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Illinois Harness Racing Hall of Fame horseman Doug Hamilton died Tuesday night of an apparent heart attack. He was 71.
The Ontario, Canada native came to Illinois via Ohio in the early 1980s and quickly became one a very successful driver and trainer on the Chicago circuit.
Nine different years Hamilton’s stable of horses earned over $1 million and from 1974 through 1989 Hamilton had over 100 dash winners except 1984 when he was sidelined a number of weeks after being badly injured in an automobile accident.
Hamilton captured both the driver and trainer titles at Balmoral Park in 1987 and again in 1988. Hamilton swept all three driver categories at the 1989 winter meet at Balmoral. He was the leading percentage driver at the south suburban track in the spring meet of 1990 and again in each of the track’s split 1991 meetings.
Hamilton was the leading trainer at Sportsman’s Park four consecutive years—1986 through 1989.
Among the successful Standardbreds he trained were Baron Lancer, Great Expectations, Osborne’s Bret, West Nation, Osborne’s First, Sailor Boy, Incredible Bret and Sand Sailor. He developed such star fillies as Wendy Skipper, Osborne’s Lady, Prize Penny and Flying Speed.
Hamilton won Maywood Park’s 1987 Galt Trot with Non-Negotiable. A year earlier he guided Nite Strike to a world record for an aged pacing mare on a half-mile track when she won in 1:56.2 at Maywood.
Hamilton had 3,675 career dash winners and over 500 training wins. He was honored in last October at Pocono Downs and its horsemen’s colony when he retired from training. Doug soon after returned to Illinois and resided in Momence at the time of his death.
He is survived by his son, Mike; life partner, Valorie Sutton; brothers, Peter and Alvin (Sue); sisters, Sherry Tuohy and Peggy (Bill) Black; step-children, Sandra (Mike) Brown and Steven (Shelly) Cromwell Jr.; grandchildren, Emily, Casey Jo Cromwell, Devlon Sutton, Samantha Brown, and Jake Brown; and two great-grandchildren, Kyler Sutton and Cody Brown. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Visitation will be held 4-7p.m. Sunday Oct. 21, 2018 at Cotter Funeral Home, 224 E. Washington St., Momence, Ill. Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. , Cremation rites will be accorded following the funeral services. Internment will be held at a later date at Lake Village Cemetery in Lake Village, IN. Sign guestbook at www.cotterfh.com.
On Wednesday, October 17th, a hearing on sports betting will be held at the Capital in Springfield. Horsemen have submitted the letter below and will be ready to testify if called upon. Last month, a hearing was held on SB7, the larger gaming bill, which included slots at racetracks. We also, submitted a letter at that time and testified to the critical importance of allowing horseracing to compete with other states. We anticipate that discussions on the expansion of gambling will be a hot topic in the coming months. The IHHA, the ITHA and the ITBOF, will work together to stay relevant in this process, by promoting our agenda of rebuilding Illinois horseracing in the state.