Two New Jerseyans united by a keen appreciation for harness racing, spectacles and producing effective results have been honored by the U.S. Harness Writers' Association in recent balloting: announcer extraordinaire Larry Lederman was voted the W.R. Haughton Good Guy Award, while Dr. Karyn Malinowski, surely the only department head at Rutgers who occasionally arrives on campus with mud and other brown matter on her footgear, was selected for the LeeAnne Pooler Unsung Hero Award.
Lederman, a 35-year veteran of the racing game, is of course best-known for his race calling abilities, describing races accurately and vividly and often throwing in a touch of his days as a standup comedian -- from a groaning pun to a pitch-perfect imitation of Howard Cosell, Billy Crystal and other celebrities -- as if they were put behind the racing microphone.
This past spring Lederman encountered an unexpected entry into his life, much more serious than a little-known shipper -- he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. But instead of being down or going off into a self-pitying corner Lederman, in absolutely idiosyncratic style, has spoken frankly about his problem in an effort to educate, and as his submitted biography noted, "A call to cheer him up usually ends in a laughfest. His spirit and mental resiliency through the toughest of fights has been nothing short of outstanding." (And how many other announcers have a bobblehead doll fashioned in their likeness?)
Dr. Karyn Malinowski, Director of the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University, can usually be found in the forefront of intelligent discussion about the current fortunes of harness racing and horse racing in general, especially about the equine racer's future in her home state of New Jersey, which was drastically threatened by the recent decisions in the Garden State to privatize the two state-owned tracks, the Meadowlands (harness's flagship track) and Monmouth Park.
Her research, and then her presentations, of the hard facts about the great contributions made to New Jersey's agrieconomy by racing horses has been the baseline for intrastate debates, and many credit her for, without fanfare but forcibly, helping swing the tide against what looked to be an extinction of Jersey racing.
Also to be noted is that "Dr. K" did not gain her knowledge sitting in an ivory tower of academia -- she is literally a hands-on person, and her hands can sometimes be found in the handholds of a jogging horse (thus the "shoe" reference above).
Larry Lederman and Dr. Karyn Malinowski will receive their awards at the Dan Patch Awards Dinner, honoring Stan Bergstein, to be held Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hilton at SeaWorld of Orlando.
For tickets to attend the banquet contact Steve Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org;to take a congratulatory ad in the dinner journal, for Malinowski and/or Lederman, in appreciation of Bergstein or to honor any other award winners, contact Kim Rinker at email@example.com.
Reservations at the DoubleTree can be made by calling (800) 327-0363; mentioning "USHWA" or "DPA" should get you a discounted rate.
by Jerry Connors, for the U.S. Harness Writers' Association