United States Harness Writers Association
USHWA donates $2,500 to horsemen affected by Mount Hope fire
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading group of Standardbred journalists, has announced that it will be donating $2500 to the unfortunate horsemen who lost more than two dozen horses and their associated equipment – basically, their means of livelihood -- in a barn fire at the Mount Hope Training Center in Otisville, Orange County NY during the morning of June 2.
“Even the mere mention of the word FIRE sends shivers down the spine of every horseman, every track executive, every shedrow in the world,” notes Shawn Wiles, president of USHWA, executive director of racing at New York’s Monticello Raceway, and a former caretaker. “Any loss of equine life is horrific.
“It is during catastrophes such as this that the industry comes together and rallies behind those who have lost everything. The U.S. Harness Writers Association makes this donation in an effort to help horsemen get back on their feet and get their lives together again.”
A GoFundMe page, for others who want to help these devastated horsemen, has been set up jointly by North American Harness Update Picks and Post Time with Mike & Mike, and it has now raised over $10,000. The website for making donations is www.gofundme.com/MtHopeFire.
President Shawn's Spring Newsletter
The April stakes payments have been made, stables are shipping out of Florida and before you know it, they will be baby racing at the Meadowlands!
2019 Dan Patch Awards Banquet
USHWA is pleased to announce the 2019 Dan Patch Awards Banquet will once again be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resorts in Orlando, Florida on Sunday February 24. The venue was extremely well received by all facets of the industry and by all USHWA members, and we look forward to another banner event at this first-class facility. USHWA Directors meeting will be held on Saturday, February 23 and the general membership meeting will be Sunday, February 24; all Post Times TBA.
Goshen Hall of Fame Weekend
Be sure to mark your calendar for the Hall of Fame Day at Goshen, on Sunday, July 1. The Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductees are Margareta Wallenius Kleberg and Jules Siegel. Communicators Hall of Fame inductees are Carl Becker and Dave Briggs. The ImmortalHall of Fame inductee is Hakan Wallner. If you are at the afternoon races, please be sure to participate in the winner’s circle for the USHWA race (also TBA). Anyone needing tickets to the Hall of Fame dinnershould contact Janet Terhune at (845) 294 – 6330 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Janet has also provided us with a list of area hotels and discount rates – make your reservation NOW!
Click here for a listing of hotel discount codes.
Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame
Make sure that your membership is current, and do encourage other Harness Racing Fans to support the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame by becoming a member as well!
HOF Chapter Nominations Due June 1
Chapters are reminded that their nominations for the Hall of Fame are due to the secretary by FRIDAY, JUNE 1. Every chapter president and secretary (and the At-Large directors) were sent a detailed explanation of this year’s nomination possibilities and requirements; please contact your chapter president and/or secretary for more information on your chapter’s processes and nominees.
Florida Chapter Has New Website and Facebook Page
The Florida Chapter of USHWA recently unveiled their new website (www.ushwa-florida.com) and Facebook page. Kudos to Tom Hicks and Steve Wolf on the development and implementation for both of these exciting additions.
Clyde Hirt Workshop
This successful long-running annual event will be held at the Meadowlands. The popular workshop will run from Wednesday, August 1 to Saturday, August 4. The workshop will offer motivated, serious young writers the opportunity to get behind the scenes and get exposure to Harness Racing at its finest during Hambletonian Week. Special thanks go to Debbie Little and Ken Weingartner, Dave Briggs and Kelly Young and others for handling the logistics.
Youth Membership Committee
This new committee, chaired by Melissa Keith, has been very active. They are in the process of establishing an application for youth members, parameters for membership and a screening committee to evaluate youth members applications to USHWA guidelines. This information will be posted on the USHWA website when the form is complete, and will be distributed to chapters.
Auction – Raffle Items
All USHWA members, be sure and keep an eye out for Auction & Raffle items for this year’s Dan Patch Awards Banquet. This event is a proven revenue generator! We do so well every year putting together items on such a short notice with impressive results -- imagine the funds we can raise if we are thinking about this project 12 months of the year!
See you in Goshen
Florida USHWA Chapter debuts new website
The Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has debuted their new website at www.ushwa-florida.com.
The Florida Chapter has also developed a Facebook page at facebook.com/floridachapterushwa/.
“The Florida Chapter has dedicated this year to working harder than ever to help promote the sport of harness racing in Florida and across the nation,” said Florida USHWA Chapter president Steve Wolf. “The debut of our website and our new Facebook page is just the start of our 2018 program.
“The harness racing industry, especially in Florida, needs to have more exposure to the general masses. We will be doing more stories on owners, trainers, drivers, caretakers and the many training/breeding farms throughout the state, working on special events in the local communities, and hopefully help educating new fans to this great sport through our chapter.
“Our Chapter’s treasurer, Thomas H. Hicks, created and developed the website and did a super job.”
The Florida Chapter of USHWA was formed in 1964 following the opening of the Pompano Park racetrack. Over the many years the Chapter has worked with racetrack management and the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association in helping promote the sport both locally and nationally.
The Chapter annually hosts the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame banquet, has given out tens of thousands of dollars through the Allen J. Finkelson Scholarship for Florida residents studying journalism or equine related majors, and provides special funding for Florida horsemen and women in need due to poor health, accidents and/or dire financial situations through the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund.
Hannelore Hanover is harness racing's Horse of the Year
The connections of Hannelore Hanover need to make room for several more trophies.
Hannelore Hanover, who last year at age 5 produced the fastest mile in history by a female trotter and defeated male rivals in both the Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot, received three Dan Patch Awards on Sunday (Feb. 25) including the night’s grand prize, Horse of the Year.
In addition to being named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, Hannelore Hanover got trophies for Trotter of the Year and best older female trotter during the Dan Patch Awards banquet at Rosen Shingle Creek resort.
|Hannelore Hanover's connections celebrate her Horse of the Year trophy.|
Hannelore Hanover was named Horse of the Year on 95 ballots, outdistancing 3-year-old filly trotter Ariana G, with 15 votes, and 2-year-old filly trotter Manchego, with 12.
Downbytheseaside, a 3-year-old colt who was named Pacer of the Year, had eight votes for Horse of the Year.
In balloting for Trotter of the Year, Hannelore Hanover had 100 votes, while Ariana G had 16 and Manchego 15.
Earlier this month, Hannelore Hanover received the O’Brien Award for Canada’s Horse of the Year in addition to getting her second consecutive award as best trotting mare.
Hannelore Hanover is the first trotting mare to be named the Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year since Moni Maker in 1999. She is the first Horse of the Year Award winner for trainer Ron Burke and the Burke Brigade.
“Since 1954, I’ve been walking around picking up papers, trying to find something,” an emotional Mickey Burke Sr., the patriarch of the Burke Stable, told the crowd at the awards banquet. “I found it. The winner for the fastest trotting mare that ever lived. I’m so proud of her.
“She’s just a dream horse.”
Hannelore Hanover, a daughter of Swan For All out of the mare High Sobriety, won 10 of 17 races last season and earned $1.04 million. She became the fastest female trotter in history when she won the Allerage Farms Open Trot in 1:49.2 at Lexington’s Red Mile and was the first mare to beat the boys in the Breeders Crown Open Trot since Moni Maker in 1998.
Other wins included the Maple Leaf Trot and Armbro Flight Stakes. She is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. Yannick Gingras was her regular driver.
“She’s just an amazing mare,” Mickey Burke Jr. said. “You don’t get many of these.”
