If you didn't get the chance to attend the 2017 Dan Patch Awards presented by Hoosier Park, click this link and watch it in its entirety. And if you were one of the 450 people who did, relive your favorite moments from the presentation.
Click here and here for two separate Red Carpet photo albums
Click here for other candid photos from the banquet
What happened in Vegas, went home with everybody
The recently completed Dan Patch Awards Banquet and USHWA National meetings that were held at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on the weekend of February 26 were both declared successes.
The banquet was attended by 435 people which made it one of the best attended banquets USHWA has ever hosted. And feedback from our guests rated it as one of the best as well. Most everyone we spoke to gave glowing reviews about the rooms, the food, the drinks and the presentation itself.
The USHWA meetings were all well attended too. There were 38 Directors on hand for that meeting on Saturday and that number joined 15 members for the general session on Sunday.
The Directors took on a thick pile of by-law and rule change proposals and made decisions that would benefit the organization for years to come. Several cost saving changes were approved along with an expansion of our philanthropic ability. A full compilation of all by-law changes, and the voting on each, is attached to this e-mail.
The general session recapped committee work and discussed new and old business before the membership adjourned for a delicious buffet lunch.
I would like to thank the chairs and all the members of the various committees (in particular the Location, Dinner, Sponsorship and Journal committees) for their hard work and dedication to USHWA and the Dan Patch Awards Banquet. Without their help, this event would never be able to happen.
Thank a Sponsor!
If you have the opportunity to do so during the year, thank our sponsors when you see them. Without their support, our organization would not be able to do what it does throughout the year.
2017 Committee Roster
I am currently going over the committee roster for the coming year. If you want to work on a particular committee, move to a different one or stay on the one you have been on, please let me know. I may make changes as I see fit and will take any request made into consideration when making these changes. It is expected that all Officers, Chapter Directors and Past Presidents serve on a committee during the year.
Dues are due
If you have not yet paid your dues for this year, please remember they are required to be paid by March 31. Failure to do so will jeopardize your right to vote later this year. Please remember that starting this year, regular membership dues are now $60.
Consider joining the Harness Racing Museum
Only a small percentage of the racing industry are members of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. In an effort to promote new membership to support the museum, a by-law was passed to refund $20 of your 2016 USHWA dues to you if you are not currently a member of the museum and join this year. (That makes the net cost for you to join only $15) This is a one-time offer for all members and we strongly encourage every one of you take advantage of it.
HOF nominations are around the corner
You may consider scheduling a Chapter meeting between May 1 and June 1 to discuss nominations for the Hall of Fame. A new Hall of Fame Advisory Committee was formed as a by-law change, and their job is to provide a list of 20 names along with biographies to aid Chapters with their selection; this list will be reviewed by the Hall of Fame Screening Committee, and be available for distribution to the chapters by May 1.
Chapters are not obligated to select any of the names brought forth and can submit one nomination/biography not on the list. And those will be due by June 1.
At this meeting, it would also be good to review Chapter membership lists, especially since 2017 dues payments will be known by this time.
Goshen Hall of Fame weekend
It’s never too early to make reservations for the Fourth of July weekend in Goshen, NY. There will be an USHWA gathering scheduled on Sunday and a race named for the organization during the days racing at Historic Track. Room discounts will be passed along when they become available from the museum.
Many 2017 race meets are getting underway in the next few weeks and we are looking another year of great harness racing action right in the face. Good luck to all the participants who race, the venues that host them and the media who cover it all.
Tim Bojarski President of USHWA
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world’s largest organization for industry communicators, conducted its annual two days of business meetings this past weekend at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino along “the Strip” in this renowned gambling mecca. The weekend culminated in the Sunday evening celebration of the sport’s best and brightest stars of 2016, both human and equine, at the annual Dan Patch Annual Banquet, for which Hoosier Park in Indiana joined with USHWA as its first Dan Patch Banquet title presenters.
The presence of Hoosier Park, and several other high-recognition entities of the sport providing sponsorship of phases of the Dan Patch Banquet, was reflective of the hard work of many individuals in shoring up the financial bottom line of the organization, and then developing a plan upon which to expand and help make USHWA’s economic base even stronger.
This was perhaps the major theme of the USHWA weekend meetings, with Florida member Tom Hicks earning USHWA’s Member of the Year award for spearheading a diverse, hard-working committee that took a look at all of USHWA’s spending and income of recent years, and tried to find ways to minimize the former while maximizing the latter. A detailed report, emphasizing expansion of avenues of income, especially through the group’s website (www.ushww.org), was prepared, explained, and distributed to the assembled as a baseline for ongoing activities.
Association economics were very much prevalent in the annual by-law and rules & regulations change proposals. One proposition argued in most years again was taken to a vote: the debate whether it was more advantageous to continue the current method of announcing Horse, Trotter, and Pacer of the Year at the end of the calendar season to take advantage of significant international press exposure, or to announce these awards for the first time at the Dan Patch Banquet in order to heighten the drama and perhaps bring in additional revenue (e.g., through sponsoring streaming video).
This year’s tabulation revealed that both sides’ arguments had merit: 20 Directors voted to move the announcement to the banquet while 15 favored keeping the announcement at year’s end, but this vote meant that the announcement will stay when it is, as under USHWA’s by-laws a 2/3 majority (here, 23 votes) would have been necessary for a by-law change.
The Directors of USHWA also voted on the two ballot candidates for this summer’s election for the Communicators Hall of Fame. Veteran Midwest announcer and auctioneer Carl Becker garnered the most support; the contest for the second spot was extremely tight, with the nod going to Dave Briggs of Harness Racing Update, who at the banquet would collect his record ninth John Hervey Award for excellence in writing about the Standardbred sport.
USHWA’s officers generally work on a two-year cycle, and since this was an “off-year” election, the same officials were retained for another year: Tim Bojarski as President; Shawn Wiles as 1st Vice President; Kim Rinker as 2nd Vice President; Chris Tully as Chairman of the Board; Barry Lefkowitz as Treasurer; and Jerry Connors as Secretary.
More than 125 horsemen and women were in attendance Friday night (March 10) at the 26th annual Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame Dinner held at the Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort & Spa in Pompano Beach.
The highlight of the evening was the inductions into the Florida Hall of Fame. Entering this year were horsemen Mark Friedman and Dan Hennessey and horse’s Rock On and Royel Millennium.
Hosted by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association, there were also special human awards given out for the 2016 season and presentations were also made to the Horse of the Year by the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association and the Florida Amateur Driving Club.
Hall of Fame inductee Mark Friedman has been in harness racing for more than five decades as an owner, breeder, trainer and driver. His Polo Stables has had many top Florida-bred champions, none better than the top pacing mare, Bling, p,1:51, a career winner of more than $610,000.
“To have worked most of my life in harness racing and now receiving this award is a highlight of my career and I thank everyone who has helped me along the way,” Friedman said.
Hall of Fame inductee Dan Hennessey, who is nearing his 1,000th career training win and $6 million in earnings, closed out 2016 with a UDR of .420 despite nearly going blind two years ago. His brother, Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey, summed it up well in his introduction.
“I don’t think we ever could have had our stable going steady for forty plus years if not for Dan,” Hennessey said. He is the one who always held the fort down between Pompano and Saratoga year after year. Many of you don’t know that he holds a world record as the only trainer ever to use same driver on nearly every single horse he ever trained, and that was me!”
Taking home the most hardware on the evening (and it was a good thing she came to the dinner with her pickup truck) was Owner-Breeder Laurie Poulin. In addition to her horse, Royel Millennium being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Laurie was named Breeder of the Year for the second straight year and was presented the Dana Irving Award for the second straight year.
Poulin also received four Horse of the Year crystal awards for her stables' Prairie Panther, Prairie Sweetheart, Prairie Jaguar and Prairie Fortune.
All of the horses were bred by Poulin and co-owned and trained by Mike Deters.
