United States Harness Writers Association
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After an extensive search to find the absolute best property available for our main event, the USHWA location committee has named the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida the site of the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet to be held on Sunday, February 25, 2018 and the USHWA National meetings which will also be held that weekend.
Located just off Universal Boulevard within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from the many area attractions, the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort is a five-star property that ranked a top-20 U.S. meeting hotel by Cvent. The stunning 230-acre property includes an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-designed PGA golf course, four swimming pools, a spa that includes nine treatment rooms, two lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
There are 15 restaurant/lounges located on the property, including the upscale steakhouse A Land Remembered, the fine-dining bistro Cala Bella plus Banrai Sushi, Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, and a 24-hour deli.
Rosen Shingle Creek offers more than 1,500 smoke-free guestrooms, which include Creek Sleeper Beds with designer linens and pillows, plush robes, 40-inch TVs and a spa-like bathroom.
Please be advised that only a limited number of rooms have been allotted for this event and we strongly suggest you make your reservations early at this 5-star resort as they will sell out quickly. An USHWA-only reservation portal has been set up with special event room pricing for our members and honorees and it is now live and accepting reservations. You can reserve your room now by clicking here.
Schnittker and friends cheered at Monticello-Goshen banquet
Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Ray Schnittker said, “If I had ten dollars for every person in this room that I had a drink with, I would be a billionaire!”
More than 200 horse people enjoyed the Monticello-Goshen USHWA chapter’s 59th annual awards banquet at the Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club on Sunday (Dec. 3). Those in attendance listened carefully as the Goshen Historic Track-based trainer/driver was thankful for all the friends and memories he has made throughout his many decades of success in the harness racing industry.
Having been a fixture around Goshen Historic Track and wherever top harness horses are raced, “Rockin’ Ray” and his Grand Circuit stable have amassed more than $37 million in purse earnings since calling the Cradle of the Trotter home.
Of course Schnittker may be best known for his work with Deweycheatumnhowe, the $3 million-winning Hambletonian champion, but this year his star 3-year-old pacer Huntsville earned more than $1 million and won both the Meadowlands Pace and the Cane Pace at the Meadowlands while battling with some of the best colts in the country.
Dave Hanson, the driving force behind the development of the Morrisville State College’s Equine Program and Standardbred yearling auction received the chapter’s Excelsior Award for his dedication and selfless contributions of time, talent and energy to the improvement and integrity of harness racing in the State of New York.
Now as the general manager of Leatherstocking Veterinary Services, he noted that he “missed managing a farm while at Morrisville.” In retrospect, however, Hanson said that teaching students at the equine institute was one of the highlights of his career as a breeding specialist and stallion manager.
Herbie Burns, the affable vet that everyone calls their buddy, made the crowd roar with tales of his trials and tribulations and stories from yesteryear. It was easy to see why he was this year’s John Gilmour Good Guy Award honoree.
Starting out as a trainer/driver at Pocono, Burns graduated from U. Penn and then learned the ropes from local icon “Doc” Gill. Over time Dr. Herbert Burns continued to develop Pine Bush Equine into a state-of-the-art vet clinic, while simultaneously serving as the staff veterinarian for Blue Chip Farms.
For decades, Stephen Crevani, recipient of the Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award, balanced a demanding career as a high-rise builder with his interest in breeding and racing harness horses.
Now that he is retired, the 75-year-old has been able to focus all of his attention on the horse business and is reaping greater rewards as a result. Crevani always has a small but sincere group of horses in training and handful of broodmares at the family farm in Bullville, N.Y. All of his horses bear the “Bullville” moniker, and many compete at Goshen Historic Track with Steve in the sulky.
Tim Masters was this year’s recipient of the Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award, presented for his hard work and dedication to improvements at Goshen Historic Track. The facility has undergone sequential renovation to the 100-plus-year-old grandstand. Masters oversaw the replacement of all the seats and the floors and will address the steel beams and the girders next.
