The warmth of summer brings with it the hotly contested Grand Circuit Harness Racing throughout North America. The season also brings us together for our annual retreat to the Hall of Fame Day at the Cradle of the Trotter, in the colonial village of Goshen, New York.
This year’s inductees to the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame are David Miller and Bill Weaver, joined by our own Communicators Carol Cramer and John Pawlak. We are pleased to note that John’s health status has been improving and as such he is willfully determined to be in attendance for the induction ceremonies on Sunday. His journey East from Ohio has presented some logistical obstacles, but thanks to the considerable efforts of family and industry friends, these concerns have been overcome.
The Executive board of National officers (3 pm) and the Hall of Fame Screening committee (4 pm) members will meet the day before on Saturday, July 5 at the Hampton Inn on Crystal Run Road in Middletown. Nominations to the Living Hall of Fame are in and will be reviewed by the Screening Committee.
That Saturday evening, a world-class card of harness racing is on tap at The Meadowlands featuring the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity, several New Jersey Sire Stakes events for 2-year-old pacers, as well as eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace, William Haughton Memorial and Mistletoe Shalee.
Our annual unofficial meeting in the Museum’s Arden Clubhouse is set for 11 a.m.,Sunday, July 6, with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies following that evening, starting with cocktails at 5:30 pm.
On Sunday, Hall of Fame Day, there will be a race presentation during the middle of the Goshen Historic Track card for USHWA members to join in the winner’s circle. Of course the Hall of Fame invitational trot will highlight the day’s racing. Post time for the first race is 1 pm.
The organization has continued to add several new writers, however, we also lost a member, Erwin Grossman, who passed away late last week. Secretary Connors will update all those in attendance with our current enrollment. Total journal sales revenue equaled $64,650, with 95% of those ads having been satisfied by the advertisers. Secretary Judy Davis-Wilson shall brief us on the overall Dan Patch banquet P & L.
The Location committee, chaired by 2nd V.P. Shawn Wiles, has determined that the next annual meeting will be held at the DoubleTree Hilton Orlando by Seaworld, with the Dan Patch Awards slated for Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.
A committee to examine the by-law/R&R proposals that were tabled at the Dover meeting is being chaired by Past President Gordon Waterstone. Relative direction resulting from a conference call shall be reported. Additional committee assignments have been attached to this newsletter. Any member who may have been overlooked or desires to serve on a particular committee is strongly encouraged to contact me regarding this or any other matter.
Hope to see you in Goshen!
President Chris Tully
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United States Harness Writers Association, harness racing’s principal
organization for media workers, held its annual meetings on
Saturday and Sunday (February 22 and 23) at the Dover Downs complex, with the weekend
culminating in the Dan Patch Awards Banquet held Sunday night,
attended by almost 400 people and streamed worldwide for live viewing.
Saturday meeting, the directors of the Association voted for Bob Marks
and Kathy Parker to be on the Communicators Hall of Fame voting ballot
Marks has been a
leading force in many harness dimensions over his 50 years in the sport,
most recently as Marketing Director for Perretti Farms, while Parker,
from a prominent harness family, worked her way through the ranks at the
Horseman and Fair World weekly magazine until becoming editor
in 1995 and later general manager of the Horseman Publishing Company,
positions she maintains to this day.
At the conclusion
of the meetings, the membership voted in their slate of association
officials for 2014-15. Chris Tully, an MBA marketing specialist and
writer was elected
president of the association, succeeding Steve Wolf of Harnesslink.com.
Tully’s “first official act” was to present Wolf, who now becomes the
chairman of the board, with a gold lifetime membership pin.
Bojarski, Hoof Beats columnist and USTA blogger was elected to 1st vice
president, Shawn Wiles, Monticello
Raceway chief racing officer and a longtime USTA and USHWA director was elected to the 2nd vice president slot.
Davis-Wilson, who is based in Dover and worked tirelessly to ensure the
success of the weekend, especially the banquet, was returned as
treasurer; Alan Prince, who attended his 48th consecutive USHWA meetings
weekend, remains as executive treasurer. Also elected was Jerry Connors
as USHWA secretary.
Much of the
discussion during the two days of meetings focused on the sport’s Hall
of Fame in Goshen N.Y., where plans for renovation and modernization are
starting to advance rapidly, and where USHWA makes a significant
contribution. In addition to the physical reconfiguration of the Hall of
Fame area, the directors and membership discussed several by-law and
rules change relating to the Hall, especially the re-establishment of a
seniors category for both.
plentiful, lively, and well-reasoned on all sides, and some of these
matters were tabled until a committee, soon to be appointed, can focus
on the merits -- and the eventual wording -- of the varied proposed
heard reports from the many committees that keep USHWA functioning
throughout the year, and were glad to hear from Davis-Wilson, voted the
organization’s member of the year, that the treasury was in a very good
shape, pointing to future success in USHWA’s upcoming progressive
The Dan Patch
Awards Dinner was, as always, the highlight of the gathering with
superstar sophomore trotting filly Bee A Magician “finishing her
unbeaten season” by being elected Trotter of the Year and then Harness
Horse of the Year.
Her contemporary, the pacing colt Captaintreacherous,
took down overall honors for that gait after a brilliant campaign
showing speed and courage in equal amounts.
Also honored were the
quartet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame Sunday (July 6) in Goshen:
Harness Racing Hall of Famers David Miller and William Weaver, and Communicators Hall inductees Carol Cramer and John Pawlak.