FLORIDA USHWA AWARD WINNERS
Hall of Fame – Mark Friedman
Hall of Fame – Dan Hennessey
Hall of Fame – Rock On
Hall of Fame – Royel Millennium
Delvin Miller Award – Fred Morosini
Dana Iriving Award – Laurie Poulin
R.D. Ricketts Award – Kevin Kelly
Stanley Dancer Award – Sergio Corona
Lifetime Achievement – Leon Cable
Dan Gawlas Award – John Berry
Bill Popfinger Award – Mike Deters & Maggie Audley
France Dodge Van Lennep Award – Marianne Audley
Allen J. Finkelson Award – Gabe Prewitt
Caretaker of the Year – Gary McQuaid
FSBOA CRYSTAL AWARD WINNERS
2YO Pacing Filly – Gold Star Aurora
2YO Pacing Colt – Prairie Panther
2YO Trotting Filly – Atlantic Crest
2YO Trotting Colt – I’m Done
3YO Pacing Filly – Prairie Sweetheart
3YO Pacing Colt – R Chism
3YO Trotting Filly – Gold Star Briana
3YO Trotting Colt – Rexamillion
Older Pacing Mare – Goldstar Rockette
Older Pacing Horse – Prairie Jaguar
Older Trotting Mare – Selena
Older Trotting Horse – Prairie Fortune
2016 Breeder of the Year – Laurie Poulin
2016 Florida Amateur Driver of the Year - Tony Dinges
The Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF) has awarded its most prestigious honor, the 2016 Service to Youth Award, to Dr. Patricia Hogan. The Service To Youth Award is given to individuals or organizations who exemplify outstanding effort in facilitating youth participation in harness racing. Recipients show exceptional assistance (either financially or educationally) to existing HHYF programs or in their own successful efforts. Hogan is a well-known and well-respected veterinarian, most notably known for her involvement with Dan Patch Horse of the Year Always B Miki.
Hogan has been honored by numerous organizations over her career. She previously received the 2016 Inaugural Equistar Award from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the 2008 Spirit of the Horse Award from Rutgers University, and the 2004 President’s Award from the American Veterinary Medicine Association.
"Dr. Hogan’s long term support of HHYF in addition to her benevolence fortifies her selection” according to HHYF President Marlys Pinske. “She exemplifies the best in harness racing and our board is pleased to present her yet another honor for her efforts.”
HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor adds, “Dr. Hogan has a long affiliation with HHYF, having received scholarships from the Foundation during her schooling in the late 1980s. She serves as an exceptional role model for countless young people with aspirations to become veterinarians. She mentors college students, offers clinic tours during the annual Fair Winds Open House and has participated in ‘take your daughter to work’ efforts.”
The late Stan Bergstein won the inaugural Service To Youth Award in 1979 and since then a Who’s Who of harness racing, including Delvin Miller, John Campbell, Doug Brown and Albert Adams have been honored. Organizations including Hanover Shoe Farms Foundation, Brittany Farms and Hoosier Park have also received the award. Callie Davies-Gooch and Chris Wittstruck shared the award last year. A complete list of Service To Youth award recipients is posted
HHYF welcomes nominations from the harness racing industry for consideration.
Now in its fifth decade of service to harness racing, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. 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 creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, go to www.hhyf.org.
Dave Briggs, writing for Harness Racing Update, and the tandem of Melissa Keith and Keith McCalmont, writing for Trot magazine, were named the winners in the 2016 John Hervey Awards for excellence in harness writing journalism, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Thursday.
Let’s Go Racing LLC’s feature, “Always B Miki’s Miraculous Return,” was named the winner of the 2016 John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing broadcasting.
In addition, Clive Cohen and Mark Hall were named the winners in the Smallsreed Awards for excellence in harness racing photography.
Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman Jeffrey Gural is continuing his longstanding sponsorship of the Hervey and Smallsreed awards by providing USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet tickets for the winners.
Briggs won in the news/commentary category for his story titled “Wallace slowly starting to rebuild after being decimated by Classy Lane fire,” which appeared in the Jan. 8 issue of Harness Racing Update. It is Briggs’ ninth Hervey Award, which is a record, and his third in the news/commentary division. Click here to read the story.
Keith and McCalmont won in the feature writing category for their story titled “Remember those lost,” which appeared in the February issue of Trot and presented memories of horses lost in the Classy Lane fire from horsemen and horsewomen affected by the tragedy. It is Keith’s second Hervey honor and the first for McCalmont.
Honorable mention in the news/commentary category went to Gordon Waterstone, writing for The Horseman And Fair World magazine, for his story “Suspicious texts cause Jug controversy,” which appeared in the Sept. 28 issue.
Feature writing honorable mentions went to Marvin Pave and Beverley Smith.
Pave was recognized for his story “Have cause, will travel,” which appeared in the November issue of Hoof Beats magazine and detailed how a racing family inspired the industry to help in the fight against multiple sclerosis. Smith was recognized for her story “Ron Waples: Just a win away from happiness,” which appeared on the Woodbine Entertainment website on May 30.
The writing categories were judged by a panel consisting of past Hervey winner Brad Schmaltz, freelance writer Lou Monaco, and Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Editor John Quinn.
Let’s Go Racing LLC’s feature, “Always B Miki’s Miraculous Return,” which aired during the Breeders Crown telecast on SNY (SportsNet New York) on Oct. 28, was named the winner of the 2016 John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing broadcasting, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Wednesday.
The broadcasting division was judged by Kurt Becker, track announcer at Keeneland and an Eclipse Award-winning broadcaster.
“Always B Miki’s Miraculous Return” chronicled the pacer’s comeback from two leg surgeries to become a Breeders Crown champion and the fastest horse in harness racing history. The piece was produced by Bruce Casella and narrated by Heather Vitale.
Becker said the production was “well-edited, with a keen sense of what was pertinent to the storyline” and “told the story in an efficient and powerful manner.”
Honorable mention was presented to WISH-TV’s “Indiana Born” feature that focused on the career of pacer Freaky Feet Pete and his owners/trainers the Rheinheimer family. It appeared on Indianapolis’ WISH-TV on Oct. 16. It was produced by Peggy McClelland.
Cohen’s photo “October Racing,” which first appeared
on the WEG Standardbred Instagram page on Oct. 1 received the Smallsreed
Award for feature photography. It is Cohen’s second Smallsreed honor.
Cohen also received honorable mention in the action category for his
photo of three horses in the snow at Woodbine.
recognized in the Smallsreed action category for his photo “Hey there,”
which appeared in the September issue of Hoof Beats. It is Hall’s sixth
Michael Burns received honorable mention in the
feature category for his photo of horses behind the starting gate at
Mohawk. Ann MacNeill received honorable mention in the action division
for her photo of a horse on the track at Pinette Raceway.
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.
Winners will be recognized at USHWA’s Dan Patch Awards dinner presented by Hoosier Park at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas,Feb. 26.
Justin MacEachern, who works in the Ross Croghan Stable, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HHRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).
MacEachern, 26, has worked for Croghan for three years, and in 2016 he was the caretaker of Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Pace champ Call Me Queen Be. Call Me Queen Be also included in her 2016 victories the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes final as well as the first heat of the Jugette at Delaware, Ohio, when she set a new world record of 1:50.1h for her division.
“I am so overwhelmed by this, I can’t even begin to explain it,” said MacEachern. “When you take care of a horse, and I’ve taken care of Call Me Queen Be for two years and she was my only horse up until this winter, just waking up every day knowing that I had so much to do with the horse, it’s just great. There is a whole connection there and it’s an amazing feeling.”
All caretakers in North America are eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel—all of whom were former caretakers themselves—chose MacEachern as the winner. As winner of the HHRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, MacEachern will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, where he will be presented a trophy.
A third-generation horseman, MacEachern had been pursuing a degree in culinary management at the Art Institute of Philadelphia when the lure of the horses changed his direction.
MacEachern received several nominations, with one noting the “countless hours he has dedicated to the filly (Call Me Queen Be)” and a pacer who he needed “to use his horsemanship skills to gain the trust of.”
Croghan agreed, saying recently, “He has spent hours and hours with this filly giving her confidence and getting her mannered. Justin has just put his heart and soul into this horse.”
Croghan also noted MacEachern’s attention to detail, whether it involved shipping, shoeing, exercise schedules or equipment.
Another nominator noted that MacEachern “risked his own life” last winter when fire engulfed a barn at the South Florida Trotting Center. One of the first on the scene, MacEachern helped rescue several horses from the burning barn, later helping ship the injured to a nearby vet clinic.
MacEachern, along with all the USHWA 2016 award winners, including Always B Miki as Horse of the Year, will be recognized during the banquet onFeb. 26.
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing’s leading and largest membership organization for industry communicators, is pleased to announce that a group of four Jeff Gural racing entities – Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, along with Winners Bayonne OTW – are partnering with the Lexington Select Yearling Sale and Winbak Farm in sponsoring a luncheon to be held Sunday, February 26, at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, before the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park is held that evening.
The luncheon will begin at twelve noon, following the morning’s annual Membership meeting at USHWA. Members of the organization taking part in the morning session will be attending, as will the sponsors of the luncheon and special guest Brian Sears, the newest Hall of Fame member. The recent electees to the Communicators Hall of Fame, Gordon Waterstone and Steven Wolf, already have “seats at the table” as former Presidents of USHWA.
Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that “USHWA is honored to have the New Meadowlands and its off-track site, along with two major New York tracks in Tioga and Vernon, join together with one of the sport’s premier auction companies, based in Kentucky, and one of the sport’s elite breeding farms, headquartered in Maryland for this sponsorship effort.
