United States Harness Writers Association

Six to enter Harness Racing Hall of Fame

 

Results from the balloting for harness racing’s highest honor, membership in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, are in, and at the July 7, 2019, Hall of Fame induction dinner, a record number of six people will be feted as Hall of Fame inductees -- Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano, Ted Wing, and Jerry Silverman.

The balloting was conducted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading group of communicators.

All of the Hall of Famers except Silverman achieved their distinction by getting 75 percent-plus of the “yes-no” ballots distributed in mid-summer; eligible for voting for the Hall of Famers were qualified members of USHWA and the existing Hall of Fame members. Those on the ballot were decided by the USHWA Screening Committee from the nominations of the writers’ chapters.

Silverman was selected for direct admission to the Hall, through the bylaws of USHWA and its Veteran category, which once every three years allows its Hall of Fame Screening Committee to choose one nominee (aged 70-plus) to directly become a Hall of Famer, and was announced earlier.

Blair Burgess now completes a “Hall of Fame double,” having been voted into the Hall in his native Canada last year. Burgess has been a frequent figure in the winner's circle of the sport’s top races: the Hambletonian (Amigo Hall and Triple Crown winner Glidemaster), Breeders Crown (Real Desire), Meadowlands Pace (Frugal Gourmet and Real Desire) and Little Brown Jug (Tell All). Real Desire and Glidemaster were both voted Horse of the Year by the harness writers. Twice the trainer of the Year in Canada, Burgess is the son of Canadian Hall of Fame breeder/owner/executive Bob Burgess.

Ted Gewertz first caught the harness racing “bug” when Kennedy was president, and his love for the sport has not waned over the years. He has been co-owner of three Hambletonian winners -- Giant Victory, Windsong’s Legacy (Triple Crown winner and Trotter of the Year), and Deweycheatumnhowe -- in addition to such horses as Huntsville and Housethatruthbuilt, the latter having her best year in 2004, when USHWA named Gewertz the Owner of the Year. Conscious of keeping the highest standards in the sport, Gewertz is a director of the Hambletonian Society and a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum.

Joe Holloway started in the sport as a caretaker in his native Delaware when he was in grade school. Holloway connected with the uppermost level of the sport with his masterful handling of Jenna's Beach Boy, three-time Breeders Crown winner, twice Pacer of the Year, and a horse whose record for a race mile of 1:47.3 stood for a decade. Holloway, voted the sport’s top trainer in 1995, has since buffed up his resume by developing She’s A Great Lady, Shebestingin, and Somwherovrarainbow, as well as the handling of 1:46 pacer Always B Miki at two and three.

Linda Toscano has long had a harness background association, dating back to her driving ponies in races when her age was in single digits. She served an apprenticeship with legendary New York City horseman Buddy Regan, then went out on her own in 1985. Toscano has attracted widespread attention throughout much of the current decade, including being named 2012 Trainer of the Year by USHWA; in that year alone she had the Hambletonian winner Market Share, but he was a (high-class) second fiddle that year to Horse of the Year winner Chapter Seven. The ill-fated Walner, champion 3-year-old Heston Blue Chip, and half-mile track world champion Jet Laag have also benefited from her care and tutelage.

Ted Wing was an Olympic-caliber skier before suffering an injury, and the loss of the downhill sport was harness racing’s gain, as the native of Maine captured titles in New England in his early years of the sport, then emerged as one of the leading horsemen in the founding days of The Meadowlands, balancing his racing at that track with regular duty at Roosevelt/Yonkers. Inducted into the New England Harness Racing Hall of Fame the same year as Bill O’Donnell and Jim Doherty, who would later go on to the national Hall, Wing has been an important part in the success of such stars as Skip By Night, Gallo Blue Chip, Butler BG, and Calvert.

