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              Proud sponsor of the 2017 Dan Patch Awards Banquet

Brian Sears, winner of more than 9,600 races and $172 million in purses, must receive at least 75 percent of votes from USHWA members and living Hall of Famers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

Driver Brian Sears, a third-generation horseman, is the sole nominee on the ballot in voting for the 2017 Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

The Harness Racing Hall of Fame screening committee met the weekend of July 3 in Goshen and reviewed nominations from 11 chapters of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Sears was the only candidate to make the ballot.

The ballot will be sent to 223 members of USHWA and existing Hall of Fame inductees in August. A nominee must receive 75 percent of votes cast to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Results will be announced when tabulated. 

Sears, who plies his trade primarily on the east coast, has 9,601 wins in nearly 50,000 starts. He has exceeded $10 million in annual purse earnings nine times for a total of just over $172 million.

He concluded another outstanding driving year in 2015 with the highlights including capturing his third Hambletonian win with Pinkman and grabbing divisional Dan Patch Award honors behind the great trotting mare Bee A Magician. Sears has driving wins in classic races such as 10 of the 12 divisions of the Breeders Crown, Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug, Kentucky Futurity, Meadowlands Pace, North America Cup, Yonkers Trot, Messenger, Cane, Adios, Battle of Brandywine, Canadian Trotting Classic, Metro, Stanley Dancer, Del Miller and Canadian Pacing Derby.

He has been the primary driver on three Dan Patch Harness Horses of the Year: Muscle Hill in 2009, Bee A Magician in 2013 and Rocknroll Hanover in 2005.

Racing has been a family affair for Sears. His father, Jay, won more than 1,400 races and purses of over $3.3 million. Brian’s grandfather, the late Gene Sears, was also a 1,000-plus race winner who won $1.7 million in purses during his career.

Members of the United States Harness Writers Association welcomed David Miller to the winner's circle.

USHWAn's gathered in the winner's circle at Historic Track on Sunday (July 3) for our sponsored race that was won by Wendy's Girl driven by Hall of Famer David Miller. The race was a $15,000 New York Excelsior Series A competition. Photo courtesy of Geri Schwarz.


In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the United States Harness Writers Association announced Monday (June 27) that Centaur Gaming-owned Hoosier Park will be the lead title sponsor of next year’s Dan Patch Awards banquet in Las Vegas. The event, to be held at Planet Hollywood on Feb. 26, will be named “The 2017 Dan Patch Awards presented by Hoosier Park.” 

The Dan Patch Awards are for top equine and human performers, Harness Horse of the Year honors, as well as the first introduction of the newest member(s) to the Hall of Fame.  

The spotlight will shine on Hoosier Park in the fall of 2017 when the Breeders Crown makes its first visit to the Indiana racetrack. But several months prior to that big event, Hoosier Park will help direct the limelight toward harness racing’s equine and human stars thanks to a new partnership with another of the sport’s premier festivities. 

The awards, first presented in 1947, are named in honor of one of the great stars of the early 20th century --- in any sport --- the Indiana-born pacer Dan Patch. Born in 1896 in Oxford, Ind., Dan Patch attracted huge crowds wherever he traveled and set numerous world records. His mark of1:55-1/4 set at age 9 in 1905 stood for more than three decades and his name and image endorsed products from breakfast cereals to washing machines. 

Indiana-sired horses have also garnered national attention more recently, with the most notable examples including 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and Breeders Crown champions Always B Miki, Color’s A Virgin, and Freaky Feet Pete, all hailing from the Hoosier State. 

“Hoosier Park and Centaur could not be more honored to serve as the first title sponsor for these prestigious awards,” said Jim Brown, president and COO of Centaur Gaming. “Considering Dan Patch was an Indiana-bred made the opportunity feel even more appropriate.” 

“Indiana harness racing is being recognized nationally, with some of the top horses and racing in the country, and sponsoring the 2017 USHWA awards and hosting the 2017 Breeders Crown races should both contribute to making this a year to remember for Indiana racing.” 

The 2017 Dan Patch Awards will honor this season’s top performers, including divisional champions plus Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year. 

“This is a great opportunity for USHWA to team up with an outstanding racing organization like Hoosier Park to present our 2017 Dan Patch Awards banquet,” said Tim Bojarski, president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. “We believe the synergy of this partnership will better enhance the promotion of harness racing and its stars throughout the upcoming year and hope it will lead the way for other entities of the sport to work together for the same reason.” 

“I can promise everyone a night to remember at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Feb. 26, 2017.”

                                          Make Your Reservations Now!

The Planet Hollywood room reservation portal for the USHWA National meeting weekend and Dan Patch Awards Banquet is now available! Our special rates at the hotel run from Monday (Feb. 20) through Friday (Mar. 5).

Click this link to go to the reservation page.

The United States Harness Writers Association, the trade organization of harness racing communicators and the largest organization of its kind in the world, has announced that it will be holding its 2017 Dan Patch Awards banquet at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort and Casino on Sunday (Feb. 26), with the organization’s annual meetings to be conducted the day before and that day.

A part of the Caesars chain of gaming resorts, Planet Hollywood started operation on its present site, formerly the Aladdin casino/hotel, on the famous Las Vegas Strip next to the Paris and Bally’s casino/hotels, in 2007, and the property was acquired by Caesars in 2010. It was the first resort operated by Planet Hollywood, which is an upscale restaurant chain owned by many Hollywood stars and founded in 1991. Among its features at the Las Vegas site are The Miracle Mile, a 170-store shopping mall, and AXIS, the largest auditorium on the Vegas strip, where performers such as Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Lionel Richie have performed “in residence.” Its variety of on-site eating establishments run the gamut from a Gordon Ramsay-overseen restaurant to a Starbuck’s.

The Dan Patch Awards banquet annually honors the best and brightest performers, both human and equine, of the previous season. The award winners are selected by USHWA, which will be holding its directors meeting on Saturday and its general membership meeting on the banquet Sunday.

The United States Trotting Association will be meeting in Las Vegas starting the day after the banquet (Monday, Feb. 27), headquartered at the Rio Hotel and Casino; Harness Horsemen International is also having its annual meetings in Las Vegas in the general timeframe. A synergistic joint session of organizations is under discussion, but nothing has been finalized yet.

“I’d like to thank chairman Gordon Waterstone and his entire banquet location committee for its hard work in exploring options and then selecting and signing with Planet Hollywood,” said Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA. “Our organization is excited at the prospect of again going to Las Vegas, and Planet Hollywood has all of the necessary accommodations and infrastructure so that we can continue to present a first-class Dan Patch Awards banquet, truly honoring the champions of our sport.”

More details will be made available here and through other trade media as they become available.

Hi all. The weather is heating up and so is the racing and as we head into the crux of the summer, here are just a few things to keep you informed about activities surrounding the organization. 


By now you probably have heard the big news. Hoosier Park, who will host the 2017 Breeders Crown, has partnered with us and will be the lead title sponsor of the Dan Patch Awards. This year it will be known as:       

                “The 2017 Dan Patch Awards presented by Hoosier Park”  

  This will be the first time in the 70 year history of this organization that a lead title sponsor has been signed and the move will allow us the resources to put on the best show the industry has ever seen. 

USHWA member Tim Konkle was the driving force behind this deal, approaching the Indiana Harness Racing Commission and Hoosier Park and eventually bringing them to the table. 

It’s a great opportunity for all parties involved, but mostly for our ability to better promote the sport at its biggest night of the year. 


The Hall of Fame inductions are almost here and will be held in Goshen on Sunday (July 3). Charles Keller and Bruce Nickells are this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinees and David Carr and Jerry Connors will become the newest members of the Communicators Hall.  

USHWA would like to congratulate these outstanding individuals and hope that everyone in the industry can appreciate the hard work and effort they put forth to get them to the Hall.  

USHWA will be sponsoring a race at Historic Track on Sunday (July 3) and we invite any USHWAn who is in town for the festivities that day to come out for the winner’s circle for the presentation and picture.

Also, the Monticello-Goshen and New York City Chapters of USHWA would like to invite all USHWA members to a social gathering at the Harness Racing Museum on Sunday, July 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon before the races. This will be an opportunity to mingle with your fellow communicators and share casual updates about your work. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided by the host chapters.

We will be meeting in the cook's tent on the lawn of the museum outdoors, so attendees will have to enter through the back gate to the lawn, not through the interior of the museum. You will find the gate at the back of the museum across from the head of the stretch. We hope to see you then!  


This is a good time for all Chapters to update their membership list (this includes your Directors) and send them to Secretary Jerry Connors for proper dissemination and archiving. Things change and we like to have the latest, greatest available so we make sure everybody receives what they should as we move into the year.  

Voting for this year’s Hall of Fame and Communicators Hall nominees will be coming up in August after our Screening Committee goes through the many nominations and presents the final roster. So look for that not so far down the road. 