“The fact that these diverse organizations, located in diverse areas, are combining in this sponsorship shows the ‘win-win’ attitude of these groups so necessary in this competitive entertainment market. We of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport next month.”
The Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park will be held as the culmination of theFebruary 25-26 weekend when USHWA holds its annual business meetings.
Now that we have all enjoyed our family and friends over the Holidays,
I guess it’s time to get everyone back on USHWA track with the happenings of
the organization as we lead up to our National meetings and the 2017 Dan Patch
Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park.
First, congratulations are in order to all of our award winners to
date. The 12 divisional horse winners and all their connections, as well as
Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder and Pacer and Horse of the Year Always B
Miki, are the best the sport had to offer this year. Attached is a list of the award-winners which
have been made public at this point.
All the information about every award winner is available in detail on
the USHWA website.
The Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park is quickly
approaching on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. It’s
a good idea to make your air reservations now (if you haven’t already) as well
as hotel reservations through the portal on our website. These specially-priced
hotel rates are only available until February, 2, 2017.
Here is a schedule of the USHWA meetings for the weekend.
Our website contains every piece of vital information and downloadables
needed for the weekend: Ticket forms, Journal advertising info, the award
winners list and an event sheet with dates and times. We can use EVERYONE’S
help to sell Journal ads and sponsorships and as members, everyone should try
to sell something to help the organization.
If you have a lead for ads or know
of someone you can contact for a sponsorship, please get in touch with Kim
Rinker (email@example.com) for Journal
sales and Steve Wolf (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for sponsorships. They have lists of who has been contacted and who still needs
to be contacted, so we can coordinate our efforts and not make multiple calls
on the same people.
***It’s time to pay your dues again, and as it was agreed upon by the
Directors last year, that cost is now $60 per year for active members. Your dues form is also attached to this
e-mail, and they should be returned no later than April 1.
The increase in dues was, in part, trying to help the financial slide
the organization has taken in recent years. However, in advance of any benefit
from that, the new budget committee has already put things in place that have
helped us improve our bottom line already in 2016. A very optimistic, full
report will be distributed prior to and presented by them at the meeting in Las
***There are several things that each Chapter should be working on now
and all have deadlines associated with them.
Chapters need to make sure our secretary has an updated list of who
your Directors/Delegates are for Vegas ASAP.
JANUARY 27: 1) All by-law change proposals, with a rationale
helpful; R&Rs can be done from the floor, but history shows they are
better-received if folks know about them beforehand. They must be sent to both
the President and Secretary, per the by-laws.
2) Nominations for Communicators Hall of
Fame are also due. Each Chapter is allowed up to 2. Each nominee MUST have a
350-700 word bio on file at this time, or that nomination will be rejected, no
matter how many chapters nominate the person.
FEBRUARY 1: Minutes of one of
your 2016 chapter meetings.
FEBRUARY 8: A written report from the chair of each committee.
(Each committee must have its chair or a member present in Florida to answer
questions; each committee can expand on its report, or can let it “speak for
itself”.) A list of USHWA’s 2016-2017 Committees is also attached.
you for your continued membership in and contributions to USHWA! Let’s work
together to make 2017 one of our Association’s best years ever!
Tim Bojarski President-USHWA
Christine Czernyson, who has helped lead an ovarian cancer awareness effort with assistance from horses Aldebaran Eagle and Side Bet Hanover, has been named the 2016 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.
Czernyson and her husband, trainer Jonas Czernyson, have contributed more than $4,000 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance by donating a percentage of their earnings from Aldebaran Eagle’s and Side Bet Hanover’s purses. In addition, the horses wear ribbons in their manes with the names of nearly 80 women who are either ovarian cancer survivors or in tribute to women who have been taken from loved ones by the disease.
“Christine has done so much to bring attention to this cause,” Davies-Gooch said. “She is one of the great ladies of harness racing and a great example of humanitarianism, providing not only financial assistance to ovarian cancer research and awareness but touching the lives of those affected by the disease through the personal connections incorporated into her efforts. When her name came before our board we felt she was the perfect choice for this award.”
The cause hits close to home for Czernyson, who lost her aunt, Kathy Terrazas, to ovarian cancer. Furthermore, Duncan McPherson, who owns Aldebaran Eagle, lost his wife, Lyn, to the disease and is active in promoting ovarian cancer awareness programs in his homeland of Australia.
“This is totally humbling because it’s not about me, it’s about the women and families that fight with this disease on a daily basis and their struggles,” Czernyson said. “If I can take up a fight for them, I’m willing to do so. For me personally, my aunt passed away from ovarian cancer. Watching her struggle with that disease was not an easy thing. The impact has lasted for years.
“When Duncan McPherson came into our stable, he had lost his wife Lyn to ovarian cancer. He is very active in Australia with ovarian cancer awareness. We just wanted to give something back to Duncan. But we wanted to honor not only his wife and my aunt, but the many other women who are fighting this disease. I don’t think a lot of people realize, but one in 75 women will have ovarian cancer. That’s a pretty staggering statistic.”
The Czernysons started their awareness effort in 2015 with Aldebaran Eagle and extended it to Side Bet Hanover last year when the female trotter raced in the Hambletonian Oaks on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands. Sherry Pollex, the longtime girlfriend of last year’s Hambletonian trophy presenter, NASCAR driver Martin Truex, is an ovarian cancer survivor and advocate for others fighting the disease. Pollex signed a teal ribbon, with teal being the color for ovarian cancer awareness, worn by Side Bet Hanover in the Oaks.
Side Bet Hanover and Aldebaran Eagle will continue to race for ovarian cancer awareness this year, although it will soon be on two different continents.
“Eagle will be leaving to go to Australia in March,” Czernyson said. “We have no doubt he will continue to soar for ovarian cancer down there as well. He’s going to race and then stand stud. Side Bet Hanover will carry on here after Eagle has made the trip to Australia.”
While raising money for ovarian cancer research and awareness has been an important aspect of Czernyson’s effort, the connections made with people affected by the disease has been even more priceless.
“We get a lot of messages whenever those two horses race,” Czernyson said. “I have quite a few women that we stay in contact with that have really fallen in love with this idea and the concept of it and giving them something to cheer for. They’re so appreciative for that. They can say ‘That horse is racing for me.’
“That’s probably given us the biggest joy, just having that knowledge that it goes beyond the money and the horserace. It gives some personal meaning to it. It makes you realize what you’re doing is making a difference. But this isn’t about me or Jonas or the horses, it’s about the women and families affected by this disease. It’s really all about them.”
Czernyson will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26), at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Thomas H. Hicks, whose longtime experience in both the Standardbred sport and top financial circles gave the United States Harness Writers Association a chance to have a wealth of experience at the head of an effort to their stabilizing and growing the organization’s finances, has done his association jobs so well that he has been voted the Member of the Year Award by USHWA, the sport’s leading organization for communicators.
Hicks, a member of USHWA’s Florida chapter and a national director for the last four years, has bred national champions such as the million-dollar-winning racehorse turned coveted sire Crazed, and was the Executive Director of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association in 2011. He regularly writes about North American monte (under saddle) racing and the European Grand Circuit, especially his beloved Vincennes racetrack in Paris and its world-class Prix d’Amerique Trot. The Florida Chapter of USHWA honored him with the Allen J. Finkelson Award for journalistic excellence in 2013.
It is the business side of Hicks’s pedigree, though, replete with prestigious names such as the Harvard Business School, that has made him immensely valuable to USHWA. Hicks is founder and managing partner of Renaissance Partners LLC, a management and turnaround firm which, as its name suggests, specializes in developing and then helping to implement a rebirth and profit plan, both short- and long-term, for its clients. The Renaissance touch is evident in Hicks' guidance and plans to both keeping a sharp eye on expenses while also growing the association’s income through such varied venues as USHWA’s annual awards dinner and through the group’s website, www.ushwa.org.
In announcing Hicks as the recipient of the USHWAn of the Year Award, as it is known within the association, USHWA president Tim Bojarski stated, “A panel of recent recipients of this award selected Tom for his longtime dedication to the Florida Chapter, his work on USHWA’s national tax and audits committees in recent years, and now his spearheading the new budget committee, which will ensure the long-term viability of the association. Everyone in USHWA appreciates Tom’s efforts on behalf of the group, and this award adds the exclamation point to these sentiments.”
Tom Hicks will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Harrisburg, PA --- Barbara Brooks, secretary of the United States Trotting Association, a person who during her remarkable 62-year career with the Association has worked with generations of horsemen and horses via the USTA’s Registration Department, ensuring meticulous record keeping and a smile at every turn, has been voted the sport’s Unsung Hero Award by the members of the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading group of communicators.
