Duke Edge Memorial to honor racing fan

The late Duke Edge of Humboldt loved harness racing at the Humboldt track. In his memory, his family will be presenting the Duke Edge Memorial blanket to the driver with the most wins in the July 2 and July 4 races. Humboldt Independent file photo.

Editor’s note: The following information is in regard to special harness races planned for this coming Sunday (July 2) and Tuesday (July 4) at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds. The story provided by the Iowa Harness Racing Association was received too late for the June 29 print edition of the Independent, but is presented here in its entirety for the enjoyment of the public.

Duke Edge was a fixture in the Humboldt harness racing scene for decades.
“He was a lifelong harness racing fan,” remembers his daughter Alecia Sleiter, sitting with her mother Phyllis and her sister Jane. “He just loved it.”
Duke participated in the sport on many levels. He was a timer, then a judge for several years in the 1960s.
“I remember he was traveling,” says Phyllis, “He was gone a lot of weekends.”
“He judged in both Minnesota and Iowa,” adds Sleiter “I remember him judging down at the state fair when there used to be racing down there.”
Though all his years of involvement Duke only owned one horse.
“Years back, before we were born, he owned a horse named Tommy Dean,” says Sleiter. “He sold Tommy Dean and he (the horse) went out east and did very well.”
A July 1960 issue of the Muscatine Journal and News Tribune reports that Tommy Dean won both heats of the trot with Leland Perrin driving during a rainy day of racing for the Wapello Homecoming Celebration. Tommy Dean appears again from 1962-1965 in The Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester, New York's newspaper - in results showing wins at Batavia Downs.
His daughters remember Duke saying “I sure wish I would have kept that horse!”
Duke shared his passion for harness racing with others. He owned a company with his brother, Edge Brothers Excavation.
“One of his employees was a family man with 13 children,” says Sleiter, recalling a story about her father she has heard many times. “Dad bought a race horse for him and said 'You train it, you race it, and you can keep whatever earnings you have.'”
That employee saved the winnings and was able to buy a home for his family.
Duke also kept his own family involved in racing.
“I have a son who lives here in town and he and my three little grandsons would go sit with Papa Duke,” says Sleiter speaking of the races at the county fairgrounds. “We were there last Fourth of July and even this past fall. Whenever they had races at Humboldt we would take him. He was barely able to walk up the stairs. He was 91 years old. He still wanted to go; he just didn't want to miss it. He was a loyal, loyal fan.”
Over the past few years, Duke had health issues and was in and out of the hospital. It was here he met Cara Hauser, a nurse who with her husband Adam trains a stable of Standardbreds out of the fairgrounds at Humboldt.
“He had been hospitalized a couple times before he passed and he and Cara just connected,” says Sleiter. “They just had a special bond. They talked harness racing all the time. She brought him a book all about the history of harness racing. She'd walk in the door and he'd call her sweetheart. It was just so special.”
Duke passed away this past January at the age of 91. To honor their father and his passion for horse racing, the Edge family will present the Duke Edge Memorial at Humboldt during the holiday race meet – Sunday July 2 and Tuesday July 4. Racing begins at 12:30 p.m. each day. The memorial blanket will go to the driver with the most wins over the two-day meet.
Keeping Duke's tradition alive, many members of his family plan to attend.
“We'll be there in force!” says Sleiter.

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