This year amateur driver “Yankee” Joe Lee has garnered 15 wins in 87 starts and more than $87,000 in purse earnings. His current UDR of .281 is bolstered by an additional 11 seconds and 10 thirds, including copping the Billings Gold Final at Yonkers. In fact, in the last two years he has tripled the amount of wins he had the previous two years, earning him the Amateur Driver of the Year Award honors.
Brandon Parker, son of Monticello Raceway’s all-time leading driver, Billy “Zeke” Parker Jr., enthusiastically received the Rising Star Award. “Lil Zeke” has had logged an unparalleled 448 starts in his first year of driving. Capturing 42 wins, 56 seconds and 57 thirds, a UDR of .206 and earnings of $218,881, his rocket-launch debut is probably a starts record for a rookie reinsman. Even more remarkable is the fact that Parker just got his “P” license in May, and therefore accomplished this feat in just over six months of active driving.
Knowledgeable about simulcasting from the bottom up, Carole Macedonio has been a lead cashier, evening simulcast manager and been responsible for converting the handle figures into revenue for as long as anyone can remember. Long considered a “lifer” at the Mighty M, she also administers and moderates the Monticello Raceway Memorabilia Facebook page, a popular destination for cyber-space nostalgia.
A long tenured, devoted employee, there is no part of the wagering product that she is unfamiliar with or has not had some experience in helping manage. A backbone of the simulcasting department, Carole Macedonio received an Award of Appreciation for her more than three decades of service to Monticello Raceway.
The event marked another huge success for the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association that donates more than $8,000 to industry causes annually, most notably the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, as well as Goshen Historic Track.
Five elected to Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame
Four men instrumental in the growth and sustaining of harness racing’s pre-eminent position in the state of Pennsylvania – Walter “Boots” Dunn, Roger Hammer, Harry Harvey, and Jim Simpson – have been selected by the Keystone Chapter of the U. S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA) as the second group of inductees into the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Along with this quartet, a Veterans Committee of Keystone USHWA has selected “Judge” Joe McGraw for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Hall.
These men join the first Pennsylvania Harness Hall’s inaugural class – Bowman Brown Sr., Max C. Hempt, Roger Huston, Delvin Miller, Dave Palone, Ed Ryan, Lawrence Sheppard, John Simpson Sr. and Paul E. Spears, plus Veteran selection Mary McCune.
Walter “Boots” Dunn was a positive factor in every area of the sport in which he participated; as the longtime Chairman on the USTA’s Board of Directors representing Pennsylvania; as a horsemen, breeding and training generations of champions and setting a record with 1179 victories as an amateur driver; as consultant to one and all, especially on his beloved county fair circuit, where he oversaw the racing at the Crawford County Fair in Meadville; and as a friend, sounding board, and invaluable sharer of advice.
Roger Hammer has won the national title for his category of the Universal Driver Rating (UDR, similar to a baseball players’ batting average) eight times, tying for the all-time lead with the immortal horseman Stanley Dancer. He campaigned Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo and many other fine racehorses, notably the “Keystone” horses of his fellow PA Hall of Famer Max Hempt, and to this day he continues as an annual major factor on the Pennsylvania fair circuit. Fearless, impervious to injury or fatigue – always driving to be first.
Harry Harvey worked for Pennsylvania’s #1 horseman, Delvin Miller, for many years, and drove the Miller-trained filly Helicopter to victory in the sport’s premier race, the Hambletonian. He then took over the day-to-day operation of Miller’s Meadow Lands Farms, and became so adept at that facet of the sport that he wrote a chapter on farm management in the seminal book Care and Training of the Trotter and Pacer. He also gave early lessons to the star pacer Albatross, and trained and drove him in his two-year-old form.
Jim Simpson has a noble a personal pedigree as a person can have in harness racing – his father, John Simpson Sr., is already in the Pennsylvania Harness Hall. Jim had success on the racetrack for many years, then followed his father into management at the world-famous Hanover Shoe Farms, the sport’s leading nursery, and under his able leadership the farm has maintained its place in the industry, changing with the times and reinvesting in both top stallions and broodmares. Like Harry Harvey, he is a member of harness racing’s National Hall of Fame.