When Brooks first joined the USTA, the world record for a mile was 1:55; now it is 1:46. When she first went to work there, the tools of her trade were the typewriter and the file folder; now they are the computer and the database. Just like the speed for a mile, research and production go much more quickly and efficiently.
This upturn in individual production time is part of what has allowed the USTA to retain its ever-growing mass of records about the sport, and to explore and implement new ways of serving its public.
The one constant, the other half of the equation for this progress, has been Barb Brooks, at the end of a telephone, mail, or (now) computer inquiry directed to the USTA’s registry by a horseman or horsewoman wanting to make sure a horse, parentage, and ownership has been correctly recorded.
Barb is by no means a one-man team -- as she would be the first to acknowledge -- but it seems no accident that the Registration Department has functioned so smoothly over decades in an exponentially-expanding sport, and she has represented the best of customer service, knowledge, and collegial cooperation.
Barb Brooks retires from the USTA on Friday (Dec. 30), but the effects of her service to the Association, to its history and its future via the registry, will be felt for decades to come.
Mike Tanner, executive VP/CEO of the USTA, noted, “Barb Brooks exemplifies everything that is right about this industry.” No higher tribute can be made.
Barbara Brooks will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, veteran breeders and racehorse owners who were responsible for the production of two of the top trotting fillies of 2016 -- Ariana G and All The Time -- were the unanimous choice for Breeders of the Year by the Breeders/Broodmares committee of USHWA.
The committee was also undivided in naming the top broodmares of the year: for the trotters, Cantab It All, owned by Libfeld/Katz and the dam of Ariana G and All The Time, and for the pacers, Artstopper, the dam of Always B Miki, who lowered the sport’s all-time speed record to 1:46.
The 25-plus-year partnership of Ontarians Katz and Libfeld certainly had one of its greatest seasons in 2016, owning both diamond-gaited fillies and also sending out Breeders Crown champion Bar Hopping. Katz was also one of the owners of the multiple-stakes winner Idyllic Beach, voted 2-year-old Pacing Filly of the Year.
Idyllic Beach was joined as divisional champion on the trotting side by Ariana G, who dominated the freshman trotting misses through the major portion of the stakes calendar. Ariana G’s older sister by a year, All The Time, made a remarkable recovery from emergency colic surgery after her Hambletonian Oaks victory to return to the races and win a Breeders Crown elimination.
The dam of these two talented trotting distaffs is Cantab It All, a White Birch Farm-bred daughter of Cantab Hall-Better Odds-Pine Chip, who herself took a mark of 1:53 and earned more than $280,000 on the racetrack.
Her first two foals, both by top racehorse turned top sire Muscle Hill, are All The Time and Ariana G, and one can only imagine the potential of, and interest in, the next foals in the Cantab It All production line.
Artstopper, who was unraced, has certainly made up for lost time in the broodmare shed for the Roll The Dice Stable of Delaware’s Joe Hurley. Before Always B Miki came along, she had produced Yagonnakissmeornot, a $1.45 million-winning daughter of The Panderosa who has raced the best of her class for several seasons and has given Artstopper the rare distinction of having both a son and daughter who have beaten 1:50.
But 2016 was the year of Always B Miki, Harness Horse of the Year, reducer of record speed with a 1:46 mile at the famed Red Mile in Lexington on Oct. 9. A son of Always A Virgin who like his sister Yagonnakissmeornot can trace their topline pedigree back to the hugely-influential Western Hanover, Always B Miki clashed with 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit in an epic series of duels in the free-for-all pacing ranks, with Always B Miki winning four, including the season-ending Breeders Crown, and Wiggle It Jiggleit winning three.
These two pacing giants brought extra attention to Indiana, where they were both sired, and to Hurley’s Delaware, where they are both owned.
Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, along with Cantab It All, Artstopper and their connections, will all be feted at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Allison Conte, riding on the leading curve of the new wave social media communications designed to bring the excitement and fun of harness racing to an ever-expanding audience, has broken through the communications clutter with such success in her job as Social Media Manager for the U.S. Trotting Association that the U.S. Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading industry for communicators, has voted her the winner of the Breakthrough Award, which honors those in the sport 35 years or younger for outstanding early-career non-training/driving contributions to harness racing.
Conte is overseer of the many platforms established within the USTA’s Communications Department: the acclaimed Harness Racing FanZone website; the Facebook page of both the FanZone and the USTA’s own central organizational page; and the various means to cover three of harness racing’s flagship events -- the Hambletonian, the Little Brown Jug, and the Breeders Crown.
In addition, she edits for the USTA’s website, the most widely-viewed website in the industry; and conducts advisory sessions in how to utilize social media effectively and how to bring more owners into the sport.
And her vision into the sport and new ways to tell its story has led to many successful programs involving the new media, and certainly will lead to many more.
One striking feature running through the vast majority of Conte’s work is the insight she gives into the people and horses involved in putting on the show, devoting time and energy to the individuals and events behind the scenes that may surprise people and interest them further in the sport.
The faculty that Conte has in this area is no accident: the daughter of horseman Carl Conte Jr., she has been a caretaker for fast horses, rich horses, and durable horses -- all of those characteristics rolled up together in her most famous charge, Foiled Again, the sport’s all-time leader in earnings with purses nearing $7.5 million, an evergreen campaigner who is still racing at a high level as he turns 13 next week.
Conte does not oversee her media empire by viewing a bank of consoles at the USTA’s Ohio office; she is one of the Association’s most visible employees, having spent 73 days on the road this past year. She is helpful and patient with horseman, horse, manager, and fan alike -- a person who honestly has the good of the sport in the forefront of her mind at all times.
Allison Conte will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
The United States Harness Writers Association, harness racing's largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce that Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York are partnering with USHWA in sponsoring the cocktail party and open bar at its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas.
The sponsorship features a lavish cocktail party from 6-7 p.m. and then an open bar during the Dan Patch awards dinner until 10 p.m. In addition, every guest attending the dinner will receive a special edition Yonkers-SOA/NY-USHWA commemorative wine glass.
Yonkers Raceway dates back as a host of harness racing to 1899 and its origins as the Empire City Trotting Club; in 1950, William Cane recast the facility as a pari-mutuel harness racing track, and the Rooney family has operated the oval since 1972.
For more than three decades, Yonkers combined with Roosevelt as the undisputed power center of quality harness racing performance, uniquely hosting a leg of the Triple Crown at both gaits -- the Cane Pace and the Yonkers Trot. Today the quality of racing at Yonkers is evidenced by the fact that they feature, by some margin, the most lucrative purse schedule in North American harness racing.
The Standardbred Owners Association of New York, founded in 1954, tirelessly works for the horsemen racing at the New York City oval by meeting with management on purse negotiations, marketing, and backstretch and other matters (including the recent successful addition of simulcasting into the lucrative French market); providing insurance, health benefits, and scholarships to its members; and liaising with local and state politicians to ensure that the scope of harness racing’s contribution to its community, in economic and other terms, is understood and appreciated.
Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that "USHWA is honored to have both Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of New York partner with us for the 2017 Dan Patch banquet presentation. They are institutions in our industry, one of harness racing’s leading tracks through the pari-mutuel era and a horsemen’s group tireless in their advocacy for the best of their membership. The fact that the two groups can combine in this sponsorship shows the ‘win-win’ attitude of both groups, so necessary in this competitive entertainment market, and we of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport early next year."
The Rising Star Award is given annually by the U.S. Harness Writers Association to an outstanding young horseman aged 35 or younger for early career achievements. These basic requirements do not preclude the young people from having a big year or three before getting the award as many of them prove themselves on smaller circuits before moving into the spotlight situations to get on this award’s radar, and one driver (Jody Jamieson) had even won the World Driving Championship before being voted Rising Star.
Marcus Miller was the leading driver at the Chicago racing ovals before heading east, following the move of his father, top trainer Erv Miller. After improving his accomplishments for the last few years on the Right Coast, in 2016 Marcus had his breakout season at the North American level -- more than $5 million in sulky earnings; a victory in his very first Breeders Crown drive, behind the 2-year-old pacing filly Someomensomewhere; and an acquired reputation as a driver who can get the most out of any horse he drives. These qualities led USHWA to vote Marcus Miller the Rising Star Award.
Miller, who went to the gate 2,696 times at 15 different tracks in 2016, was in the top ten in earnings at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and The Meadowlands, giving quality drives to quality horses -- many of whom proved themselves capable of reading neither a toteboard nor a racing program.
For example, in winning two consecutive Grand Circuit races on Oct. 8 at Red Mile, Miller tallied first with Zane Hanover, returning $189.20 for a $2 ticket for his scattered backers, and then followed up 20 minutes later with Chip Walther at $84.80.
