The horse racing community lost an icon as 2016 was ending. Former New York Daily News horse-racing handicapper Russ Harris died at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on December 28th at the age of 93. Harris was one of the most respected and trusted handicappers in the sport.
Russ started his legendary career in 1957, working for the Akron Beacon Journal, covering races at a small track called Ascot Park. He then wrote for the Daily Racing Forum, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Miami Herald before joining the Daily News in 1977. Known for his uncanny ability to pick winners, Harris’ two highlights include picking all nine winners on a card at Belmont Park in 1991 and also choosing Coastal over Spectacular Bid at the 1979 Belmont Stakes during his a Triple Crown bid.
Harris was not a one trick pony. In 1999 at the age of 75 he earned a Ph.D from Lehigh University in which he wrote a 378-page thesis on the relationship between Charles de Gaulle and six U.S. Presidents. In a 2005 interview Harris said, “I look at every race like I’ve had eight winners on the day and this is the ninth race. I don’t pick any duds, if I can avoid it.”