During this Adios Season, The Meadows is honoring the memory of four longtime important horsemen/contributors: owner/breeders Roy D. Davis and Bob Key; trainer Pat Thomas, and broadcaster Jim Jefferson Rhone.
Inspired after watching a match of the Tottenham Spurs of the Premier League, Davis formed “Team Spur” with trainer/driver Dick Stillings (and sometimes trainer Buddy Stillings). Team Spur copped victories in the sport’s biggest races, including the Little Brown Jug, the Adios, the Breeders Crown, the Cane Pace and the Yonkers Trot.
Davis also was a successful travel industry entrepreneur; his Royal Travel Corp. was headquartered on property adjacent to The Meadows. Stillings was inducted into the Harness Hall of Fame in 2013. Saturday’s Grand Circuit event, formerly called the Gov. Lawrence, now will be known as the Roy D. Davis Arden Downs Stake for 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pacers.
A successful industrialist based in Leechburg, PA, Key may be best known for winning the 1993 Hambletonian with the homebred American Winner and for breeding and campaigning the millionaire half- siblings Winning Mister and Win Missy B, both out of American Winner’s daughter Winning Missbrenda.
His results as an owner may be unmatched in the sport. He finished in the Top 10 in owner earnings for each of the last 13 years he raced, in the Top 4 in each of the last 11 years. Key-owned horses have won 2,868 races since the USTA began compiling and archiving owner statistics in 1992.
Friday’s Grand Circuit stake for freshman colts and geldings will now be known as the Robert J. Key Arden Downs Trot. The stake formerly honored the memory of Ed Ryan, longtime operator of The Meadows, noted amateur Standardbred driver, entrepreneur and philanthropist. His name will now grace Thursday’s Edward M. Ryan Arden Downs Trot for freshman fillies.
Few trainers have fashioned the kind of year Pat Thomas enjoyed in 1976, That year, he compiled a Universal Training Rating of .546, believed to be the highest ever at the track. A fixture at The Meadows for decades, he was a member of the horsemen’s colony when the track opened in 1963, and over the years he campaigned such fan favorites as Berg Hanover and Roger Lobell. His memory and contributions will be honored in Friday’s fifth race, the Pat Thomas Memorial Pace.
Rhone, who used the on-air name Jim Jefferson as news director for radio station WJPA in Washington, was a familiar, universally liked figure at The Meadows, whether conducting paddock interviews for Meadows Live! or greeting fans at WJPA’s Adios Week “Cash Wheel.”
Jefferson famously refused to handicap, opting instead to bet the 4 horse in any race he played. Thus, the Jim Jefferson Memorial Pace goes on Adios Day as, fittingly, race 4.