Miller has good-naturedly noted, “I’d rather be the King of the Favorites than the King of the Longshots,” but his ability of extracting the most talent out of a lightly-regarded trotter and pacer will surely lead to handling better stock as trainers catch on to his overall ability.
In winning the Rising Star Award, Miller will share the Dan Patch Awards platform with his sister Hannah, who earlier was announced as the North American Amateur Driver of the Year for the second season running.
With Marcus the Rising Star and Hannah the leading Amateur, and David the overall Driver of the Year, it seems as if people named Miller have a monopoly on these driving awards.
But there is one more sulkysitting winner, and he’s not named Miller -- but his last name does begin with an "M," and like David Miller (the 1993 Rising Star, by the way) he is from the Buckeye State of Ohio.
Aaron Merriman was the leading driver in North America in terms of wins: at press time his year-end total (currently at 861) should rival his personal mark of 874 Victory Lane visits of last season, when he won his first USHWA honor.
Driving a demanding schedule of day cards at The Meadows and night races at Northfield Park, the tireless Merriman will win his 2016 crown by more than 150 victories.
Merriman is the winningest driver of this decade with 4,684 victories in the last seven years, and at the still-youthful age of 38 he has amassed 8,700 career victories, 21st all-time and 14th among all active drivers.
Marcus Miller and Aaron Merriman will be feted at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
Team Teague, a group of horsepeople based in Harrington, Del., who have been masterful in both their care and campaigning of the charismatic $3.9 million-winning pacer Wiggle It Jiggleit over the last two years, has won the top honor that the United States Harness Writers Association solely votes on -- the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, “presented annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to harness racing.”
The team captain is of course owner/trainer George Teague Jr., defending Owner of the Year, through whom the major decisions are made. But George would be the first to credit the many others who have been integral parts of the success of Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 Horse of the Year and second in this year’s voting, and indeed all the way back to 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue and beyond.
These folks would include George’s sister Brenda, his right-hand man for many years and an outstanding horsewoman in her own right; his stable’s owners, many of them from his home base of Delaware; and Jim Bernstein, a former horseman turned successful businessman, who helps keep Team Teague on sound financial footing.
There is also George’s son Montrell, last year’s Rising Star Award winner, who has shown both ability and cool in the sulky well beyond his 25 years, and who in his intelligence, horsemanship, and enthusiasm has become as public a standard bearer of Team Teague as anybody.
In addition, there is the veteran Clyde Francis, who oversees the day-to-day care of Wiggle It Jiggleit and “Big Mike” Taylor, honored as 2015’s Caretaker of the Year, who has developed a rapport with his charge while also keeping his respect. Many a chaotic winner's circle, definitely not Wiggle It Jiggleit's favorite place to go, has been avoided by Mike’s patient, yet firm handling of the horse just after the races.
Add in other stable employees and front office workers, and you have a group of individuals who have all had a part in the success of a horse who has commanded a major portion of the harness spotlight for two full seasons now.
Team Teague has indeed made “an outstanding contribution” to the sulky sport.
Besides voting to put Team Teague on the final ballot for the prestigious Bergstein Proximity Award (and then picking them to win the award), George Teague Jr. himself was selected by the chapters of USHWA for individual recognition as the organization’s Good Guy Award winner, for outstanding cooperation with the media and in helping to showcase the sport.
George was voted the Good Guy Award winner as well, making him the first two-time winner of the Good Guy Award in the 53-year history of the honor (he also won in 2004, Rainbow Blue’s Horse of the Year campaign).
One example given of George’s desire to serve and better harness racing came when he was asked to bring Wiggle It Jiggleit, last year’s Little Brown Jug winner, to the Delaware, Ohio, Fair to make an appearance this season -- in the middle of a grueling racing campaign.
But Teague oversaw the preparations to get the horse to central Ohio for Jug Day, and Wiggle It Jiggleit led the post parade for the Triple Crown pacing event.
An irony here: Wiggle It Jiggleit won the 2015 Jug with a stirring stretch surge that edged out Lost For Words -- who was trained by Brian Brown, the Delaware, Ohio-based conditioner who finished second to Teague in this year’s Good Guy voting!
Team Teague and George Teague Jr. will be honored at the Night Of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
They were the pairing that seemed to be almost too good to be true -- combining a proud family tradition, a love of the trotting horse, a woman pursuing the dream that her late husband never quite attained, and a young man, a college student, with sparkling bloodlines on both sides of his pedigree.
But it was this perfect harness team -- Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling -- who owned Marion Marauder, winner of the Triple Crown of Trotting and Trotter of the Year honors during 2016. And they loved every minute of it.
Now, they have been voted Owners of the Year for 2016 by the United States Harness Writers Association, the sport’s leading trade group for communicators.
Jean, as she is generally known, is the wife of the late Canadian Hall of Famer Bill Wellwood, a trotting horseman who trained many quality horses during his distinguished career, but never quite came up with the big one. Devin is a college sophomore, Jean’s grandson and the son of her daughter Paula and horseman Mike Keeling, who had been a caretaker for Bill Wellwood.
This living of a dream started in Lexington in 2014, where Jean picked a royally-pedigreed horse (Muscle Hill-Spellbound Hanover) via a catalogue, with daughter Paula haltering the colt for a bargain $37,000.
Then came patient development under the tutelage of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling (improving from start to start), perfect handling by driver Scott Zeron, and Marion Marauder realizing that he could be the type of colt that Bill Wellwood and those in his family always wanted, all resulting in a sensational sophomore campaign in 2016. He ended up the season with a record of 15-10-3-0, and he led all North American trotters with earnings of $1,484,532.
Marion Marauder became only the ninth horse to win Trotting’s Triple Crown, and the first since Glidemaster in 2006. He was certainly the right horse at the right place at the right time -- winning the Hambletonian by a nose and the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity by a head each -- and Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling, experience and youth, trotting people, part of an extended happy family, climbed to the pinnacle of success as harness horse owners.
Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling (along with Marion Marauder) will be honored at the Night of Champions, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
One is a native of the heartland of U.S. harness racing, the Buckeye State of Ohio. One is a Swedish emigrant who is fiercely appreciative of the opportunities his adopted United States has given him. Both are in their mid-50s. Both are members of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
David Miller and Jimmy Takter were the Driver and Trainer of the Year in 2015, respectively, their outstanding seasons cemented by quantity -- six Breeders Crown wins for Takter, with Miller gaining five Crown sulky triumphs, including two for Takter.
And in 2016, Takter and Miller are repeat winners in their respective categories as voted by the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Both again had outstanding seasons up and down the board, but their highlight this time focused on quality -- 2016 Harness Horse of the Year Always B Miki, author of the sport’s fastest-ever mile, a 1:46 clocking at Lexington’s famed Red Mile on Oct. 9. Always B Miki also had four victories in head-to-head matchups against 2015 Harness Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit, who had three in a months-long series of contests that had fans -- and even “seen-it-all” horsemen -- buzzing throughout North America.
Of course, to earn top yearly accolades over their talented peers, both men accomplished much more than their successful collaboration with Always B Miki. Takter collected year-end honors not only with Always B Miki (also the Pacer of the Year) but with a repeat champion, the 3-year-old pacing filly Pure Country, and two 2-year-old fillies, pacer Idyllic Beach and trotter Ariana G. Takter also guided Ariana G’s successful sophomore sister All The Time, and the two fillies’ combined exploits earned breeders/owners Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz honors as the season’s Breeders of the Year.
That’s four divisional winners in all -- no other trainer had more than one. Add in Breeders Crown-winning Bar Hopping, often right in the mix with Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder, among others and you see a powerhouse of a stable that earned Takter Trainer of the Year plaudits for the third year in a row, and sixth overall (1996, 2000, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016).
While Takter is forthright and outfront with his opinions, David Miller, while no less insightful, by temperament would rather just go about his job quietly yet effectively -- both factors showing up when he became only the third driver, behind John Campbell and Ron Pierce, to go over $200 million in career sulky earnings, as the feat came in May at Harrah’s Philadelphia with an undistinguished pacer named Hickory Chumley, who paid $82.80 to win.
In this, his best season ever for earnings with more than $12.6 million bankrolled, Miller also had a large hand in the racetrack guidance of two other divisional award-winners: 3-year-old trotting filly Broadway Donna, a repeat champion, and the multi-major stakes-winning 3-year-old pacing colt Betting Line.
This is Miller’s third Driver of the Year title: he won the inaugural award in 2003, and of course now has two straight in the category.
Jimmy Takter and David Miller (and the many horses for whom they were an integral part of the road to success in 2016) will be honored at the “Night of Champions,” the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.