During the first half of this year, USHWA has made great strides towards operating in a more fiscally responsible manner. The Budget Committee has been meeting at least once a month since March and has gone through our books from the past several years with a fine-tooth comb. Every check, every deposit, every invoice and every mile has been scrutinized in order to identify past practices we do not want to repeat, as well as finding us ways to do things better moving forward.   

They are identifying opportunities for us to adopt as new business practices, pointing out areas where we have low-hanging fruit for improvement and are also formulating recommendations for our Directors to consider at our National meeting in 2017. 

I believe the combination of the results of this committee (that will find us ways to save money) with landmark partnerships like Hoosier Park (that bring in needed revenue) will solidify our organization and guarantee its soundness for many years to come. 


The Chapters have just received from the Secretary, his current list of members, chapter officers, and e-mail addresses, in addition to members who have been dropped for lack of paying dues. Please go over this list, and also find out if any members have changed their mailing address, as the Hall Of Fame ballots and accompanying information are distributed through the postal service.

Everyone will be kept up to date of any other breaking news either by e-mail or on our website, but for now, happy summer to everyone and good luck racing! 

Tim Bojarski
President of USHWA

Click here to access and download hundreds of photos of the honorees and guests taken by Ann-Mari Fedun Daley on the "Red Carpet" at the 2016 Dan Patch Awards Banquet held on March 6 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As people continue to move away from their desktop and laptop computers and make their mobile phone the everyday workhorse, the format of the traditional website also needs to adapt.

With that in mind, USHWA has launched m.ushwa.org, a new mobile website that formats all of our content to your iPhone or Android device and loads it for you eight times faster that our traditional site. This is not an app and nothing needs to be downloaded. Simply type the address in your browser and bookmark it to your screen.

All the information and downloads you come here to find is available on the mobile site, only in a faster and more user-friendly format.

For more information, click here for a simple user guide.

The USHWA website (www.ushwa.org) that you have come to know will continue to be where it has always been; the mobile site is simply an extension of it for mobile devices. And we have also put a .com domain for our site back in the fold and it will be available for use in April.

So whether it's www.ushwa.org, m.ushwa.org or www.ushwa.com (which will be up in April) they will all take you to the USHWA homepage for the latest news and information about the organization.

On the eve of the Dan Patch Banquet, a large contingent of USHWA members found themselves trackside at Pompano Park. The group came out to the winner's enclosure to make a presentation to  $1 million winner Domethatagain (1:48, $1,050,211) and driver Simon Allard after they scored a 1:50.4 victory in the $10,000 Open III pace. 

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world’s largest organization for industry communicators celebrating its 70th year of chronicling the sport through its membership, conducted its annual two days of business meetings this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort. The weekend culminated in the Sunday evening celebration of the sport’s best and brightest stars of 2015, both human and equine, at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet.

Per its usual two-year rotation policy, the presidency of USHWA changed – but not its strong commitment to exploring ways in which emerging social media can be utilized to solidify harness racing’s present fan base and help build towards that of its future.

Tim Bojarski, publicist at Batavia Downs, Hoof Beats columnist, and the Webmaster for the organization’s website www.ushwa.org, ascended from the first vice presidency chair to become president of USHWA, succeeding Chris Tully, the Goshen NY-based multi-media talent and chairman / driving force of the committee which produced the excellent Journal which accompanied the Dan Patch Banquet. Tully will become the USHWA Chairman of the Board, as the USHWA bylaws dictate, and was named a Lifetime Member of USHWA.

Shawn Wiles, the point person for all racing-related activities at Monticello Raceway, moved up to the 1st Vice Presidency position, while Kim Rinker, now directing the Ohio Sire Stakes efforts, was elected 2nd Vice President. Judy Davis-Wilson, a past president of the organization, elected not to stand for her Treasurer position after years of vital service to the group; with that, the Directors elected Barry Lefkowitz, former Roosevelt publicist and the head of USHWA’s Audit and Finance Committee, as overseer of the organization’s finances. Jerry Connors was re-voted as USHWA Secretary.

The most important piece of USHWA business took place early in the two days of sessions, as Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf were chosen to be on the summer ballot for election to the sport’s Communicators Hall of Fame. Waterstone made his mark in his native Michigan and environs, primarily at Detroit’s Hazel Park, before becoming assistant editor at The Horseman and Fair World, and if elected will join his editor Kathy Parker as Communicators Hall members. Wolf, the Dinner Committee chairman of this year’s successful affair, was an innovative publicist and dedicated USHWAn (one of only three people to win the organization’s Member of the year twice) in his home area of New Jersey and metro Philadelphia before coming to Florida, where he ascended to the racing general manager position of Pompano Park prior to his becoming a respected media consultant for several cutting-edge harness organizations.

During the many committee reports and discussion at the USHWA meetings, the talk turned, as it does in most harness organizations in these days of consolidation, to formulating plans to continue ensuring the financial health of the organization, which performs among many others two vital functions mentioned above – the electing of Hall of Famers, and the sponsorship of the annual Dan Patch Banquet honoring the stars of the sport. Several plans and ideas were examined during the discussion sessions; incoming treasurer Lefkowitz said that initially his focus will be on increasing USHWA revenues despite the contraction of the times, as expenses usually stay within a small annual variance. He further noted that all members will need to become “contributors” to USHWA, in the workrate and communication sense to attract more interest surrounding the Dan Patch Banquet, which is USHWA’s primary source of cash influx, with new methods of fundraising efforts, still under study, no less important.

One bright note at the meetings was the announcement of an increase in USHWA membership in the past year, reversing a trend that has carried through the current consolidation period. Many communicators now have the important tool of developed social media skills in their reporting arsenal, and other avenues of using emerging media were presented and explored during a U.S. Trotting Association/USHWA co-sponsored workshop on using social media in aiding awareness of major races. David Carr, who was honored for his recent election to the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Dan Patch Banquet, joined Rob Key, who has been the point man for harness racing’s emergence in social media, and others presenting their views on how this new and important tool can best be “harnessed” to maximum effect for the sport.

With future 2016 efforts defined and assigned, the USHWA meetings ended with a look towards the group’s 2017 conclave, which may be held in Las Vegas, likely in conjunction with the USTA’s annual meetings, and possibly with the participation of other industry organizations.

Dave Briggs, writing for Harness Racing Weekend Preview, and Kimberly French, writing for Hoof Beats magazine, were named the winners in the 2015 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness writing journalism, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Monday.

Winners in the Smallsreed Award photography contest and Hervey broadcasting division were announced last week.

French won in the feature writing category for her story titled “Heart of a Lion: Champion trotter King Mufasa walks away from gruesome trailering accident,” which appeared in the November 2015 issue of Hoof Beats. It is French’s first Hervey honor. Click here to read the story.

Bill Finley and Melissa Keith received honorable mention in the feature category.

Finley was recognized for his story about Breana Carsey and her Ohio Sire Stakes champion MJB Got Faith “Just 10, Owner has big horse, big dreams, big heart,” which appeared in the Sept. 17, 2015 issue of Harness Racing Update. Keith was recognized for her story “Been there, bought the T-shirt: The relevance of trademark race calls,” which appeared in the February 2015 issue of Trot magazine.'

Briggs won in the news and commentary category for his “Stretch Call” column titled “Suspension of Sears points to systemic flaw,” which appeared on Nov. 20, 2015 in Harness Racing Weekend Preview. Briggs has been awarded a record eight Hervey honors in the writing categories. Click here to read the story.

Kathy Parker and Perry Lefko received honorable mention in the news and commentary category.

Parker was recognized for her story, “Battle to the Wire: Wiggle It Jiggleit astounds crowd with victory in 70th Little Brown Jug,” which appeared in the Sept. 30, 2015 issue of The Horseman and Fair World magazine. Lefko was recognized for his story, “Four Michigan drivers seeking huge sums in damage suit after race fixing case went nowhere,” which appeared in the Sept. 11, 2015 issue of Harness Racing Update.

The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of past Hervey winners Brad Schmaltz and Maryjean Wall, horse racing publicist and writer Lynne Snierson, and Daily Racing FormProgramming Manager Lou Monaco.

Award winners will be recognized during the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet at Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 6.

Meadowlands Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the Hervey and Smallsreed awards by providing banquet tickets for the Hervey and Smallsreed winners.

Mike Taylor, a native of Harrington, Del., has been named the recipient of the 2015 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

Taylor, 32, works in the George Teague Jr. Stable and became a well-known person in the sport in 2015 as the caretaker of the Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit. Taylor, who is known in the stable and throughout the harness industry as “Big Mike,” has worked for Teague for more than 10 years.

“I’m at a loss for words. This is a great honor and I am most appreciative,” said Taylor. “I knew about this award but I really didn’t think I was going to win it. I thank everyone who supported me.”

All caretakers in North America are eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. A seven-member panel — all of whom were former caretakers themselves — chose Taylor as the winner. As winner of the HRRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, Taylor will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to the USHWA annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on March 6 at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he will be presented a trophy.

