By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Last Saturday’s race card opened with a moment of silence in memory of Dave Dahl, the man Richard Yates so eloquently described as a significant part of the Hastings racing community both as a horseman and as a member of the security team that manages the safety and welfare of both horsemen and horsewomen and racing patrons at the track.
Dahl, 72, passed away on September 16 and will forever be remembered for his heroic and instant response during an incident that occurred in the winner’s circle at Hastings on July 31, 2010.
A horse had thrown his jockey at the outset of a race before veering off and crashing at full speed into the winner’s enclosure. Dahl courageously stepped in front of track officials and photographers, shielding them from the wayward horse.
“I didn’t know where the horse was going but I knew it was a dangerous situation,” Dahl later told Randy Goulding of the Daily Racing Form. “I started yelling at people to get out of the way and the next thing I know I see the horse right before my eyes.” It was later suggested that the horse clipped his heels after leaving the gate and his blinkers may have blinded him, setting off the frightening scene in the winner’s circle.
Dahl suffered internal injuries but returned to the track a year later in his trainer’s role.
Goulding noted in his follow-up story: “What helped Dave survive the incident was his size. He was over six feet tall and weighed a fit 250 pounds.”
Dahl had some strict standards in the winner’s circle. People entering that guarded area knew from his stern look that it was a no-nonsense zone.
Friends and admirers from both the backstretch and front side gathered to pay tribute to him from the very location he once proudly patrolled, opposite the finish line.