by Dean Hoffman
Billy Haughton wins Hambletonian with his late son’s trotter Burgomeister
That’s the best word to describe Billy Haughton’s victory with Burgomeister in the 1980 Hambletonian.
There was no fiercer competitor on the track than Billy Haughton. He wanted to win every race he drove, and he particularly wanted to win when he had a horse in America’s greatest trotting classic.
But the sweetness of Burgomeister’s triumph was offset by the fact that the colt was owned in part by Haughton’s son Peter, who had died in early 1980 in an auto accident. Harness racing mourned the loss of its handsome, young hero, and Billy Haughton went about his training routine with stoic professionalism.
Although Burgomeister earned only $1,994 as a 2-year-old, Peter Haughton had faith in his future. But Peter never lived to see his confidence vindicated on Hambletonian Day.
Billy Haughton and wife Dottie put on brave faces in the winner’s circle with Burgomeister. Perhaps they were the only people at DuQuoin that day that didn’t have tears in their eyes.
In a tragic postscript, Billy Haughton himself died six years later from injuries he sustained in a racing accident. Harness racing never quite recovered.
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.