Taylor, who learned the business from his father, the late Ricky Jones, is a former football player at Delaware State University. He is physically and figuratively a large presence in the winner’s circle, in which he stood 22 times with Wiggle It Jiggleit during his Horse of the Year campaign.

“Taylor is the quintessential ‘Gentle Giant,’ one person wrote in a nomination letter. “While he looks like a lineman for the Chicago Bears, he is actually soft-spoken, considerate and generous. His humor and playful disposition make him a favorite in paddocks across the country.”

Several nominators noted the contrast between Taylor’s calm demeanor to that of the rambunctious gelding when standing in the winner’s circle.

“He prevented little children from being maimed and kept overzealous fans from being trampled when WIJI got too exuberant following his many victories,” one nominator wrote.

“Wiggle It Jiggleit didn’t like getting his picture taken in the winner’s circle,” Taylor said with a laugh. “I think a lot of people knew him from that.”

Teague was among those who nominated Taylor for the HRRNP Caretaker of the Year Award.

“Mike is a vital part of Team Teague, and this year has been a true testament to that,” wrote Teague. “It was obvious from day one that Big Mike and Wiggle It Jiggleit had a special relationship. Harness racing fans all over the world witnessed greatness from Wiggle It Jiggleit this year, but may not have known that behind the scenes there was something equally amazing happening.”

Taylor, along with all the USHWA 2015 award winners, including Wiggle It Jiggleit as Horse of the Year, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards banquet on March 6.

Clive Cohen and Frances Lund were named winners of the 2015 George Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography while the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley was named the recipient of the 2015 John Hervey Award for excellence in broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Friday.

Winners in the John Hervey Awards categories for excellence in writing will be announced Monday.

Cohen’s photograph, “Racing Into the Fog,” won the Smallsreed Award in the racing/action category. The photograph was taken on April 9, 2015 at Mohawk Racetrack and appeared on the WEG Photo’s Facebook page.

Lund’s photograph, “Downpour,” won the Smallsreed Award in the feature category. The photograph was taken Aug. 22, 2015 during the post parade for the Gold Cup and Saucer at Red Shores Racetrack & Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park on Prince Edward Island. The race was postponed for a day because of the heavy rain. Lund’s photograph appeared in Atlantic Post Calls on Sept. 11, 2015.

Receiving honorable mention in the racing/action category were Mark Hall and Nadina Ironia. Hall’s photograph of action at the Hancock County Fair in Ohio appeared on the August 2015 cover of “Hoof Beats” magazine. Ironia’s photograph of harness racing on the turf in Musselburgh, Scotland, appeared in the December 2015 issue of “Hoof Beats.”

Honorable mention in the feature category was awarded to Michael Lisa and Ann MacNeill. Lisa’s photograph, a close-up of a harnessed horse in the rain at the Meadowlands, appeared on Harnesslink.com on Jan. 6, 2015. MacNeill’s photograph of a horse jogging on a beach on Prince Edward Island appeared in the Oct. 23, 2015 issue of Harness Racing Weekend Preview.

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.

The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley won the Hervey Award for broadcasting with its “On the Road with Steve Hartman” segment “Underdog Horse,” which aired Oct. 23, 2015. The story featured 11-year-old Breana Carsey and her 2-year-old Ohio Sire Stakes champion MJB Got Faith.

Working on the segment were Steve Capus, executive producer; Steve Hartman, correspondent; Kim Godwin, senior broadcast producer; Megan Kelty, producer; and Bob Caccamise, camera.

Receiving honorable mention in the broadcasting division was the CBS Sports Network’s Hambletonian Day feature on filly trotter Mission Brief and trainer Ron Burke. The segment aired on Aug. 8 during CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the Hambletonian. Mike Trager was executive producer and Eric M. Talent was producer.

The broadcasting category was judged by Amy J. Zimmerman, the director of broadcasting at Santa Anita Park and a multiple Eclipse and Emmy winning producer.

Award winners will be recognized during the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Dan Patch Awards banquet at Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 6.

The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), North America's trade group of harness racing communicators, will be making a $1,000 contribution toward the fund created to assist the people affected by the tragic fire this past Monday at Classy Lane Training Center in Ontario, which claimed the lives of dozens of Standardbreds and severely impacted the lives of many owners, trainers and caretakers stabled at the farm.

"The words 'barn fire' may be among the two scariest words in all of harness racing," stated Chris Tully, USHWA President, "and the devastating effects such an event has on a harness community cannot be overstated. Many of the people suffering losses in this fire were and are supporters of USHWA when they have a champion horse, and we feel that it is imperative to support these people in this extremely difficult time."

“We are hopeful that our contribution, added to the large amount of financial support received from across the harness world, will help those affected to rebuild their stables and start them back on the road to competition and success."

The Central Ontario Standardbred Association, whose president is Hall of Fame horseman Bill O'Donnell, has created an official page for donations at the GoFundMe website, at https://www.gofundme.com/abhm5afg. Horsemen and fans who want to contribute to the Fund can click on this link, or mail a check made out to “Classy Lane Barn Fire” and send it to the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Box 297, Campbellville, ONTARIO L0P 1B0.

The generosity and good will of Breana Carsey, the Indiana pre-teen featured on the CBS Evening News, as well as Michelle and Albert Crawford of Crawford Farms, NY, have earned them both the honor of a United States Harness Writers Association’s President’s Award.

Not too many 5th grade students get the opportunity to talk about harness racing on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Nonetheless, Breana Carsey, an 11-year-old Standardbred owner from Connersville, Indiana, did exactly that last October when her homebred colt won the Ohio Sire Stakes Championship.

The story of intense faith begins at a horse auction when Breana was just eight years old.

At his daughter’s urging, Brian Carsey purchased a mare named Imageofasweetgirl, in-foal to Trainforthefuture for just $1,700.  Fast-forward to the resultant colt’s debut and, at the time, he seemed to be ‘just an average horse’ for his first three baby races.

But then, when the money was on the line, he just kept on winning.

MJB Got Faith captured four legs of the Ohio Sires and the $225,000 final, earning $192,500 in just five starts. Named for the three Carsey siblings, ‘Mackenzie, Jordan & Breana’ and her favorite saying, “got faith,” the CBS news broadcast featuring Breana and her racehorse made the entire industry proud.

Despite numerous offers to sell the gelding trotter for a profit, and to race for larger purses, Breana proclaimed that he would not be sold, “not even for a million dollars,” and that the horse has “deserved a rest” having done enough racing last Autumn.

Although Breana feels “amazing and very thankful for all the blessings” she has received, the diminutive powerhouse did not take a rest. She began giving away thousands of the horse’s earnings to those in need.

The Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association, various horseman’s memorial funds, St. Gabriel School (where she attends), American Heart Association, items for overseas military outfits, and local food pantries were just some of the ‘pay-it-forward’ recipients of Miss Carsey’s generosity.

For her efforts Breana received an official "Pen of the City Seal" from the Mayor of Connersville, Indiana for representing the city in a positive way and being a role model for both younger and older generations. In fact, there has been considerable interest by Hollywood to the rights of her “got faith” story...so stay tuned.

Perhaps the other side of the spectrum is the dynamic duo of Michelle and Albert Crawford.

The owners of Crawford Farms in upstate New York have done so much for the betterment of the industry in a relatively short period of time, that it is impossible to overlook their efforts.

Driven by a passion for the sport and a desire to help harness racing prosper, the Crawford’s have sponsored several seasons of the Meadowlands Pace, Kindergarten Classic, Crawford Farms Trot and the Red Mile Grand Circuit meet.

The Crawford’s operate one of New York’s largest breeding facilities with over 75 mares, but are also racing enthusiasts who have several dozen horses in training.

Michelle noted, “We really enjoy our daily involvement in this industry. Al and I love the sport of harness racing and strive to see it prosper. By reinvesting back into the sport, we hope to see it grow and become as visibly recognizable as our thoroughbred counterparts.”

But they don’t stop at racing. The charitable couple continues to support and donate money to many of the important causes inside and outside of our industry, including the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, Amanda Harris Fundraiser, their own Think Pink Fundraiser for Breast Cancer, Classy Lane, horse rescues, and many more.

While social media savvy, it has become increasingly clear that any noteworthy concern that flies onto Michelle’s radar is instantly transformed into a ‘cause célèbre.’

“On the forefront we will be spearheading a new coalition for a pipeline to safety and aftercare programs for our Standardbreds so they no longer need to fall into harm’s way after their careers or racing opportunities are done,” the Crawfords noted.

Michelle added, “In the next 30 days, those in the sport that share our passion will be meeting to develop a plan and a solution that will assist owners and trainers.  We intend to expand and support crucial alternatives to slaughter and kill pens. It is my 2016 goal to make a lot of noise and help our animals that make our sport what it is!”