Downbytheseaside was named Pacer of the Year with 93 votes. Youaremycandygirl, a filly who was a 2-year-old last year, finished second with 23 votes while 3-year-old colt Fear The Dragonwas third with seven. A total of eight pacers received at least one vote.
|USTA/Mark Hall photos|
|Downbytheseaside was named Pacer of the Year with 93 votes.|
Retired to stallion duty at the end of last season, Downbytheseaside finished his 3-year-old campaign with a four-race win streak on his way to leading the sport with $1.60 million in purses. The colt’s victories included the Messenger Stakes, Progress Pace, Carl Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney Pace.
He was trained by Brian Brown and owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing. Chris Page, Brian Sears, and David Miller all guided the horse to stakes wins.
“We loved this horse as a 2-year-old,” Brown said. “When he got to race and we really started to find out what he was, for him to come back this year and prove it again, and overcome all the adversity he went through was special.
“And for all the owners, it was so much fun when this horse did well. His last race, he won, but you’re kind of disappointed it’s all over. After his last race we sat and reminisced about the whole year. It’s so good that all those owners got to experience this.”
Other honorees Sunday included Brown, for Trainer of the Year and Good Guy Award winner; Gingras for Driver of the Year; Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm for Owner of the Year; and Hanover Shoe Farms for Breeder of the Year.
Horses recognized in addition to Hannelore Hanover and Downbytheseaside were divisional champions Manchego, 2-year-old female trotter; Fourth Dimension, 2-year-old male trotter; Ariana G, 3-year-old female trotter; What The Hill, 3-year-old male trotter; Marion Marauder, older male trotter; Youaremycandygirl, 2-year-old female pacer; Lost In Time, 2-year-old male pacer; Blazin Britches, 3-year-old female pacer; Pure Country, older female pacer; and Keystone Velocity, older male pacer.
For additional information about the divisional champions, click here.
Watch the 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet
The 2018 Dan Patch Awards Banquet was streamed live the night of the event. Now you can relive the whole event and watch it here courtesy of the United States Trotting Association.
Mark Hall and Dave Little on the Ballot for Communicators HOF
At the annual meeting of its Board of Directors on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 24), the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) selected Mark Hall and Dave Little to move to the summer ballot for possible election to the Communicators Hall of Fame.
Mark Hall has worked in the photography department of the U.S. Trotting Association for over 35 years, teaming with two members of the Communicators Hall of Fame, George Smallsreed and Ed Keys. It is after the flamboyant Smallsreed that the annual USHWA photography awards are named, and Hall has done his former mentor proud by winning six Smallsreed awards, the most of any photographer, with his work spanning the Standardbred spectrum from racing to foals in the field to conformation photos to “beauty shots” involving the sport.
Dave Little recently joined the team in publicity and TV functions at the New Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, after working 24 years as the Racing Editor of the New York Daily News. Dave once “swept” a nine-race card at Roosevelt with his top selections, and also knows his way around a thoroughbred program as well. He has announced at several racetracks, including Historic Track in Goshen NY, and he is a longtime director of USHWA, as is his wife Debbie, who handicaps for the cross-city Post and is president of USHWA’s New York City chapter.
Hall and Little will now go on a midsummer ballot, along with whoever is forwarded from the Hall of Fame Screening Committee (who considers non-communicators), for consideration into their respective Halls. The candidates who get 75% or more of the yes-no votes cast for them get to join the ranks of history’s best in their particular Standardbred callings.
U. S. Harness Writer's annual meetings held
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the leading organization of harness racing’s chroniclers, held their annual meetings this past Saturday and Sunday at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, in conjunction with its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet, which on Sunday evening celebrated the best of brightest of the sport during the 2017 campaign.
Saturday’s meeting gathered the organization’s board of directors, while Sunday’s session was an open gathering for all of USHWA’s members.
Two major developments, one affecting the size of the Board and one broadening the parameters of USHWA membership, took place on Saturday as the directors voted on amending USHWA’s By-Laws and Rules & Regulations (R&Rs). A by-law change saw the number of directors from each of the sport’s “chapters” (regions) reduced from two to one, in part of the organization’s ongoing effort to streamline in keeping with the harness racing times. There will now be 5 Officers, 11 Past Presidents, and 13 chapter directors guiding the affairs of the organization.
In an effort to encourage younger harness fans to explore the possibilities of sulky journalism, the Board created a “Youth” category of membership, with interested parties able to gain a non-voting membership at a lower price while increasing their exposure to established members of the sport’s media. More information on the process of applying for USHWA Youth membership status will soon be posted on the organization’s website, www.ushwa.net.
An operation R&R change will see the organization reaching out to racetracks to allow full USHWAns access to horsemen, the race paddock, and other important sources of stories, while an Awards R&R sets new parameters for the Rising Star Award, which honors an up-and-coming young trainer or driver.
Another Awards change saw the Broadcasters Award for outstanding achievement in video named after the late Sam McKee, the Hall of Famer (and former winner of the award) who set the highest standards for the sport as an announcer, media director, and other employments in communications areas.
USHWA continued its renewed efforts to improve the financial situation of the organization, with a profit being shown in 2017, and every expectation of another plus figures after the highly-successful Dan Patch Banquet. The group seeks to establish a winning association of streamlining costs with growing revenue sources such as advertising in the annual Dinner Journal and with sponsorships of the Association’s activities.
As reported earlier, USTA photographer Mark Hall joined with Meadowlands media man and former New York Daily News Racing Editor Dave Little as ballot candidates for this summer’s election for the status on being a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame.
Shawn Wiles, Executive Director of Racing and Facilities at Monticello Raceway in the Catskills of New York, was voted president of the organization after Tim Bojarski, who now becomes the Chairman of the Board of Directors, completed his two-year term at the top, a standard length of service in USHWA. Kim Rinker will now serve as the organization’s Vice President, with Barry Lefkowitz and Jerry Connors returned as treasurer and secretary in the voting.
At the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, trotting matron Hannelore Hanover was named Harness Horse of the Year, as that announcement was reserved for the Banquet this year to heighten excitement. Hannelore was also named Trotter of the Year, while the richest harness horse of 2017, Downbytheseaside, won honors as Pacer of the Year.
Also honored were Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg upon their election to the sport’s highest honor, the Hall of Fame, along with were Carl Becker and Dave Briggs, who were voted into the Communicators Hall of Fame. This quartet will be formally inducted on the first of July at the site of the sport’s Hall, Goshen NY.
Dan Daley, Warren Harp, Odell Thompson enter Florida Hall of Fame
The Florida Chapter of the States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) held its 27th annual Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame banquet at the Royal Fiesta Ballroom on Friday evening, March 2 with three new members being inducted. There were 14 awards given out with the three Hall of Fame inductees the highlight of the evening. Induction recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years who have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry.
The inductees were owner, trainer and driver Dan Daley of Vero Beach, long time trainer and driver Warren Harp of Bell and renowned second trainer Odell Thompson of Lauderdale Lakes.
“It is so great to get this special honor,” said Dan Daley, “And to have my family with me tonight made it all the better.”
“What a special honor this is tonight for all my years working in harness racing,” Said Warren Harp. “I could not be prouder with this award and am especially thankful to the Florida USHWA Chapter.”
“I was just about speechless when I went to the podium to get my trophy,” said Odell Thompson. “I could not thank enough people to have helped me throughout my career and who have been my friends for so many years. It’s a blessing I will never forget.”
Elected to the Communicators Corner of the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame was renowned author, owner and publicist Victoria Howard of Boca Raton.
“This is one of the biggest thrills of my lifetime,” Howard said. “I could not be happier. I love writing about racing, owning and breeding race horses, everything about harness racing. It has been in my blood for most of my life and I could not think of doing anything else but being in this great sport.”
The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers went for the second time to trainer Kim Sears of Osteen. Sears could not make the dinner but her trophy was accepted by horsewoman Donna Richardson and former USHWA National Chairman of the Board, Chris Tully. The current president of the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA, Tully was also the event's special auctioneer for the evening.
