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Meadowlands' McKee And Heyden Among Hall Of Fame Electees

Monday, September 10, 2012

Robert (Bob) Quigley, the founding father of the dominant Meadowlands racetrack, from personnel to operating to racing philosophy, and Richard (Dick) Stillings, trainer and driver of many champion horses and continuing on as an excellent catch-driver, have been voted harness racing’s highest honor membership in Harness Racing’s Living Hall of Fame. 

 

At the same time, Bob (Hollywood) Heyden and Sam McKee, who took different paths but came together as the very best of today’s sulky communicators while both employed by The Meadowlands, have been voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame.

 

The Hall of Fame voting is conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA), with an independent accounting firm tallying and verifying the final results. The Living Hall of Famers are voted on by qualified USHWAns and by current members of the Living Hall of Fame, and the general membership of USHWA selects its peers for enshrinement in the Communicators Hall.

 

Bob Quigley was already an experienced racing official from years at Atlantic City Race Course when tapped by impresario Sonny Werblin to oversee the construction and early development of the revolutionary Meadowlands, a one-mile track in the shadow of New York City which quickly became the world leader in harness racing while also conducting quality thoroughbred racing. Quigley brought along an unprecedented number of able "lieutenants" who now fill the highest managerial ranks of both standardbred and thoroughbred racing, and his innovation and insight into the mind of the customer set the tone for racetrack oversight for decades to come.

 

Dick Stillings had long established himself as one of the top horsemen at The Meadows (near Pittsburgh) when local owner Roy Davis decided to use Stillings as his trainer/driver for a foray into Grand Circuit racing. Developing horses that often cost one-third to one-quarter what other, larger outfits were paying to try to attain success, Stillings hit it big with the "Spur" horses (named after Davis’s favorite English football team), campaigning five millionaires and winners of the Little Brown Jug, Breeders Crowns, and countless other marquee events. When Davis cut back on his racing stock, Stillings once again moved right into a lofty spot near the peak of the talented Meadows driving community.

 

Harness racing almost lost Hollywood Heyden to baseball, but to its eternal fortune it did not, and the graduate of the Sports Eye "finishing school" of first-rate journalists joined The Meadowlands in its early years and has established himself as the "go-to" guy when people need interesting statistics or trivia to brighten a column. Interviewer, pedigree reader, raconteur -  all these talents fall easily to the multitalented Heyden. 

 

 

Sam McKee came out of the Midwest, under the early guidance of Communicators Hall of Famer Roger Huston, and rapidly showed he had the talent to make it on any circuit, whereupon The Meadowlands snatched him up for announcer duties, where he now describes a race as insightfully as anyone in the business. McKee is also head of the awardwinning audio-visual department of The Meadowlands, and like his buddy (and frequent broadcast partner) Bob also does pedigree work at horse sales. 

 

"This is the highest honor that anyone can achieve in the sport of harness racing," said USHWA president Steven Wolf. "Our membership should be proud for selecting this worthy group of gentlemen for induction to the Hall of Fame." 

 

Quigley, Stillings, Heyden, and McKee will be twice-honored for their achieving status in their respective Halls. They will be feted at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards Dinner during the 2013 Harness Racing Congress in Fort Lauderdale FL on Sunday, March 3, and then on Sunday, July 7, 2013, they will be formally inducted during the annual dinner at the Hall of Fame and Harness Racing Museum in Goshen NY. 

  


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