Harness racing jockey killed at race


DOVER, Del. (AP) – A harness racing driver was killed Monday when his horse stumbled and fell during the opening race at Harrington Raceway.

Two other drivers were seriously injured in the accident, said Patti Key, chief financial officer for the track.

“A horse fell and other bikes went out of control,” she said.

Key identified the dead driver as Hal Belote, a 51-year-old driver from New Jersey.

“His horse was the one that went down,” she said.

The other drivers involved were identified as Brandon Givens and Steve Warrington.

“It’s just an accident that can happen in this business,” Key said.

The rest of the evening’s schedule was canceled after the accident.

Hugh Gallagher, administrator for the Delaware Harness Racing Commission, said the race appeared to be unfolding in picture-perfect fashion when Belote’s horse “knuckled over.”

“It’s like stubbing your toe when you’re going 35 mph or more,” Gallagher said. “You’ve got a lot of weight, and a lot of speed combined.”

Belote’s horse, Atenothnbutdscootr, which had been in the lead position on the outside, went down, and Belote was unseated.

Gallagher said Belote was then hit by Warrington’s horse, racing immediately behind, and then by Givens’ rig, which he said “apparently had considerable impact” with Belote.

“Mr. Belote received a great deal of medical attention on the track, as did the two other drivers,” Gallagher said.

Belote died en route to Milford Memorial Hospital, where Givens was taken for treatment of injuries that included a broken leg, Gallagher said. Warrington, who survived a bad accident in California a few years ago, was taken by helicopter to Christiana Hospital in Newark.

None of the horses was put down.

“This was an unavoidable accident,” said Gallagher, who could not recall any other fatality in Delaware harness racing. “A second before it happened, you would have looked at that thing and marveled about how straight they were racing.”

Gallagher said the harness racing commission planned to hold a previously scheduled meeting at Harrington on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a hard loss for all of us,” he said.

Belote won 1,986 races in his career, amassing nearly $11 million in purse money, and worked as a trainer as well as a driver.

AP-ES-05-15-06 2041EDT