128 ballots received from 212 eligible -- 60.4%
Bergstein Proximity: TEAM TEAGUE 79, Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg 31, Joe Faraldo 18.
Owner: MARION JEAN WELLWOOD / DEVIN KEELING 50, Christina Takter 47, Ed Mullinax 31.
Trainer: JIMMY TAKTER 71, Ron Burke 38, Clyde Francis 19.
Driver: DAVID MILLER 71, Scott Zeron 57.
Rising Star: MARCUS MILLER 73, Trace Tetrick 35, Ron Wrenn Jr. 20.
Breakthrough: ALLISON CONTE 63, James Witherite 44, Mark McKelvie 20, abstain 1.
Good Guy: GEORGE TEAGUE JR. 57, Brian Brown 37, Paula Wellwood / Mike Keeling
Unsung Hero: BARBARA BROOKS 87, Lee Alphen 25, John Quinn 15 abstain 1.
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing’s largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce the Indiana Standardbred Association (ISA), is partnering with USHWA in the presentation of its annual Dan Patch Banquet presented by Hoosier Park. The ceremony will be held on Sunday (Feb. 26) 2017 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The ISA's sponsorship will consist of the video/audio presentations shown after the announcement of every award winner; an annual banquet highlight coordinated by the award-winning Heather Vitale; and the “Red Carpet Photo Booth,” where banquet attendees can pose for a “remember-the-evening” picture which is then e-mailed to them as a memento of the festive occasion.
The ISA is the result of a merger in 1994 between the Indiana Trotting and Pacing Association and the Standardbred Owners and Breeders of Indiana. The non-profit organization has over 2,500 active members and is overseen by a board of 15 elected directors seeking to further the Standardbred cause in the home state of Dan Patch.
“We are thrilled to be a sponsor of the USHWA Dan Patch banquet presented by Hoosier Park.," said Jack Kieninger, president of the Indiana Standardbred Association. "Indiana is at the forefront of Standardbred racing right now and it’s time we stepped up to the plate and got involved a little bit more nationally. We are honored to be able to participate this year.”
Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA, noted: “USHWA is delighted that the Indiana Standardbred Association is partnering with us for the 2017 Dan Patch Banquet presentation. Their presence, along with that of our presenting title sponsor Hoosier Park, shows the progressive thinking that has become associated with Indiana in our sport within the last several years, and further shows why Indiana and Hoosier Park will be hosting the Breeders Crown Championships in the fall of 2017.”
View the live announcement of Horse of the Year by clicking here. View video of Horse and Pacer of the Year Always B Miki by clicking here. View video of Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder is available by clicking here.
Five-year-old stallion Always B Miki on Monday was named harness racing’s Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association while 3-year-old colt Marion Marauder was named Trotter of the Year in the closest vote in the 46-year history of the award.
Marion Marauder, who this year became the ninth horse in history to win the Trotting Triple Crown, edged 4-year-old mare Hannelore Hanover in the voting for Trotter of the Year, 73-72. The previous closest finish for Trotter of the Year was in 1971 when Speedy Crown defeated Fresh Yankee, 71-68.
Hannelore Hanover finished third in Horse of the Year balloting, with 10 votes, while Marion Marauder was tied with 3-year-old male pacer Betting Line with four votes apiece.
Always B Miki was trained by Jimmy Takter, who joins Stanley Dancer as the only trainers to condition at least three different Horse of the Year winners. Takter’s previous Horse of the Year champions were trotters Moni Maker, who captured the award in 1998 and 1999, and Malabar Man in 1997.
In addition, Takter is the fifth trainer to have both a pacer and trotter receive Horse of the Year honors. He joins Dancer, Blair Burgess, Billy Haughton, and Clint Hodgins in that group.
Always B Miki, who was twice sidelined by injuries that forced him to miss the end of his 3-year-old season and the majority of his 4-year-old campaign, paced the fastest mile in harness racing history on Oct. 9 at Lexington’s Red Mile when he won the Allerage Open Pace in 1:46.
His time eclipsed Cambest’s 1:46.1 mark, which was established in a time trial and stood as the record for 23 years, and lowered the race record, shared by multiple horses, by four-fifths of a second.
In addition to becoming the fastest horse in history, Always B Miki shares the world record of 1:47 for the fastest mile by a horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki paced 1:47 on a five-eighths oval on three occasions, an unprecedented feat. He also holds the record of 1:47.1 for the fastest mile ever paced in Canada.
Always B Miki, driven by David Miller, won 12 of 18 races this year and finished worse than second only once. His victories included the Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, William Haughton Memorial, and TVG Series championship for male pacers.
“I think he’s the greatest pacer to ever walk on this earth,” Takter said earlier this year. “I really do. If everything would have been his way, could you imagine how much even better he could have been? He’s a great, great horse.”
A son of Always A Virgin out of the mare Artstopper, Always B Miki was bred by Joe Hurley’s Roll The Dice Stable, which owns the stallion with Bluewood Stable and Christina Takter.
“If someone said I could win Powerball for some ridiculous amount of money or have Miki, it wouldn’t even be a question. It would be Miki,” Hurley said earlier this year. “This is like Powerball on steroids.”
Marion Marauder, who was named the sport’s best 3-year-old male trotter last Thursday, was the first Trotting Triple Crown winner since 2006, sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. In addition, he won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial on his way to $1.48 million in purses. His earnings led all trotters in North America.
Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and finished second three times this season for the wife-and-husband training team of Paula Wellwood and Mike Keeling. Marion Marauder is owned by the couple’s son, Devin Keeling, and Wellwood’s mother, Marion Jean Wellwood. Scott Zeron was the colt’s regular driver.
A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder was bred by William Mulligan.
Hannelore Hanover, who was named the sport’s best older female trotter, won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.11 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings.
The remaining divisional champion trotters were Walner (2-year-old male), Ariana G (2-year-old female), Broadway Donna (3-year-old female), and Obrigado (older male). Other divisional champion pacers were Huntsville (2-year-old male), Idyllic Beach (2-year-old female), Betting Line (3-year-old male), Pure Country (3-year-old female), and Lady Shadow (older female).
All winners will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas. Information about the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park is available at www.ushwa.org.
For complete voting totals for all awards, click here.
PACER OF THE YEAR AND HORSE OF THE YEAR Always B Miki Always A Virgin---Artstopper---Artsplace Sale Price: Homebred Breeder: Roll The Dice Stable Owners: Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, Christina Takter Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: David Miller Races: 18-12-5-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:46 at Red Mile (all-time fastest mile) Top wins: $500,000 Ben Franklin; $471,800 Haughton Memorial; $421,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 TVG Series final
TROTTER OF THE YEAR Marion Marauder Muscle Hill---Spellbound Hanover---Donerail Yearling Price: $37,000 under name Marion Monopoly at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: William Mulligan Owners: Marion Jean Wellwood, Devin Keeling Trainers: Paula Wellwood, Mike Keeling Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 15-10-3-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:51.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $431,000 Kentucky Futurity; $209,040 Goodtimes
(Video footage of all the winners provided courtesy of the USTA can be viewedhere)
History’s fastest pacer, Always B Miki, and once-beaten Betting Line
were among six pacers named Dan Patch Award winners Friday by the U.S.
Harness Writers Association. Huntsville, Idyllic Beach, Lady Shadow, and
Pure Country also were named divisional champs by the organization. A
total of 155 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by USHWA’s
membership. All of the winners were named on at least 74 percent, with
Lady Shadow’s 93 percent leading the way.
Country, who received 89 percent of the vote among 3-year-old female
pacers, is a repeat winner. She is one of three champions from the
stable of trainer Jimmy Takter, who also conditioned Always B Miki and Idyllic Beach.
Five-year-old Always B Miki,
who paced the fastest mile in harness racing history on Oct. 9 at
Lexington’s Red Mile when he won the Allerage Open Pace in 1:46, was
named the sport’s best older male pacer. His time eclipsed Cambest’s
1:46.1 mark, which was established in a time trial and stood as the
record for 23 years, and lowered the race record, shared by multiple
horses, by four-fifths of a second.
In addition to becoming the fastest horse in history, Always B Miki shares the world record of 1:47 for the fastest mile by a horse on a five-eighths-mile track. Always B Miki
paced 1:47 on a five-eighths oval on three occasions, an unprecedented
feat. He also holds the record of 1:47.1 for the fastest mile ever paced
Always B Miki,
driven by David Miller, won 12 of 18 races this year and finished worse
than second only once. His victories included the Breeders Crown, Ben
Franklin, William Haughton Memorial, and TVG Series championship for
A son of Always A Virgin out of the mare Artstopper, Always B Miki was bred by Roll The Dice Stable, which owns the stallion with Bluewood Stable and Christina Takter.
a two-time O’Brien Award winner in Canada, was voted her first Dan
Patch Award as best older female pacer. She won 12 of 20 races and
earned $851,981 this year for trainer Ron Adams and owners David Kryway,
Carl Atley, Ed Gold, and BFJ Stable.
victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Pace, Roses Are Red, Milton,
Lady Liberty, Golden Girls, and TVG Series championship for female
pacers. She was driven most often by Yannick Gingras, but also scored a
stakes triumph with James MacDonald.
Lady Shadow, a daughter of Shadow Play out of the mare Lady Camella, was bred by Winbak Farm.
After opening his campaign with a second-place finish against older horses, Betting Line
never lost again, putting together a 14-race win streak on his way to
being named best 3-year-old male pacer. His victories included the North
America Cup, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, and Carl
time of 1:47.2 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono set
the world record for a 3-year-old pacer on a five-eighths-mile track and
his 1:49 mile in the Little Brown Jug at Delaware equaled the fastest
time ever for a 3-year-old pacer on a half-mile oval. He earned $1.46
was trained by Casie Coleman and driven by David Miller and Jonathan
Drury. He is owned by West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, and Mac
Nichol. The colt, a son of Bettor’s Delight out of Heather’s Western,
was bred by Fair Winds Farm.
is the third female pacer this century to receive Dan Patch Award
honors at ages 2 and 3. The most recent, See You At Peelers in 2010-11,
also was trained by Takter. The other was Worldly Beauty in 2001-02.
Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Pure Country is a homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Western Montana.
won 10 of 21 races this year and hit the board a total of 17 times on
her way to $1.08 million in purses. Her victories included the Fan
Hanover Stakes, James Lynch Memorial, Simcoe, Matron, and Miss
Pennsylvania. She finished second to Betting Line
in the Milstein Memorial. Brett Miller drove her in all but one of her
starts, when Yannick Gingras subbed and captured the Simcoe.
who was named best 2-year-old male pacer, won seven of 11 races and
never finished worse than second as he posted earnings of $689,814. He
enjoyed a six-race win streak that included victories in the Breeders
Crown, divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes, and
Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
His 1:49 mile in the International Stallion equaled the world record for a 2-year-old pacer.
Huntsville, a son of Somebeachsomewhere
out of the mare Wild West Show, was bred by trainer Ray Schnittker and
Charlie Iannazzo. He is owned by Schnittker, Iannazzo, Ted Gewertz, and
Steve Arnold. Tim Tetrick was his driver.
Two-year-old female pacing champion Idyllic Beach
won eight of 14 races and hit the board in every start. Her wins
included the She’s A Great Lady and Kentuckiana Stallion Management
stakes in addition to a division of the International Stallion.
drove Idyllic Beach for Takter and owners Christina Takter, John
Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., and Marvin Katz. A daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Idyllic, Idyllic Beach was bred by Steiner Stock Farm.
winners will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by
Hoosier Park on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las
2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Huntsville (118 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Wild West Show---Western Hanover Yearling Price: Homebred Breeders: Ray Schnittker, Charlie Iannazzo Owners: Ray Schnittker, Ted Gewertz, Charlie Iannazzo, Steve Arnold Trainer: Ray Schnittker Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 11-7-4-0 Purses: $689,814 Mark: 1:49 at Red Mile (equals world record) Top wins:
$600,000 Breeders Crown; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final;
$66,000 Bluegrass division; $65,500 International Stallion division
2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Idyllic Beach (120 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Idyllic---American Ideal Yearling Price: $100,000 under name Lima Incredible at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Steiner Stock Farm Owners: Christina Takter, John Fielding, Brixton Medical Inc., Marvin Katz Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras Races: 14-8-4-2 Purses: $647,678 Mark: 1:50.3 at Mohawk Top wins: $328,790 She’s A Great Lady; $246,000 Kentuckiana; $65,500 International Stallion division
3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Betting Line (123 votes) Bettor's Delight---Heather’s Western---Western Hanover Yearling Price: $60,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Fair Winds Farm Owners: West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun, Mac Nichol Trainer: Casie Coleman Drivers: David Miller, Jonathan Drury Races: 15-14-1-0 Purses: $1.46 million Mark: 1:47.2 at Pocono (world record) Top wins: $780,000 North America Cup; $577,000 Little Brown Jug; $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine
3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE PACER Pure Country (138 votes) Somebeachsomewhere---Western Montana---Western Hanover Yearling Price: Homebred Breeder: Diamond Creek Farm Owner: Diamond Creek Racing Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Brett Miller Races: 21-10-4-3 Purses: $1.08 million Mark: 1:48.2 at Red Mile Top wins: $341,640 Fan Hanover; $313,800 Miss Pennsylvania; $300,000 Lynch Memorial
OLDER MALE PACER Always B Miki (115 votes) Always A Virgin---Artstopper---Artsplace Sale Price: Homebred Breeder: Roll The Dice Stable Owners: Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, Christina Takter Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: David Miller Races: 18-12-5-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:46 at Red Mile (all-time fastest mile) Top wins: $500,000 Ben Franklin; $471,800 Haughton Memorial; $421,000 Breeders Crown; $400,000 TVG Series final
OLDER FEMALE PACER Lady Shadow (145 votes) Shadow Play---Lady Camella---Camluck Yearling Price: $19,000 at Forest City Sale Breeder: Winbak Farm Owners: David Kryway, Carl Atley, Ed Gold, BFJ Stable Trainer: Ron Adams Drivers: Yannick Gingras, James MacDonald Races: 20-12-2-1 Purses: $851,981 Mark: 1:48.1 at Mohawk Top wins: $288,600 Roses Are Red; $250,000 Breeders Crown; $236,360 Milton
(Video footage of all the winners provided courtesy of the USTA can be viewed here)
female trotter Hannelore Hanover and Triple Crown winner Marion
Marauder were among six trotters named Dan Patch Award winners Thursday
by the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Ariana G, Broadway Donna,
Obrigado, and Walner also were named divisional champs by the
total of 155 Dan Patch Award ballots were returned by USHWA’s
membership. Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, Marion Marauder, and Walner all
were selected on at least 94 percent.
Donna, who received 83 percent of the vote among 3-year-old female
trotters, is a repeat winner. The six champions came from six different
was named the sport’s best 3-year-old male trotter following a campaign
that saw the colt become the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner -- and
first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and
addition, Marion Marauder won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of
the Stanley Dancer Memorial on his way to $1.48 million in purses. His
earnings led all trotters in North America.
Marauder won 10 of 15 starts and finished second three times this
season for the wife-and-husband training team of Paula Wellwood and Mike
Keeling. Marion Marauder is owned by the couple’s son, Devin Keeling,
and Wellwood’s mother, Marion Jean Wellwood. Scott Zeron was the colt’s
A son of stallion Muscle Hill out of the mare Spellbound Hanover, Marion Marauder was bred by William Mulligan.
For the second consecutive year, filly Broadway Donna
was named a divisional champion and in the process joined her dam,
Broadway Schooner, in receiving a Dan Patch Award at age 3. Broadway
Schooner was honored in 2009.
Broadway Donna, a daughter of stallion Donato Hanover,
won seven of 12 starts and earned $664,708 in purses for breeder/owner
Fashion Farms. Trained by Jim Campbell and driven by David Miller, her
wins included the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old female trotters,
Kentucky Filly Futurity, and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
Four-year-old mare Hannelore Hanover
was named the sport’s best older female trotter. She won 17 of 20 races
and earned $1.11 million in purses, leading all female trotters in
earnings. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and the
Hambletonian Maturity, where she defeated male rivals.
also beat the boys in the Centaur Trotting Classic in addition to
winning the Armbro Flight Stakes, TVG Series championship for female
trotters, Fresh Yankee, Muscle Hill,
and Miami Valley Distaff. Her mile time of 1:51 in winning the Armbro
Flight equaled the world record for a 4-year-old trotting mare.
Hanover, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Yannick Gingras and Ricky
Macomber Jr., is owned by Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver
and Mike Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, and J&T Silva Stables. A
daughter of stallion Swan For All out of the mare High Sobriety, she was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.
named the best older male trotter. The 6-year-old gelding’s wins
included a world-record-equaling 1:53.2 performance around Northfield
Park’s half-mile oval in the Cleveland Trotting Classic and victories in
the TVG Series championship for male trotters, Maxie Lee Memorial,
Charlie Hill Memorial, Crawford Farms Open, and Dayton Trotting Derby.
He won more than $800,000.
gelding, trained by Paul Kelley and driven by Mark MacDonald, is owned
by the Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, and
Stable 45. Obrigado, bred by Mike Andrew, is a son of stallion Boy Band
out of the mare Malimony.
seven of eight races and finished the season with a five-race victory
streak that included triumphs in the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male
trotters, Kindergarten Classic Series championship, and a division of
the International Stallion Stakes in a world-record 1:51.3.
