Retired Thistledown Trainer Harmon Drake Dead

Harmon Drake, who won 10 Thistledown training titles, died June 26 at Marymount Hospital in Garfield Heights near Cleveland. He was 73 and had suffered chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for more than a decade.

Drake, a native of North Adams, Mich., raced in Detroit until relocating to Cleveland. He promptly won the Randall and Cranwood meeting titles in 1984, his first season at Thistledown.

Drake won the same two meeting titles in 1987, swept all four meetings in 1988, which included the Summit and Thistle-at-Thistle sessions, the Cranwood meeting in 1989, and the Thistledown meeting in 1990.

His biggest stakes score came when Prince Scott won the 1989 Governor's Buckeye Cup Handicap at River Downs. Drake also saddled Oil Drummer to win the 1989 Western Reserve Handicap at Thistledown.

Drake retired after winning the 1990 Thistle-at-Thistle meeting title. He turned the stable reins over to his wife, Shirley Girten. She continued the Drake Stable's winning tradition by capturing a then-record 21 meet championships at Thistledown.

Girten continues to maintain a stable at Thistledown. She has a horse entered in the Drake Memorial, a 5-year-old gelding named Heaven's Boy.

"Anybody fortunate enough to work for him knew that he was an amazing man," said Karol Germany, Drake's daughter-in-law. "If you were in the Drake racing circle, you were treated as family."

A memorial service, open to the public, will be held in Thistledown's winner's circle following Saturday's 14th race. It will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Missions Fund at Rockside Church, 4100 Rockside Rd., Independence, Ohio, 44131.

 

 

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