Jerry Silverman was one of the leading Grand Circuit trainers for five decades, from the 1960s through the 2000s. He made a big impact in 1966, when he was 31 (a “mere pup” among the trainers of his days), with Triple Crown winner Romeo Hanover, and the subsequent years saw a stream of champions such as Fame, Hit Parade, Masquerade, Saccharum, Die Laughing, and Glowing Report (the last-named a stakes winner 40 years after Romeo Hanover) among the large stable that he ran with intelligence and endurance. Silverman retired four years ago, but continues assisting his son Richie, himself a fine horseman.

Mark Hall, Dave Little to Communicators Hall of Fame

Mark Hall, the U.S. Trotting Association photographer who holds the modern record for citations for excellence in his field, and Dave Little, who has successfully worked in such journalistic areas as writing, editing, handicapping, race announcing, and television commentary, have been announced as new members of the Communicators Hall of Fame.

To determine the Communicators Hall of Famers, chapter nominees were whittled down to five finalists by a blue-ribbon panel of USHWAns, and then the organization’s directors selected two of that quintet for placement on the summer election ballot. They were elected by winning 75 percent-plus of the “yes-no” ballots returned in a midsummer balloting, with all active members of USHWA eligible to vote, held in conjunction with the Hall of Fame voting.

Mark Hall has worked in the photography department of the U.S. Trotting Association for more than 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 joined the team in publicity and TV functions at the mighty Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey after working 24 years as the Racing Editor of the New York Daily News. Little 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 N.Y., and he is a longtime director of USHWA, as is his wife Debbie, who handicaps for the cross-city New York Post and is president of USHWA's New York City chapter.

The group will first be publicly honored at the USHWA Dan Patch Banquet, to be held on Feb. 24, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando Fla., where the Hall of Famers will take their first ensemble bow during the banquet honoring the top humans and equines of the previous year’s racing. Then comes the July 7 formal induction to the Hall of Fame, at a dinner set just outside the building in which their likeness will be placed to immortalize their selection as harness racing’s best of the best.

USHWA Names First Three Members in new "Youth" Category

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) is the world’s oldest organization for harness racing communicators, but it’s always open to new ideas and new members.

At their 2018 annual meetings in Orlando, FL, USHWA directors approved the introduction of a Youth Membership category. This non-voting category was designed for aspiring harness racing media members, 21 years of age and younger.

USHWA Youth Membership Committee Chair Melissa Keith is pleased to welcome the first three youth members. The organization’s three newest members were nominated by their local USHWA chapters.

Nathan Bain was nominated by the Canada chapter. One of the youngest racecallers in North America, he handles social media at Ontario’s Leamington Raceway. Bain joined Dresden Raceway as an on-track host, handicapper, and social media co-ordinator this year.

Jessica Hallett was nominated by the Florida chapter. She is a writer who has contributed to the Harnesslink site for nearly a year; chapter president Steve Wolf notes that one of her articles even went national. Hallett is also a member of the U.S. Trotting Association’s Youth Committee.

Ryder Skinner was nominated by the Delaware Valley chapter. He was the first applicant for youth membership in USHWA. Chapter president Matt Sparacino says, “He is always eager to engage racing participants and is no doubt a true fan of the game, who is very likely a future member of the harness racing workforce in some capacity.”

USHWA will offer one year of complimentary youth membership dues to Bain, Hallett, and Skinner, thanks to the generosity of Tim Konkle (2017 Dan Patch USHWAn of the Year; editor of Midwest Harness Report).

USHWA Youth Membership is an ongoing pilot project for the media organization. Future plans involve learning more about the goals of the inaugural trio of youth members; developing ways for chapters to support their youth members’ aspirations in the sport; and making the Youth Membership category a helpful resource for tomorrow’s racing media.

For further information, visit www.ushwa.net, or contact committee chair Melissa Keith (mkeith71@gmail.com or via @USHWACanada on Twitter).

President Shawn's Summer Newsletter

Goshen Weekend

Mother Nature certainly knows when to turn up the heat, and it is always the first Sunday in July! This year’s Hall of Fame Dinner was a well-attended event. The Hall welcomed its newest inductees, Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius–Kleberg, and the Communicators Hall of Fame saw the talented Dave Briggs and Carl Becker enshrined. Hakan Wallner was inducted into the Immortals Hall of Fame.