Florida Chapter treasurer Thomas H. Hicks was the Emcee for the evening presentations. All money raised from the silent auction, live auction and program journal go to support the Allen J Finkelson Scholarship Fund and the Aime Choquette Sunshine Fund.
The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, was presented for the first time to trainer and driver Jason MacDougall of Astor.
Winner of the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport went to Elizabeth Hennessey Schaut of Pompano Beach.
The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport, was presented to Kathy Breedlove of Pompano Beach.
The Peter Haughton Award, which goes to an upcoming young driver at the Pompano Park meet, went to 23-year-old James “JD” Yoder of Bell.
The winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2017 was presented for the first time to Marianne and Maggie Audley of Gold Star Farm in Bell.
The Florida USHWA Chapter's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to longtime trainer/driver Tom Merriman of Delray Beach and caretaker and racetrack maintenance man Emmitt Davis of Pompano Beach.
The annual Caretaker of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding individual who over his or her career has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for. This year's winner was Joanie Uszak from the Mike Murphy Stable, who has been grooming horses for nearly 60 years.
“It was a superb event tonight” said Florida USHWA Chapter President Steve Wolf. “Everyone had such a great time with family and friends and those who won awards were well earned and they will cherish them always. We even had a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday for Ann-Mari Daley’s mom, Cookie Fedun, the long-time horsemen’s valet at Pompano Park, who was celebrating her 89th birthday. It all made for a fun-filled evening.”
Ric Flair to appear at the Dan Patch Awards
Last year it was “Elvis” who greeted the attendees at the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s annual Dan Patch Awards dinner in Las Vegas, and this year on Sunday night (Feb. 25), it will be retired professional wrestler Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair who will welcome everyone at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla.
Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair will welcome everyone at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla. Flair, who will be attending the dinner as a guest of one of the honorees, is a 16-time world champion over a career that spanned 40 years and is considered by many to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time. He is a two-time inductee into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, first inducted in 2008 for his wrestling career and four years later as a member -- ironically -- of The Four Horsemen, a professional wrestling stable in the National Wrestling Alliance and later World Championship Wrestling.
Flair will meet and greet the attendees on the Dan Patch Awards Red Carpet. The one-hour reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the awards ceremony and dinner beginning at 7 p.m. The Red Carpet hour will be broadcast live on the Facebook pages of well-known harness names Heather Vitale and Heather Wilder. The two Heathers will roam the Red Carpet area and interview several of the award winners and attendees.
To watch a video message from Flair about the event, click here.
In addition, the awards ceremony, hosted by Roger Huston and Jason Settlemoir, will be broadcast live on the USHWA Facebook page, with viewing available the following day on the U.S. Trotting Association website www.ustrotting.com and its YouTube page.
Information about the banquet and the entire week, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on this website, including links for making hotel reservations at special rates; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake souvenir journal.
Charlie Williams is the 2017 Caretaker of the Year
Charlie Williams, the stallion manager at Southwind Farms in New Jersey, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Caretaker of the Year Award by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Williams, 68, has worked at Southwind Farms for nearly three decades. Williams was born in Georgia and began working with horses as a young man in Florida. He spent the early part of his career with Thoroughbreds, as an exercise rider and caretaker, before a knee injury forced him to give up riding.
While sidelined because of his injury, Williams answered an advertisement for a part-time job at Southwind Farms. His horsemanship and attention to detail eventually led him to his current position at the farm, where he has cared for some of the sport’s top stallions, beginning with Valley Victory and Artsplace right through to today with Muscle Hill.
“This is something I’ll never forget,” Williams said of his Caretaker of the Year honor. “From picking cotton as a young kid to go on and take care of world champions, it’s been a dream come true. I started working at the bottom and worked my way to the top. I was very fortunate to luck out and work with horses. I’ve had the chance to take care of the best.
“The sport has been really good to me and there are so many good people in the sport that have been really good to me. I love the sport, I love the horses, and I love the people.”
All caretakers in North America are eligible for the Caretaker of the Year Award. A seven-member panel -- all former caretakers -- selected the winner after reviewing nomination letters detailing the skills and special qualities of each nominee.
Williams will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando, Fla., where he will be presented a trophy. He will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities.
Williams received several nominations, with one writing, in part, “There are grooms and caretakers at all stages of a horse’s life and this man exemplifies the true embodiment of a caretaker and is truly worthy of Caretaker of the Year. This man puts his heart and soul into every stallion that is lucky enough to stand in a stall in his barn.
“Please consider allowing this exceptional caretaker a moment to shine in an industry that sometimes forgets those of us who aren’t in winner’s circles but nevertheless are in a barn day in and day out, without vacation, wind, rain, and snow. You will not find a more true definition of an exceptional caretaker in our industry than Charlie Williams.”
Williams is self-described “old school” when it comes to taking care of his horses. But the stallions are more than horses to Williams, they are friends.
“I love everything about them,” Williams said. “They have personality. With Muscle Hill, he’s like my best friend out there. I know how he thinks and he knows how I think. It was the same thing with Artsplace. They’re like people. It’s unbelievable when you work in the barn with them.
“I have a habit, I talk to them. I’m in the stallion barn, so I talk with all the horses like I’m talking to a human. And I never cut corners with them. I give them the love and attention and they give the love and attention to me. I’m 68 years old and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work. When you walk in the barn, they know you and sound off. They’re happy to see you and you’re happy to see them.”
Doolin to receive January Davies Humanitarian Award
Anne Doolin, whose compassion for animals and people in peril has moved her to rescue and foster thousands of pets and provide meals and services for so many in need, has been named the 2017 January Davies Humanitarian Award winner presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).
The award was created in 2008 by USHWA member Callie Davies-Gooch in memory of her daughter to recognize contributions beyond harness racing.
Doolin, whose work in harness racing began as publicist at the Meadowlands in 1988, has always been a staunch advocate for animals, from racehorses to stray dogs and feral cats. In the last 10 years she has transitioned into an important cog in a large network of dog and cat fosters, rescues and shelters.
A resident of Lexington, Ky., Doolin, who after leaving the Meadowlands later worked in publicity and marketing positions at Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio, and The Red Mile in Lexington, seemingly works 24 hours, seven days a week, making sure the homeless have food and shelter, and that dogs and cats can be placed in caring homes. Doolin was also a sought after member of the Breeders Crown and Hambletonian Special Event teams, and still works for the Breeders Cup, writing entrant bios.
“With all the volunteer work with the homeless and animals that Anne does I believe January would very much approve of the award,” said Davies-Gooch. “January would be very proud of what Anne has done over the years in ensuring people don’t go hungry and animals are cared for. Anne’s compassion is truly admirable and remarkable.”
Doolin said she felt overwhelmed when she learned from Davies-Gooch of the award.
“This is amazing and I am floored,” said Doolin. “I thought a lot of January and to win this award makes it even more special.”
Doolin has been a foster parent to more than 1,000 dogs and cats over the years. She also helps coordinate transfers of the animals from shelters to forever homes. Despite working tirelessly in that capacity, she still finds time to check on the elderly and the homeless in the Lexington area. To help in that capacity, Doolin is currently president of Downtown People Inc.
“We are a group that feeds the homeless and under-served a home-cooked meal ever Sunday in downtown Lexington,” said Doolin. “We average between 150-200 people a week, and we do this year-round. I also do some rescue work as I am transport coordinator for an average of 25 people a week out of shelters.
“The animals are also year-round. Besides the fostering, I help coordinate the transfers of mainly dogs and some cats from shelters to homes.
Doolin will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards banquet, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. While most of the award winners have already been announced, the names of the 2017 Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed at the banquet.