Joe McGraw started his career working with the harness horses in southwest Pennsylvania, but his work led him to such occupations as handicapper, timer, and most notably judge, from whence he got his nickname. He worked the Grand Circuit of harness racing for nearly half a century, and earned the respect of both colleagues and horsemen alike. He also was an innovator, designing a method for starting races just before the starting gate was introduced, and he also was one of the first to use claiming races in filling cards. He was elected as a national Hall Immortal in 1975.
Pictures of and further biographical information about the members of the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Hall of Fame can soon be found at the Keystone/USHWA website, www.keystonechapter.com; the new electees are being added at press time. To contact the Keystone/USHWA chapter, write to email@example.com.
Siegel, Wallenius-Kleberg to Hall of Fame
Longtime Pennsylvania owner and breeder Jules Siegel, less than two months short of his 90th birthday, joins Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, one of the driving forces of harness racing in her native Sweden and a leader in European-American harness connections, as members of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame after their election by a joint polling of the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization, and elected members of the Hall of Fame.
Elected as members of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame by a vote of USHWA members were Carl Becker, veteran announcer-pedigree expert-auctioneer based in his native Midwest, and Dave Briggs, whose nine Hervey Awards for outstanding writing have set the standard for quality harness racing journalism in recent years.
In both cases, nominations were made by chapters of the harness writers and then winnowed down to these four by blue-ribbon panels of veteran journalists. Each nominee needed 75 percent of the yes-no votes cast by eligible electors to gain the sport’s ultimate honor.
Irrepressible Siegel enters Hall; Wallenius-Kleberg first female inductee
Jules Siegel was at Pocono a couple of weeks ago when his Fashionwoodchopper (carrying the name of his Fashion Farms) won a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. And it is safe to say that of the large group in and near the winner’s circle, no one was more excited than
the soon-to-be nonagenarian.
Siegel and his late wife Arlene established Fashion Farms in eastern Pennsylvania for their own pleasure, but when the college pharmacy major sold his successful chain of drugstores and retired in 1995, Arlene insisted “you cannot retire to nothing,” so the Siegels acquired first-rate broodmares, bred them to top sires to achieve successful racehorses, then retained the females for future breeding and built success upon success, lasting to this day.
Tagliabue, the Hambletonian winner in Siegel’s retirement year of 1995, was the first of his eight Dan Patch Award seasonal champions. He has five Breeders Crown winners to his credit as well, two of them homebreds:
Broadway Schooner in 2009 and Broadway Schooner’s daughter, Broadway Donna, last year.Siegel and his wife were twice named Owner of the Year by USHWA, in 2002 and 2009, and Siegel was Standardbred Canada’s Owner of the Decade for the 2000s.
Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, the first woman elected to the Hall of Fame, is the owner of Menhammar Stuteri AB, a breeding farm which has been in her family for 70 years and has been the leading breeder in her native Sweden for the last nine years. Wallenius-Kleberg created a North America-Europe comingling of racing and breeding talent with her partner, the late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, headed by stallions Zoot Suit and Smokin Yankee. The farm also stood two-time U.S. Horse of the Year Mack Lobell.
A tireless worker for the sport, Wallenius-Kleberg is a director of the Hambletonian Society in the U.S., and in 2011 received the Pinnacle Award for the promotion of the sport. In Sweden, she was the former chair of the Swedish Breeders Association and of the organization operating Solvalla Racetrack, home of the famous Elitlopp, and is an honorary lifetime member of these two organizations and of the Swedish Trotting Association.
Becker, Briggs take different paths to Communicators Hall of Fame
One, though a good writer, made his mark on harness racing through announcing and presentation of pedigrees at auction; the other, though an intelligent and glib speaker, has set the standard for writing excellence through his domination of the Hervey Awards. But Carl Becker and Dave Briggs share the characteristics of clarity, class, exhaustive knowledge, and insight, and thus both have risen to the top of their professions and a place in the Communicators Hall.
