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15YO Justin Irvine to drive at Goshen

June 03, 2016

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After the Harness Horse Youth Foundation finishes its 40th celebration brunch at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, the festivities will move next door to the Goshen Historic Track, where HHYF graduate Justin Irvine, 15, will be competing against adults in a matinee event though it won't be Irvine's first time over that surface. Last summer he attended HHYF's Leadership Program which was held at the track.
The significance is not lost on the third-generation horseman. Irvine will go postward in the Open Pace, driving the 4 year-old Cruzing Hill. Mark and Kelly Ford, who operate a training center in Middletown, NY, coordinated finding Justin's mount with the blessing of the horse's owners, George and Rose Bonomo.

"Finding a horse to drive when you are not right there is tough, so I thank the Fords and the Bonomos. It will be different driving at Goshen," Irvine says of his second career start. "On a bigger scale. The Hall of Fame is right there and with all the celebrations, there may be a bit of pressure."

Justin's father, Don Irvine Jr., has over 7,000 wins and is enshrined on Northfield Park's Wall of Fame in Ohio, as is Justin's uncle, William Irvine, with over 3,000 driving wins.

"I have never felt obligated because of my family's success. It is just what I always wanted to do. That is why HHYF is so great. For me, I want to be a driver and a trainer and I can learn that at the camps. But I also enjoy listening to other people and their dreams. If they want to be a vet, whatever, you can learn all aspects of the sport. You meet people from so many different backgrounds who love harness racing," he says. "My first camp was 2014 at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania, and it was eye-opening. The Goshen leadership program just built on that initial experience." (HHYF)

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