Pocono to honor retiring trainer Doug Hamilton
October 23, 2017
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Sixty years ago, a farmer's young son in Port Elgin, Ont., about two hours north of London, decided "there wasn't enough excitement" in a life of getting up early on cold mornings and milking cows the old-fashioned way. Fortunately, his father and grandfather shared a hobby.
"My father Irwin and my grandfather Lambert raced at the fair tracks in Ontario," Doug Hamilton recalls. "I liked the horses much better. By 11, I was jogging horses, even though my feet didn't reach the stirrups," he told Neil Milbert of the Chicago Tribune in mid-career.
Flash forward about 60 years from the young boy jogging, and Hamilton has amassed 3,675 driving wins, including championships at Northfield Park and Balmoral Park and other Chicago tracks, and driven the winners of more than $20 million. The USTA only started counting training wins in 1992, but he's had more than 500 conditioning victories since then, with horses in his charge earning more than $5 million.
His long career has been filled with many highlights, and at Pocono, they get to share in the final one, as Hamilton, at age 70, has decided to retire from training. On Tuesday, Hamilton and his stable team will be honored in the winner's circle after the third race. All horsemen are welcome to join the presentation.
He was one of the best-known drivers in the Windy City, which was his base of operations for decades, and his red, gold and white colors could frequently be found in Chicagoland winner's circles. But in 2011, with the once-mighty Chicago circuit losing ground to states that had made a partnership with other forms of gaming, Hamilton (at age 64) decided to strike out for new ground. He spent the second half of that year alternating between The Meadows and Balmoral.
In 2012, Hamilton arrived at Pocono for the start of the meet, and he has been based at Pocono since. He also races at Harrah's Philadelphia, and when the two eastern tracks are closed in the winter, he has gone back over to The Meadows, an all-year track. The changeover has been good for him as in 2015, his best year "over East," his trainees earned $500,000 in a season for the first-time ever, and his number of winners was his highest in 21 years.
It's horsemanship, and his high standing among the horsemen's communities, that have helped Doug Hamilton along to lofty career achievements for a future manual cow-milker, and everyone at Pocono wishes Hamilton nothing but the best as he retires and "turns for the next mile" of whatever he wants to do. (Pocono/PHHA)