Information about the banquet and the entire week, which will also contain the annual meetings of USHWA, can be found on this website, including links for making hotel reservations at special rates; banquet tickets; and congratulatory or acknowledgment ads in the keepsake souvenir journal.
Daley, Harp and Thompson elected to Florida Hall of Fame
The Florida Chapter of the States Harness Writers Association has announced the Hall of Fame inductees for 2018 and the annual award winners for the 2017 harness racing season. They will be honored at the association's 27th annual Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Awards Dinner to be held on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Royal Fiesta Catering Ballroom in Deerfield Beach.
Elected to the chapter's Hall of Fame, which recognizes special individuals who have been outstanding leaders within the industry for more than ten years and have contributed to the betterment of the Standardbred Industry, are owner, trainer and driver, Dan Daley of Vero Beach, trainer/driver Warren Harp of Bell, and renowned second trainer, Odell Thompson, of Lauderdale Lakes.
Elected to the Communicators Corner of the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame is renowned author, owner and publicist Victoria Howard of Boca Raton.
The William Popfinger Award for developing outstanding juvenile pacers goes for the second time to trainer Kim Sears of Osteen.
The Stanley Dancer Award, which recognizes achievements of a trainer who has been continuously outstanding in the development of young trotters, goes for the first time to trainer-driver Jason MacDougall of Astor.
Winner of the Delvin G. Miller Award, which recognizes someone or an organization whose life in harness racing reflects dedication and integrity furthering the growth of the sport goes to Elizabeth Hennessey Schaut of Pompano Beach.
The Frances Dodge Van Lennep Award, which recognizes an outstanding female who has made great contributions to the sport goes to Kathy Breedlove of Pompano Beach.
The winner of the Allen J. Finkelson Award recognizes an individual in the sport who has contributed to the positive promotion of the Standardbred industry and being honored this year is amateur driving champion Dein Spriggs of Jupiter.
The Peter Haughton Award, which goes to an upcoming young driver at the Pompano Park meet goes to James “JD” Yoder of Bell.
The winner of the Dana Irving Award for breeding excellent juvenile performers in 2017 goes for the first time to Marianne and Maggie Audley of Gold Star Farm in Bell.
The Dan Gawlas Good Guy Award, presented annually to an outstanding individual who has always contributed positively to the sport, goes to FSBOA President and amateur driver Joe Pennacchio of Delray Beach.
The Florida USHWA Chapter's Lifetime Achievement Award goes to longtime trainer/driver Tom Merriman of Delray Beach and caretaker, racetrack maintenance man Emmitt Davis of Pompano Beach.
The annual Caretaker of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding individual who, over his or her career, has dedicated untiring time and efforts caring for the horses in the stable(s) they worked for. This year's winner is Joanie Uszak from the Mike Murphy Stable, who has been grooming horses for nearly 60 years.
Tickets are $80 per person for the full course dinner that begins at 6:30 pm with a one-hour open bar with appetizers. Tables of ten are available. There is free parking at Royal Fiesta Catering, located in the Cove off Hillsboro Blvd at 1680 SE 3rd Court, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441.
For more information, to purchase tickets or to place a congratulatory ad in the program book, please contact Steven Wolf at 954-654-3757 or email email@example.com.
The Hall of Fame nominating primer
The annual announcement of individuals that made the ballot for the Harness Racing Hall of Fame usually sparks a hearty round of conversation. And that talk has become more profound now that social media spreads news and views instantaneously.
People like to express their thoughts about who made the cut each year but moreover, like to opine about who they thought “should have been” on the ballot. Everyone has an opinion and any conversation surrounding harness racing is good. But it’s important not to lose sight of a few things.
Being elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor. Selected individuals are considered to be on the same level as Lawrence B. Sheppard, William Haughton and John Campbell and that is why it is so difficult to get in.
The criterion needed to be considered includes success on the national stage, integrity, character, contributions to the sport and sportsmanship. The recipient must meet every one of these points and must have also shown these extraordinary accomplishments over an extended period of time.
Once prospective nominees are submitted by Chapters of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), they must pass a vigorous four-part vetting process. This includes consideration by an Integrity Committee, Selection Committee, Hall of Fame Advisory Board and finally voting by the eligible members of USHWA.
All who serve on the two USHWA committees have between 25 and 50 years of experience and knowledge in harness racing. They, combined with the Hall of Fame Advisory Committee, are people who are among the highest character anywhere and their sole mission is to get it right.
Some nominees are obvious Hall of Famers the first time their name comes up, while others may be nominated several times before getting voted to the ballot. And others may simply not meet the requirements that would allow them to make that big step.
Elbridge T. Gerry Jr. is the Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and a 1995 inductee. He points out how important the selection process is.
“Election to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame is the highest honor that is bestowed by our sport and enshrinees carry that recognition for the rest of their life. For nominees to be considered, as (Hall of Famer) Norman Woolworth so aptly put it, "they must jump off the page" with qualifications. The best way to judge a person’s eligibility is to ask the question "Has he or she accomplished or contributed on the same level as those who preceded them for this highest honor?" said Gerry.
It’s important to note that an individual cannot even be considered if their name has not been submitted for consideration. In some cases, names that people bring up as worthy candidates, haven’t been nominated in the past or weren’t nominated in the current cycle.
Anyone can bring an eligible candidate to the table, not just the members of USHWA. However there is a format to follow and a timeline to keep in mind in order to get a name in the mix.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame must be made no later than June 1 each year and every USHWA Chapter can nominate up to two names for the Living Hall.
If anyone outside of USHWA has a strong opinion about a nominee they would like to submit, it would behoove them to contact any member of the 12 USHWA Chapters (a complete membership list can be found at www.ushwa.org) prior to June 1 with facts and biographical information to back their case. This will allow those Chapters to take the suggestion into consideration at one of their meetings prior to making final determination on their nominations.
The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring the people whose work helped it grow and keep it viable today. This has been their mission since its inception and they continue to carry it out today.
“Our objective simply put is to preserve our glorious past, portray with excitement the present and help create a promising future. Recognition of those who have contributed to these objectives either on or off the race track helps make the Museum and Hall of Fame so important to our industry” said Gerry.
People who are passionate about who is in the Hall and are not currently a member of the museum, should consider joining to support the institution and its work. There are over 17,000 licensed racing professionals who make a living in the industry in the United States, yet only 700 of them are members of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.
Hervey and Smallsreed winners announced
Dave Briggs swept the writing categories in the 2017 John Hervey Awards competition, capturing the feature division with a story written for Hoof Beats magazine and the news/commentary division with a story written for Harness Racing Update, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Monday.
In addition, the U.S. Trotting Association’s www.ustrotting.com was selected the winner of the Hervey Awards for excellence in harness racing broadcasting and Chris Gooden and Jacob Cohen were named the winners in the George Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography.
The winners will be recognized at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando. Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the Hervey and Smallsreed awards by providing banquet tickets for the winners.
Briggs won in the feature writing category for his story on John Campbell’s retirement, “End of an Era,” which appeared in the October issue of Hoof Beats. Click here to read the story.
He won in the news/commentary category for his story, “What the heck happened in the Hambletonian,” which appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of Harness Racing Update. Click here to read the story.
With the two wins, Briggs extended his record for Hervey honors to 11.
Honorable mentions in the feature category went to Steve Montemarano and Rich Fisher.
Montemarano was recognized for his story on trainer Dan Ater and his battle with cancer, “Picture of Courage,” which appeared in the November issue of Hoof Beats. Fisher was recognized for his story on driver Mike Lachance’s retirement days, “Out of the Spotlight,” which appeared in the August issue of Hoof Beats.
Honorable mentions in the news/commentary category went to Gordon Waterstone and Darryl Kaplan.
