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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


When the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA holds its 54th Annual Awards Banquet at the Fountains on Sands Road in Middletown on Sunday, November 18th the scribes prestigious Excelsior Award will be awarded to the Goshen Historic Track’s Board of Directors.

A group of local professionals from all walks of life and who are all volunteers and responsible for carrying on all business at the famed double-oval.
For many decades there was pari-mutuel racing at Historic Track but that came to an end in the late 1970’s  when the track was deeded to a not-for-profit corporation….. Goshen Historic Track,  Inc. The actual date of the filing was January 5th, 1979.

Now as a not-for-profit corporation it is incumbent upon the members of the Board of Directors to  make sure the corporation is solvent. Of the 19 charter members two-- Graham Skea and John Bach, Sr.-- are still productive members of  the  24-person Board of today.
Good people and hard work over the years has made Historic Track a year-round facility. It is a year-round training center with a recent newly refurbished racetrack and the venue offers  matinees races in June and Grand Circuit races during a four or five day period  centered annually around the fourth of July.

In the beginning there was horseracing, mostly under saddle, on the current site of “Historic Track” even before construction of the formal race track. The original race course was a one-third of a mile oval and shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, Historic was enlarged to a half mile track and many champions, including Goldsmith Maid competed there.
But the year 1894 marked the most important turning point in the Track’s history with the appearance on the scene of railroad magnate  Edward H. Harriman, starting a Harriman Family  involvement  that would continue to an extent even today.

As part of “then Roaring Grand” countless champions, including John R Gentry, Joe Patchen, Greyhound,  and Titan Hanover, and to mention all would be like a who’s who in harness racing equine world. And it should be noted that many champions  wore the orange and blue colors  of the Harriman Family .
It was said during June 24th , 1873 that President Ulysses  S. Grant was in Goshen staying at 210 Main Street  and he  enjoyed the races  from a barn behind the home.

Over the years countless celebrities, including James Cagney, were frequent guests at Historic Track. And some of America’s finest Standardbreds raced over  the clay racetrack, which when rain was falling races had to be cancelled.
In recent years top trackmen have worked on the oval  and made it an all weather racetrack which not only curtailed the cancellation of  race cards due to weather conditions but it has allowed Historic Track to become  a very good all-weather training facility.

In recent years  new barns have been added and other refurbished and no one knows better than the Board of Directors on  what it has take to make those additions and changes possible as a not-for-profit entity.
Fund-raising is a necessity and the myth that Historic Track and the Harness Racing Museum  and Hall of Fame are one is hard to dispel.  Though each have  different needs  each entity  needs funds to continue to exist.

Actually each stands on its own and both work tirelessly to raise funds to continue their traditions.
Known forever as the Cradle of the Trotter, Goshen NY one timed housed two race tracks, Good Time Park - the three-turn mile oval which housed the famed Hambletonian from 1930 through 1956  - and Historic Track, where it all began and where it still is today.