james "ted" leonard
James "Ted" Leonard, one of harness racing's most respected racing officials, was born in Decatur, Illinois on October 29, 1925. His father, J. Edgar Leonard, was an outstanding horseman who campaigned in the state. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Ted made harness racing his life.
Following the war, Leonard joined the racing office at the Chicago tracks, working under race secretary Bill Connors. He learned and filled the positions of Clerk of the Course, Horsemen's Bookkeeper and Associate Judge, before reaching his goal of Race Secretary. For more than five decades, Leonard served in this capacity at over two dozen race tracks, stretching across the United States. In the late 1960s he was elected president of the North American Harness Racing Secretaries Association, an organization formed to maintain, promote and advance the highest standards of competency and service among harness racing secretaries on the North American continent.
Leonard, an innovative race secretary, developed a "tab" system. This was before computerization and quickly helped to identify horses according to racing class. Each tab contained all the information concerning a horse's racing activity. This enabled Leonard to quickly put together highly competitive races and satisfy the needs and abilities of all horses racing at his track.
At one time, Leonard covered the duties of race secretary by commuting daily, by air, from Rockingham Park in New Hampshire to Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland and then to tracks in Chicago.
Leonard was nicknamed "The Bear" because of his gruff mannerisms; however, he was a quiet, considerate man who was highly respected in the industry. His reputation for integrity, performance and hard work became his trademark.
James Ted Leonard, who was inducted into the Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame in 1995, passed away on March 7, 2002 in Illinois. He was seventy-six years old.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2003 book, The 2002 Immortals