Waterstone was recognized for his story on the Hambletonian, “Swedish Surprise,” which appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Horseman And Fair World magazine. Kaplan was recognized for three segments of his series, “On the Road: Horse Racing 250,” that was published on the Standardbred Canada website between June 30 and July 2.
The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of former Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn, BloodHorse Racing Editor Alicia Wincze Hughes, and Associated Press racing writer Mike Farrell.
In the broadcast division, www.ustrotting.com was honored for its coverage of John Campbell’s retirement. The video was produced by Rich Johnston and the reporters were T.J. Burkett, Allison Conte, and Dave Briggs. Click here to watch the video.
Honorable mention went to CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the Sam McKee Memorial, with a tribute to McKee, produced by Oz Colon. The segment was co-produced by Peter Lasser.
The broadcast category was judged by multiple Emmy Award and Hervey Award-winning producer Bruce Casella, who has covered Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing throughout his career.
In the Smallsreed competition, Gooden won in the race action category for his photograph “Shadow Racing,” which appeared in the December issue of Hoof Beats.
Jacob Cohen won in the feature category for his sunset photograph of a horse on the track at Woodbine Racetrack that appeared on the Woodbine Facebook page on Oct. 19.
Honorable mention in the race action category went to Clive Cohen for his photograph “Fog,” which appeared on the Woodbine Facebook and Instagram pages. Honorable mention in the feature division went to Michael Burns for his photograph “Into the Sun,” which appeared on the Woodbine website.
Judges for the photography categories were racetrack and newspaper photographer Bill Denver, multiple Eclipse Award-winning photographer Barbara Livingston, and former harness racing groom and longtime newspaper/magazine photographer Phil McAuliffe.
Burkett and Settlemoir To receive President's Awards
Positive commentary and industrious promotion of harness racing are the best ways to gain new owners, fans and gamblers as well as retain the ones already engaged in order to keep this industry viable for the next generation. And there is no one that does these things more effectively on a daily basis than T.J. Burkett and Jason Settlemoir. As a result, they will each be presented an USHWA President’s Award for their contributions to the sport at the 2018 Dan Patch Awards banquet that will be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday (Feb. 25).
Burkett is the Executive Editor of Hoof Beats Magazine and has spent more than a decade working on the publication for the U.S. Trotting Association. After joining the USTA in 2007 as associate editor, he became the youngest-ever executive editor of Hoof Beats in December of 2010.
Burkett has continued the magazine's long tradition of providing harness racing fans with an insider’s view of the sport through in-depth features and profiles. But he has also directed the magazine’s focus to promoting the stars of racing, tackling the issues that racing faces and shining a light on those who work hard at every level, but haven't gotten the recognition they deserve.
During his tenure, Burkett has implemented some significant improvements in the monthly publication. Among the biggest was the transition of the annual Stan Bergstein experimental ratings to a modern day formula, the significant growth of the Hoof Beats photo contest and improving the digital format “Hoof Beats Direct” in 2013, making the magazine easily accessible through any handheld device.
Currently Burkett is supervising a major redesign of Hoof Beats that is scheduled to be unveiled in March of 2018. He is also leading the way on a project to digitize the entire historical archive of the magazine with search term capability.
Settlemoir is the COO/GM of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW at Bayonne, N.J., and is vice president of racing, simulcast and sponsorship for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs).
He is also simulcast director for the Little Brown Jug as well as their second announcer, a vice president of Harness Tracks of America, past president and chairman of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, a Grand Circuit and Little Brown Jug Society director, a member of the USHWA Hall of Fame Screening Committee, and a director for the United States Trotting Association.
Settlemoir was awarded the 2006 U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's Hall of Fame in 2011.
Settlemoir has also always been a big part of any community he has lived in and sat on the board of directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Tier Red Cross and the Tioga County United Way, where he was chair for the annual campaign drive, before making his move to The Meadowlands and New Jersey.
“T.J. and Jason were both born and raised in this business and have made it their life’s work. Their extensive first-hand experience gives them a unique understanding of harness racing at every level,” said Tim Bojarski, President of USHWA. “They both come to the office each day with a positive attitude towards the sport, its participants and the viability of its future, and they work to try to infuse that into every aspect of their individual responsibilities. As a result, I believe harness racing as a whole is better for their efforts now and will continue to improve in the future under their respective leadership roles.
“Although rivals at the academic level (Burkett went to Michigan State and Settlemoir to Ohio State), the Big 10 produced a great team of harness racing proponents who both have made significant contributions to date and will continue to do so for a long time” Bojarski concluded.
Holt named Unsung Hero; Carter earns Breakthrough
Broodmare Wild West Show honored
Three entities who gained a large measure of harness racing success while connected to “Upstate New York,” used here to refer to the part of the state not in the immediate neighborhood of New York City, have been named Dan Patch Award winners in voting by the U. S. Harness Writers Association, the largest media organization in the sport. Two of them are still very much part of the upper New York scene – Betty Holt, winner of the Unsung Hero award, and the team of Pacing Broodmare of the Year Wild West Show and owner Ray Schnittker – while the other – Michael Carter, winner of the Breakthrough Award for an up-and-coming non-horseperson, has furthered his profile elsewhere after gaining valuable early training in his craft while in the area.
Betty Holt is the executive director of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, an association based in Latham NY (just north of Albany), which, as one could expect from its name, furthers the cause of the breeders of Standardbreds in the Empire State. The tireless Holt monitors all New York-restricted harness activity in the state, from the Sire Stakes to sales to industry meetings, to promotion of the sport and ownership seminars. Holt is also the prime force behind a program that provides a “safety net” for at-risk New York-bred trotters and pacers, eventually hoping to land them on a restructuring and rehoming path, an activity funded by consignments to the Morrisville yearling sale. If there is an gathering, event, or movement that furthers the development of the breed and its shareholders in New York State, Betty Holt likely has a prominent role somewhere along the path to the winners circle.
Wild West Show’s victory was referred to as a “shootout” above because she was involved in the closest contest in the voting, beating out rival Western Montana by a single vote. But as is said in racing, you don’t ask “how much?” – you just praise the winner, and the offspring of Wild West Show, who is owned by Ray Schnittker of Middletown/Goshen after his partner Charles Iannazzo passed away earlier this year, certainly had an outstanding 2017. Huntsville, the 2016 two-year-old pacing colt of the year, came back in 2017 for Schnittker and earned over a million dollars while engaging with his two Brian Brown-trained archrivals, Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon, in many an important stakes contest. His full brother Wild Bill scored in 1:52.3f in an abbreviated freshman campaign and offered promise for the coming year’s big-money stakes.
Michael Carter, a native of Virginia, worked at his home state’s tracks of Colonial Downs and the Shenandoah County Fair, then got his big break by being named the primary track announcer at Buffalo Raceway in 2013, establishing himself as an accurate, interesting, and entertaining man behind the microphone while also assisting in mutuels and simulcasting. From there, Carter went on to his current position at Northfield Park, where he is the deputy announcer, also working in mutuels and the Ohio track’s social media efforts.
Carter has extended his “footprint” to the national level of the sport by joining with Mike Bozich of Harrah’s Philadelphia as half of the “Post Time With Mike And Mike” internet podcast. During its three years, the show has drawn a progressively-larger audience with its news reporting, extensive interviewing of the news making horsemen and track executives, live remotes from the sites of big races, and the annual “Post Time with Mike And Mike Awards.”
Betty Holt, Wild West Show and owner Ray Schnittker, and Michael Carter will all be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet’s Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special “portal” at the top of this page – but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at email@example.com.
Yannick Gingras is Driver of the Year
Hanover Shoe Farm named Breeder of the Year
In a year when he drove the horses ranking 1-2-3 in the final Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll and made a sweep of the female trotter divisional honors while contributing almost a quarter of his $12.9 million in seasonal sulky earnings, Yannick Gingras was selected Driver of the Year in balloting conducted among the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization.
