FIRST LADY OF HARNESS RACING, DOTTIE HAUGHTON PASSES
Dorothy "Dottie" Haughton, the widow of the late Hall of Famer Billy Haughton, died Sunday night at age 87. She had been in failing health this past winter.
The First Lady of harness racing was a genuine, lovely person full of grace and class who had a sincere love of the sport and an enormous capacity to handle its ups and downs.
A self-described “homemaker, mother and grandmother,” Mrs. Haughton was a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame since 1982. She maintained the beautiful gardens and grounds at her home in Newfields, New Hampshire until her passing.
Dottie Haughton grew up watching her father, Whitney Bischoff, race horses at the fairs around the Goshen, New York area. He was also a judge at Yonkers Raceway. One day he invited a talented 27-year-old horseman named Bill Haughton home for dinner. Bill invited 19-year-old Dottie to the track to jog a horse. About a month later, they were married.
The years sped by, the horses got better, the purses more lucrative and harness racing became big league. The Haughton family grew to include five children: sons Bill Jr., Peter, Tom and Cammie and daughter Holley.
“A pacer named Titanic was the first horse I ever owned,” Mrs. Haughton said, “but I, or with Bill, have owned as many as 100 in a year and thousands over the years, including from 50 to 60 thoroughbreds.” She recalled Green Speed as a personal standout, as well as Meadow Elva, a champion filly pacer, whose success helped Dottie get over an illness. But her all-time favorite was Keystone Pioneer, one of the sport’s great trotting fillies. A trotter named Peter Campbell was a favorite – they named their first child after him. Peter’s middle name, Delvin, was in honor of good friend Delvin Miller.
Mrs. Haughton and her husband drove a team of horses in the inaugural parade for President Ronald Reagan.
In the late 1970s Peter Haughton became a top trainer, driver and respected representative of the sport. In 1980 he was killed in a car accident, sending shock waves through the sport. Later that year, Peter’s horse Burgomeister won the 1980 Hambletonian at DuQuoin for the Haughtons.
Tom Haughton became a successful trainer. In 1982 he became the youngest driver to win the Hambletonian, behind Speed Bowl. A few years later he won fame for developing Peace Corps, and he trained Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown winner Magical Mike.
In 1986 husband Bill Haughton died from injuries sustained in a multi-horse race accident at Yonkers Raceway.
Following her husband's death, Mrs. Haughton became an active and ardent supporter of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and served as a trustee and secretary for over 26 years. She became an Honorary Member of USHWA in 1995. Of all the awards she had received through the years, Mrs. Haughton regarded her 1964 “Mother of the Year” the best of them all. Sports Illustrated magazine presented her with an Award of Merit and the United States Harness Writers Association presented her with its Good Guy Award. Dottie’s gardening talents saw her win the Sweepstakes Award Horticulture & Artistic Design five times.
Mrs. Haughton is survived by her three sons, all of whom have been involved with harness racing -- Tommy, a trainer, Cammie, a racing official and Bill Jr., who works in livestock insurance; her daughter, Holley, several grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be held in Hampton, New Hampshire. Burial will be in Westbury, New York beside her husband.