Born in Charlottetown to Joe and Shirley Hennessey in 1956, Wally was destined to follow the family path in the racing industry, and in his storied career he has ridden more than 6,000 winners in races all over the world.
Riding his first winner at Charlottetown aboard Cambridge Frisco in 1975, Hennessey went on to set new standards for wins in the Maritimes in the early 1980s, before plying his trade in Florida and the United States, where he has enjoyed phenomenal success. His first big stake victory came in 1992 when he drove America’s Pastime to victory in the $778,000 Woodrow Wilson race at The Meadowlands, and that same year, on June 13, he set a record by winning seven New York Sire Stakes races, including six in succession, at the Buffalo raceway.
Hennessey’s career will always be linked to the legendary Moni Maker, a trotting mare who he drove in 58 of her 100 race starts, and who was named Harness Horse of the Year in 1998, in addition winning three Trotter of the Year titles. Moni Maker retired in 2000 with earnings of $5,589,000, making her the richest standardbred of all time, and the richest female racehorse of any breed. Hennessey’s victories on Moni Maker included the Hambletonian Oaks in 1996, the prestigious Swedish Elitlopp, and the $500,000 Breeders Crown Trot at The Meadowlands, in 1998.
Consistently driving winners at his home track of Pompano Park, Hennessey resides in Coconut Creek, Florida with his family. He has competed in more than 30,000 races, has driven winners to more than $41 million, and continues to be a popular draw when he returns to the Island, especially during Old Home Week, where in 2005 he won the Gold Cup and Saucer on Driven To Win.
Known as a superb ambassador for his home province and the sport of harness racing, Wally Hennessey will be the latest in a long line of great Island harness racers to be inducted into the P.E.I Sports Hall Of Fame.
Footnote: one week after being inducted into the PEI Sports Hall Of Fame, it was announced that Wally was to be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.
Update: in May 2016 Wally reached over 9000 career wins
For a brief video bio on Wally click Wally Hennessey Video