By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE – The Darke County Harness Horsemen’s Association (DCHHA) held its annual banquet and awards ceremony on Saturday, March 4 at Romer’s Catering in Greenville.
Two veterans in harness racing were recognized with special awards from the DCHHA. Bill Clark was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Doug Riteout was recognized for hitting 3,000 wins as a driver.
According to Tim Reck, president of the DCHHA, Clark has been around Darke County his entire life and began working around horses at the Darke County Fairgrounds when he was eight years old. “That’s where he began his love for horses,” said Reck.
Clark has travelled the world caring for horses. He helped haul horses to Europe and has flown several times from Chicago to California with horses.
Reck said, “Without a doubt, he has helped anybody that needed help.” He pointed to the number of horses he has fed at the fairgrounds over the years. Some of the local owners he has worked with over the years include Gene Reigle, Jeff Boyer, Gavin Bixler, Chuck McClain and many others.
Clark received a chair embroidered with his name and nickname (Bozo) embroidered on the back.
When introducing Riteout, Reck said, “He’s been a friend of mine for many years. He’s driven for me some and driven for a lot of people up here.” He continued, “This is the first person, in the 40 plus years that I’ve been doing this, that has reached 3,000 wins. It is a job well done.” Riteout hit the milestone win at Hoosier Park.
This year’s guest speaker was introduced by longtime harness racing supporter Jim Buchy. Buchy said 40 years ago during first term at Ohio House he met Bob Schmitz and they both connected. Eventually the two gentlemen got involved in horseracing. They have owned horses together and instead of racing them, they sell them.
Buchy attributes the success of horse racing in Ohio to Schmitz. Ohio is the #1 standardbred state in the country, which he is said is “crowning achievement” for the eight years that Schmitz served as the top person on Ohio’s state racing commission. Schmitz and Buchy also worked together to prepare legislation that allowed for simulcast betting.
“He did more for the integrity of our sport, by being chairman of the commission,” said Buchy.
Although thoroughbreds get much of the attention, it is the standardbreds that have caught his eye. He believes thoroughbreds are “frozen in time.”
Schmitz shared his love for horseracing during his address to the DCHHA. “I’ve always loved speed,” he said. He pointed out in the late 1960s, the fastest time was 1:53.3. Today, that time has been trimmed to 1:48.3.
Throughout the remainder of his program, Schmitz named off one top horse after another and their accomplishments, some of which called Darke County home.
To close out the banquet, the DCHHA handed out awards to individual horses, owners and trainers.
Two-year old Colt Pace – JN Wild Flight, trained by Luke Bowlin
Two-year old Filly Pace – Calgary, trained by Ryan Miller
Two-year old Colt Trot – Buckeye, trained by Dalton Walls
Two-year old Filly Trot – Pariso, trained by Dalton Walls
Three-year old Colt Pace – Type A Personality, trained by Ryan Miller
Three-year old Filly Pace – Sectionline Dragon, trained by Steve Bauder
Three-year old Colt Trot – Doowapkid, trained by Dalton Walls
Three-year old Filly Trot – Fortunate Blessing, trained by Dan O’Mara
Aged Pace Horse – Sectionline Bigry, trained by Steve Bauder
Aged Pace Mare – Sherri’s Babe, trained by Steve Bauder
Aged Trot Horse – Lightning Frenzy, trained by Dan O’Mara
Aged Trot Mare – The Bombean, trained by Ted Gawron
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected]