The Planet Hollywood room reservation portal for the
USHWA National meeting weekend and Dan Patch Awards Banquet is now
available! Our special rates at the hotel run from Monday (Feb. 20)
through Thursday (Mar. 2). Rates start as low as $69.
Availability is limited and when our block sells out, you will have to pay the prevailing rate. PLEASE NOTE THE CUTOFF FOR RESERVATIONS IS FEBRUARY 2, 2017.
These rooms will go fast as people have already begun making their reservations. This year's tentative USHWA meetings schedule is: Executive Board meeting on Friday (Feb. 24), Director's meeting on Saturday (Feb.25) and General Membership meeting on Sunday (Feb.26).
The 2017 Dan Patch Awards banquet presented by Hoosier Park is on Sunday (Feb. 26).
Planet Hollywood is located on the
famous Las Vegas Strip next to the Paris and Bally’s casino/hotels. Among its
features at the Las Vegas site are The Miracle Mile, a 170-store
shopping mall, and AXIS, the largest auditorium on the Vegas strip,
where performers such as Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Lionel
Richie have performed “in residence.” Its variety of on-site eating
establishments run the gamut from a Gordon Ramsay-overseen restaurant to
The Dan Patch Awards banquet annually honors the
best and brightest performers, both human and equine, of the previous
season. The award winners are selected by USHWA, which will be holding
its directors meeting on Saturday and its general membership meeting on
the banquet Sunday.
The United States Trotting Association will
be meeting in Las Vegas starting the day after the banquet (Monday, Feb.
27), headquartered at the Rio Hotel and Casino; Harness Horsemen
International is also having its annual meetings in Las Vegas in the
same general time frame.
National meeting schedule for
following is a schedule of meeting times for USHWA’s National weekend:
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.
Where did the summer go? It seems we were just watching “Breakfast
with the Babies” and now it’s Jug time. But that also means some of the best
and most exciting harness racing of the entire year. Now is the time to watch
as many races as possible because with year-end accolades looming, you won’t
want to miss a minute of the action.
to the newest Hall of Fame members!
It was announced on Monday (Sept. 19) that Brian Sears was voted
into the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY. Also, our own Gordon Waterstone and
Steve Wolf were also voted into the Communicator’s Hall. All have had
outstanding careers and are now being recognized for it.
All three will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet at
Planet Hollywood on February 26, 2017 and will be inducted in the Hall of Fame
in Goshen on Sunday, July 2, 2017.
There is no time like the present to have your Chapter meeting.
With the year-end awards drawing near, nominations for each category should be
discussed as well as plans for travel to Las Vegas.
Please note that nominations for the Dan Patch Achievement Award
(Stan Bergstein-Proximity trophy) are due by Monday, October 10. Please have
your 250-500 word biographies to the secretary by that time.
This award is presented annually to an individual, group
or organization for outstanding contributions to harness racing. Directors will
select three finalists by a vote from all the nominees. All finalists must
receive a vote on at least 30% of the ballots cast. These finalists will then
be put to vote among the Association membership, who shall select the winner.
I have asked the various committee chairs for a mid-year report to
pass along some info on the great work each group is doing on behalf of the
On the heels of several conference
calls, the 2017 banquet is well on track. The group assessed Gordon's personal
visit report that was submitted after he returned from Vegas in June where he
gave a complete review of the property and amenities of the hotel. It looks
like we have an excellent venue for the dinner and at this stage we are ahead
of schedule with planning.
Tickets will be available in
December. Cost for the banquet ticket is $150 and $125 for USHWA members. Call
Judy Davis-Wilson at 302-359-3630 or Scott Warren at 302-222-1222.
Each and every Director must let
Judy know whether or not they are attending the dinner so that a comprehensive
seating plan can be drawn up.
Plans for the Dan Patch Awards dinner at Planet
Hollywood in Las Vegas couldn’t be going any better. I was in Las Vegas in
early June and met with a hotel representative and toured the site, and I’m
even more excited now than I was at the beginning.
The hotel/casino is situated in the heart of the
strip so it’s in a great location. Plenty of great restaurants are on site, and
there are also some in the adjoining Miracle Mile shops. The conference center
and ballrooms are located at the top of an escalator which is located smack dab
in the middle of the casino, so you feel you are in the center of the action.
The ballroom is beautiful and there will be no need to limit ticket sales as we
have room for 500 if needed.
I have worked thus far with three hotel reps as
well as a rep from the audio/visual company, and all were accommodating and
willing to work with us whatever we need. The dinner committee as well as the
sponsorship committee is working hand in hand and all signs point to one of the
best—if not the best—awards dinner.
The Sponsorship committee has been very active over the summer with some great
successes. We were able to get a signed agreement with Hoosier Park as our
first ever title sponsor of the Dan Patch Awards. And we now also have signed commitments
with the Indiana Standardbred Association and Hanover Shoe Farm for major
sponsorships as well.
are also awaiting word from supporters in our industry for sponsorship of the
cocktail party, party gift bag, Sunday luncheon and Red Carpet Photo booth.
also have a decent number of organizations and racetracks that will take our
general sponsorship universal package and expect many more to come on board.
can safely say that in all my years of running the national dinner, we have
never been this well organized and have this many sponsors on board this far in
advance of the dinner.
will also have some great swag items for all dinner guests to take home,
including a gym bag, wine glass and baseball cap. There may be more on the way.
net income and cash balance have languished in the years 2013-2015, as shown
below. The 2013 profit of $13,704 (driven largely by auction and ticket
revenues) became a 2015 loss of ($19,861). Cash balance likewise declined by
the cash loss and was $63,772 at end of year 2015. During this period revenues
declined by approximately $55,000 – advertising by $12,000; auction revenue by
$19,000 and tickets by $20,000. Dues remained flat at about $6,500. Expenses
declined by $21,000 albeit banquet costs remained essentially flat.
newly established budget committee has looked at all elements of revenue and
expense and pledged to take timely action to grow revenue and reduce expense.
The timing of implementing recommended initiatives is dependent on approval by
the Executive Committee and Board of USHWA and requirements set forth in the By
Laws and Rules and Regulations of the organization.
committee has unanimously agreed and included in the 2017 financial plan, an
event ticket price of $175 (a $25 increase from 2016) and a 25% increase to
journal advertising pricing (e.g., this would increase the front and back cover
ads by $300). These changes would not only add value to the Sponsorship
packages currently being sold but would set our revenue stream on the correct
path beyond 2017. It is important, in the committee’s view (committee
represents a cross section of USHWA members), that these changes be accepted as
soon as possible in order to ensure support of the 2017 calendar and financial
stability of our organization.
note, the above is a recommendation to the dinner
committee. Pricing has not yet been set)
budget committee has agreed that USHWA must take combined initiatives to grow
revenues in a sustainable, consistent way and reduce expenses without
negatively affecting the functionality and results of the organization.
Initiatives should be implemented in 2017 or as quickly as permitted by the By
Laws and Rules and Regulations. The Committee believes that profitability must
be achieved so as to establish and maintain year end cash balances in the
committee’s assessment of recent USHWA financial results pointed to an effort
to grow the topline while at the same time reduce expenses in a manner that
does not jeopardize the goals of the organization to publicize and advocate for
harness racing. Technology should be applied using the organizations’ website
and social media to enable sponsorships, advertising and sales to flourish not
just limited to the Annual Awards Banquet journal.
Clyde Hirt Workshop Committee
On Wednesday (Aug.
3) the group spent time with former New York Daily News managing editor Adam
Berkowitz who talked to them about his career, including how he got started in
business as a college student. They also spoke briefly with Daily News Giants
football writer Pat Leonard.
students then wrote Hambletonian advance stories for the Asbury Park Press,
Boston Globe, DRF, NJ.Com, Philadelphia Inquirer, the Trentonian and USA Today.
On Thursday (Aug.
4) the students spent time at the New York Post with copy editors Susan Hopkins
and Mark Hale who went through each advance story and gave advice on what they
liked and anything they would do differently.
That night the
group went to Yonkers Raceway and had rides in the starting car and watched a
couple of races from the judges' booth and interviewed Mark MacDonald about his
On Friday (Aug.
5) everyone went to Gaitway Farm and jogged with Ellen Taylor's trotting breds.
Kyle Caulfield (second trainer for Tom Fanning) and
"Irish" Joe Hanney helped the students jog. Then they had a tour of MetLife stadium and
spent the evening at the Meadowlands learning about how to write race stories.
On Hambo Day
(Aug. 6), one student spent time with CBS Sports Network, one did PR with Ken
Weingartner, two did photography with Michael Lisa while the rest covered the
race for the Boston Globe, NJ.Com and the Trentonian.
Two students were
from Rutgers and we had one each from Notre Dame, University of Kentucky,
University of Louisville, La Salle and Boston University.
Clyde Hirt Workshop wanted all who contributed to know that the students of the CHJW, thank you for bags of swag.
Some of them weren't sure how they were going to
get it all home, so Dave (Little) asked if we gave them too much swag. It was a
resounding NO! There is never
too much swag. They were all pleased that
they should never have to buy a baseball cap for the rest of their life.
2017 Dan Patch Award Dinner Info
DPA Auction Items
If you have an item or items that they would consider
donating for our live or silent auctions or if you know a business or outlet
that would like to donate goods or services for the auctions, please contact
any member of the dinner committee.
for the National weekend in Las Vegas
All reimbursements for 2017 will remain the same as in years
past, however the manner in which reservations are made and checks are cut will
This year, you will be responsible for making your own hotel
reservation at Planet Hollywood. The portal for reservations has been up on our
website for some time now and will remain there until all the rooms are filled.
In the past, the dinner chair has made reservations for
members rather than the members going through the hotel and this has caused
several problems. No member had a reservation number associated with their room
upon check in and this was an issue more than once.
Also in the past when the dinner committee made your
reservations, when a change was made to one reservation at the hotel, that same
change was applied to ALL the reservations and that caused a major headache for
everyone involved. In light of these issues, you will be responsible for making
your own individual reservation this year.
Reimbursement from USHWA for your eligible amount of nights
will be made directly to the hotel and taken off your bill. You will then be
left with whatever extra nights (if any) that you decide to stay to pay on your
Please note the following. As per current
By-laws, reimbursements for lodging are as follows: Three nights for Officers, two
nights for Past Presidents and Chapter Directors.
Directors shall be compensated for their Saturday and Sunday lodging
in Las Vegas if they fulfill the mandates listed in the USHWA R & R’s:
2.Help with dinner
3.Vote in Horse of
the Year balloting
have to pay out of their own pocket.
We strongly encourage you to shop for the best price and purchase
airfare as early as possible to get the most economical rate available. Right
now it seems there are a lot of cheap rates around (especially on Southwest)
and buying no later than 60 days out (which in this case would be just before
Christmas) should be considered the cut-off. This will help USHWA’s bottom
This year reimbursements for airfare can be submitted to the
Treasurer any time after purchase, but checks will not be cut until after
January 1. The reason for this is to pay expenses in the same calendar year we
show the income for the event the expense is associated with. This will make
our bookkeeping clearer. As we move into a more business-minded approach to our
finances, this makes more sense for our transparency and bottom line.
always, check the USHWA website often as all updates concerning everything will
be posted there. Forms for banquet ticket purchases and Journal advertising are
forthcoming and all announcements concerning year-end awards will be there too.
National meeting schedule for
following is a schedule of meeting times for USHWA’s National weekend:
Good luck at the races and thank you for your continued work for
and support of USHWA Tim Bojarski President of USHWA
The United States Harness Writers Association Canadian Chapter invites students from university and college journalism, broadcast journalism and related programs to apply for one of two available seats in our student journalism workshop.
Inspired by the Clyde Hirt Media Workshop, which the United States Harness Writers Association conducts annually at The Meadowlands, the Canadian workshop is new in 2016. It will run during the Atlantic Breeders Crown weekend (October 7-9, 2016) at Red Shores Charlottetown, P.E.I., with opportunities for participating students to learn about harness racing and its media coverage while writing articles for publication.
Students must provide their own transportation and accommodations (information can be provided if required). Deadline for applications is September 23, 2016.
USHWA's Canadian Chapter president, Melissa Keith makes the blanket presentation at Truro Raceway.
(Photo by Kyle Burton)
At the recently completed Atlantic Grand Circuit Week at Truro Raceway in Nova Scotia, Melissa Keith, the president of the Canadian Chapter of USHWA made a special blanket presentation on behalf of the organization to Mortal Combat and driver Carl Isenor on Sunday (July 24). Mortal Combat won in 1:56.2.
It was a great day of racing and was seen by a large crowd at the track along with viewers across Canada and the U.S. via Truro Raceway's Livestream and the Horseplayer Interactive sites.
Holding the blanket are Truro Paddock Judge Ulysse Leblanc and USHWA Chapter President Melissa Keith. Standing behind the blanket is the winning owner, Calvin Isenor.
The late Leo C. McNamara III, a third generation horseman and longtime executive administrator of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, will be recognized for his contributions to racing in the Garden State with the Distinguished Service Award from the New Jersey chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association on Saturday, July 30 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
McNamara’s wife, Cathy, will accept the award, which will be presented in the winner’s circle. McNamara passed away on June 12 just two weeks shy of his 61st birthday.
“Leo’s contributions to harness racing in New Jersey are immeasurable,” said Moira Fanning president of the NJ USHWA Chapter. “His loss will be felt in so many ways going forward.”
Born in Indiana, McNamara was the son of Leo McNamara Jr., whose father, Leo, founded Two Gaits Farm in Indiana, where Adios was foaled and the pacing stallion Hal Dale stood at stud.
As a youngster, McNamara spent time at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania, where his father served as farm superintendent. McNamara later worked at several breeding facilities across the country before re-establishing Two Gaits Farm in New Jersey, where he bred and boarded horses.
In 2001, McNamara began working for the SBOANJ, becoming executive administrator in 2006. During his years with the SBOA-NJ, he worked with racetracks in the Garden State to keep tabs on the purse accounts, becoming an astute expert of analyzing handle from various sources with various percentages going to purses.
Because of his knowledge of the purse account and percentages of handle earned, McNamara played a significant role in Jeff Gural's acquisition of the Meadowlands from the state of New Jersey.
In addition to his wife, McNamara is survived by daughter, Celeste, assistant professor of history at University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom; two stepchildren, Dr. Daniel J. Dooley and Katie Pidge Decker; his mother, Irene; brother, Joe (Meg Booth); sisters, Anne Slosky, Coleen (Frank) Benedett, Bridget (Jeffrey) Fenessy, Kate (David) Smith, Mary Coleman, Kelly (Patrick) Kennedy, Celeste (Brian) O'Neill and Jane (Glenn) Taylor; 14 nieces and nephews; and more than 100 cousins.
The portrait of Ray Brienza that will be enshrined in the press box at the New Meadowlands Racetrack
The memory of Ray Brienza, the dean of harness racing reporters in New Jersey, will be commemorated by the New Jersey chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association with the installation of a print of his Communicators Hall of Fame portrait on Saturday, July 30, 2016 in the press box at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Brienza was a writer and columnist for the Star-Ledger for nearly 40 years, as well as the associate dean emeritus for admissions at New York University's School of Medicine. He passed away on Friday, November 6, 2015. He was 80.
While attending Rutgers-Newark, Brienza began covering harness racing at Newark's Weequahic Park in the 1950s for the now-defunct Newark News. He assumed the harness racing beat at the Star-Ledger in 1972 when the News folded, reporting and handicapping for nearly 40 years.
“Ray loved harness racing and provided daily coverage for the sport for many years in one of the state’s largest newspapers,” said Moira Fanning, president of the NJ USHWA Chapter. “He was a respected and knowledgeable reporter and a press box fixture every night the Meadowlands raced.”
Brienza won three John Hervey Awards, as well as the 2004 President's Award from the United States Harness Writers Association, for writing excellence, and his contributions were recognized by that group in 2007, when he was inducted into its Communicators Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY.
Brienza had a concurrent career in higher education, spending 31 years at the NYU School of Medicine as its associate dean of admissions and financial aid before retiring in 2004. NYU established the Raymond J. Brienza Scholarship Fund to support needy students of high academic merit.
Born in Newark, Brienza lived in South Orange, NJ for nearly 50 years. He was married to his wife, Una for 43 years until her passing in 2002. They had six children and six grandchildren.
Sears, winner of more than 9,600 races and $172 million in purses, must
receive at least 75 percent of votes from USHWA members and living Hall of Famers to be inducted
into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Driver Brian Sears, a third-generation horseman, is the sole nominee on the ballot in voting for the 2017 Harness Racing Hall of Fame.
The Harness Racing Hall of Fame screening committee met the weekend of July 3 in Goshen and reviewed nominations from 11 chapters of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Sears was the only candidate to make the ballot.
The ballot will be sent to 223 members of USHWA and existing Hall of Fame inductees in August. A nominee must receive 75 percent of votes cast to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Results will be announced when tabulated.
Sears, who plies his trade primarily on the east coast, has 9,601 wins in nearly 50,000 starts. He has exceeded $10 million in annual purse earnings nine times for a total of just over $172 million.
He concluded another outstanding driving year in 2015 with the highlights including capturing his third Hambletonian win with Pinkman and grabbing divisional Dan Patch Award honors behind the great trotting mare Bee A Magician. Sears has driving wins in classic races such as 10 of the 12 divisions of the Breeders Crown, Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug, Kentucky Futurity, Meadowlands Pace, North America Cup, Yonkers Trot, Messenger, Cane, Adios, Battle of Brandywine, Canadian Trotting Classic, Metro, Stanley Dancer, Del Miller and Canadian Pacing Derby.
He has been the primary driver on three Dan Patch Harness Horses of the Year: Muscle Hill in 2009, Bee A Magician in 2013 and Rocknroll Hanover in 2005.
Racing has been a family affair for Sears. His father, Jay, won more than 1,400 races and purses of over $3.3 million. Brian’s grandfather, the late Gene Sears, was also a 1,000-plus race winner who won $1.7 million in purses during his career.
Members of the United States Harness Writers Association welcomed David Miller to the winner's circle.
USHWAn's gathered in the winner's circle at Historic Track on Sunday (July 3) for our sponsored race that was won by Wendy's Girl driven by Hall of Famer David Miller. The race was a $15,000 New York Excelsior Series A competition. Photo courtesy of Geri Schwarz.
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 United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), the world’s largest organization for industry communicators celebrating its 70th year of chronicling the sport through its membership, conducted its annual two days of business meetings this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort. The weekend culminated in the Sunday evening celebration of the sport’s best and brightest stars of 2015, both human and equine, at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet.
Per its usual two-year rotation policy, the presidency of USHWA changed – but not its strong commitment to exploring ways in which emerging social media can be utilized to solidify harness racing’s present fan base and help build towards that of its future.
Tim Bojarski, publicist at Batavia Downs, Hoof Beats columnist, and the Webmaster for the organization’s website www.ushwa.org, ascended from the first vice presidency chair to become president of USHWA, succeeding Chris Tully, the Goshen NY-based multi-media talent and chairman / driving force of the committee which produced the excellent Journal which accompanied the Dan Patch Banquet. Tully will become the USHWA Chairman of the Board, as the USHWA bylaws dictate, and was named a Lifetime Member of USHWA.
Shawn Wiles, the point person for all racing-related activities at Monticello Raceway, moved up to the 1st Vice Presidency position, while Kim Rinker, now directing the Ohio Sire Stakes efforts, was elected 2nd Vice President. Judy Davis-Wilson, a past president of the organization, elected not to stand for her Treasurer position after years of vital service to the group; with that, the Directors elected Barry Lefkowitz, former Roosevelt publicist and the head of USHWA’s Audit and Finance Committee, as overseer of the organization’s finances. Jerry Connors was re-voted as USHWA Secretary.
