james w. arthur
James Arthur was born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania on September 16, 1919. Although his father had some experience training harness horses, Jimmy initially became involved in the sport as a means of earning money and never intended to make it a career. While still in high school, he groomed for a Standardbred owner in his hometown of Hollidaysburg and spent two summer vacations as a groom at Hanover Shoe Farms.
By 1938 Arthur had relocated to York, Pennsylvania, and in 1939 he began working as a groom for Hall of Fame Immortal Delvin Miller. Arthur spent three years at the Miller Stable before being drafted for military service in World War II. While in the Army Air Corps, he received a Bronze Star for meritorious service. Upon discharge he opted to work in a machine shop in York rather than return to the Miller Stable. He believed that there was "no money in racing horses." In the spring of 1946 Arthur traveled to the West Coast to visit his brother. While there he served as the caretaker for the two-year-old colt pacer and future stakes champion Goose Bay p3,2:00.2h ($96,216). By the fall of 1946, Arthur had returned to Pennsylvania where he accepted a job as Delvin Miller's assistant trainer, a position he would hold for eighteen years.
Arthur made his driving debut for the Miller Stable in 1947 at Roosevelt Raceway where he drove the trotting mare Lina to victory for owner and Immortal William N. Reynolds. While employed by Miller, Arthur helped to develop such great Standardbreds as Hall of Fame Immortal Tar Heel p,4,T1:57 ($119,148), Solicitor p,3,T1:57.2 ($102,109), Direct Rhythm p,4,T1:56.1 ($171,802), and Hall of Fame Immortal Darn Safe 8,1:59.0 ($475,745). He drove Darn Safe to a 1957 world race-record of 1:59.4 for all-age trotting geldings on a half-mile track. Also trained and driven by Arthur were Immortals Meadow Skipper p3,1:55.1 ($428,057) and Race Time p,3,1:57.0 ($486,955) as well as Dancer Hanover p,4,T1:56.4 ($87,746), Hoot Frost 4,1:59.2 ($55,454) with whom he won a heat of the 1960 Hambletonian, and Countess Adios p3,1:57.3 ($303,932). His richest and most prestigious win with the Miller Stable occurred in 1961 in the $131,573 Hambletonian. Arthur piloted Harlan Dean 3,1:58.2 ($203,004) to a first-heat victory in the world-record time of 1:58.2, the fastest race mile ever by a three-year-old trotter, and took the second heat in 1:59. By the end of 1961 Arthur's .441 UDRS was the best in harness racing among drivers with 200-299 starts.
Arthur opened his own private stable in 1965 and experienced some success; however, this was a short-lived venture as Arthur suffered a shoulder injury at Liberty Bell Park in 1968. This injury forced Arthur to reduce his number of annual drives and lead him to accept a head trainer position with Immortal Leonard Buck's Allwood Stable, an offer he had previously declined.
Buck and Arthur shared a common philosophy. Both believed that conformation was the foundation of any successful racehorse. Together they developed top performers such as Overcall p,6,1:57.1f ($784,006), Formal Notice 3,1:58.2 ($79,193), Contemplate p,4,1:59.2 ($372,246), No Error p,3,1:59.3f ($61,611), and Savoir 3,1:58.1 ($1,365,145). Arthur broke, trained, and drove Savoir in races from 1970-1974. This phenomenal trotter went on to become the 1975 Horse of the Year and a Hall of Fame Immortal. Arthur guided him to victory in 1:58.1 and 1:58.2 in the 1971 Kentucky Futurity, setting a total of four world records: the fastest mile ever trotted by a three-year-old gelding on a mile track, the fastest race mile ever trotted by a three-year-old gelding on a mile track, the fastest two heats ever trotted by a gelding of any age on a mile track, and the fastest two heats ever trotted by a three-year-old gelding on a mile track. Savoir, with Arthur in the bike, also set a world record that year of 1:58.4 for the fastest mile and for the fastest race mile ever trotted by a three-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track. His 1:59.4 mark at Delaware, Ohio equaled Darn Safe's race record for all-age trotting geldings on a half-mile track and set a new record for three-year old trotting geldings. In 1972 Savoir's mile in 1:59 set world records for four-year-old trotting geldings on a five-eighths-mile track and in races on a five-eighths mile-track.
Upon Buck's death in 1974, Arthur went to work for John Simpson, Sr., president of Hanover Shoe Farms. While there, he developed the great trotting filly Japa 3,1:56.3 ($270,905), who in 1976 set two world records, the first with Jimmy Arthur driving and the second with Bill Herman in the bike. Japa's 2:00 mile on August 12th was a world race record for three-year-old trotting fillies on a five-eighths-mile track, and her mile in 1:56.3 on September 4th was a world race record for three-year-old trotting fillies on a mile track.
After leaving Hanover Shoe Farms in 1976, Arthur opened a public stable and also trained for Arden Homestead Stable for a period of time. He drove his last race in September 1995, a few days after his 76th birthday. Acclaimed to be one of the greatest colt trainers and second trainers in the history of the sport, Jimmy Arthur is also known as a true gentleman, an individual of quiet grace and dignity who is respected by all. He currently resides in Pelham, Georgia.
Arthur has a son Bill and also two grandchildren, Stephen Arthur and Michele Cone, and three great grandchildren, Keila, Olivia, and Will Cone.