Who Is Donna Marshall? She is an accomplished horsewoman, wife, mother and friend extraordinaire. She is also the 2013 recipient of USHWAs January Davies Humanitarian Award. This annual honor is bestowed upon an individual or a group who has strong connections to harness racing for their works outside the harness racing industry
Donna’s quiet heroism reaches beyond her equine and human family. Several years ago, a prominent horse trainer named John Bown passed away at a young age. Months later, his wife Nancy also passed away, leaving behind 2 young girls, Maja and Jess Bown.
In a particularly unselfish act, Donna stepped in and embraced the girls into her home. To this day, the girls are very much a part of Donna’s life and will always be grateful for the guidance and support she has provided throughout the years.
In another instance, many years ago, Donna had become a friend of a groom who at the time was working for Eddie Cobb. He went by the name, Doc, and did not have any relatives or friends throughout his life. Doc has since aged and is currently living in a shelter suffering daily struggles both financially and physically. Donna continues to visit Doc on a regular basis and provides him with food, clothing, and that beautiful, bright sense of self worth that she offers to everyone.
Just another act of kindness that would go unnoticed by everyone except the recipient. Regularly, perhaps even too regularly, Marshall donates blood and volunteers at several hospitals.
Donna is also very active with several organizations in which her efforts are endless. She is a member of the USTA, SPHO (Standardbred Pleasure Horse Org.), SRF, (Standardbred Retirement Foundation), PHHA, SBOA, SOA, just to name a few. Her rescue efforts throughout the retired race horses are too many to name. "Sleep Easy" a winner of over $650,000 life has now found a home in Donnas backyard for the remainder of his life.
Marshall is the type of person that does things for the right reason and not necessarily for any recognition. She hates being the center of attention and rarely will ever ask for help. Director of racing at Freehold Raceway, Karen Fagliarone states, "Donna is just one of those kind of people that makes everyone around her a better person. She is the most unselfish person I have ever known, and I am honored to be called her friend."
Working alongside her husband Jim, Donna has been the linchpin of the Marshall stable since 1977. Not just the owners and operators of their own business, the Marshalls are proud parents of two successful children, Kelly (27) and Jim (28 ).
Donna will receive her award at the Dan Patch Awards Night of Champions on February 23, 2014, at Dover Downs, Dover, Delaware.
Davis-Wilson, who not only hails from a family who has been involved in
harness racing for generations, but has devoted most of her career to
helping promote the Standardbred industry, has been voted by her peers
as the 2013 United States Harness Writers Association Member of the
Davis-Wilson, born in
Elkton, Md. and raised in Delaware, is part of the renowned Davis
family, who are steeped in harness racing tradition in the Delaware
Valley. Her father, Olin Davis, trained and drove with great success in
the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s for his uncle, J M Davis, and their private
stable of homebreds. Her mother, Ruth Bower Davis, had a brief amateur
career as a driver at Freehold Raceway in 1947 and later she was a Clerk
of Course and Program Director at local tracks.
"I started my
official career as a stand-in for my mom," Davis-Wilson noted. "I was
the Clerk of Course at Brandywine Raceway in 1969, and I took time off
for family matters but returned to that track as Program Director in
1980 and was there until they closed in 1989. I also worked in the same
position at Dover Downs and Freestate Raceway. I was there for the
beginning of computerized programs in 1984 which led to a brief stint as
a USTA RTS field representative."
became the Stakes Manager for the Hambletonian Society in 1992 and
oversaw that program being modernized from index cards to a computer
database. She then returned to her roots in her home state of Delaware
in 2001 to oversee the Sire Stakes program there.
president of USHWA took over as the organization’s treasurer two years
ago and combined as executive director of the Delaware Standardbred
Breeders Fund, she works tirelessly to improve the harness racing and
breeding industry in Delaware, and also on both a national and
international level throughout her career in the sport.
Over the years
she has been honored with a President’s Award from the USTA in 2006, the
Indiana State Fair Harness Racing Award in 2001 and the Kent County
Animal Kindness Award in 2009. She is also an experienced horsewoman who
enjoys fox hunting, eventing and trail riding.
Judy has shown
time and again her devotion not just to USHWA, but to the sport of
harness racing through her professional assistance whenever called upon.
And during the 30-plus years I have known her she has been always
smiling and always has an energetic character. All of these things
combined merits her being the recipient of the 2013 USHWA Member of the
will be honored on Sunday (Feb. 23) at the Dan Patch Awards banquet
that will be held at Dover Downs in Dover, Del.
Mary Lou Dondarski, whose unselfish work and donations over many years by supporting most every special event concerning Standardbreds in North America, ranging from rescue groups, charity auctions, museum events, fundraisers and more, has been selected by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) president, Steven Wolf, as the recipient of the 2013 President’s Award.
Dondarski, who resides in Jackson, NJ has been involved in harness racing for most of her life.
The former Freehold Raceway race office manager, now operations manager for the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown for the past 20 years, Mary Lou Dondarski is an avid collector of harness racing memorabilia, a renowned equine artist, and a friend to many organizations in the industry.
For years she would go out of her way to help with special events, often using her own money to purchase items and donate them to worthy causes. She was one of the first to come to major stakes events and provide the now popular bouquet of carrots for the winner of the race. She is an extensive harness racing antiques collector on Ebay and at any and all antique shops, flea markets, yard sales, you name it that she can attend.
This past year she helped the Harness Racing Museum with their special exhibit entitled” the Hambletonian” Its Trotters, their Connections and the Racing Event 1929-2009 celebrating the 75th anniversary of the prestigious race. That exhibit was made possible largely through items loaned by Mary Lou Dondarski, who proudly owns all but six of the Hambletonian race day programs.
“The exhibit featured a large array of trophies, poster, memorabilia and photographs,” explain Museum Executive Director Janet Terhune. “Most of the items belonged to Mary Lou and were superb. She has always been outstanding in helping out at the museum.”
When it comes to the United States Harness Writers Association, Mary Lou Dondarski holds nothing back. She always donates either to the silent or live auction. Last year her oil painting of Harness Horse of the Year, Chapter Seven, brought $2,000 in the live auction. Even before she knew of her President’s Award, she had already committed to donating a special display for the silent auction and two oil paintings for the live auction.
She is also one of the foremost authorities and historian on the great Standardbred trotter, Greyhound. Mary Lou has one of the largest collections of Greyhound artwork and memorabilia in the world. She was also responsible for the design and production of the popular Hambletonian starter buttons. Hundreds are produced each year for the race and are distributed to the connections of each horse that is entered.
The United States Harness Writers Association today released the majority of their 2013 human award winners for excellence in the Standardbred industry. Heading the list is Joe Thomson, winner of the Stanley F. Bergstein-Proximity Achievement Award. The award, originally named for the great trotting mare, Proximity, is considered the second-most-prestigious honor in harness racing, after the Hall of Fame.
In 2012, the name of the award was altered to honor harness racing’s only double Hall of Famer, the Stanley F. Bergstein, and is now referred to as the Bergstein-Proximity award. It is presented annually to a person or organization for outstanding contributions to harness racing.
In 1991, Joe Thomson and his wife JoAnn founded Winbak Farm on the site of Winfield Farm, where the great Thoroughbred Northern Dancer was foaled. They employed the Win from Winfield with the initials of their children -- Bradley, Ashlee and Kimberly -- to form the name Winbak.
Their main farm is located on more than 2,000 acres near Chesapeake City, Md. Winbak Farms has been named Breeder of the Year by USHWA three times. This past July, two horses owned by Winbak Farm, Bettor's Delight and Lady Ashlee Ann, were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Over the last 10 years, Thomson’s Winbak Farm bred, raised and sold three Horses of the Year -- No Pan Intended in 2003, Rainbow Blue in 2004 andMuscle Hill in 2009. Muscle Hill and Vivid Photo were both Hambletonian winners bred by Winbak, which also produced 2011 3-year-old colt pacer of the Year Roll With Joe.
Thomson, one of four partners in the ownership of Lexington’s Red Mile, is involved in many aspects of the Standardbred industry. He is a director of the Hambletonian Society, Breeders Association of Delaware, Lexington Trots Breeders Association, and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.
He was elected president of the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania in 2012. Other honors he has received include 2001 Sports Eye Breeder of the Year, 2001 times: In Harness Owner of the Year, 2009 Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame inductee, and 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA.
All of the award winners will be honored at the annual Dan Patch Awards Banquet hosted by USHWA on Sunday (Feb. 23) at Dover Downs.
The Norman Woolworth Owner of the Year award goes to the team of Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi. Burke Racing Stable (trainer Ron Burke and his mom Sylvia) and Mark Weaver and Michael Bruscemi (Weaver Bruscemi LLC) have been racing partners for years. Together, the partnership raced more than 220 horses over the course of a year and according to the U.S. Trotting Association, they have together owned nearly 1,000 horses.
The stable reads like a “Who’s Who” of harness racing with stars such as Foiled Again ($1.4 million earned this season), Quillen Memorial champion Clear Vision ($596,103), multiple-stakes-winner Charisma Hanover ($555,729), Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Southwind Silence ($375,581), American-National winner Southwind Spirit ($370,295), Monument Circle winner Dedi’s Dragon ($368,342), Meadowlands Maturity champ Sweet Lou ($330,138) and Garnsey Memorial division winner Carols Desire ($260,099).
In 2013, Foiled Again became the richest Standardbred in North American history (with more than $6 million in lifetime earnings) and the oldest to win a Breeders Crown.
This group is dedicated to the sport and is invested in it for the long run. Burke, Weaver and Bruscemi -- along with their many other ownership partners -- have been an asset to the sport by keeping their stars at the tracks where fans are able to see, enjoy and connect with them. Burke and Weaver Bruscemi have been the leading owners in terms of both races and money won every year this decade, racing mostly overnight stock.
The Rising Star award goes to a “younger” driver in the industry who has achieved above and beyond the norm in racing ability and this year’s recipient is long overdue.
Corey Callahandid not find his way into the harness world until 2005, but his rise has not been of the meteoric variety. Callahan began as a full-time driver at 29 and almost immediately accorded himself as a top 20 driver in both wins and earnings. From 2007-2012 he ranked 13th, 11th, 11th, seventh and eighth nationally in wins, and 21st, 14th, 19th, 18th and 13th in earnings.
While his statistics were strong, he plied his trade mostly out of the spotlight until making a decision to focus on major stakes races in 2013. That choice has paid off in leaps and bounds for Callahan, who currently ranks fourth in wins (608) and sixth in earnings ($9.6 million). Both numbers are career bests.
Callahan picked up drives on some of the best horses in the country in 2013, including those from top trainers Jonas Czernyson and Tony Alagna. He has won the driving title at Dover Downs for four consecutive years and he ranks among the leaders at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He finished second at the Meadowlands with 99 wins, behind only Yannick Gingras.
It is no surprise that the Breeder of the Year in 2013 is none other than White Birch Farm for the second straight year. The farm bred both 3-year-old colt pacer Captaintreacherous and the 3-year-old trotting filly Bee A Magician.
Into the final month of racing in 2013, White Birch progeny have accounted for more than 390 trips to the winner’s circle and $8.3 million in 2013 earnings.
Other White Birch Farm standouts in 2013 includes free for all trotter Sevruga, who earned $484,575 of his $800,000 lifetime purse money this year, $500,000 winner Wake Up Peter, and six-figure earners Ali Blue, Proclaiming April, I Fought Dalaw, She’s Da Bomb and Ideal Champ.
The late Joe and Marie Parisi started building White Birch Farm’s breeding operation more than 35 years ago as Jo-Mar Farm, where they stood New Jersey Sire Stakes stallion Adios Ronnie. Their son, Michael Parisi, now runs the 800-acre facility that is home to nearly 100 broodmares and also serves as one of the premier training centers in Central New Jersey, accommodating 300 horses in training.
The Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award goes to a “non-racing” individual who has excelled beyond the scope of their job profile during the year. This year’s winner is Heather Wilder, who is the Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Meadows Standardbred Owners Assocation at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington, Pa.
Heather had background doing publicity and racing support work in the Columbus area (Scioto, Delaware) while still in her teens. After staying home with two children in her twenties, Wilder decided to pursue training horses. It was because of this unique marriage of talents that she was thought to be an ideal person by the board of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association to fill their newly-created role of Director of Public Relations and Marketing.
With her extensive backstretch knowledge, Heather has been the liaison to introducing countless area fans, both individuals and groups, to the “hands-on” side of racing, through backstretch tours, time in the jog cart and the starting gate, and even reaching out to the local business community through the area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
A big night of racing always finds the MSOA and Wilder with several outreach programs for fans and casino patrons. Wilder also promotes The Meadows and MSOA through social media efforts which help extend their reach.
While wearing her 'Bet help' button and walking the grandstand assisting patrons with any questions about making wagers on the races, Wilder is dynamic and approachable. Always willing to support harness racing and USHWA, she is slated to be one of the emcees for the national awards dinner in 2014.
There is no more legitimate “Good Guy” in the sport than trainer George Ducharme, who will be honored with the W. R. Haughton Good Guy Award.
He totally embraced the spotlight this year with his outstanding 3-year-old colt trotter, Royalty For Life, while always representing the sport in a classy manner to the media and to the public.
The hard working 51-year-old native of Norfolk, Mass., was catapulted into the spotlight in 2013 after a 25-plus year racing career that saw him toil mostly in anonymity in New England. But Ducharme’s work ethic and commitment to his trade and his great attitude towards both the fans and media have always been there despite the immensely rocky road to his Hambletonian victory with the horse of a lifetime.
Along with all the glory of guiding the career of a Hambletonian champion, Ducharme also faced a lot of difficult situations during the year. An early year quarantine at his home base, a tiring off-track at Lexington, hard trips from difficult draws and a season-ending scratch from the Breeders Crown all had to be dealt with.
Through the tough times, Ducharme never ducked the media and took the good with the bad while offering the best analysis of any situation he could. He looked for his next positive move forward and remained accessible while dealing with every twist and turn with class and dignity.
Ducharme was asked to be part of the autograph session on Hambletonian Day (clearly the biggest day of his career) and never hesitated to accept. He even arrived early to spend as much time with the fans as possible. And all year long he did every interview and answered every question from anyone who approached him.
Ducharme is universally liked. From his days in New England, to campaigning his first “good horse” Donttellmywife, to his Grand Circuit success this year, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t respect the man. And through it all, he has always been affable and approachable to any media member and fan alike.
Dedicated to the industry, Ducharme also toils as a USTA Director for District 9. He is truly one of harness racing’s good guys in many ways.
The 2013 Leeanne Pooler Unsung Hero award goes annually to someone who has gone beyond the scope of helping the harness racing industry and that person is Sam Landy.
In 2012 horse owner Sam Landy and a committee of volunteers created an event called the Open Space Pace Day at Freehold Raceway.
The concept arose from Landy’s determination to find a way to illustrate the importance of harness racing to the state and local economy in New Jersey’s horse country.
The inaugural event included a parade, celebrity appearances, under saddle races and a Southside Johnny concert -- but primarily showcased harness racing in one of the most populous counties (Monmouth) in New Jersey.
The event was valuable as a public relations vehicle, both raising the awareness of harness racing as well as bringing out legislators and public officials to see the importance of racing to the county and state economy.
In September of 2013, despite the expense (much of it personal) and countless hours of work involved, Landy and his Open Space Pace committee presented the second annual festival, employing it as a tool to connect the agri-business of harness racing in the minds of legislators and the public.
Several thousand people were drawn to the borough of Freehold and the raceway within its borders for the renewal of the event. Grants totaling $10,000 were distributed to harness racing and agricultural-related charities and programs.
There are also two additional equine awards announced today by USHWA. Two outstanding “moms” will be honored as the 2013 Broodmares of the Year.They are Beehive and Worldly Treasure.
The lightly-raced trotting mare Beehive 3,Q1:57.3f ($8,791) is the dam of the undefeated 3-year-old Bee A Magician (by Kadabra), a winner of 26 races in her career (17 of them this year) and $2,313,956. She is owned by White Birch Farm of Allentown, N.J.
She is also the dam of the Explosive Matter freshman filly Dynamite Honey 2,2:00.3f ($17,400).
This season Bee A Magician has swept her division, winning the $500,000 Breeders Crown at Pocono; the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands; the $356,981 Elegantimage at Mohawk; the $253,000 Moni Maker at the Meadowlands; the $205,608 Simcoe at Mohawk; the $265,600 Delvin Miller Memorial at the Meadowlands; and the $118,500 American-National at Balmoral.
The pacing broodmare of the year, Worldly Treasure, is the dam of world champion Captaintreacherous p,3,1:47.1 ($2,973,286). Worldly Treasure herself was no slouch on the track, taking a 2-year-old mark of 1:53.1 en route to earning $97,923. She hails from a strong maternal family, as her full sister is the outstanding pacing mare Worldly Beauty, who was a two-time Dan Patch Award winner with nearly $2 million in career earnings.
They are both out of World Order p,3,1:53 ($267,205), whose dam was Rodine Hanover p,2,1:54 ($231,630) -- the dam of Real Artist p,3,Q1:51 ($424,947) and the grand-dam of Art Major p,4,1:48.4 ($2,727,224), Perfect Art p,3,1:51 ($629,122) and Panspacificflight p,3,1:50.3 ($368,843). She is also owned by White Birch Farm of Allentown, N.J.
For the second consecutive year, Tetrick was named harness racing’s best driver while Burke nabbed the honor for trainers for the second time in three seasons.
Results for the awards, voted upon by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, were announced Monday.
A 32-year-old Illinois native, Tetrick has been named Driver of the Year four times.
This season, Tetrick will lead all North American drivers in purses for the seventh consecutive year, with $16.1 million, and finish among the leaders in wins, with 582. Only Billy Haughton won more consecutive earnings titles, with eight straight from 1952-59. Tetrick was the regular driver of Dan Patch Award winners Captaintreacherous, I Luv The Nitelife and Market Share. He teamed with Captaintreacherous, who was named the sport’s best 3-year-old male pacer, for wins that included the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown.
I Luv The Nitelife, who was named the top 3-year-old filly pacer, captured the Breeders Crown, Fan Hanover, Valley Forge and Lynch Memorial while Market Share, voted best older male trotter, and Tetrick partnered to win the Maple Leaf Trot and Breeders Crown.
Other top wins for Tetrick included the Canadian Pacing Derby with older male pacer A Rocknroll Dance and the Roses Are Red Stakes with older female pacer Anndrovette.
Tetrick, who has suffered from a degenerative hip condition since childhood, had replacement surgery on his left hip last week and expects to be sidelined until early February. He had surgery on his right hip in 2008.
Burke followed his record-setting 2012 season by smashing his own records again in 2013.
The 44-year-old western Pennsylvania native became the first harness racing trainer in history to surpass $20 million in purses in a single year, entering Monday with $22 million. He also became the first trainer with 1,000 wins in a season, heading into today with 1,084 victories.
Since taking the lead role in the Burke Stable from his father, Mickey, in 2009, Burke has led all trainers in North America in both wins and earnings every year. Mickey Burke was Trainer of the Year in 2006.
Burke’s top horse in 2013 was Dan Patch Award-winning older male pacer Foiled Again, who at the age of 9 became the oldest horse to win a Breeders Crown and also became the richest Standardbred in North American history, with $6 million in career purses.
Foiled Again won 11 of 29 races this year and earned $1.40 million, breaking his own record for oldest horse to have a million-dollar season. His wins included the Breeders Crown, TVG Free For All Series Championship and the Ben Franklin Pace.
Burke’s stable also included Governor’s Cup winner JK Endofanera, Milton winner Rocklamation, Monument Circle winner Dedi’s Dragon, Maxie Lee Memorial winner Wishing Stone, Quillen Memorial winner Clear Vision, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champions Charisma Hanover and Southwind Silence.
Bee A Magician, Father Patrick, and Maven were unanimous 2013 Dan Patch Award selections as the best harness racing horses in their respective divisions, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Thursday.
A total of 131 ballots were returned. Three-year-old filly trotter Bee A Magician and older female trotter Maven were named on all 131 while 2-year-old male trotter Father Patrick was named on 130 with one abstention.
Six other year-end champions were named Thursday in divisions that saw only one horse receive at least 10 percent of the vote. Three-year-old male pacer Captaintreacherous and older male trotter Market Share both received 130 votes and were declared winners in their divisions.
Also being named winners were 2-year-old filly pacer Precocious Beauty, 2-year-old filly trotter Shake It Cerry, 3-year-old filly pacer I Luv The Nitelife, and older male pacer Foiled Again.
Winners in the three remaining divisions -- 2-year-old male pacer, 3-year-old male trotter, and older female pacer -- will be announced at the Dan Patch Award banquet on Feb. 23 at Dover Downs. Pacer of the Year, Trotter of the Year, and Horse of the Year also will be revealed at that time.
Finalists for best 2-year-old male pacer are He’s Watching and Luck Be Withyou, with the 3-year-old male trotter race coming down to Royalty For Life and Spider Blue Chip and older female pacer a battle between Anndrovette and Rocklamation.
Bee A Magician was undefeated in 17 starts this year and joined Muscle Hill and Syrinx Hanover as the only trotters to go unbeaten at age 3 and receive Dan Patch divisional honors dating back to 1975.
Trained by Richard “Nifty” Norman and driven by Brian Sears for owners Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, Bee A Magician won the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters, Hambletonian Oaks, Elegantimage Stakes, and Delvin Miller Memorial on her way to $1.54 million in purses. Her earnings are the most ever for a 3-year-old filly trotter, breaking the record of $1.17 million set by Continentalvictory in 1996, and her winning time of 1:51 in the Miller Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack is the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old filly trotter.