This year’s Hall of Fame nominees are Blair Burgess, Ted Gewertz, Joe Holloway, Linda Toscano and Ted Wing. Congratulations to the Veterans category Hall honoree Jerry Silverman, directly selected by the Screening Committee per the bylaws. The Communicators Hall of Fame nominees are Mark Hall and Dave Little, per the Directors vote at our Florida national meetings. The seven candidates mentioned above are on the balloting materials which you should have received recently (see section below).

Many USHWA members were present for the USHWA winners circle presentation during the Sunday races at Goshen.

USHWA Donations

During the dinner, USHWA National presented a check to the Hall of Fame in the amount of $5,000. This is the second consecutive year we have made this contribution, to show appreciation for all the good that the Hall provides to the sport, and for its mutual cooperation with USHWA.

USHWA also made a $2,500 donation to those affected by the fire at the Mount Hope Training Center, where over 2 dozen horses perished in the fire.

Ballot Material

By this time, you should have received your voting materials for the Hall of Fame and Communicators Hall of Fame candidates. (If not, please let the secretary know IMMEDIATELY!)

CAREFULLY review the instructions. You must make one selection per candidate! You can vote yes for all candidates if you desire. If you have any questions, please reach out to myself or your Chapter president.

A list of non-voters to that point will be sent to the chapter officers at the end of this week, so that they may follow up and make sure the “maximum vote is gotten out.”

Last year’s By Law Change on Chapter Directors

Chapters may be affected by last year’s By Law change that states each Chapter will have only one chapter director attend the USHWA meetings, and that the Director must be named 30 days prior to the national meeting. Chapters are recommended to meet and discuss this item well in advance of the dinner to avoid any last-minute confusion, such as when making travel arrangements.

Upcoming Items

This year’s Breeders Crown Championship Night is on October 27 at Pocono Downs. Shortly after that we will be voting on year-end honors, both human and equine (and it is recommended that chapters try to organize a meeting shortly thereafter to discuss chapter nominations for these awards – perhaps this could also be the occasion when the chapter director is decided).

…And then the Dan Patch Awards Banquet and national meetings will be upon us before we know it!

Raffle Items

Continue to keep a sharp eye out for potential Silent Auction and Raffle items. These items greatly benefit the bottom line of the organization from the revenue that they create.

Shawn Wiles
President of USHWA

Siegel and Wallenius-Kleberg inducted to HOF

 

Jules Siegel and Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg took different roads to success as harness racing breeders and owners, but those paths merged Sunday when they were inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame during ceremonies on the grounds of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.

Siegel, a retired pharmacist who operated a chain of drug stores before turning his full attention to harness racing, owns Pennsylvania’s Fashion Farms. Siegel and his late wife Arlene owned 1995 Hambletonian Stakes winner Tagliabue. Other successes have included eight divisional champion horses and five victories in the Breeders Crown.

Siegel and Wallenius-Kleberg were inducted into the sport's Hall of Fame at the Harness Racing Museum on Sunday evening.

Wallenius-Kleberg, the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame, is widely regarded as the First Lady of International Trotting. She owns Menhammar Stuteri, the renowned breeding farm that has led Sweden in purses each of the past 11 years. The farm was purchased by her father, shipping magnate Olof Wallenius, in 1947 and has produced an impressive list of notable trotters.

She was introduced by USTA President Russell Williams, who spoke first in Swedish and then in English.

"Being here tonight is the result of a fantastic combination of American and Swedish friends and partnerships through the years," Wallenius-Kleberg said. "I do hope I can fulfill what is expected of me as a Hall of Famer. And as the first woman with this title, I hope I can be inspiration to all girls and young women out there."

Also honored Sunday were the late horseman Hakan Wallner, who was inducted into the Hall of Immortals; writer Dave Briggs and announcer Carl Becker, who were inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame; horses Cantab HallWestern Ideal, Gala Dream, and Sweet Future; and amateur driving champion Hannah Miller.

