trotters. In June of 1979 i went to work for James Overdorf who owned Grays of westbury on post ave. I used to take care of 2 horses he had on a farm in westbury and work in the store afterwards. I used to love to drive the van to the barn area to make deliveries and pick up equipment to be repaired. I was in awe talking to some of my idols i would see. I made a lot of friends but lost contact when i joined the Navy in 1981. Taking care of Chi and Winnie on the farm wa quite the experience as on day a old man in a little white toyota corolla( before they were popular ) came into the stable area. He said to me "Hey little padna, can u give me a hand". That man was Jimmy Cruise Sr. and I helped him unload a horse off a trailer. That horse was Kash Minbar. He occupied the stall at the end of the shed row and i used to take care of him once in a while for Mr. Cruise. The farm was ran but a man named Ed Maloney who anyone on the backstretch knew because he only had on hand but would jog and train his horses with the best of them. He used to truck horse up Yonkers at night when they were racing there. I remember the last horse he had while I was there was a filly named Saratoga Lori. I drove to Monticello one night to make a " Killing " on her and she broke at the start. It was a cold rainy night and my car broke down on the way home.
I remember people like Sonny patterson jr coming into Gray's, Herve Filion, Ted wing was also a good friend of Mr. Overdorf. Jim and his Brother William were both accomplished horseman and Jim was a hard man to work for. I remember one day taking Chip over to Roosevelt to work him and I was having trouble with the Bell boos and Jimmy acme over and just chewed me up one side and down the other. He took chip and went on the track. While he was jogging him, A man came up and yapped me on the shoulder and said he thinks the world of you. I sad he sure has a funny way of showing it. That man was Ben Webster. Ed Maloney used to say well Jr (that's what the all called me) you can work for anyone in the business if you can work for him because he's the toughest and and one of the best. I remember certain other times like when Main Morris and Pat Iovine won at first asking and then the following week they thought he broke the track record. The tote board timer was screwed up but he went in 1.59 and change. I remember conversations with Rudy Robinnet a trainer many a day on the backstretch and Mike Santa Maria. They all used to tell me the same thing, Someday Jr if things don't change we will be racing for blankets again. and they were right. I remember when i was told that RR was closing I almost couldn't believe it
but I remembered those talk. I would love to talk more about these times
to anyone who has some memories to share. Thanks for letting me share a few
J. Ranieri "JR"
Fri, 31 Jan 2003 17:10:35
Reminiscing with your Roosevelt Raceway site , I remembered a poem my son wrote when he was in high school.
It went something like this -
Carmine is king;that is a fact
It's because he is smart enough to lean back
Who is second?
It is an interesting thought
I don't know;it is probably Dagneault
Then we have Buddy and Micky
My one word for them is that they're pretty tricky
And it went on ...
Thanks for bringing back the memories.
Fri, 31 Jan 2003 19:56:20
WHEN I WAS 14 I WENT TO RR AND MADE NY 1ST BET $4 TO WIN ON BONNIES EXPRESS PAID $64 I OFTEN THINK HOW DIFFERENT MY LIFE WOULD BE IF THAT HORSE LOST I BECAME A GROOM AFTER HI SCHOOL FOR ALAN MYER AT LB ON THE OFF MEET IN 1975 HIS BEST HORSE AT THE TIME WAS EVERGREEN SONG I REMEMBER THE FFA PACE WAS MYACCA PRINCE AND ESAB I ENDED UP STAYING IN THE HORSE BUSINESS FOR 15YRS I WORKED AT EVERY TRACK RR YR M LB BRD VD SAR FHLD MOH GREENWOOD POMP NFLD SCIOTO MONTI AND PROBRABLY SOME IM FORGETTING SOME PEOPLE I WORKED WITH RAY&DEL RICHARDS BILL HAUGHTON HARRY HARVEY TOM LAIL RAY TRIPP(WHAT A TRIP THAT WAS) BOB KOLACHICK TOM COYNE NORMAN DAUPLAISE AUSTIN HOPE JACK PARKERJR MY PAL JIM MULLIN SLUGGER JIM MCARDLE AND SOME IM FORGETTING HORSES I RUBBED OR TRAINED ONETBE BRAHVOLOS FELLA SKELLUM NOBLE TRYST KENWOOD HAMPTON CICEROELLA CICERO SISSY TAR DONUT ROCKY KINGN GO GUYA MIKE NAPOLEON PATGDILLER SILVER KING TISHA LOBELL KIWI DILLON BOB BUTLER DUKEOFORO MISS DAPPER HONEY AND COUNTLESS OTHERS
I REMEMBER PEARLS OF THE DEEP AT GAM WAH JIM RATHBONE AND I BEING THE ONLY 2 IN FOOTSIES IN A SNOW STORM AFTER HE WON WITH ALAN QUINTON HERVES 7500 WIN WITH KENWOOD HAMPTON TAKING HERVE OFF CICERO ELLA AND PUTTING DOWN CARMINE &TELLIN EVERYONE WERE GONIG FROM THE DEAD MAN TO THE RED MAN SHE WON BY 4 PAID $9 ARGUEING WITH JIMMY MITCHEL ABOUT STALLS PACKING UP &MOVING TO YONKERS EVERY 6 WEEKS AND THEN BACK AGAIN ALL THE WACKOS AT THE TOP OF THE ESCALATOR THE BALOON GUY DONT FORGET THE KIDSAT HOME THE RECYCLING PLANT SPRAYING STUFF ON YOU AS YOU JOGGED BY THE FEATURE RACE CALL ON THE RADIO TOO MANY THINGS TO THINK ABOUT NOT EVEN MENTIONING ALL THE PHYSCOS NUTS WISEGUYS GUPPYS AND NICE GUYS I GOT TO KNOW EVERBODY SORT OF KNEW EVERYBODY PEOPLE WHO WERE NEVER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHEN I TELL THEM THAT I WOULDNT TRADE THOSE YEARS FOR ANYTHING
IT WAS GREAT TO GO BACK IN TIME
Tue, 4 Feb 2003 20:23:05 EST
I just stumbled upon your memorial to Roosevelt Raceway and was greatly touched. I was a harness racing fanatic from 1970 until the early 80's when I started switching over to the flats where I am now an avid "trip" handicapper.