Father Patrick, trained by Jimmy Takterand driven by Yannick Gingras for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group, won 10 of 11 races and $744,057. His victories included the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, the William Wellwood Memorial, and the Peter Haughton Memorial.
He finished the campaign with a nine-race winning streak and was unbeaten in stakes competition. He set the world record of 1:52.1 for a 2-year-old male trotter on a five-eighths-mile track in winning his Breeders Crown elimination at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Maven won 10 of 14 races and earned $509,220 for trainer Jonas Czernyson, driver Gingras and owner Bill Donovan. Her wins included the Breeders Crown for older female trotters, Armbro Flight Stakes, and Miss Versatility Series championship.
She trotted the fastest race mile ever on a half-mile track in winning the Miss Versatility in 1:51.4 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio.
Captaintreacherous, Foiled Again, and Market Share are repeat winners.
Last year, Captaintreacherous claimed Dan Patch Awards as best 2-year-old male pacer and Pacer of the Year. This season at age 3, he won 13 of 16 races and $2.05 million for trainer Tony Alagna, driver Tim Tetrick and the Captaintreacherous Racing ownership group.
He joined Rocknroll Hanover and Gallo Blue Chip as the only 3-year-old male pacers to win a Breeders Crown, the North America Cup, and Meadowlands Pace in the same season.
The 9-year-old Foiled Again, who this season became the oldest horse to ever win a Breeders Crown and the richest North American harness racing horse in history, was named the sport’s best older male pacer for the third consecutive year. He joins Rambling Willie (1975-77) as the only horses to win the division’s top honor three straight seasons.
Foiled Again, trained by Ron Burke and driven primarily by Gingras for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and JJK Stables, won 11 of 29 races in 2013 and earned $1.40 million. He is the oldest horse to ever have a million-dollar season.
Market Share, a 4-year-old, also took divisional honors last season at age 3. This year, he won six of 14 races and earned $1.07 million for trainer Linda Toscano, driver Tetrick and owners Richard Gutnick, TLP Stables, and William Augustine.
He finished the season by winning the Breeders Crown Open Trot, American-National Stakes, and TVG Free For All Series Championship.
I Luv The Nitelife won 13 of 15 races and $1.25 million for trainer Chris Ryder, driver Tetrick and owners Richard and Joanne Young. Her victories included the Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly pacers, Fan Hanover Stakes and Valley Forge (in a world-record 1:48.4 mile).
Shake It Cerry, trained by Takter and driven by Ron Pierce for the Solveig’s Racing Partners ownership group, captured eight of 11 starts and earned $827,769. Her triumphs included the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old filly trotters, Goldsmith Maid, and Merrie Annabelle.
Precocious Beauty won seven of 11 races, including the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, and $446,692 for trainer Gregg McNair, driver Doug McNair and owner Jim Avritt Sr.
The competition for 3-year-old male trotter features Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life against Breeders Crown champion Spider Blue Chip.
The race for older female pacer is between two-time defending division champ Anndrovette, who won the Roses Are Red Stakes, and Milton Stakes winner Rocklamation.
Two-year-old male pacer honors come down to New York Sire Stakes champion He’s Watching, undefeated in eight races, and Breeders Crown winner Luck Be Withyou, who won five of 11 starts.
DAN PATCH AWARD WINNERS These divisions saw only one horse receive at least 10 percent of the votes.
2-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Father Patrick (130 votes) Cantab Hall–Gala Dream–Enjoy Lavec Breeder: Brittany Farms Owner: Father Patrick Stable Trainer:Jimmy TakterDriver:Yannick Gingras Races: 11-10-1-0 Purses: $744,057 Mark: 1:52.1 at Pocono Downs (world record) Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $354,050 Wellwood Memorial; $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial
2-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Shake It Cerry (124 votes) Donato Hanover–Solveig–Yankee Glide Breeder: Solveig’s Breeders Owner: Solveig’s Racing Partners Trainer:Jimmy TakterDriver:Ron Pierce Races: 11-8-2-0 Purses: $827,769 Mark: 1:53.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $456,150 Goldsmith Maid; $321,700 Merrie Annabelle
2-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Precocious Beauty (117 votes) Art Major–Precious Beauty–Jate Lobell Breeder: James Avritt Sr. Owner: James Avritt Sr. Trainer: Gregg McNair Driver: Doug McNair Races: 11-7-3-0 Purses: $446,692 Mark: 1:50.1 at Red Mile (world record) Top win: $428,450 She’s A Great Lady
3-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER Captaintreacherous (130 votes) Somebeachsomewhere–Worldly Treasure–Artsplace Breeder: White Birch Farm Owner: Captaintreacherous Racing Trainer: Tony Alagna Driver:Tim Tetrick Races: 16-13-2-0 Purses: $2.05 million Mark: 1:47.1 at Red Mile Top wins: $980,000 North America Cup; $635,750 Meadowlands Pace; $500,000 Breeders Crown
