National Officers
Chapter Membership
2015 Award Winners
2016 Dan Patch Banquet
Hall of Fame and Museum
2016-17 Sponsorship Links
By-Laws & Membership
2016 Meeting Materials

                 Make your reservations now, rooms are limited!

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.

Click this link to go to the reservation page.

Room pricing for the event weekend is as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 23   $  69
Friday, Feb. 24         $159
Saturday, Feb. 25    $159
Sunday, Feb. 26       $  69

Availability is limited and when our block sells out, you will have to pay the prevailing rate.


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 a Starbuck’s.

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

The United States Trotting Association will be meeting in Las Vegas starting the day after the banquet (Monday, Feb. 27), headquartered at the Rio Hotel and Casino; Harness Horsemen International is also having its annual meetings in Las Vegas in the same general time frame.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Click here to watch an informative video about the workshop

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

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

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

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

You can download a printable version of it here.

The United States Harness Writers Association is a group of more than 220 members committed to the chronicling of harness racing through the print and electronic media. It was founded in 1947 by New York City area sportswriters who were covering harness racing at Roosevelt Raceway. It remains the only media organization in harness racing with a membership of newspaper, magazine, radio and TV, ad agency, publicists and others involved in racing communications. With most of USHWA's members allied to one of 12 regional chapters, the association strives to bring about a closer relationship among the media, racetracks and horsemen to promote a centuries-old American-bred sport.

USHWA members, in annual voting, choose harness racing's most prestigious awards, such as the Living Hall of Fame and the Horse of the Year. Its Stanley F. Bergstein-Proximity Achievement Award is one of the sport's most cherished honors. It also recognizes top divisional winners and leading drivers and trainers at its annual awards dinner, which began in 1948.
The association is governed by a member board of directors, which represents the chapters and at-large members (those living or working in regions where there is no chapter). Also serving are seven national officers and past presidents.

USHWA, with input from the American Harness Racing Secretaries and logistic expertise provided by the United States Trotting Association, determines the Horse of the Year and other equine and human awards. USHWA also presents the John Hervey Awards for excellence in writing and broadcasting. Its members choose Hall of Famers, so the association also works closely with the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame at Goshen, New York.

A number of chapters hold annual awards or recognition dinners to salute the leading horses and drivers in their areas. Some chapters also raise money for local charities.

                                Contact USHWA at ushwainfo@gmail.com

                     Direct questions or comments to webmaster@ushwa.org