Bestdealintown

Inducted 2002

Bestdealintown is a 1986 foal of Proud Butler. He was foaled to Charles Petrowitz of Mauston, WI. In 1990 Jerry Kaercher, a farmer, who lives near Cavalier ND saw Bestdealintown race at Assiniboia Downs in Manitoba, Canada and bought him as a 4 year old.

Bestdeal would relocate to Jerry’s farm where his friend Art Snell would train and race him for the balance of his career. This “duo” traveled throughout the Midwest thrilling racing fans at numerous county fairs.

Throughout his fair career he would prove his greatness time after time, it didn’t seem to matter what his post position was Bestdeal and his driver just got it done! During his racing career he set 18 fair track records of which 2 still stand in Wisconsin.

Bestdealintown’s fastest race win was 1:57.1 taken October 28, 1992 at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta, CA. At the end of the 2000 racing season at the age of 14 Bestdealintown, was retired with a race record of 199-126-30-20 earnings of $57,650.

He is enjoying his retirement in Henrod, IL with Linda Werkheiser.

Nominated by Joanne Gilbertson

Bronkhorst, Elmer

Elmer Bronkhorst

1909 – 1996

Inducted 1993

Elmer Bronkhorst was born on February 6, 1909. His father raised and sold draft horses, so Elmer learned early in life how to break a horse gently to its owner’s demands. When he quit farming in 1951, he raised all kinds of livestock for a few years, but in 1956 he returned to his first love, horses.

At this time Elmer also raised and sold horses to Amish farmers looking for trotters for their buggies, some years selling more than 100 horses a year. In 1956 Elmer purchased his first Standardbred and started racing at the fairs in Wisconsin. In theearly 60s, Elmer raced at the pari-mutual tracks with his standout horse, M.P. Chuck. This horse was the top free for all trotter at the Chicago and Ohio race tracks.Elmer trained and raced Wisconsin trotters of the year, Miss Swiss Sutton in 1981 and 1982, and Ryans Tanerlane in 1990 and 1991.

Dressed in his red and grey racing silks, Elmer was a figure of quiet authority both on and off the race track. This man of few words was respected and admired by his actions.

Nominated by George Woodbridge

Busse, Donald

1918 – 1970

Inducted 1999

Donald H. Busse was born in Portage, Wisconsin in 1918. His father Hugo Busse was the owner, trainer and driver of many horses who raced at the fairs throughout Wisconsin. Like many young people, Don learned about the sport of harness racing from his father. However, he did not immediately decide to pursue a career as a trainer and driver. He first went to work at a canning company. In the early 1950’s, Don Busse went to work for himself, basing his stable at the old fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. He raced at county fairs throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition, he raced at several Chicago area pari-mutual tracks, such as Sportsman’s Park, Maywood Park, Washington Park and Aurora Downs. Don moved his operation to Kirkland, Illinois in 1957.

Chief among Don’s many accomplishments would be the national driving championship he earned in 1963. He scored 201 wins that year; Don also became the 25th person to record 1,000 victories since the United States Trotting Association came into existence. Don’s best year was 1968, during which he achieved 231 wins and earned $382,212. In 1969 Don scored his 2,000th win driving H.A. Meyer’s Winning Crystal. Don and his son Daryl are the only father and son to win national driving championships; Daryl earned his in 1975.

Don continued to race horses and left his mark on the sport until his death at age 52. He was rightfully inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1984.

Nominated by O.L. “Buck” Weaver

Crafty Sailor

Inducted 2008

Horse with the Iron Legs, Ancient Mariner and Cranky Sailor are but a few of the phrases that have been used to describe one of harness racing’s unique race horses.  Crafty Sailor and owner David Carter of Eau Claire, Wisconsin have been a dynamic duo throughout their careers.

Crafty Sailor retired at the end of 2007 at the tender age of 14, but not before leaving his mark all over the United States. He has a racing career spanning 11 years, comprised of 330 starts and bankrolling over $130,000, all earning it all by grinding it out on fair circuits and in the amateur driving series. His 107 wins makes Crafty a member of the elite “Century Club”.

Crafty Sailor’s accomplishments include setting numerous track records throughout Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota-many of which stand to this day. He has been a top ten trotter in Wisconsin for 9 years, triumphing as Trotter of the Year in five of those years. Crafty and owner/trainer/driver Dave Carter, were awarded the prestigious James Laird Memorial Award for Excellence in 2004. He campaigned on the Billings circuit for many years, which has helped him to be covered in two articles published in Hoof Beats.

Crafty has been a great ambassador for harness racing throughout Wisconsin and this country. He has been a popular race horse wherever he races and his appearance on the track always excited fans and put fear into his competition.