Siegel was steered into harness racing by his wife Arlene, a retired nurse whom Jules has called “the real inspiration” for a retirement spent with horses. The couple worked together at Fashion Farms, with Arlene among those who guided Jules through the early years of the farm’s operation, even getting him to assist with mares when foals were born.

“This honor is by far one of the most unbelievable experiences of my 90 years," Siegel said. “First, mostly John Campbell was my go-to guy in the beginning. I was amazed at his consistent ability to make good horses into great winners. Jim Campbell, my trainer, taught me how the horse business works. How in the world can I ever reward him for all he’s done for me?

“The one person who is responsible for my standing here is my wife Arlene who made all this possible. She told me ‘dear, I will not let you retire to nothing.’”

The Siegels received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers Association in 2002 and 2009 and Siegel was Standardbred Canada’s Owner of the Decade for the 2000s. Other honors included being named the Pennsylvania chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Breeder of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

Tagliabue was the first of the Siegels’ Dan Patch Award-winning horses, followed by two-time recipient Galleria, Broadway Hall, Broadway Schooner, Possess The Will, and two-time honoree Broadway Donna.

Broadway Schooner, a daughter of Broadway Hall bred by the Siegels, won the 2009 Hambletonian Oaks and is the dam of Broadway Donna.

Wallenius-Kleberg was one of the first people to recognize the importance of international bonds among trotting breeders and regulators. She created a North American-European comingling of racing and breeding talent with her partner, the late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, headed by stallions Zoot Suit and Smokin Yankee.

Zoot Suit was Sweden’s top sire for six consecutive years, 1991-96, and was preceded at the top of the list by Smokin Yankee in 1990. Menhammar Stuteri also was home to two-time U.S. Horse of the Year Mack Lobell.

One of Menhammar’s earliest stars was Big Noon, who was Scandinavia’s version of American’s early 20th century star Dan Patch. Among the horses bred by the farm are 2014 Prix d’Amerique winner Maharajah, 2013 Elitloppet winner From Above, and 2005 Hambletonian Oaks winner Jalopy.

USTA/Mark Hall photos
Becker and Briggs entered the Communicators Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Beginning this year, Menhammar Stuteri stands recently retired Nuncio, who was a star in North America and Europe. Nuncio’s wins included the Kentucky Futurity, Yonkers Trot, and Elitloppet.

After Wallenius-Kleberg’s purchase of Zoot Suit from Woolworth, the two trotting devotees developed a bond that opened doors in North America for her burgeoning interests in trotting. Wallenius-Kleberg began keeping and breeding mares in the U.S. and having fillies trained and raced in North America before they entered the Menhammar broodmare band.

By the 1980s, Wallenius-Kleberg was a familiar figure at the Hambletonian, the Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile, and the Hall of Fame weekend in Goshen. She also traveled to Florida regularly to see her young horses in training.

Concurrently she was developing contacts and friendships throughout Europe so that she could broaden the Menhammar influence on the continent. She was a regular at the Prix d’Amerique in Paris and cultivated contacts among French horsemen and breeders.

Recognizing the importance of sustaining the trotting sport, Margareta has assisted and encouraged many young people in racing. She always insisted on the highest standards in the horses she acquired and used her business skills to operate successfully.

Already a member of Sweden’s Trotting Hall of Fame, Wallenius-Kleberg has held numerous positions in organizations related to the sport in her native country and abroad and worked to promote harness racing on both sides of the Atlantic. She is a Hambletonian Society director and received the Harness Racing Museum’s Pinnacle Award in 2011.

Wallner, too, was a globe-trotting pioneer who raised the bar of Swedish racing and breeding to an international level. Wallner, who won the Elitloppet and Prix d’Amerique in Europe, was convinced he could succeed in the U.S. as a trainer of trotters and in a short amount of time he was competing at the highest level and affecting every facet of harness racing from the yearling sales to the Grand Circuit.