3-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER I Luv The Nitelife (123 votes) Rocknroll Hanover–Lisjune–Camluck Breeders: MJG Racing Stables, Louis “Andy” Willinger Owners: Richard and Joanne Young Trainer:Chris RyderDriver:Tim Tetrick Races: 15-13-1-1 Purses: $1.25 million Mark: 1:48.4 at Pocono Downs (world record) Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $384,044 Fan Hanover; $350,000 Valley Forge
3-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Bee A Magician (131 votes) Kadabra– Beehive–Balanced Image Breeder: White Birch Farm Owners: Mel Hartman, Herb Liverman, David McDuffee Trainer: Richard “Nifty” Norman Drivers: Rick Zeron, Brian Sears Races: 17-17-0-0 Purses: $1.54 million Mark: 1:51 at Meadowlands (world record) Top wins: $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks; $500,000 Breeders Crown; $356,981 Elegantimage
OLDER MALE PACER Foiled Again (125 votes) Dragon Again–In A Safe Place–Artsplace Breeder: Barbara Matthews Owners: Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, JJK Stables Trainer:Ron BurkeDriver:Yannick Gingras Races: 29-11-6-7 Purses: $1.40 million Mark: 1:48 at Pocono Downs (world record) Top wins: $512,000 TVG Free For All Championship; $500,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Ben Franklin
OLDER MALE TROTTER Market Share (130 votes) Revenue S–Classical Flirt–Yankee Glide Breeder: Hayley Moore Owners: Richard Gutnick, TLP Stable, William Augustine Trainer: Linda ToscanoDriver:Tim Tetrick Races: 14-6-1-5 Purses: $1.07 million Mark: Q1:50.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $600,000 Breeders Crown; $526,710 Maple Leaf; $500,000 TVG Free For All Championship
OLDER FEMALE TROTTER Maven (131 votes) Glidemaster–M Stewart–American Winner Breeder: All La Nuova Sbarra Srl. Owner: Bill Donovan Trainer: Jonas Czernyson Driver:Yannick Gingras Races: 14-10-2-0 Purses: $509,220 Mark: 1:51.4 at Delaware County Fairgrounds (world record) Top wins: $266,041 Armbro Flight; $250,000 Breeders Crown
DAN PATCH AWARD FINALISTS Top two vote-getters in these divisions were named finalists, with the winner to be announced at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 23 at Dover Downs
2-YEAR-OLD MALE PACER He’s Watching American Ideal–Baberhood–Real Desire Breeders: Brittany Farms, Robert Burgess, Karin Olsson Burgess Owners: David Menary, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero Trainer: David Menary Driver: Jim Morrill, Jr. Races: 8-8-0-0 Purses: $291,722 Mark: 1:50 at Tioga Downs Top win: $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final
Luck Be Withyou Western Ideal–Trim Hanover–Camluck Breeder: Brittany Farms Owner: John Craig Trainers: Bill Cass, Chris Oakes Drivers: Phil Hudon, Ron Pierce Races: 11-5-1-0 Purses: $359,417 Mark: 1:50 at Pocono Downs Top win: $500,000 Breeders Crown
3-YEAR-OLD MALE TROTTER Royalty For Life RC Royalty–Bourbon ’N Grits–Donerail Breeder: Al Ross Owners: Al Ross, Ray “Chip” Campbell, Jr., Paul Fontaine Trainer: George Ducharme Driver:Brian Sears Races: 14-7-2-0 Purses: $1.27 million Mark: Q1:51.3 at Meadowlands Top wins: $1 million Hambletonian; $665,420 Canadian Trotting Classic; $294,000 Dancer Memorial
Spider Blue Chip Andover Hall–Southwind Catlin–Muscles Yankee Breeder: McLain Ward Owners: David McDuffee, Mel Hartman Trainer: Chuck Sylvester Driver:Ron Pierce Races: 20-10-3-2 Purses: $1.08 million Mark: 1:51.3 at Red Mile Top wins: $500,000 Breeders Crown; $500,000 Colonial; $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final
OLDER FEMALE PACER Anndrovette Riverboat King–Easy Miss–Big Towner Breeder: Golden Touch Stable Owner: Bamond Racing, Joseph Davino Trainer: P.J. Fraley Driver: Tim Tetrick Races: 21-7-7-4 Purses: $558,201 Mark: 1:48 at Mohawk Top win: $313,795 Roses Are Red
Rocklamation Rocknroll Hanover–Art Sale–Artsplace Breeder: Perretti Farms Owners: Our Horse Cents Stables, Stable 45, J&T Silva Stables Trainer: Ron BurkeDrivers: Yannick Gingras, Brett Miller Races: 21-5-7-6 Purses: $540,358 Mark: 1:49.3 at Meadowlands Top win: $275,480 Milton
Steve Oldford of Croswell, Mich., has been named USHWA's 2013 Amateur Driver of the Year and it is hard to come up with a more stellar list of accomplishments than those he has achieved this year.
He is this year's Billings overall point champion as well as the points champ in the Billings midwest region and a winner of one of the Billings Series finals.
Besides his prowess this year in the Billings Series -- the granddaddy of all amateur clubs -- Oldford is a member of many other amateur driving clubs and he has won at least one race in the Great Lakes Club, the Florida Club, the North American Amateur Drivers Association and the Catskill Club.
He also was a division winner of the Hambletonian Amateur Trots and he organized the amateur driving portion of the USTA Driving School which was held in and around Goshen, N.Y., this past summer.
Few, if any, are more enthusiastic about amateur racing than Oldford and when told he was named USHWA’s Amateur Driver of the Year he said happily, “It’s (amateur racing) a lot of fun and I’ll go anywhere to drive a harness horse.
“I’ve had my best year in the Billings this season, winning 11 races in the series, and I now have 19 wins this year. I’d love to get to 20 and I have a chance next week when I drive against professionals at Sports Creek (Raceway) in Michigan.”
Some might say that Oldford began his amateur driving late in life although he quips, “You’re never too old to get involved in such a satisfying endeavor.” Hence his Billings nickname of Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford.