The President’s Awards, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies will be presented on Sunday, March 6, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tickets for this gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet­--Night of Champions, are now available.

Marv Chantler has enjoyed his share of success during nearly five decades in harness racing, but equally rewarding is the satisfaction he receives from helping others.

Chantler is the past president and current vice president of the Board of Directors of Matthews House Hospice in Alliston, Ontario, and assists the charity organization with fundraising and strategic planning. Matthews House Hospice is dedicated to helping its clients live life fully everyday by offering free volunteer-based services in home, in the residential hospice and throughout the community.

Matthews House Hospice, which assisted approximately 600 people last year, has an annual operating budget of roughly $850,000, but receives minimal government financial aid. The community hospice provides a variety of services including bereavement counseling, caring seminars, care-giver support, and wellness programs. The residential hospice, which has four beds, provides 24/7 end of life nursing care.

“We work hard all our life and there comes a time when it’s time to give back,” the soon-to-be 68-year-old Chantler said. “My basic job is fundraising or politicking or lobbying the provincial government for support, and doing long-term planning for building a permanent 10-bed hospice on property that has been donated to us in downtown Alliston.

“Probably what makes me feel best is helping people who need help at a time in their lives when the stress level is  high. We have about 200 volunteers who work for us, giving about 18,000 hours a year of free service to our community and to our health system.”

For his efforts, Chantler has been named the 2015 recipient of the January Davies Humanitarian Award presented by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. The award was created in 2008 by U.S. Harness Writers Association member Callie Davies-Gooch in memory of her daughter to recognize contributions beyond harness racing.

“Marv has given so much to the harness racing industry over the years and has always been willing to do anything to help anyone,” Davies-Gooch said. “But his compassion extends far beyond racing. He is a great example of humanitarianism and when his name came before our board we felt he was the perfect choice for this award.”

Chantler followed his father, Dewitt “Dee” Chantler, into harness racing. The Chantlers were neighbors with the Hon. W. Earl Rowe, who was Ontario’s lieutenant governor at the time but also a well-known and respected horseman, which provided their impetus to get into racing.

After a brief stint as a trainer and driver, Marv Chantler turned to the administrative side of the sport and served as the race secretary at Barrie Raceway, which was built by the Rowe family. After several years, Chantler returned to selling heavy construction equipment and owning harness racing horses.

In 1981, Chantler started Mardon Stables in Loretto, Ontario. Since then, he has enjoyed relationships with many notable trainers, including Ben Wallace, Paul Doherty and Ray Schnittker, Bruce MacDonald, and Bob McIntosh. Among Chantler’s best horses have been 1997 O’Brien Award winning filly pacer Armbro Rosebud, world champion Card Trick Hanover, and Armbro Acquire.

He also is among the owners of 2015 Ontario Sire Stakes champion Tony Soprano, who is a finalist for the O’Brien Award for 2-year-old male trotters.

In addition to owning horses, Chantler was among the founders of Georgian Downs and is a minor stakeholder in the New Meadowlands Racetrack. He also has served on several boards for the Ontario Racing Commission.

Chantler served three years as president of the board of Matthews House Hospice and was named vice president when his term expired. He devotes approximately 140 hours of his time per month to Matthews House Hospice.

“I think everybody is sick and tired of me being on the website or Facebook asking for people to send money,” said a laughing Chantler. “We bust our butts (to get funding). We have a very, very caring community, thank goodness, and both individuals and corporations are quite good to us. Otherwise I think MHH wouldn’t be able to get it done.”

Marv Chantler will receive his award during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held this year at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday (March 6).

Throughout the month of December, 19 nominees in two categories vied against each other for the Railbird Recognition Awards, the fan-voted accolade sponsored by the United States Harness Writers Association and the United States Trotting Association.

Ten individuals squared off for “Horseperson of the Year” and nine events battled for “Racing Moment of the Year” and when the pools closed on New Year’s Eve, the fans of harness racing chose Joe Bellino and Wiggle It Jiggleit’s Little Brown Jug win as the categorical winners.

Joe Bellino has been very successful in harness racing, but he remembers where he came from and respects everyone who works in the industry. Having campaigned such notable horses as Psilvuheartbreaker, Rock N Roll Heaven and Pet Rock, he knows what it’s like to win the big race. But he also remembers that there are many people involved at all levels of this sport and goes out of his way to help them when he can.

Bellino’s benevolence is one of the worst kept secrets in the business. Although he reaches out to those in need and tries to help at every turn, he never looks for any thanks or praise for his actions. But the many people that he has helped both in and out of harness racing will be the first ones to let you know what an unselfish individual he is.

Clearly people in the grandstand and on the backstretch know of his good deeds and that is why he garnered 77 percent of the total vote for Horseperson of the Year. This is the largest margin of victory for either category in the eight-year history of the Railbird Recognition voting.

Anyone who saw the final heat of the 2015 Little Brown Jug will more than likely tell you that it was “THE” greatest horse race they ever witnessed. After taking a bad step in the first turn, Wiggle It Jiggleit was parked-out for almost three-quarters of the mile before getting passed at the head of the lane by Lost For Words. But Wiggle It Jiggleit swelled up and fought back down the stretch to win one of the most epic battles two pacers ever undertook in the history of the sport.

The race was an indelible memory that everyone who attended live in Delaware, Ohio and watched remotely around the world has and those fans relived it while voting to make Wiggle It Jiggleit’s Little Brown Jug win the Racing Moment of the Year for 2015.

Joe Bellino and Team Teague will be presented their Railbird Recognition trophies during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held this year at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday (March 6).

Below are the top three voting results for each Railbird Recognition category:

Horseperson of the Year
Joe Bellino for his behind the scenes benevolence -- 77 percent
Breanna Carsey for donating winnings from MJB Got Faith -- 6.5 percent
Montrell Teague for his handling of Wiggle It Jiggleit in 2015 -- 5.9 percent

Racing Moment of the Year
Wiggle It Jiggleit defeats Lost For Words in second Jug heat -- 55 percent
Freaky Feet Pete wins Breeders Crown -- 15 percent
International Trot returns to Yonkers after 20 years -- 5.7 percent

Ellen Taylor, executive director of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation for the past 25 years, and the 2009 Proximity Award winner, has been selected for recognition by the media organization as its 2015 “Alan Prince USHWA Member of the Year.”
Tara Ellen Taylor, a native of the Indiana heartland of harness racing, was named after the only mare to ever beat Greyhound in a race. She received her first horse, an orphan foal, in 1969 and has participated as an owner, breeder and caretaker ever since.

Focusing exclusively on trotters, foals bred and owned by Taylor have gone on to become Indiana and Illinois award-winning 2-year-old champions.

Undoubtedly, it is Taylor’s lifelong commitment to HHYF that has garnered “Miss Ellen” the widest range of industry accolades and recognition. In addition to the Proximity Award, Taylor has also received the HTA Special Achievement Medal in 2002, USTA President’s Award in 2015, Indiana Standardbred Association Special Achievement Award in 2015, and the Indiana State Fair Grand Circuit Appreciation Award in 2002.

Taylor noted, “I am honored to receive the USHWAn of the year award. I enjoy serving the industry which has given, and continues to give, me so many valuable life lessons and much happiness. USHWA represents individuals working behind the pen, camera, and computer who care about improving harness racing awareness -- a worthy goal for each of us.”

An “At-Large” director of the organization for the past 12 years, it is through her dynamic and tireless efforts that the annual silent auction has been such a successful fundraising mechanism for USHWA and its partner HHYF.

Taylor travels thousands of miles each year to ensure that the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, is effectively fostering the next generation of participants and fans.

Prior to being named the executive director of HHYF, Taylor served as the camp coordinator since age 16. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people’s lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and the creation and distribution of educational materials.

Taylor’s award, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies will be presented on Sunday (March 6) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The United States Harness Writers Association announces the following Dan Patch award winners for their accomplishments during the 2015 racing season:

Rising Star Award – Montrell Teague
Breakthrough Award – Gabe Prewitt
Good Guy Award – Joann Looney-King
Unsung Hero Award – Joanne Young
Breeder of the Year – Hanover Shoe Farms
Trotting Broodmare of the Year – Margie Seelster
Pacing Broodmare of the Year – Mozzi Hanover

It is interesting to see this list of honorees and note the various relationships that these people and horses have with the winners announced yesterday: Bergstein Proximity Award winner Jim Simpson, Owner of the Year George Teague Jr., Trainer of the Year Jimmy Takter, and Driver of the Year David Miller.

Jim Simpson gets two additional pieces of good news today. His Hanover Shoe Farms has been voted the Breeder of the Year, as its leads the industry tables in money won by its graduates for the 67th straight year – ever since records started to be kept. And with Aaron Merriman now in control of the drivers’ dash-winning derby, the last major statistical race of the year focuses squarely on Hanover and the record books in relation to the calendar.