Nominated by Rick Davis

Crippen, Guy

1891 – 1952

Inducted 2010

Guy Crippen was born in the small town of Darlington, Wisconsin in 1891. From that time on, harness racing acquired a man who proved to be one of its most colorful figures. The Wisconsin based trainer traveled across the country racing his stable, but he always came back to his home state, training his horses on the ovals of Elkhorn and Milwaukee. In 1938 the trainer from Sudsville (Milwaukee to the uninitiated) was in attendance at a national gathering of friends of harness racing to formulate the creation of the USTA. When not busy with his stock, the likeable Badger reinsman kept himself occupied with ideas of making harness racing a bigger and better sport.

Guy was long recognized as one of the best in his profession and his campaign of 1950 was judged as one of his most successful. That year the Kroening stable was made up of young horses, only Highland Ellen being older than four, and they were raced from the very opening of the season to the close, literally from coast to coast. As an example of careful  conditioning and special skill in keeping horses on edge, Crippen preformed the unique feat with the two stable aces, Highland Ellen and Lord Steward. Both horses won at Santa Anita in April their first starts and won their last starts in October in Toledo, all in track record times.

On the west coast he annexed a reputation among race going fans as one of the most colorful and spirited drivers in the game. Railbirds cheered him in unison for his expert handling of horses. Newspaper men acclaimed him in their columns as one of the most colorful sports personalities to invade the sun-splashed shores of the Pacific. In back of it all and in his home  bailiwick he was just a wonderful guy, with an undying yen for good, clean-cut racing and a homey chance to sit and just plain talk with a few of his good natured moans thrown in.

In 1951 Guy won the Hambletonian with Mainliner, followers of harness racing will always remember that win as a high point of the Badger reinsmans career when Mainliner carried Guy to a stirring victory in the race every driver hopes to win. The 1951 Hambletonian proved to be Guy Crippen’s last. The sixty-year-old reinsman who had managed his powerful stable so well was stricken with throat cancer during the summer of 1952 and had to retire from his profession, dying in early September.

Nominated by Wayne Moldenhauer

Davis, Marvin

Inducted 2005

Marv Davis has been a valued Wisconsin owner/trainer/driver for many years. He began in the business in the early 1960’s by investing in a couple of horses. Marv took great pride in breeding his own horses. He began with his first horse, Gladah’s Pride, who produced Scream N Nena, a Wisconsin Harness Racing Hall of Fame inductee. Scream N Nena was injured early in her racing career, but she proved to be Marv’s greatest producer with nine of her ten foals making it to the races.

Marv loved the Wisconsin Fair Circuit. He was instrumental in keeping racing alive at the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield. He also loved racing his horses throughout Wisconsin. He raced Bold N Sassy, winner of The Great Race in Elkhorn and a Runner-up Pacer of the Year as well as Top Ten Pacers Bold But Classy and Hope’s Dancer. His final trotting prodigy, Ryan’s Victory, was Trotter of the Year and continues to do well for Marv’s son Rick.

Marv received the President’s Award for Horseperson of the Year in 1997 for his lifetime contribution to harness racing and re-establishing harness racing in Marshfield, and in 2000 he received the James Laird Memorial Award for Excellence.

We fully welcome Marv Davis into our elite Wisconsin Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

Nominated by Tom & Mary Puetz

DeLong Family

DeLong Family

Inducted 2008

Wisconsin history cannot be complete until the powerhouse family name of DeLong is somewhere in the books. Dominating three generations, the DeLong family has conquered many feats and has truly evolved with the harness racing times.

Brothers William “Bill” DeLong and Del DeLong began the legacy back in the 1950’s. Bill switched his love of five gaited horses to the love of Standardbreds with the help of Hall of Famer and friend, Del Insko. Bill enjoyed great success over the years–especially at the trotting gait.

Del took an even more active role in harness racing as being an owner/trainer/driver wasn’t enough for him. Del spent many years on the Wisconsin Harness Horse Association Board of Directors helping to promote racing in the wonderful state of Wisconsin. He also was voted as a District Director of the USTA.

The second generation of this family came as William’s children Sally (DeLong) Amundson, Jesse “Jay” (Mary) DeLong, and William C. “Bo” (Vicki) DeLong, took the reins of the operation. Bill’s other children who also dressed in silks: Ray, Charles, and Peggy.

