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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
Springfield resident and Washington County native David Goatley, along with his late brother Chester, were recently inducted into the Kentucky Harness Hall of Fame. During their 27-year run the brothers totaled 271 wins.
“My brother and I started our first race in 1968,” said Goatley, who will turn 90 years old on Nov. 13. The brothers got out of the sport in 1995.
David and Chester bought their first stallion named Top Pro for breeding purposes, never thinking of training him to race. The previous owner had raced him but stopped when Top Pro’s legs broke down in the back. The Goatleys put Top Pro out to pasture for a while until a trainer named Southern Rogers saw him and thought he could race again. After some training, Top Pro qualified for a race in Lexington and tied his personal best time of 2:03. The brothers won $40 that race and they thought they were millionaires. From that point, they were hooked.
David and his brother started out doing everything, including climbing into the sulkies and racing the horses themselves. Years later, the brothers turned the driving chores over to hired drivers, but the Goatleys still ran every aspect of the business.
“We just sort of fell into racing because we were heavily into farming, but we had always liked horses and harness racing,” added Goatley. “It’s a competitive business, and can get dangerous being so close together with all those wheels.”
At times, some competition even developed between the brothers when they would race against each other.
“Two brothers hardly ever raced in the same race,” Goatley said. “We were at the Red Mile in Lexington one day and my brother thought he had it won. I came down and passed him right at the wire and we came in first and second.”
There’s no denying that the brothers had a lot of success in the sport. In one race, they had a total of five horses entered between the two of them.
“We came in one, two, three and four,” said Goatley.
He also hopes the sport continues with the younger generations.
“It’s a great sport for any young person to go into harness racing,” Goatley added. “It’s a family affair. You can raise, break and race your own horses. Whereas with thoroughbred horses, when they get to racing age, you turn them over to an individual and you never fool with them anymore.”
Goatley said that the years he spent in the business were very rewarding and that he made a lot of friends through the sport. He also said that it’s a family-friendly sport and he is delighted that he and his brother have been recognized by the Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association.
Goatley added, “It’s a great honor for us to get this.”