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.
Siegel, Wallenius-Kleberg to Hall of Fame
Monday, September 18, 2017 - from the U.S. Harness Writers Association
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.
Dan Patch Awards Reservations
The 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet will be held at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 25, 2018. The National USHWA meetings will also be held there starting on Saturday, February 24.
A 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 access that portal by clicking here.
. 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. You can reserve your room now by clicking here.
Host Hotel for the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Named
The Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, Florida
After an extensive search to find the absolute best property available for our main event, our location committee has named the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida the site of the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet and USHWA national meetings.
Located just off Universal Boulevard, within 10 minutes of the Orlando International Airport and minutes from the many area attractions, Rosen Shingle Creek 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-redesigned 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, 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.
An in-depth press release will be sent out next week, but make plans now to attend this year as it will be both an event and a location you will want to go to.
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.
See you at Goshen or at a race track at some point over the summer, and thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of USHWA.
President Tim's Fall Newsletter
Congratulations to the new Hall of Famers
Well, we just announced the newest inductees voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, and the four individuals could not be more deserving.
Congratulations to Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, who are going into the Hall, and to Carl Becker and Dave Briggs, who are going into the Communicators Hall.
Jules Siegel and his late wife Arlene established Fashion Farms in eastern Pennsylvania, acquired first-rate broodmares and bred them to top sires to achieve successful racehorses. Siegel has raced Hambletonian winner Tagliabue along with eight Dan Patch Award champions and five Breeders Crown winners including Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner and Broadway Donna.
Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg is the first woman elected to the Hall of Fame. She is the owner of Menhammar Stuteri AB, the leading breeder in her native Sweden, which has been in her family for 70 years. Wallenius-Kleberg also created a North America-Europe comingling of racing and breeding talent with her partner, the late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, headed by champion horses such as Mack Lobell.
Carl Becker began his career in harness announcing in 1963 and became in-demand with major tracks like DuQuoin IL, where he called the Hambletonian and World Trotting Derby, and The Red Mile where he announced Niatross’s historic 1:49.1 time-trial.
Dave Briggs achieved journalistic success through his award-winning work as editor of the Canadian Sportsman magazine. In the last couple years Briggs has been in charge of Harness Racing Update, the online racing newsletter. Briggs is also a nine-time Hervey Award winner for excellence in harness journalism; the next highest total for an individual is five.
Siegel, Wallenius-Kleberg, Becker and Briggs will all be honored at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL on Sunday February 25, 2018. They then will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in Goshen NY on Sunday, July 1, 2018.
USHWA helps to rebuild Goshen Historic Track
After the devastating fire that completely destroyed barns and a blacksmith shop at Goshen Historic Track, the Executive Board of USHWA met and unanimously agreed to donate $5,000 to help rebuild the oldest operating harness racing track in the world, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
The Officers wanted to take a lead role in the industry and help provide GHT a hand in getting the track back to where it should be, and we hope that others within the sport follow our example and donate what they can to keep this historic property open and operational for generations of racing fans to come.
USHWA to be a sponsor of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park
For the first time ever, USHWA will be a sponsor for the Breeders Crown, to be held at Hoosier Park in October. Because of the generosity of Hoosier Park, who was the title sponsor of our Dan Patch Awards Banquet this past February in Las Vegas, the Officers decided it was important to support them now as they host their very first Breeders Crown, along with showing our support for all the participants of the races themselves. Our name will be prominently shown on the grooms’ gear, namely the fleece jackets they will be provided with; our organization’s name will be on the chest and down the arms. We will also have a full-page color USHWA ad in the Breeders Crown program.
Proximity nominations are due next month
Please keep in mind that the first nomination deadline of the fall comes up onTuesday, Oct. 13, for the Bergstein/Proximity Award (250-500 word biography per nominee, one per chapter). These nominations need to be reviewed by the Integrity Committee and the Directors before being returned to the membership for final voting. So it is important that the original deadline be met in order to keep in line with other year-end award announcements.
Plan a Chapter meeting NOW!
With the Proximity nominations due then, if your Chapter can mobilize for a meeting very soon, that may be best. If not, with all the year-end award nomination and voting activities just around the corner, it would be a great time to plan a Chapter meeting to get “all your ducks in a row.” Also make sure you let Secretary Connors know who your Directors are for 2017-2018 so we have a record we can refer to when it comes to reimbursements in February.
New website is in Beta mode
We are literally days away from the release of our new website. It is up and running in a faux-domain until we get it tweaked and finally released. Look for a release as soon as we go live.
2018 Budget is currently being drafted
Tom Hicks and the Budget Committee are currently putting together the final touches on the 2018 financial plan. This year we are on target to make a profit commensurate with the projections presented to the Directors – and, depending on what transpires with banquet sponsorships prior to the end of the year, could go higher. Our principal organizational functions this year have stayed on point, and we thank everyone involved for their work in that achievement.
Dan Patch Awards host hotel reservation portal now open
The USHWA-only reservation portal for the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando is now live on our website, and you can now make your plans to attend the National meetings and Dan Patch awards banquet the last weekend in February. Please keep in mind that as every year, a limited number of rooms will be available at the discounted rate, and making an early reservation may be a good idea.
Don’t forget about Items for the DPA Silent and Live Auctions
As was mentioned in my previous newsletters, 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.
To date, I have only received a response from Dave Brower, Melissa Keith, and Matt Sparacino with offers of auction items. I know it’s early, but it’s never too early to help the organization. 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.
I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming fall weather and all the great stake racing that is yet to come. I also hope I run into many USHWA members at the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park next month as it promises to be one of, if not THE, best presentation of this stake ever.
President of USHWA