Hanover “offspring” had earned $29,920,074 this season through Sunday, only $92,135 shy of their own all-time one year record of $30,016,209, set in 2012. Granted, this is not “prime time” for racing opportunities, but Hanover could still rewrite the record – especially seeing as their produce earned $88,595 between Thursday and Sunday.

Hanover was also the seller of Pacing Broodmare of the Year Mozzi Hanover as a yearling. The daughter of Jenna’s Beach Boy – Movie Star Laag was purchased by a partnership that included George Teague Jr., who campaigned her successfully as a racehorse.

In the summer of 2012, Teague went back and purchased “Mozzi” with a suckling colt at her side – that baby of course turning out to be Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015’s Harness Horse of the Year, a winner of over $2 million last year with a 1:47.4 mark, a sophomore who earned admiration throughout the harness community for his talent, durability, and courage.

As much as George delights in his “equine family” members “Mozzi” and “Wiggle,” his warmest family feelings are for his son Montrell, who has won the Rising Star Award, for trainer/drivers 35 years of age or less. Montrell, who will turn 25 the day after New Year’s, went into 2015 with fewer than 700 lifetime wins.

However, in the ultimate “pressure cooker” of weekly being the driver of the horse to beat in a major stake, his handling of Wiggle It Jiggleit, by turns aggressive and temporizing as needed, marked him as a star – right now, let alone “Rising” -- no doubt with an occasional word of guidance from his dad.

Montrell also showed a level-headedness in handling whatever racing fortunes were thrown at him, and was friendly and cooperative with the media despite its blazing spotlight on him all year.

When Wiggle It Jiggleit won a qualifier at the Teagues’ home base of Harrington Raceway on April 22, finishing second in that race was a fellow sophomore named Wakizashi Hanover, who is trained by Joanne Looney-King.

“Wakizashi” would go on to win $1.15 million in 2015, winning the North America Cup at Mohawk over his chief foe and giving “Wiggle” all he wanted on several other occasions. Through it all Looney-King, a pioneering female driver who now focuses on training, maintained delight in her horse’s performances, a warm nature which was conveyed to the media throughout the season, and which earned her the Harness Writers’ “Good (GAL) Award.”

Jimmy Takter and David Miller have both been selected for harness racing’s highest honor: induction into the sport’s Living Hall of Fame. The Hall, which is located in Goshen NY, near Monticello Raceway and north of New York City, benefits from having a staff of knowledgeable, resourceful people – among whom Joanne Young ranks at the very top of the list.

The Director of Development for the Museum, Joanne’s primary responsibilities include overseeing membership and the sale of the bricks and pavers that are a unique feature of the entrance to the Museum. For basically contacting people to request money from them, doing so with a smile, and NEVER getting turned down for a request, Joanne Young is truly an Unsung Hero in the continued success of the Hall/Museum, and thus was voted the Unsung Hero Award by USHWA.

Takter and Miller had their fair share of success this season during Grand Circuit action at Lexington’s Red Mile, where this year’s Breakthrough Award winner Gabe Prewitt serves as the announcer during the fall meet and in several managerial capacities during the Grand Circuit meet.

At 32, the multi-talented Prewitt has already served as a horsemen’s representative, media representative, and “Manager of Post Times” (an important job in this simulcasting era), and is currently employed as the announcer at Pompano Park in addition to The Red Mile, at both venues conveying the urgencies and drama of a developing race in a professional yet dynamic style.

Finally, Takter also figured prominently in the election of the Trotting Broodmare of the Year, Margie Seelster, a daughter of Angus Hall – Meadowbranch Gal. Like her pacing counterpart Mozzi Hanover, Margie Seelster struck it big with her first foal – Pinkman, this past season’s Trotter of the Year, a winner of $2.4 million lifetime with a mark of 1:51, and the Hambletonian winner, all under the tutelage of trainer Takter. An ownership combine of Team Takter has since purchased Margie Seelster.

All of the winners will be presented their awards during the Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, March 6 at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale FL. Information on dinner tickets, accommodations, and related topics for the event can be found at the top of this page.

Hanover Shoe Farms President and CEO James W. Simpson, trainer Jimmy Takter, driver David Miller, and owner George Teague Jr. were voted year-end honors by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the organization announced Monday.

Simpson was named the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner while Takter was voted the Trainer of the Year for the fifth time in his career and David Miller was named Driver of the Year for the second time. Teague, who owns Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year winner Wiggle It Jiggleit, was voted Owner of the Year.

The Stan Bergstein Proximity Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Harness Writers Association that is voted on solely by its membership.

Simpson followed his father John’s footsteps as a successful driver and trainer. The younger Simpson handled such stars as Sugarcane Ha­nover and Noxie Hanover, whose speed record of 1:55 as a 2-year-old filly trotter stood for nearly 20 years. He also trained many of the fillies who became noted producers in Hanover Shoe Farm’s broodmare band.

In 1992, Simpson traded his maroon-and-white driver’s colors for the orange-and-blue attire of Hanover Shoe Farms, where he became vice president. The famed Hanover, Pa., nursery has bred a record 14 Little Brown Jug champions, 10 Hambletonian winners and has been the world’s leading Standardbred breeder every year for as long as records have been kept. Simpson was promot­ed to the position of president and CEO at Hanover in 1997.

Throughout the years Jim Simpson has been a great contrib­utor to harness racing with his time and knowledge of the industry. He is a sought after guest speaker for many events and sits on many of the major decision making committees in our sport.

He is a director of the Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug societies and achieved the pinnacle of recog­nition in the sport when he joined his father and brother, John Simpson Jr., in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., in July 2011. In 2013 he was inducted into the Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame.

Simpson has also been a very quiet, but generous finan­cial supporter of harness racing from horse racing rescue groups, the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame plus countless other industry and local charitable organizations.

Takter, who was nominated by every U.S. Harness Writers Association chapter for Trainer of the Year and therefore an uncontested winner of the honor, continued to write his name into the record books in 2015. He set a record by training six Breeders Crown champions and won the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks for the second consecutive year, making him the only trainer to ever capture both prestigious trotting events in the same year on two occasions.

He won 16 races worth at least $350,000 this year, with eight different horses. Takter had the two richest trotters in North America in 3-year-olds Pinkman (Hambletonian winner) and Wild Honey (Hambletonian Oaks) plus the richest 2-year-old pacer in undefeated filly Pure Country (10-for-10).

Pinkman’s wins also included the Kentucky Futurity, Canadian Trotting Classic, and Beal Memorial while Wild Honey won the Kentucky Filly Futurity and a Breeders Crown. Pinkman was voted the Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

Takter’s other Breeders Crown champs were All The Time, Always B Miki, Creatine, Pure Country, and The Bank. Pure Country received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female pacer.

Other notable stakes-winners from the stable included Father Patrick, French Laundry, JK Endofanera, Lagerfeld, Master Of Law, and Shake It Cerry.

Takter, who was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, has won 183 races and $12.94 million in purses this year. His average earnings per start were $16,533.

Miller also enjoyed a record-setting season on his way to the Driver of the Year Award, besting Yannick Gingras and Aaron Merriman for the honor. Miller won a record five Breeders Crown events this year, finding the winner’s circle with trotting mare D’One, older male pacer Always B Miki, 3-year-old female pacer Divine Caroline, 3-year-old male trotter The Bank, and pacing mare Color’s A Virgin.

Divine Caroline was voted the Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old female pacer and Miller also was the regular driver behind Dan Patch Award winning 2-year-old female trotter Broadway Donna. In addition, he scored stakes wins with Dan Patch Award honorees State Treasurer and Bee A Magician.

Miller, whose previous Driver of the Year honor came in 2003, ranks second among all drivers in North America in purses this year, with a career-best $12.36 million. He has ranked among the top five in purses in 16 of the last 17 years and his earnings this season push his lifetime total to $199.3 million, good for third on the all-time money list. He was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Teague’s Wiggle It Jiggleit won 22 of 26 races this year and led all harness racing horses in North America with $2.18 million in purses.

Wiggle It Jiggleit is Teague’s second Horse of the Year Award winner. He co-owned and trained 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue, a female pacer. Teague campaigned Wiggle It Jiggleit across North America from January through November, with the gelding’s 26 starts being exceeded only once by a Horse of the Year Award winner in the last 26 years --- by Gallo Blue Chip with 29 races in 2000.

Driven all season by Teague’s 24-year-old son Montrell, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s victories included the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Carl Milstein Memorial, Hap Hansen Progress Pace, and Matron Stakes.

In addition, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a half-mile track when he won in 1:49 at Harrington Raceway. His time of 1:48 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, trained by Teague’s longtime assistant Clyde Francis, is a son of stallion Mr Wiggles out of the mare Mozzi Hanover. Teague raced both Mr Wiggles and Mozzi Hanover during their careers on the track, and owns both horses now.

