Trotting Mecca

I judged this weekend at Maplewood Warmbloods in NY which was a 90-minute drive from my home and a 50-year trip back in time for me.? it’s just outside of Goshen NY, which was the former location of The Hamiltonian, the premiere trotting race in the U.S. and a setting in Marguerite Henry?s ?Born to Trot.? ?Of course, I read everything that Henry ever wrote, and I vividly remember the story of the trotter Rosalind (presumably named for a Shakespeare line: ?as high as my heart.?). I’ve driven through the area before but only at night.? This time I got a good look at this beautiful town (pop. 5,000) as I drove through at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.? There was the historic track tucked in behind some buildings just off Main Street.? I was so excited to see it and disappointed that I didn’t have time to stop for a really good look. So, I was a bit sad to learn, after I got home and looked up info on Goshen online, that the old track I spotted wasn?t the site of the Hamiltonian, although it is a very historic site in U.S. racing lore.? A meet is still held there once a year for a week, making it the oldest track in continuous use in the country.? The site of the Hamiltonian, which left town 30 years earlier, is now the Meadowlands in NJ where the race is now a single heat, not multiple heats as it was in Henry?s book. (Coincidently, the 2011 version was held this past Saturday.)? The old track where the Hambo was staged in Goshen was torn down decades ago.? I didn’t realize I was driving over a portion of the track as I went down Route 17 outside of town. The name of ?Goshen? has always stuck in my mind, not because it’s a mild oath (land o? Goshen!) based on a Biblical reference but because of Henry?s book.? I was hugely impressed when my college English professor (the memorable Dr. Pope at Mills College) mentioned once that she was from Goshen.? She was flabbergasted that I’d heard of the small town until I told her that I knew it was the site of the Hambo. I think it’s really too bad that harness races aren?t followed as widely as they once were.? I used to love to go to Brandywine Raceway in Wilmington DE when I lived there in the ?70s and, indeed, it was the site of the first date I had with my husband-to-be.? (He bet on a hunch for the first race, won big, and the rest for us has been, as they say, history.)

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