The biggest horse race fan in the world...

Posted Date: 
Saturday, April 18, 2020

When we last raced at The Raceway - we did so without fans, spectators and horseplayers on track, but they were still with us - cheering, watching and playing - somewhere… Whether it was through HPI, TVG, an OTB or tuning in online for our live video feed - we’ve always appreciated the strong presence of our off-track crowd. 

Meet one of our biggest off-track racing fans Andrew Herpy, 53, of Dayton, Ohio… First introduced to thoroughbred racing, as a child, he really enjoyed those majestic animals, but he quickly fell in love with harness racing because those horses raced more frequently and he got to know them better. “After a while, I didn’t even need to look at a program - to know who they were - their characteristics told me who they were… For example their colour, gait, head and just the way they went over the track - I just knew who they were. At the end of the day, though, I have a deep respect for all breeds of horses.”

Herpy describes himself as ‘the biggest horse race fan in the world’ and he still remembers when and where it all began… “I was just six years old, at River Downs, near Cincinnati, Ohio… My family had box seats and dad would put me on his shoulders so I could see the stretch runs. Looking back I can still remember a turf race - with the bright colours of the jockey silks - contrasting against the lush green grass - the excitement of the crowd… I was hooked right then and there!”

He’s been the fan, the player, the online supporter for horse racing, but he does feel that someday there could be more… “I’ve always wanted to be a part of racing, but I’ve never owned or raced horses… Many times, I’ve thought, that there’s likely more for me in this business - we’ll have to see. I still have a lot of friends that race and I do enjoy giving them my best wishes and cheering them on whenever they’re in to go.”

Favourite harness horse(s) past and present? “Artsplace period,” states Herpy. “He was prolific on the racetrack and legendary in the breeding shed. It also helped that he was trained by Gene Reigle - who happened to be from Greenville, Ohio - which was very close to my parents’ house. I used to ride my bike to go see him (Artsplace) when he was there. It wouldn’t have been too many times though - he was a busy horse back then… He was amazing!”

And then came simulcast racing… “I gained an interest in Canadian harness racing about twenty years ago through Woodbine and Mohawk,” Herpy explains “When I lived in Ohio, we were likely one of the last places to bring in simulcasting, of other tracks, from across North America. We started going to Hoosier Park for both live racing and simulcasting - this would’ve been when I was first introduced to some of the other tracks in Canada. It opened up a whole new racing world for me.”

Favourites at The Raceway, for Herpy, past and present… “My favourite horse is easy - it’s Blue Moose all the way - he’s so honest… And for drivers it’s Trevor Henry - before he moved on, to the big track, he dominated Western Fair. He’s aggressive, but has a great sense of pace. I knew he’d make his way to Woodbine and he’s done great there too. I’ve loved all the aspects of racing at Western Fair.”

As a horseplayer Herpy enjoys chasing after the PICK 4 plays in London… “I had a great run with them last year, cashing eight in a row - some were big and some were small… I remember playing a PICK 4 ticket, there, six years ago and getting back almost $2,000 with a 19/1 single to complete it. The ticket cost just $3.60 - so that’d be my best score ever in London.”

With there being zero harness racing action, currently in North America, what’s been keeping this die-hard racing enthusiast occupied? “Over the past five years, or so, I’ve really been interested in bloodlines,” says Herpy. “So I’ve now been dragging out my sales/auction books every day and reviewing every page. That definitely keeps me busy. You can likely tell, by now, that I have a great passion for the sport. I’ve always wanted to be more involved somehow and maybe I’ll get that chance to bring it to another level at some point - I would really like to be an advocate for the sport on any level. Time will tell and I have lots of it!”

And now it appears we’re running out of time and track for this ‘big race fan’ - final words Andrew… “I would just like to extend my best wishes to all horsemen and women, across the world, during this tough time… One of my best friends, Jeremy Day from Daydream Racing, has a two-year-old trotter in training - Muscles Frankee - a well-bred Southwind Frank colt… I’ll wish him and all the connections good luck. Here’s hoping we get to see that colt and all the other harness horses in action soon!”


Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle

The Raceway at Western Fair District