I write a lot about the Lancaster Barnstormers Baseball Team, but my friends know that my favorite sport is Harness Racing. Last year I wrote a screenplay about Harness Racing called, Miles To Go Before I Sleep, and many years ago, I wrote a guide to Harness Racing, Harness Racing from A to Yonkers. Unfortunately, I think I saved it to a floppy disk, so it is virtually gone.
I do remember a lot of the chapters, though. The very first one was A is for Abbatiello. Carmine Abbatiello is one of the best known Harness Drivers in the sport. Back in his day, he was even in TV commercials.
Carmine revolutionized the sport. Both the trainer and the driver get 5% of whatever the horse wins in the race, so most trainers back then would drive their own horse and wind up with 10% of the purse money. Then guys like Carmine came along who were so good at driving that it became financially more lucrative for the trainers to stop driving their own horses. They realized that 5% of the winner’s share was more that 10% of 3rd place money, and these “catch drivers,” as they were called, were winning most of the races. Carmine was the best at going wire-to-wire with a horse while saving enough horse to hold off the other horses in the stretch. If he had Post 1, which is the best post on a half-mile track like Yonkers, he would usually win. “Carmine and the rail, cannot fail” is what the bettors would say as they fearlessly plunked down money on the horse he was driving. Carmine was one of the all-time best. He was elected to the Hall of Fame, which is in Goshen, New York.
I have a data base of the results of every Harness Race in North America for the past 7 years. I also have a data base of every horse that competed in those 7 years with a complete chart of their breeding. Naturally, I have a data base of every trainer and driver who competed over the last 7 years, too. I constantly have to add to these data bases, as new horses, trainers, and drivers are always appearing. When I enter the race results into the computer it flags any horses, trainers, and drivers who are making their first appearance, so I can add these names to their respective files.
I just added a batch of new races to the database, and the computer flagged one new driver, Carmine Abbatiello. Could it be him, or was this a relative? I went back to look at the race, the 6th race at Goshen, NY on July 5th. It was him. Why after all these years was he driving again? It was the Hall of Fame Trot, an annual event in which 8 Hall of Fame drivers competed against each other in a special non-betting race. I wish I could tell you that he won, but the old man wound up last behind Ron Waples, David Miller, Wally Hennessey, Bill O’Donnell, John Campbell, Richard Stillings, and Jimmy Takter. But then again, it was his first race in more than 7 years. I’ll bet he wins it next year, especially if he gets post one.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,