Westfield Native Was A Horse Racing Champion
EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is a story that ran in The Post-Journal on Aug. 13, 2015 to commemorate Vincent Powers’ induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. The Westfield native and Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductee had a decorated racing career, including winning the Kentucky Derby aboard Wintergreen in 1909. With the 2020 Kentucky Derby postponed last Saturday, it was deemed appropriate to tell Powers’ amazing story again.
The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, located on West Third Street in Jamestown, has been dedicated to preserving the sports heritage and legacy in the county for nearly 35 years.
Others have been taking notice, including, most recently, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, which inducted the late Vincent Powers, the Westfield native and 2015 CSHOF inductee, last Friday.
CSHOF president Randy Anderson attended the 65th annual ceremony to represent Powers, who achieved tremendous success as both a jockey and trainer, and has the unique distinction of being the only rider to ever lead the North American standings as both a flat and steeplechase competitor.
“This is definitely way up at the top,” Anderson said earlier this week. “For the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame to receive some recognition on the national level, well, we were playing with the big boys and big girls. We were in the Major Leagues, at least for one day.”
Anderson said the recognition — both by the CSHOF and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame– would likely have never come about had he not stumbled upon a 1982 article, written by Chuck Korbar of the Dunkirk OBSERVER, that he found in a box at the CSHOF headquarters two years ago.
“Then I just started digging around on the Internet,” he said.
Ultimately, Anderson called the National Steeplechase Museum, and visited the Chautauqua County Historical Museum and the Westfield Library in search of more information on Powers, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Wintergreen in 1909, and also claimed major flat-racing wins in the Kentucky Oaks, Clark Handicap, Hopeful Stakes and Saratoga Cup.
“I thought, ‘Man, at the very least, this guy deserves to be in the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame,'” Anderson said.
Upon his induction to the CSHOF in February, Powers’ page on the CSHOF website (chautauquasportshalloffame.org) began to be filled with stories about his horse racing accomplishments, which, according to Anderson, piqued the interest of Brian Bouyea, a communications officer for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
“They were aware of who Vincent Powers was,” Anderson said. “He had been nominated, but he really hadn’t been selected yet, because they didn’t have much (information).”
But once Bouyea discovered the new materials, he downloaded them and put it in his nomination folder for consideration. In June, Anderson was notified that Powers had been selected and would be inducted Aug. 7. Because Powers had no known family, Bouyea asked Anderson to be in Saratoga Springs to represent the jockey/trainer.
Anderson jumped at that opportunity, and gave a two-minute talk at the banquet, including mention of the CSHOF, without which Powers’ induction wouldn’t have happened.
“We got some attention on a big stage,” Anderson said, “and that made me feel good.”
Anderson said the “key to this whole thing” was the CSHOF website, which made Powers’ accomplishments available to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
“If we did not have that website and we did not have (website administrator) Doug Hoisington, (it wouldn’t have happened),” Anderson added. “He is so committed. I think at last report we have about 1,000 pages on our website. That’s a huge website and it’s the biggest website he deals with and it’s growing daily.
“We’ve got stuff that the inductees themselves don’t even know. It’s just incredible.”