The most important piece of USHWA business took place early in the two days of sessions, as Gordon Waterstone and Steve Wolf were chosen to be on the summer ballot for election to the sport’s Communicators Hall of Fame. Waterstone made his mark in his native Michigan and environs, primarily at Detroit’s Hazel Park, before becoming assistant editor at The Horseman and Fair World, and if elected will join his editor Kathy Parker as Communicators Hall members. Wolf, the Dinner Committee chairman of this year’s successful affair, was an innovative publicist and dedicated USHWAn (one of only three people to win the organization’s Member of the year twice) in his home area of New Jersey and metro Philadelphia before coming to Florida, where he ascended to the racing general manager position of Pompano Park prior to his becoming a respected media consultant for several cutting-edge harness organizations.
During the many committee reports and discussion at the USHWA meetings, the talk turned, as it does in most harness organizations in these days of consolidation, to formulating plans to continue ensuring the financial health of the organization, which performs among many others two vital functions mentioned above – the electing of Hall of Famers, and the sponsorship of the annual Dan Patch Banquet honoring the stars of the sport. Several plans and ideas were examined during the discussion sessions; incoming treasurer Lefkowitz said that initially his focus will be on increasing USHWA revenues despite the contraction of the times, as expenses usually stay within a small annual variance. He further noted that all members will need to become “contributors” to USHWA, in the workrate and communication sense to attract more interest surrounding the Dan Patch Banquet, which is USHWA’s primary source of cash influx, with new methods of fundraising efforts, still under study, no less important.
One bright note at the meetings was the announcement of an increase in USHWA membership in the past year, reversing a trend that has carried through the current consolidation period. Many communicators now have the important tool of developed social media skills in their reporting arsenal, and other avenues of using emerging media were presented and explored during a U.S. Trotting Association/USHWA co-sponsored workshop on using social media in aiding awareness of major races. David Carr, who was honored for his recent election to the Communicators Hall of Fame at the Dan Patch Banquet, joined Rob Key, who has been the point man for harness racing’s emergence in social media, and others presenting their views on how this new and important tool can best be “harnessed” to maximum effect for the sport.
With future 2016 efforts defined and assigned, the USHWA meetings ended with a look towards the group’s 2017 conclave, which may be held in Las Vegas, likely in conjunction with the USTA’s annual meetings, and possibly with the participation of other industry organizations.
The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), North America's trade group of harness racing communicators, will be making a $1,000 contribution toward the fund created to assist the people affected by the tragic fire this past Monday at Classy Lane Training Center in Ontario, which claimed the lives of dozens of Standardbreds and severely impacted the lives of many owners, trainers and caretakers stabled at the farm.
"The words 'barn fire' may be among the two scariest words in all of harness racing," stated Chris Tully, USHWA President, "and the devastating effects such an event has on a harness community cannot be overstated. Many of the people suffering losses in this fire were and are supporters of USHWA when they have a champion horse, and we feel that it is imperative to support these people in this extremely difficult time."
“We are hopeful that our contribution, added to the large amount of financial support received from across the harness world, will help those affected to rebuild their stables and start them back on the road to competition and success."
The Central Ontario Standardbred Association, whose president is Hall of Fame horseman Bill O'Donnell, has created an official page for donations at the GoFundMe website, at https://www.gofundme.com/abhm5afg. Horsemen and fans who want to contribute to the Fund can click on this link, or mail a check made out to “Classy Lane Barn Fire” and send it to the Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Box 297, Campbellville, ONTARIO L0P 1B0.
The 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.
USHWA NEW MEMBER BROCHURE IS HERE-The hard work of the New Member Committee led by Chairwoman Jessica Schroeder has brought to frution a new tool to help broaden and build the membership of USHWA. It is a colorful and informational brochure that will explain exactly what USHWA is, what USHWA does, and why those who work in the sporting media would want to join.
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.