Horses

Five Inducted Into Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame

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Walter "Boots" Dunn
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Roger Hammer Credits: ed
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Harry Harvey Credits: Ed Keys/USTA
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Jim Simpson Credits: Ed Keys/USTA
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HARRISBURG, PA — Four men instrumental in the growth and sustaining of harness racing’s pre-eminent position in the state of Pennsylvania — Walter “Boots” Dunn, Roger Hammer, Harry Harvey, and Jim Simpson — have been selected by the Keystone Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers Association as the second group of inductees into the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Along with this quartet, a Veterans Committee of Keystone USHWA has selected “Judge” Joe McGraw for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Hall.

These men join the first Pennsylvania Harness Hall’s inaugural class — Bowman Brown Sr., Max C. Hempt, Roger Huston, Delvin Miller, Dave Palone, Ed Ryan, Lawrence Sheppard, John Simpson Sr. and Paul E. Spears, plus Veteran selection Mary McCune.

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Walter “Boots” Dunn was a positive factor in every area of the sport in which he participated; as the longtime Chairman on the USTA’s Board of Directors representing Pennsylvania; as a horsemen, breeding and training generations of champions and setting a record with 1,179 victories as an amateur driver; as consultant to one and all, especially on his beloved county fair circuit, where he oversaw the racing at the Crawford County Fair in Meadville; and as a friend, sounding board, and invaluable sharer of advice.

Roger Hammer has won the national title for his category of the Universal Driver Rating eight times, tying for the all-time lead with the immortal horseman Stanley Dancer.

He campaigned Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo and many other fine racehorses, notably the “Keystone” horses of his fellow PA Hall of Famer Max Hempt, and to this day he continues as an annual major factor on the Pennsylvania fair circuit.

Fearless, impervious to injury or fatigue — always driving to be first.

Harry Harvey worked for Pennsylvania’s No.1 horseman, Delvin Miller, for many years, and drove the Miller-trained filly Helicopter to victory in the sport’s premier race, the Hambletonian.

He then took over the day-to-day operation of Miller’s Meadow Lands Farms, and became so adept at that facet of the sport that he wrote a chapter on farm management in the seminal book Care and Training of the Trotter and Pacer.

He also gave early lessons to the star pacer Albatross, and trained and drove him in his 2-year-old form.

Jim Simpson has as noble a personal pedigree as a person can have in harness racing; his father, John Simpson Sr., is already in the Pennsylvania Harness Hall.

Simpson had success on the racetrack for many years, then followed his father into management at the world-famous Hanover Shoe Farms, the sport’s leading nursery, and under his able leadership the farm has maintained its place in the industry, changing with the times and reinvesting in both top stallions and broodmares.

Like Harry Harvey, he is a member of harness racing’s national Hall of Fame.

Joe McGraw started his career working with the harness horses in southwest Pennsylvania, but his work led him to such occupations as handicapper, timer, and most notably judge, from whence he got his nickname. He worked the Grand Circuit of harness racing for nearly half a century, and earned the respect of both colleagues and horsemen alike. He also was an innovator, designing a method for starting races just before the starting gate was introduced, and he also was one of the first to use claiming races in filling cards. He was elected as a national Hall Immortal in 1975.

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