Teague also owns 2-year-old pacing filly Ohio Sire Stakes champion Miss Me Yet.

All the winners will be presented their awards during the Dan Patch Awards banquet, which will be held at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday, March 6. Information on tickets and accommodations for the event can be found at the top of this page.

Mark Hall photo

Harness racing’s Horse of the Year made the most of nearly every month on the calendar.

Three-year-old gelding Wiggle It Jiggleit, who on Thursday was named the Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, won his first race of the season in January and continued posting victories through November. In fact, the only month during that span in which he failed to win at least one race was April, when he was given a brief respite before continuing a campaign that concluded Nov. 30 with 22 wins in 26 starts.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who led all harness racing horses in North America with $2.18 million in purses this season, also was named Pacer of the Year on Thursday and earlier this week was voted best 3-year-old male pacer. Wiggle It Jiggleit received 132 of 136 votes for Pacer of the Year. Three-year-old colt Freaky Feet Pete got three votes and 11-year-old gelding Foiled Again got one.

Trotter of the Year went to Pinkman, a 3-year-old gelding who counted the Hambletonian among his 11 wins this season and banked $1.89 million. He also earlier this week was voted the best trotter in his division. Pinkman received 85 votes for Trotter of the Year. Mission Brief, a 3-year-old filly, finished second with 18 votes, followed by 2-year-old colt Southwind Frank with 14, 5-year-old mare Bee A Magician with 13, 4-year-old gelding JL Cruze with five and 3-year-old filly Barn Doll with one.

In balloting for Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit received 130 of 136 votes. Pinkman got three votes while Freaky Feet Pete, Foiled Again, and Mission Brief each got one. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s 95.5-percent total of the votes for Horse of the Year is the most for any winner since 1980 when Niatross was one vote shy of unanimous.

Wiggle It Jiggleit’s 22 wins this year led all pacers in North America. Prior to Wiggle It Jiggleit, the only pacer to be the season’s winningest pacer and receive Horse of the Year was Cam Fella in 1982.

“He’s just been an incredible horse,” Wiggle It Jiggleit’s owner George Teague Jr. said last month. “I don’t know of too many horses that can start racing in January when there’s snow on the ground and go almost to December and still be this good and competitive. He’s a rarity.

“That speaks volumes about this horse and how good he’s been. When you create a schedule, it’s only a schedule, and you’re hoping they can make 80 percent of the engagements. I really never thought he’d make this many, and I supplemented him to two races.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit is Teague’s second Horse of the Year Award winner. Teague co-owned and trained 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue, a female pacer. Wiggle It Jiggleit is trained by Teague’s longtime assistant Clyde Francis. The Teague Stable joins Blair Burgess, Jimmy Takter, Bob McIntosh, and Bill Robinson as training stables to produce two different Horse of the Year winners in the last 30 years.

Teague also had the 2006 Pacer of the Year, Total Truth.

Wiggle It Jiggleit was driven all season by Teague’s 24-year-old son, Montrell. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s victories included the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Carl Milstein Memorial, Hap Hansen Progress Pace, and Matron Stakes.

He won the Little Brown Jug in a memorable stretch duel with Lost For Words, rallying in deep stretch to get to the wire first by a nose.

In addition, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a half-mile track when he won in 1:49 at Harrington Raceway. His time of 1:48 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Montrell Teague enjoyed being able to share the experience of racing Wiggle It Jiggleit with his father.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Montrell Teague said earlier this year. “You dream of it, but you never think it’s going to come this soon. Our past couple years haven’t been the best, and to bounce back like this and have the best horse in the country makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit is a son of stallion Mr Wiggles out of the mare Mozzi Hanover and was bred by James Bernstein, Theresa Bantle, Eric Felter, and Vincent Tancredi. George Teague Jr. raced both Mr Wiggles and Mozzi Hanover during their careers on the track, and owns both horses now.

Trotter of the Year Pinkman won 11 of 17 races this season, including the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, and Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial.

His time of 1:51 in the Hambletonian set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a mile racetrack and his 1:51.3 win in the Beal established the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Pinkman is owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. Pinkman gives trainer Jimmy Takter his seventh Trotter of the Year trophy, and second in a row. Takter previously won three awards with Moni Maker (1998-2000) as well as Malabar Man (1997), Kadabra (2002), and Shake It Cerry (2014).

A son of stallion Explosive Matter out of the mare Margie Seelster, Pinkman was bred by O Narutac Equine Nursery. His original name was Traffic Jam, but he was renamed after the character Jesse Pinkman from the television show “Breaking Bad.”

Complete vote totals for all Dan Patch Award categories can be found here.

For a video presentation of the Horse of the Year announcement, click here.

(The United States Harness Writers Association would like to thank and acknowledge the hard work of all the track photographers whose images were used in the production of this announcement and the New Meadowlands Racetrack and the United States Trotting Association for the use of video from their production teams as well.)



Wiggle It Jiggleit 
Mr Wiggles---Mozzi Hanover---Jenna’s Beach Boy
Sale Price: Private
Breeders: James Bernstein, Theresa Bantle, Eric Felter, Vincent Tancredi
Owner: George Teague Jr. Inc.
Trainer: Clyde Francis Driver: Montrell Teague
Races: 26-22-3-0 Purses: $2.18 million Mark: 1:47.4 at Meadowlands 
Top wins: $706,000 Meadowlands Pace; $677,000 Little Brown Jug; $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine; $500,000 Hempt Memorial



Explosive Matter---Margie Seelster---Angus Hall
Yearling Price: $77,000 under name Traffic Jam at Lexington Selected Sale
Breeder: O Narutac Equine Nursery
Owners: Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, Herb Liverman
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears
Races: 17-11-3-1 Purses: $1.89 million Mark: 1:51 at Meadowlands (world record)
Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $532,000 Canadian Trotting Classic; $527,000 Kentucky Futurity; $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial

Harness racing’s richest pacer of the year, 3-year-old gelding Wiggle It Jiggleit, and fastest pacer of the year, 6-year-old stallion State Treasurer, were among the six pacers named divisional champions in Dan Patch Award voting announced by the U.S. Harness Writers Association on Wednesday. 

Also receiving Dan Patch Award pacing honors were undefeated 2-year-old female Pure Country, 2-year-old male Boston Red Rocks, 3-year-old female Divine Caroline, and older female Venus Delight.

A total of 136 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned. Wiggle It Jiggleit received 97 percent of the votes in the 3-year-old male pacer division while Pure Country got 91 percent for 2-year-old female pacers. Divine Caroline, State Treasurer, and Venus Delight each received more than 77 percent in their categories and Boston Red Rocks got 60 percent. All six pacers are receiving their first Dan Patch Award honors.

Wiggle It Jiggleit won 22 of 26 races this year and finished second on three occasions on his way to $2.18 million in purses. The gelding’s victories included the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Carl Milstein Memorial, Hap Hansen Progress Pace, and Matron Stakes.

In addition, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a half-mile track when he won in 1:49 at Harrington Raceway. His time of 1:48 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Wiggle It Jiggleit is owned by George Teague Jr. Inc. and trained by Teague’s longtime assistant Clyde Francis. Teague’s son, Montrell, drove Wiggle It Jiggleit in all his starts.

Three-year-old filly Divine Caroline won five of her final six starts this year --- including the Breeders Crown and Tarport Hap --- and won eight of 22 races overall. She finished among the top three a total of 19 times and earned a division-leading $667,266 for trainer Joe Holloway and owners Val D’Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, Rojan Stables, and Michael Ouriel.

Divine Caroline’s remaining wins this season also included divisions of the Glen Garnsey and Bluegrass stakes.

State Treasurer topped all older pacers in purses with $865,807. His time of 1:47 in winning the U.S. Pacing Championship at the Meadowlands was this year’s fastest mile by a pacer and only one-fifth of a second off the fastest race mile in harness racing history.

For the year, State Treasurer won nine of 19 races and hit the board a total of 15 times. His victories also included the Canadian Pacing Derby, Roll With Joe, Dayton Pacing Derby, and Molson Pace. His triumph in the Molson Pace made him the first three-time winner of the event.

State Treasurer, trained by Ian Moore, is owned by Sally MacDonald and Paul MacDonald.

Venus Delight was the richest pacing mare of the season, with $603,265 in purses for trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. and owner Bamond Racing. She won eight of 19 starts and finished among the top three on 15 occasions.

Her wins included the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, the Milton Stakes, the TVG Free For All Series championship for pacing mares, and the Artiscape.

Pure Country was a perfect 10-for-10 this year and led all 2-year-old pacers with $689,968 in earnings. She joins JK She’salady (2014), See You At Peelers (2010) and My Little Dragon (2005) as the only 2-year-old female pacers to win a Dan Patch Award with an undefeated season.

Trained by Jimmy Takter for owner Diamond Creek Racing, Pure Country’s wins included the Breeders Crown, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship --- in a stakes- and track-record 1:51 at The Meadows --- and divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes.