One of this awesome distaff threesome benefiting from Gingras’ driving talents was older trotting mare champion Hannelore Hanover, whose dam, High Sobriety, earned honors as Trotting Broodmare of the Year. And that mother-daughter connection certainly factored into Hanover Shoe Farms being picked as Breeder of the Year.
Hanover Shoe Farms bred Hannelore Hanover, but perhaps just as importantly they set a single-season record for the earnings of the produce of one nursery, with $31.3 million registered into the last days of the season.
Yannick Gingras has earned the respect of the leading horsemen of this era to the extent that he is principal catch-driver for most of the top stakes performers trained by both Ron Burke and Jimmy Takter, the “friendly rivals” almost always battling for No. 1 bragging rights in the sport.
For Burke, Gingras guided the above-mentioned Hannelore Hanover, and for Takter, he steered 3-year-old Ariana G (a repeat divisional champion) and the undefeated 2-year-old Manchego. The group won 15 $100,000-plus stakes among themselves, and each won her respective Breeders Crown, with the three Crowns for Gingras putting him at the top of the 2017 table.
But it wasn’t all just going out there with the best horse and winning as expected for Gingras in 2017; he drove Filibuster Hanover, who going into the Little Brown Jug final was 2-for-13 on the season, and they combined to upset the “hometown favorite” 1-2 punch of Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon.
In total, Gingras won 33 stakes races worth $100,000 or more in 2017.
Before Hannelore Hanover made the spotlight, if someone had told you that High Sobriety would be in contention for the Trotting Broodmare of the Year award, you might have good reason to question that person’s sobriety. She had won once in a two-year racing career, and her first three foals had earned a combined total of $65,000. But then along came Hannelore Hanover, who added 10 wins, more than $1 million in earnings, and the second-fastest trotting mile in history -- a 1:49.2 win at Lexington -- to her already sizable accomplishments, and the glory of her campaign, where she defeated the boys on several occasions, brought honors to High Sobriety.
Hanover Shoe Farms is usually among the top names considered for Breeder of the Year honors and that only makes sense, for they have led the list of money-winning graduates for each of the 69 years that the USTA has been keeping that record. Along the way, there of course have been many, many champions bred by Hanover, with Hannelore Hanover joining the very highest of those ranks this year.
But the signal accomplishment of Hanover’s 2017 was the $31 million-plus intake by graduates of the farm. This broke the old record of $30.4 million which Hanover set in 2015, with that one breaking the old record set by Hanover in 2014.
Hanover aggressively replenishes and adds to its breeding stock year after year, and the results speak for themselves.
Yannick Gingras and Hanover Shoe Farms (as Breeder of the Year and as owner of the Trotting Broodmare of the Year, High Sobriety) will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards banquet, to be held on Sunday (Feb. 25) at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet’s Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special portal at the top of this website, but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at email@example.com.
Brian Brown named Top Trainer and Good Guy
Bruce Trogdon is Owner of the Year
Brian Brown, who trains at the fairgrounds in the Little Brown Jug’s hometown of Delaware OH and had been steadily making a bigger mark among North American conditioners over the last couple of years, had his breakthrough year in 2017, training two three-year-old colt pacers who were the leaders of their division much of the year and who were 1-2 in seasonal earnings, along with a star age/gait counterpart filly. These achievements earned Brown the Trainer of the Year Award as voted by the sport’s leading media organization, the U.S. Harness Writers Association, and they contributed mightily to his also being named the organization’s Good Guy Award winner for consistent, intelligent cooperation with the sport’s media.
The 53-year-old Brown saw his two top sophomore colts earn $2.95 million between them – Downbytheseaside ($1,602,452), whose late-season heroics included a win in the Breeders Crown and being named divisional champion, and Fear The Dragon ($1,350,146), who had ranked #1 in the weekly pools for much of the summer into the fall after major stakes wins throughout North America. (Ironically, one of the few major events not taken by one or the other of the Brown sophomore powerhouses was the Little Brown Jug, although Fear The Dragon did win the first heat.)
Joining Downbytheseaside as a Breeders Crown winner and divisional champion was three-year-old pacing filly Blazin Britches, an $800,000+ earner. And the rest of the Brown barn contributed earnings in the vicinity of $2 million, giving Brian a lifetime seasonal high bankroll of over $5.7M, despite starting fewer than 550 horses (he had a .402 UTR).
There were many highs during the campaigns of these three top horses, but there were also the inevitable dips in form and bouts with minor illnesses that virtually all racehorses experience. Whether in the winners circle, puzzling over an off performance, or pondering his charges’ upcoming races, Brown kept up an honest, informational stream of conversation (with consistent praise for the members of “Team Brown”) to a media whose readers wanted to know more about these equine stars. If Brown was elated by a horse’s top effort to win a big stake, there was no mistaking his enjoyment; similarly, if a horse’s form was rollercoastering a bit, you felt like you were on the up-and-down ride with Brown, awaiting the next turn in the journey. His intelligent candor enabled Brown to be selected for the Good Guy award, along with his Trainer of the Year honors.
Brown’s adept handling of Fear The Dragon and Blazin Britches brought out one solid performance after another from those talented horses, with their biggest cheerleader – owner Bruce Trogdon of Emerald Highlands Farm – usually present to share in the glory. Trogdon was also the breeder of Blazin Britches, and he bought the dam of Fear The Dragon with him in utero (already carrying the embryo), so Trogdon has been there from the literal very beginning of their lives through their two seasons of racing, including the successes of 2017. Thus the former newspaperman celebrated the 25th year of existence of his Emerald Highlands operation in the most successful way imaginable, capped by his winning the Owner of the Year award. Trogdon’s former “small operation,” Emerald Highlands, now has 37 broodmares, and likely a future champion or two maturing as they traverse the farm’s mid-Ohio fields.
Brian Brown, as both Trainer of the Year and the Good Guy Award winner, and owner Bruce Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm, will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet’s Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special “portal” at the top of this page – but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at email@example.com.
Trace Tetrick is the Rising Star; Tim Konkle USHWAN of the Year
The theme generated within Hoosier Park, host track for the 2017 Breeders Crowns, was “It’s Indiana Time,” and the track’s embodiment of that philosophy in all quarters, resulting in a superior show for harness racing’s year-end showcase, has earned it the Stan Bergstein/Proximity Award in year-end Dan Patch Awards voting by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading communications trade group.
In addition, the Writers singled out two other “Hoosiers” for awards – Trace Tetrick, the track’s leading driver and a double Breeders Crown winner at Hoosier, was voted the sport’s Rising Star among the backstretch set; and Tim Konkle, the hardworking editor of the important monthly Midwest Harness Report and an equally tireless supporter of USHWA, has been named USHWA’s Member of the Year.
Hoosier Park, in the town of Andersonville northeast of Indianapolis, in its 24th season of racing during 2017, was chosen to host the $6M Breeders Crown Championship Series, a gathering of the best horses in North American harness racing. Although the weather was not at its best throughout the weekend of the Championships, the racing proved fair to all horses and excellently-competitive – and the Hoosier Park staff rolled out the red carpet to racing’s elite horses and humans in a big way.
No amount of effort was spared in making the Breeders Crown experience memorable to everyone connected to it, right down to the Hoosier Park faithful who turned out en masse to see the national-caliber racing. All who were at the 7/8-mile track that weekend came away raving about Hoosier Park and its first-rate job in showcasing the Breeders Crown (and it didn’t hurt that a couple of Indiana-bred and Indiana-based horsemen showed up in Victory Lane, either).
