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    The First Female Harness Race
The First Female Harness Race

The First Female Harness Race

In the year 1969, the inaugural Ladies World Driving Championship series marked a significant milestone in harness racing history. This groundbreaking event brought together a notable cohort of accomplished female drivers hailing from three distinct countries, setting the stage for a series of competitions that would unfold over the years in varied formats.

Distinguished by its international character, the championship not only showcased participants from multiple nations but also unfolded across two different territories, the United States and Canada. The unique three-city format commenced with a visit to Brandywine Raceway in Delaware, followed by a stop at Monticello Raceway in New York state. The event attracted 16 talented female drivers representing Italy, Canada, and the U.S., who were divided into two teams: Team Italy and Team North America. The North American contingent comprised six representatives from the U.S. and two from Canada, generating considerable anticipation for the opening legs of this unprecedented championship.

Image Source: Midjourney

Amidst initial scepticism surrounding the inclusion of parimutuel betting in what some perceived as an almost amateur event, the series swiftly dispelled any doubts as it garnered increasing interest and enthusiasm. Following a brief break between the U.S. and Canadian legs, several participants from the Italian team made a notable impression during their time at the Blue Bonnets track in Canada. Accompanied by their harness driver husbands, who also took to the track, these Italian drivers left a lasting impact on observers, with one driver's dual roles as a proficient harness driver and a distinguished court judge in Italy elevating the championship's prestige.

As the racing action shifted to Montreal's Blue Bonnets Raceway for an exciting Sunday afternoon spectacle, each driver had accrued valuable points in the highly competitive standings. Leading the charge was Bobbe Huntress, a seasoned U.S. driver with deep ties to Canadian harness racing, closely pursued by two Italian drivers and fellow U.S. contender Carol Gosman. With a tight race unfolding, the North American team held a narrow lead over their rivals as the competition intensified, promising an enthralling conclusion to the championship.

Image Source: Midjourney

In a thrilling display of skill and determination, Loredena Moretti of Italy emerged as the individual champion, steering the trotter Licking Speed to a resounding victory in a remarkable time of 2:06. Despite an unfortunate turn of events for Bobbe Huntress, Ms. Moretti's stellar performance secured her the top spot with 17 points. Ultimately, Team North America clinched the group title by a slender one-point margin, sealing their triumph in a fiercely contested competition.

Reflecting on the event's success, Raymond Lemay, chief officer of the Blue Bonnets track, expressed his delight at the overwhelming response from spectators and the impressive turnout. Initially cautious about the championship's reception, Lemay was pleasantly surprised by the substantial audience turnout of 18,062, making it the third-largest crowd in Blue Bonnets history. The robust mutuel handle of $860,000 further underscored the championship's success, dispelling any lingering doubts and affirming its significance in the world of harness racing.

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