Timeline highlights horse racing at Dover Downs

Cars are lined up and rolling into Dover Downs International Speedway for the harness races in the early 1970s. (Submitted photo)

· March 8, 1969: The first event is hosted at Dover Downs, a thoroughbred horse racing card. Thoroughbred meets continued in the spring through 1974.

· Nov. 10, 1969: The first night of harness racing is held. Harness racing meets have been held every fall and winter since. On opening night, Dover Downs was the only northern U.S. track to operate in the winter months.

· December 1972: Champion pacer Albatross, trained by Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer, who was Harness Horse of the Year in 1971 and 1972, is retired in an on-track ceremony. Co-owned by John Rollins, Albatross went on to become a star breeder with his progeny earning more than $130 million.

· Feb. 4, 1973: An all-time record is set for attendance (5,971 fans) and on-track handle ($515,177) for one harness racing card.

· January 1979: Oil Burner is retired at Dover Downs after an exhibition mile. The champion was co-owned by Bill Brooks of Wilmington.

· May 20, 1979: NASCAR legends hit the harness track as Bobby Allison beats Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip in an exhibition race.

· November 1986: 1986 Harness Horse of the Year Forrest Skipper completes an unbeaten season with his 15th victory of the year, setting a track record at Dover in 1:54.4.

· Dec. 29, 1995: Dover Downs Slots opens with 500 machines, with revenues helping boost purses for horse racing, bringing higher quality horses, drivers and races to the track.

· 1995, 1996: Luc Ouellete put Dover Downs on national racing map by making the track his home base on his way to winning Driver of the Year honors in 1995 and 1996.

· Nov. 17, 1996: Delaware’s signature harness race, the Progress Pace, is held for the first time and won by Armbor Operative.

· Nov. 1, 2003: Herve Filion becomes first driver to earn 15,000 victories as he reaches the milestone on opening day of the 2003-04 meet. The Hall of Famer finished his career with 15,179 driving victories and more than $88 million in earnings.

· April 18, 2005: Rainbow Blue, the 2004 Harness Horse of the Year, driven by Hall of Famer Ron Pierce, sets a world record for 4-year-old pacing mares, winning in 1:49.4 in an $85,000 race. One week earlier, April 11 was “Rainbow Blue Day” in Delaware, honoring the accomplishments of a horse owned by four Houston, Del., residents, George and Brenda Teague and Kevin and Ron Fry. Rainbow Blue was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012, with 30 wins in 32 lifetime starts.

· Nov. 30, 2015: Wiggle It Jiggleit, owned by local horseman George Teague and driven by his son Montrell Teague, wins the $300,000 Hap Hansen Progress Pace in a track record 1:48.2 for the 1-mile race. The win capped a spectacular 2015 season for the 3-year-old pacer, who won 22 of 26 races and earned more than $2.1 million on his way to winning 2015 Harness Horse of the Year honors. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s first and last starts of the year were at Dover Downs.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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