Boston Red Rocks never finished off the board in nine races this year, winning four times. His victories included the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers and Governor’s Cup.

The colt, trained by Steve Elliott, is owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks. Boston Red Rocks earned $579,205 this year, the top figure for a 2-year-old male pacer.

Boston Red Rocks (82 votes)
Rocknroll Hanover---McGibson---McArdle

Yearling Price: $50,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: Andray Farm
Owners: Peter Blood, Rick Berks

Trainer: Steve Elliott Drivers: Tim Tetrick, John Campbell

Races: 9-4-4-1 Purses: $579,205 Mark: 1:50.3 at Meadowlands
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $413,000 Governor’s Cup

Pure Country
 (124 votes)
Somebeachsomewhere---Western Montana---Western Hanover
Yearling Price: Homebred
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm

Owner: Diamond Creek Racing
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Brett Miller
Races: 10-10-0-0 Purses: $689,968 Mark: 1:51 at The Meadows 
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $350,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship


Wiggle It Jiggleit (132 votes)
Mr Wiggles---Mozzi Hanover---Jenna’s Beach Boy
Sale Price: Private
Breeders: James Bernstein, Theresa Bantle, Eric Felter, Vincent Tancredi
Owner: George Teague Jr. Inc.
Trainer: Clyde Francis Driver: Montrell Teague
Races: 26-22-3-0 Purses: $2.18 million Mark: 1:47.4 at Meadowlands 
Top wins: $706,000 Meadowlands Pace; $677,000 Little Brown Jug; $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine; $500,000 Hempt Memorial

Divine Caroline
 (113 votes)

Rock N Roll Heaven---Loving Caroline---Art Major

Yearling Price: $75,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm
Owners: Val D’Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, Rojan Stables, Michael Ouriel
Trainer: Joe Holloway Driver: David Miller
Races: 22-8-5-6 Purses: $667,266 Mark: 1:49.2 at The Red Mile
Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $173,500 Tarport Hap; $117,250 Glen Garnsey division

State Treasurer
 (108 votes)
Real Desire---Ideal Treasure---Western Ideal
Yearling Price: $6,500 at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: Brittany Farms
Owners: Sally MacDonald, Paul MacDonald
Trainer: Ian Moore Drivers: David Miller, Randy Waples, Chris Christoforou
Races: 19-9-1-5 Purses: $865,807 Mark: 1:47 at Meadowlands 
Top wins: $513,750 Canadian Pacing Derby; $215,400 U.S. Pacing Championship; $150,000 Roll With Joe

Venus Delight
 (105 votes)
Bettor’s Delight---Venus Killean---Run The Table
Sale Price: Private
Breeder: Estate of George Hempt Trust
Owner: Bamond Racing

Trainer: Jeff Bamond Drivers: Jason Bartlett, Tim Tetrick, James MacDonald
Races: 19-8-3-4 Purses: $603,265 Mark: 1:49.4 at Vernon Downs
Top wins: $261,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker; $225,000 Milton; $200,000 TVG; $194,000 Artiscape

Bee A Magician, Mission Brief, and Pinkman added to their respective Dan Patch Award totals Tuesday when divisional honors for trotters were announced by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

Mission Brief, a filly, and Pinkman, a gelding, were Dan Patch Award winners last year at age 2 and repeated as honorees for 2015. Five-year-old mare Bee A Magician was previously recognized in 2013, when she was voted harness racing’s best 3-year-old female trotter as well as Trotter of the Year and Horse of the Year.

Joining that trio in also receiving Dan Patch Award divisional honors this year were 2-year-old filly Broadway Donna, 2-year-old colt Southwind Frank, and older male JL Cruze.

A total of 136 ballots were returned. Each winner received at least 82 percent of the votes in their division. Southwind Frank received 135 votes, with one voter abstaining from voting in the category.

Pinkman, trained by Jimmy Takter, is the richest trotter in North America this year, with $1.89 million in purses. He won 11 of 17 races, including the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, and Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial.

His time of 1:51 in the Hambletonian set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a mile racetrack and his 1:51.3 win in the Beal established the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Pinkman is owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. Pinkman is the second consecutive Takter-trained male trotter to receive Dan Patch Award honors at ages 2 and 3, following Father Patrick in 2013 and 2014.

Mission Brief, trained by Ron Burke, won 10 of 14 races this year, finished second on three occasions, and earned $1 million in purses. Her triumphs included the Elegantimage Stakes, Matron Stakes, and the filly division of the Zweig Memorial. She challenged the boys in the Hambletonian, rather than facing the fillies in the Hambletonian Oaks, and won her elimination before finishing second to Pinkman in the same-day final.

Her time of 1:50.2 in the Matron Stakes set the world record for a 3-year-old female trotter on a five-eighths-mile track and equaled the fastest mile ever by any 3-year-old trotter on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Mission Brief is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi. Mission Brief joins Shake It Cerry (2013 and 2014) and Check Me Out (2011 and 2012) as recent trotting fillies to receive Dan Patch Award recognition at ages 2 and 3.

Bee A Magician enjoyed multiple successes this year against male rivals. She became the first female trotter to win the Maple Leaf Trot since 2006 and she became the first mare to ever win the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and Centaur Trotting Classic. She also knocked off the boys in the Charlie Hill Memorial Trot.

For the year, Bee A Magician won 10 of 18 races, finished second five times, and earned $980,845 for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman and owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee. Her victories also included the Armbro Flight Stakes for trotting mares.

Bee A Magician is the first female trotter since Peace Corps to receive a Dan Patch Award at ages 3 and 5. Peace Corps garnered five consecutive trophies from ages 2 through 6 (1988-92).

JL Cruze, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Eric Ell, saw his season cut short by complications from a virus, but before being sidelined won 16 of 21 races and put together a string of three consecutive world-record performances.

He became the sport’s first trotter to trot a mile in less than 1:50 on a mile-sized track, stopping the timer in 1:49.4 to capture the Graduate Series championship at the Meadowlands. In addition, JL Cruze set the world record of 2:04.2 for the distance of 1-1/8 miles in the Hambletonian Maturity and equaled the world record of 1:51 for a 4-year-old gelding on a five-eighths oval in the Sun Invitational.

A relative unknown entering this year, JL Cruze began the season by winning the Super Bowl Series championship in January, followed by the Singer Memorial Series in February, the Shiaway St Pat Series in March, and the Weiss Series in April. He earned $627,456 this season.

JL Cruze is owned by Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.

Two-year-old colt Southwind Frank, another trotter from the stable of trainer Ron Burke, won 11 of 12 races this year and earned $786,419. His wins included the Breeders Crown, Peter Haughton Memorial, and William Wellwood Memorial.

His time of 1:52.2 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes set the world record for a 2-year-old male trotter.

Southwind Frank is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, Our Horse Cents Stables, and J&T Silva Stables.

Two-year-old filly Broadway Donna won nine of 10 races this season and earned $531,286 for trainer Jim Campbell and owner Fashion Farms. Her victories included the Jim Doherty Memorial, a division of the Bluegrass Stakes, and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

Southwind Frank (135 votes)
Muscle Hill---Flawless Lindy---Cantab Hall
Yearling Price: $100,000 at Lexington Selected Sale
Breeder: Southwind Farm
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 12-11-0-0 Purses: $786,419 Mark: 1:52.2 at The Red Mile (world record)
Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $349,850 Peter Haughton Memorial; $283,480 William Wellwood Memorial

Broadway Donna (112 votes)
Donato Hanover---Broadway Schooner---Broadway Hall
Yearling Price: Homebred
Breeder: Fashion Farms
Owner: Fashion Farms
Trainer: Jim Campbell Driver: David Miller
Races: 10-9-0-0 Purses: $531,286 Mark: 1:53.3 at Meadowlands 
Top wins: $389,450 Jim Doherty Memorial; $351,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship; $129,500 Bluegrass Stakes division

Pinkman (132 votes)
Explosive Matter---Margie Seelster---Angus Hall
Yearling Price: $77,000 under name Traffic Jam at Lexington Selected Sale
Breeder: O Narutac Equine Nursery
Owners: Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, Herb Liverman
Trainer: Jimmy Takter Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Brian Sears
Races: 17-11-3-1 Purses: $1.89 million Mark: 1:51 at Meadowlands (world record)
Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $532,000 Canadian Trotting Classic; $527,000 Kentucky Futurity; $500,000 Earl Beal Memorial

Mission Brief (118 votes)
Muscle Hill---Southwind Serena---Varenne
Yearling Price: $150,000 at Lexington Selected Sale
Breeders: Steve Stewart, Black Creek Farm, Andrea Lea Racing Stables
Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, Weaver Bruscemi LLC
Trainer: Ron Burke Driver: Yannick Gingras
Races: 14-10-3-0 Purses: $1 million Mark: 1:50.2 at Dover Downs (world record)
Top wins: $307,040 Elegantimage; $187,400 Matron; $185,000 Zweig Filly

