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Harness Highlights: Dover Downs Delivers Purses & MacDonell Elected to 'Hall'

by Frank Carulli

April 12, 2020

Dover Downs lost the final two weeks of its spring racing season to the coronavirus-induced shutdown, but the owners, trainers and drivers at the Delaware harness track weren’t left empty-handed.

The Delaware Harness Racing Commission approved a plan recently to distribute purses from the final two weeks of the meet, a plan supported by a state statute that governs how purse money may be used.

In other words, every owner or partnership that raced a minimum of two starters during the designated, six-week “look back” period (February 3 to March 16) received a direct deposit into their account based primarily on a “per start” average during the look-back period and the average purse money from the live racing cards that were cancelled in late March. The trainer and driver fees were deducted from the total purse amount.



Paul MacDonell has been overlooked long enough. His drives surpassed $1 million in earnings for 33 consecutive years. He was elected last week into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2020 also includes trainer Ben Wallace and standardbreds McWicked, Rambling Willie and Amour Angus.

MacDonell handled Hall of Famers Somebeachsomewhere, Admirals Express and Invitro. His resume includes more than 5,600 wins, including eight in the Breeders Crown and a record 16 in the Ontario Sire Stakes Super Finals.

Wallace trained 1999 Pacing Triple Crown winner Blissful Hall, Breeders Crown victors Totally Western and Pans Cullottes and several more millionaires. He is nearing 2,000 career victories and $40 million in purses.

McWicked retired as one of the richest horses of all-time with $5.1 million in earnings during a 110-race career that featured two Breeders Crown wins, major stakes victories throughout North America and 40 wins overall. He earned four O’Brien Awards and was named 2018 Horse of the Year while campaigning primarily for owner Ed James’ SSG Stables and trainer Casie Coleman.

Rambling Willie won the Canadian Pacing Derby three times in the mid-1970s during an illustrious career in which he won 128 times in 305 starts and was featured on 60 Minutes during a 17-city tour. When he retired in 1983, he was the sport’s all-time leading money earner with $2 million plus.

Amour Angus made her mark as a broodmare. Of her 15 foals, 11 raced and earned more than $3.5 million.