The setting was different still a good harness racing crowd turned out at Monticello Casino and Raceway on Sunday (October 24) when the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association held their 52nd Annual Awards Banquet.
Lucien Fontaine was honored with the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Steve Jones was presented with the Excelsior Award and Moira Fanning, the Phil Pines Award. Also cited was Cory Stratton, Kevin Gleason and Ed Diana and Konchie was named “Horse of the Year”.
The Harness Writers presented their Lifetime Achievement Award to Lucien Fontaine who vaulted into prominence at the Mighty M in the early 1960’s and won driving titles at Monticello, Yonkers & Roosevelt Raceways and won over 3500 in a time where there were no catch-drivers He also trained & drove the 1986 Horse of the Year,.
Jones was honored with the Excelsior Award for his excellence and expertise in the breeding industry. Steve and his dad Hal Jones’s Cameo Hills Farm breeds world class horses that not only compete with the best but are among the best. Arguably their most famous is the 2008 Hambletonian winner,.
Moira Fanning, often referred to as the First Lady of Harness Racing, received the Phil Pines Award for her outstanding contributions to the sport. She is a driving force behind the Hambletonian Society and the Breeders Crown as well as a past national president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
Ed Diana, the County Executive of Orange County, NY was presented with Historic Track’s Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award. Diana, a former educator and horse owner and Historic Track Board Member is currently the Country Executive of Orange County, NY and always has been a great supporter of harness racing in the “Cradle of the Trotter”.
Middletown (NY) Times-Herald Record’s sportswriter, Kevin Gleason, was the recipient of the chapter’s Good Guy Award. An award winning writer Gleason has written many exceptional articles, many of human interest about the backstretch people at Monticello Raceway.
Cory Stratton was named the chapter’s “Amateur Driver of the Year” after winning many races in the local amateur club driving series at Monticello Raceway. The younger brother of Jordan Stratton was also the point leader in the Billings Series prior to his 18th birthday-on August 12- at which time he earned his professional license.
Konchie was named “Horse of the Year”. The 6-year old King Conch gelding won 12 open class trots this season --the fastest in 1:56:2-- and earned over $81,000 mostly at the Mighty M. He is owned by April Aldrich and Nick Logothetis, trained April Aldrich, and was driven by Bruce Aldrich, Jr.
Brandon Simpson, 29, who has already won 145 races this season, received the Chapter’s “Rising Star Award”. His move from the mid-west to the east coast will now allow racing fans to witness Simpson’s expertise in the sulky.
The “Comeback of the Year Award” went to pacer No Shennanigans who was 19-1-1-1 --$4600 in 2009 to 33-6-8-3 $36,500 and a mark of 1:57 this season.. Owned by the Blue Demon Racing Stable the 5 year old gelding is trained by Frank Yanoti and driven by Kevin Hough.
Crevani Farms Alex Bullville was named the 2 Year Old Colt Pacer of the Year” while Mark Ford’s, Eagle Yankee garnered the “2 Year Old Filly Pacer of the Year” award”.
Jerry’s Brown Gold was named 3 Year Old Pacing Colt of the Year and Carole Crevani’s Bullville Princess earned the 3–Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year” award”.
The “Older Trotting Horse of the Year” award” went to Konchie while Jane Zukowski & April Aldrich’s, Mystical Heiress took home the “Older Trotting Mare of the Year” trophy.
Future Fan walked away with the “Older Pacing Horse of the Year” award and Jack and Rose Deluca’s Rootintootinfilly was the unanimous choice for “Older Pacing Mare of the Year” honors.
Since claiming races are a staple of Monticello Raceway’s racing programs multiple awards were presented in the claiming categories.
Claiming Pacer Awards went to: Bruce Aldrich’s, I C Linda; Jack & Rose Deluca’s, Another Mike; Frank Canzone’s, Mt Vernon Hanover; Jay Platt’s, Civilized Hanover; Robert Merton and Al DeSimone’s, Northern Chief and Brian O’Neill’s, Mr. Thinker.
Claiming Trotter Awards were presented to: Brenda Messenger and Scott Woogen’s, Valcyon Days; Howie Rebackoff, Mike Sorentino and Charles Raiano’s, Our Special Girl; Alan Schwartz’s, Iroquouindianmagic; Jennifer Lappe’s, Manzeer; Stan Indig and Bruce Aldrich, Jr.’s Sophisticat.; and Vincent Palimotto’s, Affaro Hanover.
The chapter also presented Jennifer Lappe the “Owner of the Year Award” and Nelson Arocho was the Caretaker of The Year.
Amanda Lubniewski, Ms Monticello Raceway-2010, served as trophy presenter.