JL Cruze (118 votes)
Crazed---Topcat Hall---Conway Hall
Sale Price: $37,000 at 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale
Breeders: Joanne Morrison, Glengate Farms
Owners: Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., Stephen Iaquinta
Trainer: Eric Ell Driver: John Campbell
Races: 21-16-2-0 Purses: $627,456 Mark: 1:49.4 at Meadowlands (world record)
Top wins: $443,300 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Graduate; $75,000 Sun Invitational\

Bee A Magician (119 votes)
Kadabra---Beehive---Balanced Image
Yearling Price: $90,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale
Breeder: White Birch Farm
Owners: Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee
Trainer: Richard “Nifty” Norman Drivers: Brian Sears, David Miller
Races: 18-10-5-0 Purses: $980,845 Mark: 1:51.1 at Mohawk
Top wins: $516,800 Maple Leaf Trot; $220,320 Armbro Flight; $210,000 Centaur Trotting Classic

She’s known as “Hurricane Hannah” because she has taken amateur racing by storm. This year, in her first full season of driving, and primarily against male counterparts, Hannah Miller has won 32 races and will finish with a .425 UDR in 118 drives, and for her prowess the United States Harness Writers Association has unanimously named her the National Amateur Driver of the Year.

Hannah is the first woman to win this award.

“I am thrilled to be named amateur driver of the year,” Miller said when reached by phone. “I never expected this success but I have so many great people behind me that have done so much to help me achieve this award. (My boyfriend) Nick (Surick) has put so much work into this and I wouldn't be able to drive such good horses without him. He has made it possible for me to travel all over the country and overseas to compete in amateur races. Trish Coyle and Miriam Kraemer have also done so much for me and put in endless hours at the barn, on the road, and at the racetrack to make all of this possible. My family continuously supports me and I am so grateful for everyone that has helped me get to this point.”

This year Hannah has driven at 21 different racetracks in the United States and Canada and she also represented the USA in an international amateur driving competition in Majorca, Spain earlier this year.

She is a member of multiple amateur driving clubs and ‘danced every dance’ including as a participant in the granddaddy of them all, the CKG Billings Series, which she dominated this season. There Hannah finished as the combined points champion and she won the east region final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. But unfortunately for her, in the Billings Gold Cup final at Harrah’s Philadelphia her horse, who was sent off at odds of 3-10, made a break early in the mile and she finished back.

“Hannah took the series by storm, winning 12 Billings races while earning the overall point championship title,” said Billings Series vice president Steve Oldford. “She bested her male counterparts in three of the five seasonal series and she exemplified complete competence and professionalism while dominating. She worked hard and earned the respect of her fellow drivers all season and according to Billings President Tony Verruso, 'She is a tremendous addition to the Billings.'”

Along the way this year Hannah also won a NAADA trotting series and a Catskill Amateur Club’s pacing series and she went two-for-two in amateur contests at Red Mile this past fall.

“Winning is always fun,” Miller told Harness Racing Communications' Ken Weingartner last week. “It makes you want to win more and it definitely helps keep you going. But I’m trying to push myself harder, make fewer mistakes and figure out what I can do better.”

Her accomplishments -- many at Monticello Raceway -- didn’t go unnoticed and she was named Amateur Driver of the Year by the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA at their awards banquet in late November.

Miller, the daughter of veteran trainer Erv Miller and the sister of driver Marcus Miller, has put a degree in business from the University of Central Florida on hold for now while she drives in the amateur races.

“I’m going to use the degree eventually, but right now I’m just having fun racing the amateurs," she said.

The United States Harness Writers Association announced that Charles Keller III, whose Yankeeland Farm produced Hambletonian winners Muscles Yankee (1998) and Yankee Paco (2000), has been voted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. In addition, two veteran publicists, David Carr and Jerry Connors, were also voted as inductees into the Communicators Hall of Fame.

Keller took over the helm of Yankeeland Farm after the 1990 death of his father, Charlie Keller Jr., of New York Yankees fame. Keller’s father purchased the farm in Frederick, Md., in 1955 and assembled the mares and bred the progeny that contributed to the farm’s success over several decades.

Keller has been a director of the Hambletonian Society since 2000 and is a member of the executive committee, for which he was chairman from 2013 through this spring, following the passing of John Cashman Jr. Keller was a director of the United States Trotting Association for five terms and an active member of the Finance Committee. He is a current trustee of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. 

David Carr joined the USTA as a publicist and staff writer for Hoof Beats magazine in 1982. Three years later, he proposed the creation of the information and research department, developed it into a superb resource for those writing about the sport of harness racing, and is now head of that department.

Jerry Connors has had a passion for harness racing since he was a child and few in the industry can duplicate his memory of racing and events in the sport. A “jack of all trades,” Connors has worked at numerous racetracks and industry organizations throughout his career as a publicist and administrator. He has been an USHWA director for 23 years, and is a licensed judge, track announcer and race charter.

Keller, along with horseman Bruce Nickells, who was previously announced as the senior-elect to the Hall of Fame, will join Carr and Connors at the USHWA Dan Patch Awards dinner on Sunday (March 6) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as their first introduction as harness racing’s newest members of the Hall of Fame.

The actual induction ceremony takes place on Sunday (July 3) at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.

Bruce Nickells, a trainer/driver who was associated with many top horses during his 70-year career in harness racing and who specialized in the developing of young pacing fillies into champions, was selected for induction into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame by the Screening Committee of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the sport’s leading media organization, under a “Veterans” provision incorporated into the organization’s by-laws earlier this year.

Nickells, 87, developed champions for more than four decades, an impressive feat by any standard.

At the age of 13, Nickells got his start as a part-time groom with the late C.F. Rumley. He got his first drive and first win at Aurora Downs in 1949 and opened his own stable in 1953.

His career stats are incomplete since USTA record keeping began well after Nickells started his harness racing career, but he is still credited with more than $6 million in purses as a driver and more than $7 million in training earnings in the pre-slots racing era.

Nickells developed some outstanding horses early in his career, including the trotter Scribe Rodney, Combat Time, Batman, Kentucky, and Fast Clip.

Nickells’ prowess soon caught the attention of Grand Circuit patrons, and his training of the great mare Follow My Star in 1985 resulted in a partnership with mega-owner Lou Guida – one that would rewrite the record books.

He trained six freshman divisional winners and/or the richest freshman filly of the year. Nickells broke his own single season earnings record set by Follow My Star in 1991 with the great Miss Easy, who won 25 of her 32 lifetime starts (including an 11-race win streak), with earnings of $1,777,656. For his management of Miss Easy, Nickells was voted 1991 Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year.

Miss Easy was a repeat divisional winner as a sophomore.

Other top horses for Nickells include Hambletonian Oaks winner Park Avenue Kathy, Central Park West, Hazleton Kay, Immortality, Freedoms Friend, Bruce’s Lady, Efishnc and six Breeders Crown champions. His Crown starters earned $1.9 million, currently ranking him 15th in all-time Crown earnings even though he’s started just one horse in the series since 1999.

For the last 20 years Nickells has concentrated on the winter training and breaking of colts, and gave youngsters such as Cypress Creek ($384,000) and Grinfromeartoear ($1.7 million) their early lessons. Nickells has turned his stable over to his daughter, Brooke, and is an active consultant and trainer in their rotation from Pompano Park in the winter to summers at Hoosier Park.

Nickells will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 3, 2016, going directly to the Hall under the Veterans provision. He will be joined on that day by candidates who receive 75 percent of the yes-no vote from eligible USHWA and Hall of Famers in late summer voting: Hall of Fame nominee Charles Keller III and Communicators Hall of Fame nominees David Carr and Jerry Connors. 

Click here to watch an informative video about the workshop

The Clyde Hirt Media Workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Harness Writers Association and Meadowlands Racetrack. It is held in conjunction with harness racing's most prestigious race (the Hambletonian) and offers college students a chance to learn from journalism professionals while covering a major sporting event. Students interact with a variety of sports professionals, write race previews and results stories for daily newspapers and news websites and attend workshop sessions with experts from print, broadcasting, public relations and other media.

Corey Alexander, one of the students from the 2012 workshop, produced a video featuring many of the highlights of the weeks activities. we are making it available here for you to view and see what great exposure the workshop is giving the sport of harness racing to college students who are up and coming media professionals.

Click here to see the video of what the young men and women from colleges all over North America have experienced; our sport, first hand.

USHWA NEW MEMBER BROCHURE IS HERE-The hard work of the New Member Committee led by Chairwoman Jessica Schroeder has brought to frution a new tool to help broaden and build the membership of USHWA. It is a colorful and informational brochure that will explain exactly what USHWA is, what USHWA does, and why those who work in the sporting media would want to join.

You can download a printable version of it here.

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.

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