The leading driver at Hoosier Park over the last couple of years, Trace Tetrick, again led the sulkysitter’s colony in 2017, but it was largely his work on his track’s big weekend that drew the national attention to his developing abilities. Trace visited the Crown winners circle with three-year-old pacing filly Blazin Britches, last week voted champion in her division, and with the homegrown Indiana stakes competitor, two-year-old colt trotter Fiftydallarbill, among five winners on the weekend’s two cards.
Trace Tetrick, who was fourth in North America in wins at press time with 559 and who set a personal seasonal money record with $6.7M in horses driven, joins his brother Tim, who won the Rising Star Award exactly ten years ago, and who has since gone on to have “some success” in the sulky on the North American scene.
Tim Konkle has been chronicling the Indiana scene for going on 20 years now, giving the racing at Hoosier, Indiana Downs when it raced Standardbreds, and the Indiana fairs and sales prominent attention in his magazine. Formerly best-known as the Hoosier Horse Review, Konkle expanded the purview of the publication when Ohio brought in gaming legislature, and under the name Midwest Harness Review Tim now keeps his readership posted on the major stories in the Hoosier state, the Buckeye state, and the surrounding harness racing area.
For USHWA, Konkle has served as a Director of the At-Large membership group for two years. His preliminary spadework aided greatly with Hoosier Park being the title sponsor of the latest Dan Patch Awards Banquet, and he continues in his efforts to help the organization raise money and then use it wisely in its various activities.
Hoosier Park, Trace Tetrick, and Tim Konkle will all be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, February 25 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet’s Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at email@example.com.
USHWA announces the 2017 Dan Patch Award divisional winners
History-making Pure Country and Manchego, unanimous selections Ariana G and Hannelore Hanover, and money-leader Downbytheseaside were among the 12 horses named 2017 Dan Patch Award winners Thursday by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Pure Country became the first female pacer in history to receive Dan Patch honors at ages 2, 3 and 4. The complete list of award-winning pacers is Pure Country (older female), Downbytheseaside (3-year-old male), Blazin Britches (3-year-old female) Lost In Time (2-year-old male), Youaremycandygirl (2-year-old female) and Keystone Velocity (older male).
Manchego became the first undefeated 2-year-old female trotter to win a Dan Patch trophy since the category for fillies was created in 1978. In addition to Manchego, the divisional award-winning trotters are Ariana G (3-year-old female), Hannelore Hanover (older female), Fourth Dimension (2-year-old male), What The Hill (3-year-old male) and Marion Marauder (older male).
Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, and Marion Marauder are repeat winners.
A total of 131 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s membership this year.
Dan Patch Award winners will be honored at a banquet Feb. 25 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year will be announced.
Ariana G, one of four Dan Patch Award winners from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, won 12 of 15 races this year and earned $1.12 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the filly. Driven by Yannick Gingras, her victories included the Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown, and Elegantimage Stakes.
Five-year-old Hannelore Hanover, the first repeat winner in the trotting mare division since Buck I St Pat captured three trophies in a row from 2008-10, won 10 of 17 races this season and earned $1.04 million. She became the fastest female trotter in history when she won the Allerage Farms Open Trot in 1:49.2 at Lexington’s Red Mile and was the first mare to beat the boys in the Breeders Crown Open since Moni Maker in 1998.
Other wins for the Ron Burke-trained Hannelore Hanover included the Maple Leaf Trot, where she also defeated male rivals, and the Armbro Flight Stakes. She is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. Gingras was her regular driver.
Marion Marauder, a 4-year-old stallion who was last season’s Trotter of the Year, won three of 10 races this year and earned $769,182 for owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. Marion Marauder’s victories included the Hambletonian Maturity and Graduate Series championship and he was second in the International Trot. He was trained by the wife-and-husband team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling and driven by Scott Zeron.
What The Hill, another trotter from the Burke stable, won nine of 18 races this year and earned $948,178 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. His triumphs included the Breeders Crown and Canadian Trotting Classic and he concluded his campaign by beating older horses in the TVG Series championship. He was driven by David Miller.
Manchego was a perfect 12-for-12 this season and earned $873,948 for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, and Herb Liverman. Trained by Takter and driven by Gingras, her wins included the Breeders Crown, Jim Doherty Memorial, and Peaceful Way Stakes.
Fourth Dimension, trained by Marcus Melander for owner Courant Inc., won eight of 11 races and earned $397,410. His wins included the Valley Victory Stakes. He was driven by Brian Sears.
All of the winning trotters received at least 78 percent of the vote with the exception of Marion Marauder, who garnered 53.4 percent as he outdistanced runner-up Crazy Wow by 31 votes.
Pure Country joined male pacer Jenna’s Beach Boy as the only pacers in the last 45 years to receive divisional honors at ages 2, 3 and 4. Jenna’s Beach Boy accomplished the feat from 1994-96. The homebred Pure Country won five of 16 races and earned $461,168 for owner Diamond Creek Racing and trainer Takter. All her wins came in her final 10 starts, with Mark MacDonald in the sulky, and included the Breeders Crown, TVG Series championship, and Lady Liberty.
Downbytheseaside finished his campaign with a four-race win streak on his way to leading the sport with $1.60 million in purses. The colt’s victories included the Messenger Stakes, Progress Pace, Carl Milstein Memorial, and Art Rooney Pace. He was trained by Brian Brown and owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing. Chris Page, Brian Sears, and David Miller all guided the horse to stakes wins.
He received 89.3 percent of the vote as he outpaced runner-up Fear The Dragon, who also was trained by Brown.
Youaremycandygirl, history’s fastest 2-year-old female pacer thanks to her 1:50 mile in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington, won nine of 11 races this year and closed the season with a seven-race win streak. Her victories included the Breeders Crown, She’s A Great Lady, and Three Diamonds. She earned $895,615 for owner Bill Donovan, trainer Burke and drivers Gingras and Louis-Philippe Roy.
Lost In Time, who was trained by Jim Mulinix before heading to the Takter stable for his final two starts, won five of nine races and earned $608,112 for owners A Rocknroll Dance Racing, Denny Miller, William Rufenacht, and Team S Racing Stable. His victories included the Metro Pace and Governor’s Cup. He was driven by Zeron.
Blazin Britches won the balloting’s closest vote, defeating runner-up Agent Q by 14 votes among 3-year-old female pacers. Blazin Britches, trained by Brown for breeder/owner Emerald Highlands Farm, won 11 of 15 races and earned $540,424. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown, Nadia Lobell, and Shady Daisy. She was driven primarily by Trace Tetrick, but also scored a stakes victory with David Miller.
In the division for older male pacers, nine horses received at least one vote, with Keystone Velocity coming out on top by 31 votes over runner-up Mach It So. The 9-year-old Keystone Velocity won eight of 22 races and earned $783,442 for owners Allard Racing, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr., and VIP Internet Stable. His victories included the Ben Franklin Pace and Levy Memorial Series championship. Trained by Rene Allard, he was driven by Dan Dube and Simon Allard.
2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
Fourth Dimension (103 votes/78.6 percent)
Chapter Seven – Corazon Blue Chip – Muscle Hill
Yearling price: $200,000 under name Seventh Wonder at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeders: Ray Schnittker, Steven Arnold, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Arden Homestead Stable.
Owner: Courant Inc.
Trainer: Marcus Melander. Driver: Brian Sears.
Races: 11-8-1-0. Purses: $397,410. Mark: 1:52.4 at Lexington.
Top wins: $464,650 Valley Victory; $59,400 International Stallion Stakes division.
2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Manchego (130 votes/99.2 percent)
Muscle Hill – Secret Magic – Cantab Hall
Yearling price: $120,000 under name Whispering Hills at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeder: Brittany Farms.
Owners: Black Horse Racing, John Fielding, Herb Liverman.
Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 12-12-0-0. Purses: $873,948. Mark: 1:52.4 at Mohawk.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $330,800 Jim Doherty Memorial; $307,500 Peaceful Way.
3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER
What The Hill (120 votes/91.6 percent)
Muscle Hill – K T Cha Cha – Angus Hall
Yearling price: $65,000 at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeder: Stan Klemencic.
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, Deo Volente Farms.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: David Miller.
Races: 18-9-1-2. Purses: $948,178. Mark: 1:51.4 at Mohawk.
Top wins: $560,880 Canadian Trotting Classic; $527,500 Breeders Crown; $350,000 TVG Championship.
3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER
Ariana G (131 votes/100 percent)
Muscle Hill – Cantab It All – Cantab Hall
Yearling price: Homebred.
Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld.
Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld.
Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 15-12-2-1. Purses: $1.12 million. Mark: 1:51.1 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $315,700 Elegantimage.
OLDER MALE TROTTER
Marion Marauder (70 votes/53.4 percent)
Muscle Hill – Spellbound Hanover – Donerail
Yearling price: $37,000 under name Marion Monopoly at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeder: William Mulligan.
Owners: Marion Jean Wellwood, Devin Keeling.
Trainers: Mike Keeling, Paula Wellwood. Driver: Scott Zeron.
Races: 10-3-3-2. Purses: $769,182. Mark: 1:51.2 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $458,750 Hambletonian Maturity; $240,000 Graduate Championship.
OLDER FEMALE TROTTER
Hannelore Hanover (131 votes/100 percent)
Swan For All – High Sobriety – Dream Vacation
Yearling price: $32,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale.
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms.
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, J&T Silva Stables.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Driver: Yannick Gingras.
Races: 17-10-5-0. Purses: $1.04 million. Mark: 1:49.2 (world record) at Lexington.
Top wins: $526,250 Breeders Crown Open; $486,260 Maple Leaf Trot; $184,690 Armbro Flight.
2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER
Lost In Time (96 votes/73.2 percent)
A Rocknroll Dance – Summer Mystery – Artiscape
Yearling price: $47,000 at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owners: A Rocknroll Dance Racing, Denny Miller, William Rufenacht, Team S Racing Stable.
Trainers: Jim Mulinix, Jimmy Takter. Driver: Scott Zeron.
Races: 9-5-2-0. Purses: $608,112. Mark: 1:50.1 at Mohawk.
Top wins: $660,960 Metro Pace; $411,700 Governor’s Cup; $58,000 International Stallion Stakes division.
2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER
Youaremycandygirl (128 votes/97.7 percent)
American Ideal – Sweet Lady Jane – Somebeachsomewhere
Yearling price: $150,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale.
Breeder: Birnam Wood Farms.
Owner: W J (Bill) Donovan.
Trainer: Ron Burke. Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Louis Roy.
Races: 11-9-0-0. Purses: $895,615. Mark: 1:50 (world record) at Lexington.
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $405,000 She’s A Great Lady; $381,200 Three Diamonds.
3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER
Downbytheseaside (117 votes/89.3 percent)
Somebeachsomewhere – Sprig Hanover – Allamerican Native
Yearling price: $65,000 under name Beach Blue Chip at Lexington Selected Sale.
Breeders: Blue Chip Farms, Janet Seltzer, Jeffrey Scott Rabinowitz, Jordan Farkas, Robert Wood.
Owners: Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, Diamond Creek Racing.
Trainer: Brian Brown. Drivers: Chris Page, Brian Sears, David Miller.
Races: 22-14-2-3. Purses: $1.60 million. Mark: 1:48.3 at Dover Downs.
Top wins: $500,000 Messenger; $308,060 Progress; $300,000 Carl Milstein Memorial; $300,000 Art Rooney Pace.
3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER
Blazin Britches (66 votes/50.3 percent)
Rock N Roll Heaven – Soggy Britches – Allamerican Ingot
Yearling price: Homebred.
Breeder: Emerald Highlands Farm.
Owner: Emerald Highlands Farm.
Trainer: Brian Brown. Drivers: Trace Tetrick, David Miller.
Races: 15-11-2-0. Purses: $540,424. Mark: 1:48.4 at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $160,000 Nadia Lobell; $113,950 Shady Daisy.
OLDER MALE PACER
Keystone Velocity (65 votes/49.6 percent)
Western Hanover – Venus Killean – Run The Table
Yearling price: $3,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale.
Breeder: George Hempt.
Owners: Allard Racing, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr., VIP Internet Stable.
Trainer: Rene Allard. Drivers: Dan Dube, Simon Allard.
Races: 22-8-3-1. Purses: $783,442. Mark: 1:47.3 at Rosecroft.
Top wins: $529,000 Levy Championship; $500,000 Ben Franklin; $100,000 Potomac Pace.
OLDER FEMALE PACER
Pure Country (121 votes/92.3 percent)
Somebeachsomewhere – Western Montana – Western Hanover
Yearling price: Homebred.
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm.
Owner: Diamond Creek Racing.
Trainer: Jimmy Takter. Driver: Mark MacDonald.
Races: 16-5-3-1. Purses: $461,168. Mark: 1:48 (Q) at Meadowlands.
Top wins: $250,000 Breeders Crown; $200,400 Lady Liberty; $175,000 TVG Championship.
Ohio USHWA chapter names 2017 award winners
The Ohio Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association will hand out its annual awards at the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association banquet on Saturday (Jan. 13) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Columbus (Worthington).
The Ohio Chapter has voted Brian Brown as the recipient of the Winner’s Circle Award for the Ohioan who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the past year; Cameron McCown as the Peter Haughton Memorial Award winner as the young Ohioan who is an “up-and-coming” star among harness horsemen; Joe Adamsky into the Immortal Hall of Fame; Feelin Friskie into the Standardbred Hall of Fame; and Ed Mullinax as the winner of the Rambling Willie Award for the Ohioan who has done the most for harness racing over the past two decades.
Brown, 53, enjoyed a career year as he conditioned three of the top pacers in the country; Downbytheseaside ($1,602,452 in seasonal earnings), Fear The Dragon ($1,350,146), and filly Blazin Britches ($540,424). The Brown Stable earned $5.8 million this season and secured a .402 UTR and was selected as the “Trainer of the Year” by the United States Harness Writers Association.
McCown is a 29-year-old resident of Ostrander, Ohio. McCown had 86 wins and his drives earned $330,892 in purse money. McCown started driving in 2014 and earned an impressive .379 UDRS this season.
Adamsky was one of the top drivers in Ohio during the 1980s and 1990s. For his career he posted 2,707 victories and more than $11.4 million in purses. The native of Rochester, Michigan, won 12 Ohio Sires Stakes finals, including four with Ohio Standardbred Hall of Fame member, Majestic Osborne. Adamsky received the Achievement award from the Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers’ Association in 2002 and was the first Jerry Kaltenbach Trophy winner, awarded to the top driver in the Ohio Sire Stakes series.
Feelin Friskie earned $784,210 during his racing career, but the son of Artiscape left his mark on Ohio racing in the breeding shed. Owned by Wayne Whebby and Midland Acres, Feelin Friskie sired winners of $12.9 million and 78 foals in 1:55, including Igotafeelinfran ($569,650), Noble Finesse ($415,886) and Feelin Lika Winner ($344,996).
Mullinax, is a successful breeder and owner of Standardbreds, including P Forty Seven, winner of the 2005 Little Brown Jug, and Dragon Again, winner of $2.3 million and a successful stallion, who fathered the sports richest performer, Foiled Again ($7.5 million). Mullinax is a supporter and sponsor of many industry events including the Hambletonian, the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and the Breeders Crown.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 email@example.com