This year from 83 starts Oldford has 19 wins, 14 seconds and eight thirds for a hefty .355 UDR to go along with purse earnings in excess of $64,500.
It wasn’t until 2006 that he earnestly began serious participation in amateur racing. However, since then Oldford has recorded 83 driving victories and is a force to be reckoned with every time he’s on the racetrack. And as a great supporter of amateur racing there have been many times that he has supplied an extra horse that was needed to fill an amateur event.
Over the years Steve has been a three-time winner of the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Amateur Driver of the Year Award; Michigan Amateur Driver of the Year; US representative to international amateur driving challenges in Europe and New Zealand; founder and president of GLADA; vice president of the C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series; and recently was named a trustee at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.
Oldford is also active in USTA affairs as a member of the Board of Directors representing Michigan.
Patricia Miller, Board Secretary and publicist for the Great Lakes Amateur Driving Association and a fellow Michigander, sums up the essence of Steve Oldford.
“Steve is a fine person to begin with; a very fair and honest horseman; a fine driver and fierce competitor of the utmost integrity and for me, this is a vital quality, not just important, but vital.”
On Saturday December 7, the Upstate New York Chapter held its sixth annual "Night of Distinction" at Batavia Downs to honor the top horses and horsemen in western New York for the year. After a stellar year of racing at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia, there were many individuals to be feted and they all were in front of a sold out clubhouse. Click here to see a slideshow of all the honorees and their connections. Congratulations to everyone on another successful year of racing.
The Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA held their 55th Annual
Awards Banquet for the second consecutive year in Middletown, NY at The
Fountains on Sands Road on Sunday, November 17. The night got underway
with a cocktail hour at 5:30pm followed by dinner at 7pm. During the
evening awards were presented to the deserving recipients. Click here to view a pictorial highlight of the event.
David Miller, who has won more than 10,800 races and ranks fourth in lifetime earnings among all drivers in harness racing history, will be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame next summer, the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced Monday.
William Weaver, who bred influential trotting sire Valley Victory as well as several division champions, also will be inducted during the ceremonies on July 6 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.
In addition, longtime U.S. Trotting Association Publicity Director John Pawlak and retired USTA Stakes Director Carol Cramer will be enshrined in the Communicators Hall of Fame.
Miller, a 48-year-old native of Ohio, was voted Driver of the Year in 2003, when he led North America in purses and guidedNo Pan Intended to the Pacing Triple Crown. He has won a total of 11 Triple Crown races (combined pacing and trotting) and 12 Breeders Crown trophies. He ranks No. 5 in career Breeders Crown purses with $8.5 million.
He is a three-time winner of the Little Brown Jug and one of only two drivers to capture the Little Brown Jug and its filly companion race, the Jugette, in the same year. Victories in other top stakes include the Adios, Canadian Pacing Derby, Canadian Trotting Classic, Cane Pace, Hambletonian Oaks, Kentucky Futurity, Maple Leaf Trot, Nat Ray and Yonkers Trot.
In 2011, Miller became the 10th driver in North American history to reach 10,000 wins. He has won at least $10 million in purses 11 times, the most of any driver in history, and trails only Hall of Famers John Campbell, Ron Pierce and Mike Lachance in career earnings.
Weaver, 77, from New Jersey, has enjoyed success as a breeder despite breeding a small number of horses each year.
Valley Victory was the sport's top 2-year-old colt trotter in 1988 and won 11 of 14 lifetime races before being retired at age 3 because of illness. His offspring include Hambletonian winning colts Victory Dream and Muscles Yankee as well as filly Continentalvictory. Victory Dream and Muscles Yankee also produced Hambletonian winners, with Muscles Yankee sons Deweycheatumnhowe, Muscle Hill and Muscle Massive winning the sport's top trotting race in consecutive years (2008-10).
Other notable horses bred by Weaver include U.S. and/or Canadian division champions Chocolatier, Laddie, To Dream On, Was It A Dream and Wheeling N Dealin plus millionaire trotting mare Elusive Desire.
The multiple award-winning Pawlak joined the USTA in 1985 after serving as an announcer and marketing executive at Raceway Park in Ohio. His work with the USTA has ranged from writing to broadcasting, in addition to compiling and editing the annually harness racing fact book "The Trotting & Pacing Guide." He also is known for his work coordinating the biennial World Driving Championship and the World Trotting Conference. When time permits, he continues to announce races on the Ohio fair circuit.
Cramer retired as a fulltime employee of the USTA in 2007, but remains active as editor of the annual "Stakes Guide," a job she has handled for 45 years. She joined the organization in 1965 as project assistant to James Harrison in the publication of the first "Care & Training of the Trotter and Pacer." In addition, she was advertising manager for "Hoof Beats" magazine and a longtime Grand Circuit steward and secretary.
Veteran writers on a screening committee, after discussion with an advisory committee of Hall of Famers, take nominations sent in by USHWA chapters and select nominees to go before the voters. Nominees must receive 75 percent approval from the voters, which are qualified members of USHWA and Living Hall of Fame members, to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The inductees will be honored twice; first at the annual USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet, Feb. 23 at Dover Downs, and for enshrinement July 6 at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame.
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.
We also had hard copies printed and are looking for all of our members to take this opportunity to help distribute the pamphlets (either electronically of paper copy) to anyone you may think would be interested in becoming a part of our organization or convince someone who is not. It is in the best interest of USHWA to get as many people on board with us to help promote our great sport.
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.