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HAROLD "SONNY" DANCER, 80, DIES

Funeral Home Website

- from the Meadowlands Media Relations Department

EAST RUTHERFORD -- March 7, 2016 -- Harold “Sonny” Dancer, 80, a trainer/driver since 1954 from the esteemed Dancer family, died March 6, 2016.

Mr. Dancer was born Oct. 10, 1935. He was the son of Harold R. and Marion E. Dancer. He graduated from Red Bank High School in 1954. He won his first race that same year at Freehold Raceway and later that year won his first race at Yonkers behind Toodles Hanover.

Over the years, he trained and drove many top level horses. He broke and trained the 2-year-old world champion pacing colt of 1972, Ricci Reenie Time, 1:56.1. He went on to capture many stakes races with that colt, including the 1973 Adios. He also conditioned and drove world champion trotting filly Ginger Belle.

Some other notable horses he conditioned and drove were Golden Money Maker, Gee Lee Hanover, Tarport Joe, Worthy Jimmy, Swaps, Texan Hanover, Panther Hanover, Chin Whiskers and Rays Roughneck, just to name a few.

One mare that was his sentimental favorite was his Open pacing mare, Get Over Lil, whom he conditioned for his daughter Linda.

Anyone who was fortunate enough to know Mr. Dancer could tell you that his word was his bond and he did business on a handshake. He was a true gentleman and a true horseman.

He enjoyed farming when he wasn’t training his horses. He loved to get on his tractor and bale hay or plant corn and soybeans. He loved to tend to his garden where he grew far too many vegetables for one man to consume, but he loved giving the vegetables away so that many other people could enjoy them. He also got great joy out of watching his grandson, Joe, carry on the family legacy of driving horses.

Mr. Dancer leaves behind his beloved children and their spouses, Tommy (fiancée Jaime Topinka), Barbara (Bob) Bongiorno and Linda (Bob) Condon; grandchildren who he was extremely proud of, Robert Condon III, Jennifer Bongiorno and Joe Bongiorno; sister, Lois (John) Simpson; long-time lady friend, Mary Pullen; former wife, Sandie; and his faithful employee of many years, James (Jim Bob) Doane Jr.

Friends and family are invited to visit on Wednesday (March 9), from 4-8 p.m. at the Freeman Funeral Home, 47 East Main St., Freehold. His funeral service will be held Thursday (March 10) at 9:30 a.m. at the Freeman Funeral Home. His last trip around Freehold Racetrack will take place at approximately 10:30 a.m., followed by a burial at Maplewood Cemetery, Freehold. To leave a condolence or find directions, visit www.freemanfuneralhomes.com.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Christian Harness Horsemen's Association, 157 North Main St., Salem, NH 03079 or to the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (www.adoptahorse.org), 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite. 101, Millstone Township, NJ 08535.
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