Published: August 11, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy John McInnis Auctioneers
AMESBURY, MASS. — John McInnis Auctioneers brought to public auction the estate of Dorothy Haughton aka “First Lady of Harness Racing” on July 27. The sale included not only many of her personal furnishings and collectibles but also the trophies, memorabilia and personal effects of her late husband Billy Haughton, who died in July 1986 as a result of a race accident at Yonkers Raceway.
Top lot in the sale was a painting of Peter and Billy Haughton International Trot winners Cold Comfort and Doublemint, circa 1979, by W. Philip Berkeley, which finished at $2,768. The oil on canvas was 18 by 24 inches, signed and framed. W. Philip Berkeley is a noted Standardbred artist whose works are in the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame.
“Dottie” Haughton of Newfields, N.H., was 87 when she died on April 1, 2019. Remembered as 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, she was not only a self-described “homemaker, mother and grandmother,” but also a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame since 1982.
Watching her father, Whitney Bischoff, race horses at the fairs around the Goshen, N.Y., area imbued her childhood. Bischoff 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.
Ensuing years were filled with more races, better horses and more lucrative purses. As harness racing became big league, the Haughtons came to own thousands of horses, 50-60 of them thoroughbreds.
Another oil on canvas painting by Berkeley, this one measuring 24 by 20 inches and illustrating the arrival of the great standardbred racehorse Niatross at Pine Hollow Stud Farm on September 12, 1982, finished at $1,968. The event marked a major breakthrough for New York breeding. Niatross, ready to begin a stud career, won 37 of 39 starts before his retirement and earned for his owners more than $2 million in just two years on the track, Niatross’s value was estimated at $30 million, expected to command $6 million a year in stallion fees.
Fetching $1,661 was a Lafayette marked sterling two-handled-shaped rim tray cast with scallops and florets. Measuring 26 by 16 inches and at 77.12 troy ounces, the tray was inscribed with “The Meadowlands, Hiram Woodruff Stakes, September 7th, 1976 Won by Dorothy Haughton and Patricia Bachner’s Keystone Pioneer 1:59:2.”
A Boehm (American, founded 1953) hand painted bisque porcelain horse figurine of Adios from a limited edition of 130 was marked on underside “Adios, 1940-1965, The Great Progenitor” and measured 14½ by 16 by 5 inches, including its wooden base. It was bid to $1,845.
Five 10½-inch presentation plates awarded to Billy Haughton were by International Silver Co., inscribed “Lord Saybrook” went out at $1,107, while an oil on panel painting by William Orr (1926-1919) depicting Billy Haughton driving Burgomeister in 1983, 26 by 32 inches, commanded the same price.
Additional highlights among the sale’s top ten included a three-drawer console table with interesting dovetail construction, 30 by 65 by 17 inches, $1,845; a sterling silver covered presentation loving cup from the Meadowlands Invitational Handicap, May 21, 1981, $738; and a signed William Orr oil on panel, 28 by 36 inches, documenting Billy Haughton racing Rum Customer, dated 1968, which also brought $738.
Even a chrome-bound tack trunk emblazoned with the logo of “W.R. Haughton Stable” found a new home, selling at $615.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For more information, www.mcinnisauctions.com or 978-388-0400.
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