f. phillip langley
Former USTA president and Wisconsin native Phil Langley, who had a long and distinguished career in harness racing, came from a Standardbred background. In the late 1930s and 1940s, his father Pete had been a speed superintendent at the major fairs in Milwaukee and Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The elder Langley ended a successful career, which included stints as an Illinois state steward, presiding judge, and race secretary, as the presiding judge and track superintendent for harness and Thoroughbred racing at Chicago's Sportsman's Park. At the advanced age of seven, young Phil was already helping his dad by sorting entries for the Elkhorn Fair; and in high school he was a member of the clean-up crew at Sportsman's Park, where he doubled as an usher at night. He worked at the track throughout his college career; and by the time he was graduated from Dartmouth in 1959, he was the track's assistant race secretary. After graduation he married and began a job in the insurance business while still working at the track at night.
In 1965 Langley was appointed director of racing and race secretary for the Fox Valley Trotting Club meet at Sportsman's Park and director of racing for the track's Chicago Downs Association meet. He served in those positions and also as vice president of Fox Valley until 1998, when Sportsman's Park discontinued harness racing. He currently is a member of Maywood Park and Balmoral Park's ownership group and serves as treasurer of Balmoral and racing director at both tracks. He was a board member of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and of the Racing Industry Charitable Foundation (RICF), a member of the American Horse Council, a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, and a longtime director of the North American Harness Racing Secretaries Association. He also worked in an advisory capacity with both the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair for many years and as a member of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Advisory Board.
Langley was a USTA director since 1983 and was elected president of the USTA in March, 2003. He served on the USTA's Executive Committee, Finance Committee, and Pari-Mutuel Committee.
During his career Langley was influential in shaping Illinois off-track betting legislation and in changing the classification system from an A-B-C system to one emphasizing the importance of a horse's last few starts. A proponent of claiming races and of giving the best horses "byes" into the finals of stakes races, he always believed in quality racing and the importance of having stakes on the racing calendar. Because he believed that breeders are the foundation of the racing industry, he created the Blue Ribbon Committee to give breeders more of a voice in USTA policy. As a member of the Standardbred Security Task Force in Illinois, Langley was influential in stiffening the state's penalties for illegal substances.
Langley owned a number of horses both in partnership and on his own. Among them were Thisbigdogwilfight p,3,1:49.2 and Third Day p,3,1:50.4, each of whom has earned more than $125,000. He has driven in a limited number of races, his first winning effort occurring at the Illinois State Fair in 2002 when Prairie X-Speedo paced in 1:57.2. He also participated in the Billings Amateur Driving Series.
Langley was inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Hall of Fame in 1994 and was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2006. He and his wife Margo were married since 1960 and have three children and four grandchildren.
Phillip Langley passed away on April 11, 2020.
Museum statuette sculpted by Bev Lopez (1922-2014)