With Jan Johnson and Berndt Lindstedt he founded Continental Farm, which counted among its many accomplishments winning the first-ever Breeders Crown race with Workaholic in 1984. The stable was a force in the series, winning four trophies and $2.85 million in the first eight years of the Breeders Crown. Its $3.94 million in purses overall in the event remain No. 6 among all trainers in history.

Continental Farm also won the Hambletonian in 1988 with Armbro Goal and multiple editions of the Hambletonian Oaks.

Wallner led the way for other Scandinavian and European horsemen to move to the U.S. and compete at the sport’s highest level. The list includes Soren and Jan Nordin, Jimmy Takter, Per Eriksson, Per Henrikson, Stefan Melander, Mario Zuanetti and Pekka Korpi. Collectively that group has nine Hambletonian winners.

Wallner died Jan. 20, 2001, in Treviso, Italy. He was inducted to the Swedish Trotting Hall of Fame in 2015.

USHWA CONTRIBUTES $5000 TO HOF/HRM

At its annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Sunday, July 1, the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame was a recipient of a check for $5000 from the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading media organization.

Two years ago, the Directors of USHWA made a change in the organization’s rules and regulations of operation, mandating a $5000 contribution to the Hall and Museum. USHWA has been entrusted with conducting the annual elections for the sport’s highest honor, acceptance into the Hall of Fame, with its membership joining with present Hall of Famers in voting to honor the best of the best. The organization is proud of the work of the Hall and the Museum, and is glad to contribute to ongoing operations.

Shawn Wiles, president of USHWA, is also Manager of Racing Operations at nearby Monticello Raceway; in fact, his USHWA chapter is named the Monticello-Goshen Chapter, and he is very aware of the importance of and the ongoing good work done by his “backyard neighbor.” Noted Wiles, “The preservation and promotion of the achievements of the sport’s greatest participants who have been honored by election to the Hall would be enough for many organizations. But the Hall/Museum also serves as the sport’s main repository of history for today’s racing fans, and often is on the road with exhibits, furthering exposure for the sport; it also has a component that tries to encourage the fans of tomorrow, to introduce them to harness racing at a young age.”

The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame is open 361 days a year in Goshen NY; their website’s address is www.harnessmuseum.com.

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.

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

Horse of the Year - HANNELORE HANOVER

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.

Download your Dan Patch Awards Red Carpet photos now!

All photos were taken by award winning photographer Chris Gooden at the banquet at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando on Sunday, February 25.

Posted by Chris Gooden on Saturday, March 3, 2018

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.

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.

Breaking News

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 ushwainfo@gmail.com.

Siegel, Wallenius-Kleberg to Hall of Fame

Longtime Pennsylvania owner and breeder Jules Siegel, less than two months short of his 90th birthday, joins Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, one of the driving forces of harness racing in her native Sweden and a leader in European-American harness connections, as members of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame after their election by a joint polling of the members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading media organization, and elected members of the Hall of Fame.
Elected as members of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame by a vote of USHWA members were Carl Becker, veteran announcer-pedigree expert-auctioneer based in his native Midwest, and Dave Briggs, whose nine Hervey Awards for outstanding writing have set the standard for quality harness racing journalism in recent years.
In both cases, nominations were made by chapters of the harness writers and then winnowed down to these four by blue-ribbon panels of veteran journalists. Each nominee needed 75 percent of the yes-no votes cast by eligible electors to gain the sport’s ultimate honor.

Irrepressible Siegel enters Hall; Wallenius-Kleberg first female inductee

Jules Siegel was at Pocono a couple of weeks ago when his Fashionwoodchopper (carrying the name of his Fashion Farms) won a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. And it is safe to say that of the large group in and near the winner’s circle, no one was more excited than
the soon-to-be nonagenarian.

Jules SiegelSiegel 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.Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg
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 BeckerCarl 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.

Dave BriggsWith 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.

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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 ushwainfo@gmail.com