Some of my fondest memories come from my twice weekly trips to the Raceway. Coming from Bklyn, I remember when you had to pay a 10 cent toll on the Southern State by Valley Stream. Also, going to the track on a Saturday night, there was always tons of traffic on the Belt Pkway by Kennedy airport, and even though we were still almost 20 miles from the track, you always saw loads of people reading the program or the Armstrong Daily while sitting in traffic.
Some great names of horses and drivers not mentioned that I remember are, Super Wave - Jack Kopas, Rum Customer - Billy Haughton, Tropic Song - Jimmy Tallman, Royal Count N - Allan Cantor/Herve Filion, Chief Crazy Legs - Norman Dauplaise, Maida Million - Eddie Cobb, and Melvin's Strike with Carmine.
I still live in Bklyn and occasionally I go the Roosevelt Field Mall, and every time I pass the old exit for the raceway, I still get a tear in my eye and a knot in my stomach. Oh, how I miss that place. Thanks for the memories.
Fri, 7 Feb 2003 23:24:44
Great site about "Where it all began, where it is today"
The last time I saw Roosevelt was summer 1999, and I remember thinking Its time for them to knock it down. But it still brought a tear to my eye when I heard that the grandstand was finally gone. Some of my memories are:
- promotional match races between players from the beloved Islanders and the hated Rangers and Flyers in the mid 70s.
- coupons in the back of the program for 2 for 1 hot dogs at Nathans. I must have used a million of them. And the night after the International, when the restaurant was full, the guard at Nathans (who thought he was a real police officer) locked the doors at closing time so that nobody else could get in. He didnt realize that he had a few hundred people locked IN. If the fire marshal ever saw this, the place would have been closed down.
- Listening on WGBB radio to Nat Lipack with Last Nights Winners at Roosevelt Raceway. I was too young to really understand anything he was talking about, but Buddy Gilmour became my favorite driver because he seemed to win every race.
- Watching the grandstand lights in the distance, while waiting to get the early edition of the Daily News on Saturday nights from the Herbies luncheonette on Front Street in East Meadow. I would run the race in my mind when the extra set of flood lights came on at race time, and got even more excited when the bank of lights was turned on for the photo finish camera.
- Jack E. Lees call of a photo finish. While the photo was still being developed, he would announce the horses in the photo in the order that he saw them come in. I dont thing he was ever wrong.
- My first visit to the raceway was for pony races on a Saturday afternoon in the early 70s. I think I picked about 7 or 8 winners out of 14 races. I should have stopped there!
- The only improvements that the final owners did to the plant were to rip out bays of teller windows so that they could add more room for the flea market.
- All of the hoopla surrounding the International each year. I remember banners over Merrick Ave. advertising the race. Sadly, in the final year, I did not see one advertisement for the race, and I think only about 3,000 people showed up.
- Watching the Saturday night TV show. And Stan Bergsteins remark in an interview several years after the show went off the air After being on TV for all of those years, when people saw me on the street, they would say Hey, arent you the guy whos on before wrestling?
- The International Pavilion at the top of the stretch.
- The horrible stench that permeated the track when they opened the garbage recycling plant across the street.
- When they started running 10 races a night, the tote board only had a single digit for the race number. For the last race, a man came running out with a 1 sign to put next to the 0 in lights.
- The student admission gate. I used it for at least 5 years after I graduated college. Hey, that gave me another buck to bet.
- The thousands of cars that would clog the Meadowbrook Parkway before and after the races in the 60's and 70's. Sitting in the back seat of my fathers car, I was too young to fully understand. But now, I know that the days before OTB came in and sucked the lifeblood out of the track must have been awesome. 20,000 people every weeknight is inconceivable nowadays.
Living in Florida now, I get to Pompano Park once or twice a year. The grandstand reminds me a little of Roosevelt, but nothing compares to the original!
The Memorial to Roosevelt Raceway
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