by Dean Hoffman
Harness racing had surged beyond its rural roots by 1952 and was showcased at magnificent urban tracks like Roosevelt and Yonkers in the Big Apple, so it seemed unusual and unlikely to have a 74-year-old Spanish-American War veteran driving one of the contenders in the Hambletonian that summer.
But no one ever doubted Bi Shively’s ability with a trotter even if they doubted the readiness of his colt Sharp Note. The colt showed promise in the spring at Santa Anita in California, but coming into the Hambletonian he hadn’t raced in three months. When Sharp Note finished tenth in the first heat, it looked as if the old man was going to go home empty handed.
In the next heat, however, Sharp Note was on his game and full of trot. When he moved into contention, the sentimental racing fans yelled, “C’mon, Bi.” And he did come on as Sharp Note won by more than a length. The third heat was even easier as Sharp Note cruised to victory.
Shively was based in California and a Hollywood movie studio later produced a first-rate film titled “Old Man In A Hurry” about Shively’s Hambletonian quest with Sharp Note.
Catch this year’s Hambletonian on August 2nd on CBS Sports Network (check here for channel and availability in your area). A live streaming broadcast can also be view here and all the pre-, during, and post-race action can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.