At 8 years old, John McMullen Jr. entered the world of racing when his father got his first race horse.
More than six decades later, the 77-year-old who lives in Armagh has received the Small Stable of the Year Award from the Keystone Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, along with his wife, Judy, who co-owns the stable.
The stable is currently home to six harness racing horses, though McMullen says there have been too many horses through the years to accurately state how many he has owned. Harness racing is a sport in which horses pull sulkies, which are like chariots.
According to the U.S. Trotting Association, the stable had 24 wins in 2012. One horse formerly owned by McMullen, Lady Broadway, was named the “Queen of PA Fairs” in 2012. The horse accumulated the most points during the summer season.
“Locally, no one has received this award,” said McMullen, stating that at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, no one had known anyone that had received the award in the state of Pennsylvania. The award is given to the owners of a horse for the accomplishments of the animal.
“We had a very good year last year,” he said. Lady Broadway was the leading dash-winning, trotting filly in North America.
“She earned quite a lot of money for us and she was just really good.”
At 3 years old, Lady Broadway was the horse to beat.
“After the first couple of races last year they just couldn’t beat her,” McMullen said. “She just won everything.” That included, he said, a $20,000 prize at The Meadows last year.
“We believe she might be the best 2-year-old we have had. … We do know she is a very nice trotter,” McMullen told the USTA in December.
Though Lady Broadway has now been sold to Oakes Stable, according to the USTA, she is still a household name in the harness-racing world. During this year already, the USTA reported on their website, Lady Broadway had earned $109,111 by June with two victories.
John and his wife went to The Meadows on Friday to see Lady Broadway compete.
In Indiana, the McMullens will show four horses in the Indiana County Fair, which begins on Sunday. McMullen is on the Indiana County Fair Board, where he is in charge of all of the races that take place. He’s been on the 15-member board since 1990.
One of the stable’s horses, Mr. Weaver, won at the Dayton Fair held Aug. 9 to 18. Mr. Weaver is the first horse owned by McMullen’s grandson, Owen. Owen is 6, and according to the USTA, has already had a trip to the winner’s circle.
Mr. Weaver will race 20 or 22 starts this year, McMullen said. Since he’s a 2-year-old horse, he’ll get a few months off during the year. His final race, they hope, will be on Oct. 5, when he’ll come home to rest until the end of December, when they’ll start getting him ready for next year’s races.
The family races horses throughout Pennsylvania, though they have the option of racing outside of the state. All of the horses that the McMullens purchase are Pennsylvania-bred horses.