Sally, along with her late husband Tom, enjoyed racing very much and took active roles in the breeding, training and racing of harness horses and she continues to do so. Bo began his driving career in the 1960’s to be shortly followed by his brother Jay. These two men head powerful stables and continue to dominate racing in the Midwest. Notably the trainers of hot two year olds, they often use Wisconsin racing as early preps for their young colts and fillies. During this time, it is not uncommon to see multiple DeLong trailers pull into the fairgrounds as they often bring more horses to the race meet than any other single stable. However, they do not waste much time as they send them south of the Wisconsin border to compete on the tough Illinois Fair Stakes Circuit always proving to hold their own.

The third generation is just barely beginning, but is definitely leaving their mark all across the United States. Jay and Mary’s son, John DeLong left his mark last season as a pari-mutuel driver. John dominated the inaugural meet at Running Aces easily capturing the driving title and is currently driving on the East Coast. John’s brother, Austin Delong, made his debut driving on the Wisconsin fair circuit and proved he can keep pace with the family name by making into the WHHA’s Top Ten Driving Club for 2008. Two other of Jay and Mary’s son’s, Ben and Eric, have yet to come of driving age, but are eagerly awaiting their turn as they warm up horses and help in the barn.

Bo and Vicki are also contributing to the third generation as their son William P. “Patrick” DeLong is also an accomplished driver on the Midwest fair circuit and also drives on the Chicago land racing circuit. His brother Chris is not far behind to challenge Pat for driving privileges.

The DeLong Family is a tight-knit family whose love for harness racing is instilled deep into their family roots. They have evolved and become more involved with every year that goes by. To show their family togetherness, they even conducted a matinee race in Mineral Point, WI called “The DeLong Pace.” There were four entrants –all third generation DeLong children. With almost all four hitting the wire together, it proves that drive and competitiveness of the DeLong Family is here to stay.

Nominated by George Woodbridge

DeLong, William

William DeLong

1928-1992

Inducted 1993

Bill acquired his love of horses early in life. One grandfather kept many draft teams for use in the grain business and road grading. Another grandfather was a true horse trader while being a mail carrier on a horse drawn wagon for many years.

After serving in WWII, Bill came home and purchased his first Standardbred from Doc Marquis in the early 40s. Beginning in the 60s Bill got his family involved in racing horses. Because of the demands of the family’s feed, grain and fertilizer business, racing was mainly confined to the county fair level, with an occasional trip when time and horses permitted at the Chicago pari-mutual tracks. During the 70s and 80s, Bill put his emphasis on developing and training trotters. If they couldn’t or wouldn’t trot, he would give them to his sons to race on the pace. All of Bill’s horses began their careers racing at the county fair level.

The horse that Bill enjoyed most in his later years was Delco Smokin Crown, although Smokey wouldn’t trot, Bill decided to keep this pacer for himself. During his career, Smokey raced 100 times with 58 wins, 21 seconds and six thirds. Not only did Bill drive Smokey, but every member of the family that wanted to did. After some health problems in the late 80s, the last few years of Bill’s life were spent enjoying the races at the fairs, where it all started for him.

Nominated by Kathleen Larson

Epp, Bud

Inducted 2007

About fifty years ago Bud started working with harness horses in Rice Lake. He has been an owner, trainer, driver and advisor to anyone that needs or wants his help.

During this time he has had “hundreds” of winners. His first horse was named Monte Ota, which brings back many memories as well as the rest: Whiz By, Little Joker, John Allen, Bret’s Blaze, Dorset, Little Alice, Billy Brooks, Minnesota Fats, Jenna Direct, Keyed Up, Steady Bo, Little Fiddler, Bestrow, Happy Wish and many more.

Like many horsemen, Bud has done it all, including shoeing, both for himself and numerous others until his health would no longer allow him to do so. He continues to give his advice and checks the angles and toe lengths before the farrier finishes the job.

Earlier in his career he drove as well as trained; Bud’s last drive was in Rice Lake with Dorset. This horse “went down” near the front of the grandstand. Among other disappointments was the most devastating, the fire in Elkhorn that burned his stable of horses. At that time he lost Bestrow, Happy Wish and several other horses. Like other horsemen Bud picked up the pieces and continues in this great sport.

Bud works extremely hard to promote harness racing at the Barron County Fair. He does radio work, poster advertisements, obtains donations for the purse money and donations for the grandstand for between the races, secures bedding for the horsemen and works closely with the fair board. Bud tries in every way to make it enjoyable for the horsemen as well as provide a great show for the people viewing the races from the grandstand and the many “railbirds” around the track.

This man thinks like a horse at times and seems to know what the horse needs or wants. He is and has been a great promoter and is very dedicated to the sport.

The Wisconsin Harness Horse Association welcomes Bud Epp into the Wisconsin Harness Racing Hall Of Fame.

Nominated by Patty Strand