Linda Toscano trained Walner for owner Ken Jacobs. Tim Tetrick handled the driving. The colt is a son of stallion Chapter Seven out of the mare Random Destiny. He was bred by Overseas Farms.
Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz finished second with All The Time in last
year’s voting for best 2-year-old female trotter, but captured the
division this year with the aforementioned filly’s sister, Ariana G. The homebred daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All won nine of 11 races and earned $743,967.
by Jimmy Takter and driven by Gingras, Ariana G’s wins included the
Breeders Crown for 2-year-old female trotters, Jim Doherty Memorial,
Peaceful Way Stakes, and New Jersey Sire Stakes championship.
winners will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by
Hoosier Park on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las
2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Walner (151 votes) Chapter Seven---Random Destiny---Ken Warkentin Yearling Price: $90,000 at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: Overseas Farms Ltd. Owner: Ken Jacobs Trainer: Linda Toscano Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 8-7-0-0 Purses: $484,037 Mark: 1:51.3 at Red Mile (world record) Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $200,600 Kindergarten Classic; $56,000 International Stallion Stakes division
2-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Ariana G (152 votes) Muscle Hill---Cantab It All---Cantab Hall Yearling Price: Homebred Breeders: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Owners: Marvin Katz, Al Libfeld Trainer: Jimmy Takter Driver: Yannick Gingras Races: 11-9-1-0 Purses: $743,967 Mark: 1:51.4 at Red Mile Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $306,500 Doherty Memorial; $275,880 Peaceful Way
3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Marion Marauder (146 votes) Muscle Hill---Spellbound Hanover---Donerail Yearling Price: $37,000 under name Marion Monopoly at Lexington Selected Sale Breeder: William Mulligan Owners: Marion Jean Wellwood, Devin Keeling Trainers: Paula Wellwood, Mike Keeling Driver: Scott Zeron Races: 15-10-3-0 Purses: $1.48 million Mark: 1:51.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $500,000 Yonkers Trot; $431,000 Kentucky Futurity; $209,040 Goodtimes
3-YEAR-OLD FEMALE TROTTER Broadway Donna (129 votes) Donato Hanover---Broadway Schooner---Broadway Hall Yearling Price: Homebred Breeder: Fashion Farms Owner: Fashion Farms Trainer: Jim Campbell Driver: David Miller Races: 12-7-2-1 Purses: $664,708 Mark: 1:51.1 at Red Mile Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $312,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity; $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final
OLDER MALE TROTTER Obrigado (88 votes) Boy Band---Malimony---Malabar Man Sale Price: $53,000 at 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale Mixed Sale Breeder: Michael Andrew Owners: Paul Kelley Racing Stable, SRF Stable, Linwood Higgins, Stable 45 Trainer: Paul Kelley Driver: Mark MacDonald Races: 17-7-2-4 Purses: $808,320 Mark: 1:51.2 at Vernon Downs Top wins: $400,000 TVG Series final; $210,000 Hill Memorial; $200,000 Maxie Lee Memorial
OLDER FEMALE TROTTER Hannelore Hanover (151 votes) Swan For All---High Sobriety---Dream Vacation Yearling Price: $32,000 at Standardbred Horse Sale Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Frank Baldachino, J&T Silva Stables Trainer: Ron Burke Drivers: Yannick Gingras, Ricky Macomber Jr. Races: 20-17-2-0 Purses: $1.11 million Mark: 1:51 at Mohawk (equals world record) Top wins: $471,200 Hambletonian Maturity; $250,000 Breeders Crown; $220,000 Centaur Trotting Classic
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing’s largest and leading membership organization for industry communicators, is very pleased to announce that Hanover Shoe Farms, the southcentral Pennsylvania nursery which has been the leading breeder of Standardbred racehorses every year since records started being kept in 1949, is partnering with USHWA in the presentation of its annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas NV.
Hanover will be the sponsor of the gift bag that will be found at every banquet attendee’s seat. So before the very first of the sport’s best and brightest will be formally honored on February 26, everybody will be a winner and have a “prize” to take home at night’s end – one that will certainly be of greater quality with Hanover’s participation.
Hanover Shoe Farms continues to improve and grow to remain the world’s largest nursery for Standardbred racehorses. They have led the list of leading breeders of racetrack earnings of offspring produced every year since those record were begun in 1949, setting a single-season record of $30,169,439 last year, and they are keeping up close to that pace with $23.7 million won by their produce as of the first week of November.
They are the breeders of Hannelore Hanover, winner of the Breeders Crown older mares trot and a leading candidate for Trotter of the Year, and their sire Somebeachsomewhere fathered three of the four winners in the Breeders Crown pacing events for two- and three-year-olds.
Tim Bojarski, president of the Harness Writers Association, noted that “USHWA is honored to have Hanover partner with us for the 2017 Dan Patch banquet presentation. They are an institution in our industry that continues to set the bar in all facets of their operation. Their willingness to promote harness racing is exemplary, and we of USHWA are proud they have chosen to support us as we honor the best in our sport early next year.”
Brian Sears, a “youthful veteran” of the sport of harness racing who stands fifth on the all-time list of moneywinning drivers and has driven some of the sport’s greatest horses of the last 15 years to victories in championship races, has been elected to the sport’s highest honor, the Hall of Fame, in balloting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association.
In addition, Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf, two veteran harness publicists and writers whose careers share many similar highlights and awards though they never worked together directly, have been elected to the sport’s Communicators Hall of Fame.
Sears was named USHWA’s Rising Star of the Year in 1991 and hasn’t looked back. Sears, a 48-year-old native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who now resides in Secaucus, N.J., was at the top rungs of the driving colony of Vernon Downs, Pompano, Pocono, and The Meadows before moving eastward to the metro New York area a dozen years ago.
He has continued to dominate on the toughest circuits in harness racing, winning multiple driving championships at the Meadowlands and also topping the charts at Yonkers Raceway. Sears entered Monday with 9,670 career wins, good for 14th place among all drivers in North American history.
Among the horses that have helped boost his career driving earnings to $174 million all-time are three winners of the Horse of the Year title: Rocknroll Hanover in 2005, Muscle Hill in 2009, and Bee A Magician in 2013.
Sears is the only driver to twice win the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, accomplishing the feat with Muscle Hill and Broadway Schooner in 2009 and again with Royalty For Life and Bee A Magician in 2013. He also won the Hambletonian in 2015 with Pinkman in his only drive behind the horse that season.
The sport’s Driver of the Year in 2009, Sears has won 26 Breeders Crown titles, good for No. 4 on the all-time wins list in the series. Horses driven by Sears have earned more than $10 million in the series, which is among the top five in history.
Waterstone was for many years the publicist for Hazel
Park in Detroit, also working at other area racetracks, before becoming
associate editor of The Horseman And Fair World, which was a magazine
when Waterstone started and for whom he wrote two John Hervey
Award-winning stories, before becoming a multimedia enterprise in recent
Wolf was a publicist for several tracks in the
immediate area of his native New Jersey and for the Standardbred
Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey before “shipping south” to
Pompano Park in Florida, rising through the ranks to become senior
director of racing operations, until starting his own consulting agency.
He also served on the Board, including as president, of the Harness
Horse Youth Foundation.
The parallels in the careers of Wolf and Waterstone
are striking. Both first entered the communications end of the industry
in 1979. Both have been president of USHWA and both have won that
organization’s Member of the Year (Wolf twice, the first to earn that
distinction); both currently serve as their USHWA chapter’s president.
Both have won the Harness Publicists Association’s Allen J. Finkelson
Golden Pen Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in promoting
harness racing, and both have won the Clyde Hirt Media Award from
Harness Horsemen’s International. Both have chaired several important
USHWA committees, and are teaming again for the 2017 USHWA annual
convention and Dan Patch Award Banquet: Waterstone on the Location
Committee and on-site planner/negotiator, and Wolf on the Dinner
Committee, which he has chaired 15 times.
That USHWA event, to be
held at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas on February 25-26 of
next year, will be the first introduction of Sears, Waterstone, and Wolf
as the newest members of the Halls of Fame. The formal induction
ceremony will be held at the Hall of Fame dinner at the Harness Racing
Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., on Sunday, July 2, 2017.
of Fame voting is conducted among eligible USHWAns and members of the
Hall of Fame; Communicators Hall of Famers are voted on by all members
of the Harness Writers Association.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
2017 Dan Patch Awards will honor this season’s top performers, including
divisional champions plus Trotter, Pacer, and Horse of the Year.
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.”
can promise everyone a night to remember at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
on Feb. 26, 2017.”
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.
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
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.
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.