Carl Becker, a native of Illinois, began his career in harness racing announcing in 1963, traveling 300 miles to a matinee in Iowa where he worked without pay just to gain experience. Soon, major tracks were seeking him out to provide his insightful calls and commentary, most notably Du Quoin, Ill., where he called the Hambletonian and World Trotting Derby;
The Red Mile in Lexington, where he announced Niatross’ historic 1:49.1 time-trial; and Louisville Downs.
Becker helped to transform the job of auctioneer and pedigree reader with his prodigious knowledge of breeding, family achievement, and “nicks,” combining these with his enthusiastic announcing style to “draw out” the assembled bidders, pointing out a tidbit that might keep an auction going. In this capacity, he worked the sport’s two major sales, Harrisburg and Lexington (and later both when two companies offered at Lexington),
as well as for Garden State Sales and Blooded Horse Sales.
Dave Briggs, a native of western Ontario, achieved most of his early journalistic success through a series of increasingly responsible roles at the venerable Canadian Sportsman magazine, while also writing for other top trade journals. In the last couple of years, Dave has been in charge of the reborn Harness Racing Update online newsletter, which provides coverage of the sport’s major events along with commentary examining trends on the current harness scene.
With this workload have come awards -- lots of them. Before Briggs, the most USHWA Dan Patch journalism awards won had been five, achieved by the late Hall of Famer Phil Pines. Briggs has shattered this standard by winning nine John Hervey awards, including an award in each of the last five years -- and in 2012-2015, for four different publications. He has an equally long list of Canadian and international awards for journalism to his credit.
The new Hall of Famers will first be feted at USHWA’s Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held Sunday (Feb. 25) at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, in conjunction with USHWA’s annual meetings. The new Hall of Fame class will be formally inducted during 2018’s Hall of Fame ceremony on July 1 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.
Digging in to Help the Organization
While we're on the topic of the DPA, many of you are aware that we annually hold a silent auction to help fund not only the business of USHWA, but also the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and the Clyde Hirt Workshop.
In recent years, the items that have been made available to us for this auction have dwindled severely, and we need your help and support to turn the tide.
This is a call to EVERY USHWAN! Please take a minute of your day to call a business, hotel, sport team, industry outlet, race track, farm, distributor, anyone or anything you can think of and try to get donations for this auction so we can more adequately support the worthy causes that the proceeds are put towards.
Whether you attend the banquet or not, it would help the functions of the organization immensely if everyone got just one donation of any value to put into this auction.
United States Harness Writers Association
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world's largest organization for industry communicators.
The United States Harness Writers Association is a group of more than 220 members committed to the chronicling of harness racing through the print and electronic media. It was founded in 1947 by New York City area sportswriters who were covering harness racing at Roosevelt Raceway. It remains the only media organization in harness racing with a membership of newspaper, magazine, radio and TV, ad agency, publicists and others involved in racing communications. With most of USHWA's members allied to one of 12 regional chapters, the association strives to bring about a closer relationship among the media, racetracks and horsemen to promote a centuries-old American-bred sport.
USHWA members, in annual voting, choose harness racing's most prestigious awards, such as the Living Hall of Fame and the Horse of the Year. Its Stanley F. Bergstein-Proximity Achievement Award is one of the sport's most cherished honors. It also recognizes top divisional winners and leading drivers and trainers at its annual awards dinner, which began in 1948.
The association is governed by a member board of directors, which represents the chapters and at-large members (those living or working in regions where there is no chapter). Also serving are seven national officers and past presidents.
USHWA, with input from the American Harness Racing Secretaries and logistic expertise provided by the United States Trotting Association, determines the Horse of the Year and other equine and human awards. USHWA also presents the John Hervey Awards for excellence in writing and broadcasting. Its members choose Hall of Famers, so the association also works closely with the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame at Goshen, New York. A number of chapters hold annual awards or recognition dinners to salute the leading horses and drivers in their areas. Some chapters also raise money for local charities.
Contact USHWA at firstname.lastname@example.org