Hall of Fame


norman s. woolworth

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Norman S. Woolworth was born in New York City on December 7, 1926. He was the son of Pauline Stanbury Woolworth and Norman Bailey Woolworth, who was a successful businessman and a relative of the five-and-dime store magnate F. W. Woolworth. Introduced to harness racing in the early 1950s by his younger brother Fred, Norman would eventually become not only one of America's major owners, breeders and amateur drivers, but also the most prominent breeder in Europe and one of the leaders in the formation of the international harness racing community.

When Norman Woolworth first entered into partnership with his brother Fred, the horses they purchased were handled by Link Keene, and they raced exclusively in Maine for the family's Clearview Farm based in Winthrop. The brothers soon decided to expand and hired Earle Avery to manage the Grand Circuit section of the stable. Fred eventually withdrew from harness racing to pursue other interests. Norman remained committed to the sport and continued what was to become a long-term relationship with his trainer-driver Avery. Avery handled such outstanding performers for Woolworth's Clearview Stables as Egyptian Princess, Porterhouse, Sh Boom, Pay Dirt, Gun Runner and Meadow Skipper, who was to become one of the leading sires of the twentieth century. Among Woolworth's other champions were the 1980 top two-year-old pacing colt French Chef, the 1981 Kentucky Futurity winner Filet Of Sole, the 1983 homebred Hambletonian winner Duenna, and notables Concertina, Muncy Hanover and Zoot Suit.

In 1964 Woolworth and his close friend David R Johnston purchased Stoner Creek Stud in Paris, Kentucky. Originally a well-known Thoroughbred farm that was home to the great 1943 Triple Crown champion Count Fleet, Stoner Creek was concerted by Woolworth and Johnston into a very successful Standardbred breeding facility. Outstanding among the horses at Stoner Creek was the pacer Meadow Skipper, the sire of winners of more than $66 million. His first-generation progeny included Ralph Hanover, Chairmanoftheboard, Land Grant, Most Happy Fella, Albatross, Handle With Care, Nero, Falcon Almahurst, Genghis Khan, Mr. Dalrae, Seatrain and Governor Skipper, who later returned for stud duty. Other Stoner Creek stallions included the 1968 Trotting Triple Crown winner Nevele Pride, the 1961 Little Brown Jug winner Henry T. Adios, French Chef and Porterhouse. Among the famous babies foaled at Stoner Creek were the 1970 Pacing Triple Crown winner Most Happy Fella, the 1972 Trotting Triple Crown winner Super Bowl, the 1990 Horse of the Year Beach Towel, Hambletonian winners Bonefish (1975) and Giant Victory (1991), and the highly-regarded campaigners Zoot Suit, Handle With Care and Windshield Wiper.

Woolworth's impact on international trotting was significant, as he sold horses to almost every country in Europe and to South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia. Europeans were particularly interested in purchasing Nevele Pride's progeny, many of whom raced successfully in Scandinavia and France. Woolworth sent two of his stallions, Zoot Suit (a son of Nevele Pride) and Smokin Yankee (a son of Speedy Crown), to Sweden to stand at Menhammar Stuteri, owned by Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg. These two horses sired numerous Scandinavian millionaires and were named Elite stallions, Sweden's highest honor. Zoot Suit, who retired in 2004, was the top sire in Sweden for six consecutive years. One of Woolworth's mares, Viva La Difference, was named an Elite mare, the highest honor given to broodmares. Woolworth's influence was also felt in Denmark. He sold his colt Pay Dirt to the Danish Breeders' Association, a cooperative formed by most of the country's breeders. Later known as the "grand old man," Pay Dirt became one of Denmark's dominant sires.

A man of many interests, Woolworth enjoyed life to the fullest. He was an above-average golfer and an avid tennis player. He enjoyed boxing, hunting, fishing, opera and reading and was a food and wine connoisseur. He followed the New York Yankees, the New York Rangers, the New York Giants and the Kentucky Wildcats, and he loved to travel. He enjoyed thinking of clever names for his horses; his abilities in that field were probably the most creative in harness racing. Panty Raid produced Pink Cheeks and Dormitory. Exciting Speed gave us Beat The Clock, Shotgun Wedding and Bonefish (named after the fastest fish in the ocean). Red Hot Mama's sons were Little Devil, Traveling Salesman and Bon Vivant. His sensitivity and compassion were clearly demonstrated when he purchased the great mare Belle Acton at Tattersalls when she was an aging broodmare with reproductive problems. He retired her to his "Menopause Manor," a special section of Stoner Creek for aging ladies.

Woolworth's involvement with Standardbreds went beyond the breeding and racing of horses. He was a director of The Hambletonian Society for many years and served as a member of that organization's executive committee and as president. He was elected a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in 1957 and served as a member of the Executive Committee and as an officer and vice president until his passing. The recipient of honors both in the United States and abroad, he was inducted into the Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame in 1982.

A resident of New Canaan, Connecticut, Norman Woolworth died on July 3, 2003 at Norwalk (Connecticut) Hospital at the age of 76.

Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2006 book, The 2003-2005 Immortals